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full meltdown

"If balls out rock music with melodic and lyrical songs are your cup of tea, then FULL MELTDOWN should go down easily and leave a pleasant afterglow." - Dick Wagner

“In the words of the man himself "If balls out rock music with melodic and lyrical songs are your cup of tea, then Full Meltdown should go down easily and leave a pleasant afterglow". Now I 'm not necessarily sure I can improve on something as eloquently put as that but I'll try.  Whether he's choosing to rock out on the ballsy "Steal The Thunder", putting together a couple of melodic sing along anthems with "Another Twist Of The Knife" and "Insatiable Girl" or serving up a veritable trifecta of tender ballads with "I'd Take The Bullet", "She Said" or the solo piano performance on "These Days" it all comes together brilliantly. It's certainly no secret that Dick is one hell of a guitar player, and his trademark chops and infectious sounding melodies are all over this record, but some fans might be surprised by just how strong his vocals are here as well. Songs like "Motor City Showdown" "Feel It All Over", "Modern Times" and "I Might As Well Be On Mars" all have such a distinct theatrical element to them it's like he decided to roll the vocal stylings of Alice Cooper, Meatloaf and Todd Rundgren all into one and what you get on the other side is fabulous amalgamation of all three. There literally isn't one bum track to be found anywhere on this album. Crank it up and enjoy!”
~Ryan Sparks - http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?sid=9210

SCORE: http://www.seaoftranquility.org/images/star_whole.gif http://www.seaoftranquility.org/images/star_whole.gif http://www.seaoftranquility.org/images/star_whole.gif http://www.seaoftranquility.org/images/star_whole.gif

"The cuts exhibit Wagner's unparalleled ability to chisel memorable riffs, brilliant leads, power chords and even pastoral acoustic textures. Along with the guitar acrobatics, Wagner sings every song, piping out crunching hard rock along with power-rock ballads. The previously unreleased tracks include the swaggering Detroit-anthems "Blue Collar Babies" and "Motor City Showdown," a rollicking cover of "Stagger Lee," the expressively layered "Modern Times," and "These Days," whose sensitive lyricism unexpectedly showcases Wagner's singing and piano playing. Full Meltdown also features the seven-minute tour-de-force titled "I Might As Well Be On Mars," composed with longtime musical partner Alice Cooper"

~ Joe Tortelli, Music Business Monthly

“Dick Wagner was the lead guitarist and songwriter on many one million-selling albums for Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Kiss, Meat Loaf, Peter Gabriel and Hall & Oates. After a massive heart attack in 2007, Wagner was back on the road to recovery. Full Meltdown is a joyous compilation of archived recordings: Original, fine rock songs on which Dick Wagner impresses as a singer - his version of "I Might As Well Be On Mars" (on Alice Cooper's "Hey Stupid") is simply brilliant!”

~Christian Schmid,
www.planet.tt, Austria (translated from the German)

“A familiar name to Alice Cooper fans, Dick Wagner was co-writer, lead guitarist and musical director on Alice’s biggest hits of the 1970’s. This album is a compilation of 15 previously lost but now rediscovered songs recorded between 1979-1995 and they gel together extremely well to make a cohesive album despite the gap in years of the source material. Musically speaking, this is a full on melodic hard rock with a driving beat and, not surprisingly, great guitar work but the most pleasant surprise is Wagner’s Plantesque voice which is perfectly suited to the quality of the material. A fine album from an unsung rock stalwart.”

~ Classic Rock Society Magazine

“You only have to look at the website of Detroit rock God Dick Wagner to see what the man has achieved in his career. His work has been featured on more than 150 albums, 14 of which went Platinum, 16 Gold, and 5 Silver, He’s won a plethora of BMI Songwriter Awards to boot. He’s best known for the partnership with Alice Cooper which led to him co-writing tracks including ‘Only Women Bleed’, ‘You and Me’, ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, and at least 50 songs overall. Add in work with Lou Reed, Kiss, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Hall And Oates, Air Supply and more, and you’ll get an idea just how important this guy is.”

~ Jon Wilde, Rock Realms

"This collection of songs rips one right back to the energy of youth, the fire of the eighties, and the innocence of driving down a fast highway with friends, carefree, wired, windows open, not giving a damn.... Emotions are expressed and stories are told in a languishing, rushing, pulsing long breath....The guitar playing, singing, and every other aspect of musicianship and production are performance art at its finest....Harkening back to a memory when I was living in Saudi Arabia (not too long ago) and languishing with the army boys by the Red Sea: this album would have been perfect right there with AC/DC and Led Zeppelin for those early mornings and all night seaside camp-outs when the waves rolled in."

