Tag Archives: New England (band)

Old Dude School of Rock!-1980

In a year by year continuing series where I dust the cobwebs off my Noggin and share with you all what I had actually bought with my hard-earned allowance! Plus I can ramble on and on….(I purchased more than what is posted here but these are the one’s that I dig talking about!) and maybe you the reader may check out some of this stuff and think “Hey Deke’s isn’t completely off his Rocker!”


A  New Decade and with it comes some new music to my ears and some of the regulars that made an impact in 1980…

1980 was the first time I heard Styx and on a whim wanted 1979’s Cornerstone. I don’t want to say too much about this one as I want to review it sometime soon with a few other Styx albums so..


KISS in 1980 releases Unmasked and even as a 13-year-old at the time I even knew this album was KISS in trouble . Recall the hype I read in Circus (before the album came out)where KISS was going to call their album Unmasked! I thought “Wow I’m going to get to see how ugly Simmons actually is!” Nope did not happen got the album and the cover was a drawn cover that Tbone who was 13 also at the time could have drawn a far superior cover and the songs were average at best! I will say Ace Frehley  wrote the classic Torpedo Girl. KISS had up to this point had done better and were yet to really lose their brains once 1981 rolled around(Next time folks!)

The brilliant New England returned with their followup to their excellent self titled debut  in 1980 and   released Explorer Suite which continued their path of excellent written tracks by John Fannon as in the brilliant prog poppy title track and others like Hey You On The Run and Seal It With A Kiss. I got this album as a gift from my cool parents for Christmas  that year!

It’s no secret how much I love still to this day Queen’s The Game album which I purchased as soon as I heard Another One Bites The Dust. Mercury/May/Taylor/Deacon were the first band I had heard that had a different sound but they could all still bring the Rock! Fred had a real slick knack at making the piano sound cool! Every track is a winner and I could go on and on but you all know  this already so let’s carry on shall we?!

July 1980 and AC/DC school us in what the birds and bee’s in life are about. So in honour of each track I won’t ramble about the 10 songs on the album but instead one word that to me describes each song as how the AC/DC sound pounded my senses to smithereens …

Here it goes.. 1-Hells’s Bells-=Satan/ 2- Shoot To Thrill-=Pills/ 3-What Do You Do For Money Honey=Hookers/ 4-Given The Dog A Bone= Sex/5-Let Me Put My Love Into You=Boner/ 6-Back In Black=Death/7- You Shook Me All Night Long=Girls/ 8- Have A Drink On Me=Booze/9-Shake A Leg=Mess/10-Rock n Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution= Coolness.

Like Queen up to that point I  never heard a band like AC/DC as KISS/Cheap Trick albums sonically sounded clean but here comes DC kicking my young ass hard and teaching me that there is more to  Rock Songwriting than Shandi! 

Coming up….Maiden/VH/Triumph/Rush/Priest/Whitesnake and more KISS as Metal really takes a stranglehold in my life back in 1981!

The First Eight Albums That I Ever Purchased…..



A few days ago  blogging Pal Joe MR 1537)  and moi had a discussion  and we were talking about Queen albums and Joe mentioned that his first 6 albums that he ever purchased with his own money were Queen albums.

I thought that was awesome and Joe as well named off his Top 10 Queen albums which was wicked as well! ( I would have bumped up The Game a few spots myself on the  Top Queen album list but Joe’s List. Joe’s Rules)

Still Though it was a great conversation and it’s always fun to read and see  what other people have picked out when it comes to music!

Now this timeline I just kept from early 1979 to the end of 1979 (the year I began buying albums) So here it goes.

Feel free to comment about your First ever purchased album whether its 1 album or 100 albums..it doesn’t matter let’s have some fun folks!

The only album I can recall in order of my first ever purchased album  was from no surprise here folks…..

That’s right KISS has the distinction of being my first ever album purchase and that wasn’t even  in Canada but in the U.S.A. That honour would go to Mikey Ladano’s fav U.S City that being Duluth Minnesota! As some of you readers know growing  up my pal John Young first discovered KISS as he had The Originals. I was blown away I had to get KISS.I needed KISS and once in Duluth at Miller Hill Mall I spent my allowance on KISS ALIVE 2. Talk about impacting a 11 going  on 12-year-old at the time!

KISS delivered  a Double Album, Three Sides Live! Fourth Side Studio! Double Gatefold Sleeve! Booklet! Tattoos! Super Loud Crowd! Gene Simmons on the cover looking like some Kabuki Satanic Warrior with that blood like crap spewing from his bottom lip! I was sold and enlisted in the KISS Army!

The rest of these albums are not in any order of my purchase but they are what I owned in 1979!

New England and that would be no doubt reading in some Rock Mag in 1979 that Paul Stanley produced this band from Boston called New England. New England never achieved super stardom but in my own little world they kicked me in the ASS as these four Fella’s played with a huge style of their own! Loud Guitars/Cranked up Hammond/Great Lead and Backing Vocals all wrapped up in a tight little 40 minute  package…

While reading away feverishly in whatever Rock Magazine I could get a fix on I came across an article on a band from Rockford Illinois called Cheap Trick who were getting a ton of play and sales on a live album called Live at the Budokan. Course in the magazine there is a KISS connection and that would be that Cheap Trick opened a ton of shows for KISS. That was enough for me. Sold …. and amongst all these shrieking Japanese girls hollering for Drummer Bun E Carlos the Tricksters still packed a wallop but with finesse .Easy loveable catchy like songs delivered with a great rhythm yet sloppy lead guitarist named Rick Nielsen who was the main writer as well who had a lead singer named Robin Zander who could sing the headlines on the front page of your newspaper and make it sound cool! Rounding out the quartet is  Bassist Tom Petersson who looked cool. Played it cool and blew my mind at that young age that he only played 8 & 12 String Basses!!! Must also mention like KISS, Cheap Trick taught me about Gimmicks. Trick had their own  Gimmick with Two Cool Looking Guys and Two Dorks. They made it work!

KISS in 1979 was huge in my world. Even though looking back People were tiring of them and they were tiring of themselves! I had no idea so when KISS delivered their new studio album Dynasty I was all over it, Kiss could do no harm in my world! They still looked bad ass. No one knew what they looked like. The Lead Guitarist Ace Frehley realized he had a ton of talent and that  Gene and Paul were holding him back musically while Peter Criss from his disaster of a solo album was partying it up in 1979  like it was 1999 and only drummed on one track on Dynasty(Dirty Livin) Kiss was in shambles yet when they released this album it still delivered a hit between my eyes!

As you have read here a few times before KISS was my first ever Live Show in Duluth back in October of 1979. Support act was Judas Priest except they no showed! Still it didn’t matter as shortly after the KISS show I sauntered into our local Sam The Record Man and the there it was in the New Release Racks! Unleashed in the East! When I dropped my needle on the grooves of this album it blew my mind! I had never heard dudes do twin lead guitar solos before. Glenn Tipton/KK Downing just soar out of the gates at the beginning of Exciter and their riffage together and apart is so unbelievably tight! I never heard guitars played with such furiousity! Course you have a Lead Singer named Rob Halford who sings in all kinds of crazy octaves throughout and the pace is tighter than the running of the bulls and that’s thanks to Drummer Les Binks who plays the drums right on this (ahem) live release unlike later live Priest albums where Scott Travis overplay’s everything but still man….

So after KISS ALIVE 2 in the summer of 1979  out on a family trip somewhere in Southern Ontario I purchased KISS Double Platinum which is my first dabble with a Greatest Hits set! Since I didn’t own any other KISS than Alive 2 this was a no brainer plus KISS had all there classic tracks up till 1978 on it. 21 tracks in all. Actually the running order of the album featured some good stuff which a lot of it I had never heard before which was basically the material from the first three KISS studio records. Still have no idea what the deal was behind Strutter 78 but whatever KISS had to sell product so the Army would buy. Come to think of maybe Stanley should do a Strutter 18???! Speaking of which I looked at the tracks on Double Platinum and you know what? Out of the 1,776 different KISS Greatest Hits that are available to buy. I will go on record as saying that this is the best one….

The success of Cheap Tricks Budokan album got me all hyped for the new CT record and that would be the fantastic Dream Police album that proved to me that the Tricksters could deliver a studio album on par with a classic live album as a followup! Course Trick in the mid 80’s  for a period skidded right off the tracks but let’s not go there shall we??! Dream Police was chalked full of  lyrical quirkiness and a real slick sounding Hard Rock sound. Dream Police also used strings on a few tracks and it worked and it did not make me gag! Back in 79 the Dream Police were stuck inside my head!