~ Lorelei Loveridge, President-Artist Orderly Bazaar Records & Publishing

“I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of Dick Wagner. Apparently, he’s been involved with some heavy hitters over the years, including writing, arranging and playing with/for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel and other luminaries. ‘Full Meltdown’ features unreleased tracks ranging from 1979 through 1995 and as you could imagine there’s a mixed bag here. The likes of Lloyd Price’s ‘Stagger Lee’…’Insatiable Girl,’ ‘Steal the Thunder’ and ‘Motor City Showdown’ all rock vigorously and from these songs it’s easy to see why the above bands sought out Wagner’s services….Wagner’s guitar playing reminds me of Davey Johnstone from Elton John’s band, and he has always been near the top of my best guitarist list… will seek out more info on Wagner pronto.”

 ~ Tony Pijar, Powerplay Rock & Metal Magazine

Robert Barry Francos
“First a brief history lesson: DICK WAGNER is a songwriter and guitarist whose work has appeared on over 150 albums, including mainstreamers Aerosmith, KISS, and Lou Reed; he was the musical director and tunesmith for Alice Cooper during Coop’s glory years, and has collected 14 platinum records, 16 gold, 5 silver, and numerous songwriter awards. Never heard of him? That’s part of the problem of supporting so many others. “Full Meltdown” collects some of his solo work in a single 70+ minute disc, most recorded between 1979 and 1995. Needless to say, the genre is guitar-fronted rock. Wagner really does deserve the recognition, and this collection is the proof. Sure, on some cuts he is reminiscent of styles from hair metal to Bon Jovi, and straight through the rock canon, but can anyone consider someone as “formulaic” when they are one of the architects of the mold? Wagner’s vocals are solid, and the guitar work is unsurprisingly flaring and razor sharp….. He has a Meat Loaf (with whom he’s also worked) melodic wall-of-sound that works to his benefit. Lots of great cuts, such as “Motor City Showdown” (he is a Detroit native), and the lengthy ballad “I Might As Well Be on Mars.” If you rocked in the ‘70s and ‘80s, this surely will not let you down.”

~ ROBERT BARRY FRANCOS   www.jerseybeat.com/quietcorner.html


"After relocating in Arizona and surviving an unexpected health setback, Dick Wagner shines with FULL MELTDOWN... Of the many great rock ‘n roll artists that have emerged from Michigan, Dick Wagner should be knighted, or at least have a special place reserved in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame for innovative guitar work and the immaculate conception of composition. His work on Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n Roll Animal and the intro to Sweet Jane alone stands as some of the finest guitar playing ever recorded; and if one were to liken it to the fluid complexities of classical music, it would rank right up there with Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Robert E. Martin, Review Magazine

“Probably best known for his collaboration/work with Alice Cooper, Dick Wagner's full list of talents run to guitarist, songwriter, producer and musical director (whatever that is). And the list of who he's worked with reads like an A-Z of rock royalty - Aerosmith, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Meatloaf, Steve Perry, Rod Stewart , Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Guns ‘n' Roses and Tori Amos to name but a few. It would probably be easier to list who he hasn't played with.

Alice Cooper's supporting cast has, of course, been a never ending procession of supporting players since he dispensed with the original Alice Cooper band. But Wagner stayed on the bus longer than most - first appearing on the School's Out album, and taking a major role in all Alice's solo albums from Welcome To My Nightmare through to From The Inside in 1978, returning briefly to the fold for Zipper Catches Skin and DaDa in 1982 and 1983 respectively.

Of course it's always difficult to know what contributors have brought to the Alice Cooper party, because no matter who comes and goes, it always sounds like Alice. Which in a roundabout way neatly sums up Full Meltdown. Recorded between 1979 and 1995 it's a collection of self penned or co-written numbers recorded by Wagner and friends with the main man taking vocal and guitar duties. …So as a sales pitch of what he can offer to others, Full Meltdown is damn impressive…. an interesting insight into a major contributor to the sounds of a generation.”