And what would fall under the WHAT THE F**K WAS I THINKING  category would be the Gene Simmons 1978 solo album! Gene I guess you could say was my early go to guy in KISS. He looked ugly. Spat Fire. Spewed Blood. Wrote cool tunes like Ladies Room/Calling Dr Love/Christine 16 so when I had a chance to buy another KISS album I bought this when I could have bought another KISS studio album! Yeah bizarre huh? Egocentric was this album. 500 Guest musicians and a ton of name drops on the back of the album cover. Some cool rock tracks like Radioactive/See you in your Dreams some sap,like the cover of Wish You Upon A Star. Some bizarre stuff like Living in Sin in which during the song you hear a phone ring as  Cher works on giving The Demon a phoner boner. Some Horndog filler in Tunnel of Love.  Some would call this diversity.  Looking back on it. Mean Gene recorded an album of chaos that would come to my mind now.

Thanks for reading as I thought this was going to be a short snap shot of my early music dabbling so I appreciate it if you made it through my ramble!



New England/Live At The Regent Theatre (2017)



So by now you all know that New England early on were one of my go to listening bands when I was 13 and listening to the usual suspects back in 1980(KISS/Cheap Trick/Queen/Judas Priest) New England had an AOR Pomp about em and they should have been mega but for some reason it alluded them.

Not to me though as the self titled debut(1979) and Explorer Suite (1980)are both classic albums that have stood the test of time.

Fast forward to 2014 and the original New Englander’s John Fannon(guitar/vocals) Gary Shea(bass) Hirsch Gardner(drums) and Jimmy Waldo(Keyboards) recorded there show in the New England area and finally in early 2017 it has found its release to the world!


1. Seal It With a Kiss live 3:50
2. L5 live 4:20
3. Hello Hello Hello live 3:42
4. Alone Tonight/ Shoot live 7:54
5. Holdin’ Out On Me live 2:52
6. Conversation live 3:26
7. Shall I Run Away live 6:21
8. Turn Out The Light live 2:08
9. Honey Money live 4:01
10. Explorer Suite live 7:23
11. Hope live 6:30
12. Nothing To Fear live 5:38
13. Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya live 6:57
14. You’ll Be Born Again live 2:48
15. I Know There’s Something Here new studio track bonus track 4:08

Total Running Time: 71:58

That’s right Friend’s 2 Seconds short of a full 72 minutes of Hard Rock delight which upon first listen let’s me the listener know that these talented cat’s have not lost a step vocally or musically in over 30 years!

iTunes  here in Canada finally added this to the  New England back catalogue and BAM! A quick download ….

The boy’s start off with Seal It With A Kiss which was the leadoff song on Side 2 of Explorer Suite(if you’re keeping score) and New England lifts off after Waldo’s synth like swirl’s begin the tune and this song is a great track. Catchy everything/music/lyrics/singing it’s all here. What a lead off….

L-5 is the second track in and up til this release I had never heard it as it was off the Walking Wild album. L-5 keeps the rock rolling right into Hello Hello Hello from the self titled debut keeps the momentum pushing forward. I have said it before in my reviews of New England that Waldo has a firm grip on running the key’s as he enhances the sound/makes it atmospheric to let John’s guitar soar at certain points. So many bands could have taken a cue from these guys on how to add keyboards in the scope of a rock band.

Alone Tonight keeps the party rolling right into one of my Fav New England tunes ever and thats Shoot. Shoot is a rocker of a track with Waldo driving the Hammond like Jon Lord did in the hey daze of Deep Purple while Fannon inner channels his Ritchie Blackmore at the start of the solo especially! Love Shoot it features all the trappings of a Great Hard Rock Track in fast tempo/driving drums/walking bass line/cool vocals/loud guitar and huge slam dunk of an ending and this is still early on in the show!

Gardner slams the drums hard at the start of Holdin Out On Me  as well as I believe handling the lead vocal as well! Its another one of those great New England hard driving rock tracks. This is a song i had never heard til this live album as the third New England album Walking Wild never made its way to Thunder Bay! Better late than never …

The next three tracks…Conversation/Shall I Run Away/Turn Out The Light are stripped back with acoustic guitars piano and great harmonies as the England boy’s put the breaks on the Hard Rock still though even though the tracks aren’t blasting they are still delivered exceptionally in a live setting.