~ Pete Whalley   http://www.getreadytorock.co.uk/

“To play this album only once is like pouring a Chateau Margaux '61 into a shot glass and downing it with salt and lemon like an end-of-the-night Tequila shot. That’s not the way I drink exotic French wine, or the way I listen to “Full Meltdown”.  Each listen gleans me a new favorite song. Something I missed in the last listening -- a flavor I failed to notice. Like a fine wine, this album ages well. More rewarding still with each new play. Truly a record to be savored, which is a rare thing in a world enamored with fast food and instant gratification. “

~ Matt Brooks, Amazon.com

“This is a nice surprise and a blast from the past.… Dick Wagner certainly played a major role in Cooper's next purple patch with career defining albums such as 'Welcome To My Nightmare' and 'Alice Cooper Goes To Hell'. Wagner co-wrote the classic ballads 'Only Women Bleed', 'I Never Cry,' 'You And Me' and 'The Quiet Room'.… And news to me is that his talents have spread deeper into my music collection than I realised. From playing the superb solo on Peter Gabriel's 'Here Comes The Flood' to guitar duties on Lou Reed's 'Berlin'. Amazingly this guy even played on 'Destroyer' by Kiss. The acoustic guitar on 'Beth'? - That's him!

'Still Hungry' starts off inauspiciously enough but soon grabs my attention with interesting melodic changes that raise the song up a notch from the ordinary and gives a hint of what this man is capable of. Wagner's voice is great too. On the one hand it could be said that Wagner is a better vocalist than both of his prior paymasters Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. He certainly has a wider range and is more polished - as is evident on 'Modern Times.'

'Stagger Lee' has a Meat Loaf kind of old classic rock 'n' roll sound to it courtesy of the boogie woogie piano but, every now and then Wagner throws out the standard rock 'n' roll turnarounds from Lloyd Price's original and chucks in some 'Wagner' chordal twists in their place. It's high-energy stuff and a lot of fun. And, to boot, Wagner has turned me on to Lloyd Price's music as this song is now lodged in my head permanently.

'Ecstasy' is ballad number two which starts out with Wagner picking out a slow chord progression which makes you think this is another 'Only Women Bleed' but then Wagner takes a side step and goes into a very tonally strange and pleasing pre-chorus. And the twists and turns don't stop there. It's a kind of rock opera sandwiched into a compact four-minute ballad structure. This is kind of what Steely Dan might have come up with if they'd ever been invited to come up with a James Bond theme.

The piano intro to 'These Days' gives me hope of another ballad comparable to 'You And Me'. And this could be the best song on the album. It doesn't take much effort to close your eyes and imagine Elton John tinkling the ivories.  'Modern Times' has the grandeur and drama of a classic 70s Alice Cooper track. It's clear here what Dick brings to the song writing table and what Alice Cooper brings. Because, despite this being an Alice track musically, it's nowhere near an Alice track lyrically.

For me - an ad hoc Alice Cooper historian - this album is a cool rock 'n' roll appendix…. Dick Wagner is undeniably a great songwriter and I wouldn't be surprised to see a large portion of these songs turning up as covers on other people's album - if indeed they haven't already.”

~ Russ P http://www.extendedmix.com/recensioner/recension.asp?albumID=1744

”For all you Alice Cooper fans will need no introduction to DICK WAGNER. For it was he that Alice and Bob Ezrin chose to be songwriting partner when Alice dropped out of the band, and Alice Cooper and went out for his own career. DICK also has a career spanning over thirty years as musical director, guitarist and songwriter for… Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Kiss, Peter Gabriel and others… Since then, his life consisted of music (also writing) for his own bands along the way, such as Ursa Major and The Frost (not to be confused with the dark doom band Frost and English prog rock band Frost)

In recent years, Dick Wagner has been ill, so that he could not play at all, but he is on the mend. As therapy, he has been looking into his stash and found a lot of recordings made over the years from 1979 to 1995… The record consists of 15 tracks… From 1979… we find six recordings, "Blue collar babies"; "Modern Times", "Motor City showdown", "Feel It All Over", "These Days" and … a cover, namely "Stagger Lee".

Ahead of its time is a song from 1988, "She Said", a stylish and contemporary ballad where DICK plays all the instruments himself, using a drum machine and synths. Although Dick is a very good and recognized guitarist, he is also really good on the piano, which we, can hear, for example, on "These Days".  Six tracks come from 1991, including the opening track, "Still Hungry." It’s a really good song that sounds like a hybrid between Foreigner and the J. Geils Band. During this time also wrote DICK Kiss and "Insatiable girl." "I'd take the bullet" is also from this period and is a beautiful ballad and one of the best tracks on the album.

The song "Ecstasy" is a typical DICK WAGNER composition with theatrical elements that would fit as well with Alice Cooper. Here to assist DICK are brothers Gregg and Matt Bissonette. Last, from this period is "Another twist of the knife" a melodic rocker with a stylish an easily hummed chorus hook. The two last tracks, dated 1995, are "I Might as well be on Mars", written together with Alice Cooper and Desmond Child, and the song "Darkest Hour", which mixes blues a la Led Zeppelin with the American 70's pop rock, like Guess Who.