The Fella’s ramp it back up with the opening number from 1980’s Explorer Suite and thats the great track Honey Money.  Another straight ahead rock track which is so good to revisit this one as well.

Speaking of Explorer Suite it’s played to perfection as it weaves Prog like elements throughout proving that these cat’s can play.

Hope is played followed bv Nothing To Fear with John singing opening and than the rest of the boy’s ripping into it once the song picks up the pace with Hirsch handling the lead vocals…

John tells a great story about opening for KISS on the Dynasty Tour in Montreal( I won’t give it away…go and buy this CD) which leads into a brilliant opening riff by John and it’s Don’t Ever Wanna Lose You. 

You’ll Be Born Again ends the show with just piano and John’s voice!  Kinda of a neat twist to end the show …a chill vibe so to speak…


A bonus studio track is added titled I know There’s Something Here which is the first new studio track in over 30 years! Something for my pal Mikey Ladano to since his teeth into!

I cannot stress enough how cool it is to finally hear these studio tracks live! Top notch performances in regards to vocals and musical muscle are delivered throughout. The best part it that New England 2017 is the same four guys that I discovered back in late 1979!

Check this one out!


New England/Explorer Suite (1980)

I have numerous times over these Blog pages have mentioned how back in 1979/1980 that bands such as KISS/AC/DC/Cheap Trick/Van Halen/Queen and Rush had help shape my listening habits as an 13-year-old back than. One band that I must apologize to is New England as they should be mentioned in the same sentence as those previous six bands above.

New England released their debut album titled simply enough New England which was produced by the one and only Mr Paul Stanley and being a KISS FanBoy at the time I got this one at Christmas of 1979! I did review this fantastic piece of work….


Speaking of which here are the Fine Fella’s known as New England!

John Fannon: guitar, vocals
Jimmy Waldo: keyboards, vocals
Hirsh Gardner: drums, vocals
Gary Shea: bass

1980 rolls around and drops Explorer Suite (Produced by Mike Stone and John Fannon)which surprise I asked for Christmas 1980 and I received on vinyl!

Explorer Suite…….The Tracks…

1. Honey Money (4:06)
2. Livin’ in the Eighties (3:26)
3. Conversation (3:20)
4. It’s Never to Late (3:52)
5. Explorer Suite (6:37)
6. Seal It With a Kiss (3:08)
7. Hey You’re on the Run (3:33)
8. No Place to Go (3:58)
9. Searchin’ (3:08)
10. Hope (6:09)
11. You’ll Be Born Again (2:33)

Explorer Suite was my first discovery into what I would call Prog Pop as New England take the rawness of the debut and add a few more musical layers and dive head first and make an album that would to my ears fall into the category of an Styx album and no not the Mr Roboto like Styx but more like an Cornerstone Styx like record.

I’m comparing New England and Styx just to give you the reader an example of the caliber that New England brought to the table in the early 80’s! These records still stand the test of time today and it’s been a great reunion for me as they are available on Itunes!

Here’s a little smattering of some random thoughts….

The album starts with the very good Honey Money and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo know his spot as he would have the Keys/Hammond like sound swirling around but not taking anything away from John’s electric guitaring.

Living In The 80’s is a another great track with John laying down the foundation with a classic rock like opening riff and the rest of the boys joining in with Bassist Gary Shea doing some cool Bass Riffage right before Waldo and his keys take the song into overdrive. I must mention that these guys can all sing as the backing harmonies are what propel this album into songs that will remain etched in the upper portions of your noggin long when the song is done!

Remember what I said about the harmonies. The title track (Explorer Suite) here is 6 plus minutes of a Prog delight! Tons of time changes/keyboards maxed to perfection and Drummer Hirsh joins John in the song as a co- lead vocalist. Explorer Suite is just plain brilliance. You all need to hear it as it’s the video posted!

Seal It With A Kiss leads off and sets the pace for Side 2 as the band is  on all 4 Musical Cylinders as it’s an all out flat rocker! More great backing harmonies propel this song straight forward especially  at the end of the album when John rips out some solo action as its jus this and Hirsh playing out the song….

Hey Youre On The Run is another piece of fantastic rock which once again features those great lead and backing vocals. That’s the thing with these guys as they had all the goods in songs/musical chops. This song should have been mega!