Overall, this is a very nice record. For all Alice Cooper fans, it's a must…. I love it. And I hear my great idol Alice as a ghost voice over many of the songs ...”
~ Roger Öhrström (Sweden) www.extendedmix.com Translated from the Swedish ©2010

15 selections from the artistry of Dick Wagner on a compilation entitled Full Meltdown come with the obligatory 4 page liner notes/insert that we who appreciate classic rock need….  “Still Hungry” open(s) the disc, a 1991 production created at Trax Studios in Los Angeles with Jack White on drums, Matt Bissonnette on bass and Fred Mandel on keyboards/B3. It slips into “Blue Collar Babies”, one of six songs recorded at Gil Markle’s Long View Farm in 1979 with a band called Meltdown, managed by the late Charlie McKenzie, he of the group Boston and Willie Loco Alexander fame.

The 90s and 70s material actually sounds very 80s, infringing on the territory that Eddie Money, 38 Special and Van Halen traveled, though Wagner has more grit than Money and 38 Special and his formidable songwriting skills make these titles a bit more appealing than some of the music that actually made it to radio.

“Insatiable Girl” from the 1991 Los Angeles sessions could be a sequel to the 1989 Grammy winner from Robert Palmer, “Simply Irresistable” while ‘I’d Take The Bullet’… and “Another Twist Of The Knife”… would’ve been good for Alice Cooper back in the day… The delightful cover of “Stagger Lee” opens with a John Lennon-styled vocal straight out of Double Fantasy…I played this for Buzzy Linhart over the phone tonight (11/22/09) and Buzzy thought the arrangement was ‘fantastic’ (it is)…’Stagger Lee’ is close to four minutes and the song becomes a Bob Seger-like “Hollywood Nights” talk/song…the material from Long View Farm was lost to the ages until recently, Gil Markle telling GemmZine “Many of these tracks were recorded at Long View in 1979, and lay undiscovered in a mis-labeled packing container for almost 30 years. The members of Charlie McKenzie’s Boston-based band “Meltdown” played on some of them. The rest were recorded a few years later, mostly in L.A. I re-mastered the material for Dick in Tobago.’ (On) ‘Ecstasy’… the riffing and guitars (move) from pop/rock into progressive becoming something totally original in the process…

For Alice Cooper fans there’s Dick’s own version of the co-write that he created with Desmond Child and Cooper, “I Might As Well Be On Mars”….and Dick does a fine job on voice and all instruments…

It’s great to have this music produced by Dick Wagner compiled so uniformly, the liner notes precisely telling where and when each track was laid down and who plays on it along with two letters from Dick to the reader/listener all packed in a good compilation for his long-time followers and those who appreciate superb musicianship and creative songwriting.

~ JOE VIGLIONE  www.tmrzoo.com/?p=9514

The fans of music history among us must have undoubtedly heard about Dick Wagner, certainly when they tackle the Alice Cooper chapter….For his CD, ‘Full Meltdown,’ Dick Wagner selected tracks from recently rediscovered…. studio recordings from 1979, 1988, 1991 and 1995 and the result is without any doubt amazing. You hear a bit of Cooper in each track, but also a lot of Dick Wagner. This compilation starts off with the stomping, Cooperish, ‘Still Hungry.’ Within ‘Blue Collar Babies,’ is a hidden allude to ‘Billion Dollar Babies’.

‘Insatiable Girl,’ ‘Steal The Thunder,’ and ‘Another Twist of The Knife’ are rockers, cut from the best rock wood. ‘She Said’ starts up very modestly but turns into a tune with cool tempo changes, and with humble but very clearly present keyboards in the background. ‘These Days’ is a delicious point of rest with only Dick Wagner at the piano. This is real craftsmanship... in ‘Modern Times’ is Dick Wagner strumming his guitar like he used to.

‘I’d Take The Bullet’ and ‘I Might As Well Be On Mars’ are two treasure rock ballads, which The Scorpions cannot match. The latter track is the undisputed highlight of the album. It is a risky business to record a cover of a classic like ‘Stagger Lee,’ but an inventive guitar break by Dick Wagner comes to the rescue.

You would not tell at all that you hold a compilation CD in your hand…. It looks like all the tracks have been recently recorded instead of in the above mentioned years, because they make such a great unit.”

~ Alfons Maes, Ivan Van Belleghem,  www.keysandchords.com



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