Searchin’ is another track in the Pop Rock realm and should have been another single. Perhaps it was? But man this song is a great track featuring some nice guitar work by Mr Fannon.

Just when you think these guys may just be writing Poppy like singles think again as Hope crosses  into Queen Territory with a big bombastic guitar solos swirling twirling keys. 6 minutes plus. That’s two tracks on this album that are breaking the mold and taking these guys into other area’s of Rock and by Gosh as an 13-year-old in 1980 I take notice!

You’ll Be Born Again sends off the album with nice piano like outro by Waldo. Chill like moment…

It was great revisiting this album as albums like this have shaped my musical  landscape and my bad as I should be giving credit where credit is due and that’s with New England.

You may be wondering what happened with these guys as they should have been mega but like many a great act that should have but switching record company’s after the debut set things back and after one more album 1981’s Walking Wild Produced by Todd Rundgren John Fannon quit New England while Waldo and Shea played in Alcatrazz. 

But here we are in 2017 and New England is back and performing with the same 4 guys which is totally impressive and by the vids on You Tube they all have their Hair! YUP and also the chops and Harmonies!


A live album is going to be released “Live At The Regent Theatre that was recently recorded and it will be a no brainer purchase for me!








SONIC WAVES….New England/New England

New England than…..

New England now….

If you have been a reader here at Arena Rock for a bit you may recall that at the turn of the decade (1979 rolling into 1980) my listening habits were Kiss,Cheap Trick,Queen and AC/DC. One band that flew under the radar back than (and should have been included with those 4 other bands mentioned)and still flies under the radar  today is the self titled album from those chaps from New England called well….New England!

The  band consisted of John Fannon(guitar,lead vocalist and songwriter) Jimmy Waldo(keyboards) Hirsh Gardner(drums) and Gary Shea(bass). I must also mention that Hirsh Gardner was born in Toronto so we have a token Canuck in New England! Bam!

I discovered these guys through an add in Circus Magazine and Wowzers Paul Stanley produced it??? (along with Mike Stone)Surely it must be rock right?! Yep it was and well they were managed as well by Kiss’ management (Aucoin) so me being a young lad I took the plunge and I think just like New England’s career itself these guys flew under the radar for whatever reason as myself and I think Muc were the only 2 guys that were onboard with the debut. Lots of people missed out on this Gem of a debut but it’s never too late here at Arena Rock!

My great fantastic parents got me this record as it was on my Christmas Wish  Rock List 1979  and as always Mom and Dad delivered and it’s a well crafted piece of good hard rock from yesteryear! I have no idea were my vinyl copy of it went but I did buy this off of ITunes as they had it  for $6.00! So after a few spins of it this album it deserves some props!

PROPS it’s gonna be……

HELLO,HELLO,HELLO- ok I will tell Ya straight up these guys oozed on Waldo’s keyboards but the one thing is it enhanced their sound not weasel it out to the suits of record labels  like Journey did time and time again! (Show of hands,can anyone tell me a Journey song where the guitar is mixed higher than Jon Cains keys in the Steve Perry era?) Anyhoo Fannon has a good knack for writing the song and Hello Hello Hello is a good opener and shows  me that these guys can play their instruments! I would call this album Big Atmospheric Rock and sets the plate for….

DONT EVER WANNA LOSE YA- what a great opening riff! This song is a great well written piece of Hard Rock! I’m sure Stanley (not that he would admit it) drooled over the opening riff by Fannon! Ha! good on Ya John! This was there single and a good one it was,and watch the video posted and you’ll know what I’m talking about! That opening riff is classic rock !

P.U.N.K- stands for Puny Undernourished Kid! A 4 on the floor rocker that kicks some real good ass! Boom,lotsa guitar,lotsa keys,lotsa bass and Hirsh pounds the Drums!

SHALL I RUN AWAY-big time shall we say ballad! I’m ok with these guys doing it as it was their debut and they were more about the Rockers so fair enough they gotta attract the ladies after show to the bus so go fellas go! Special note must be given to Fannons guitaring at the beginning of this track! Some real chill slide playing almost like if you were on a desert island with a drink in hand soaking up the rays. That kinda chill….

ALONE TONIGHT-boom this is a fast paced rocker and all these years later I can hear some of Boston’s sound in this band and why not they came from the same neck of the woods so now don’t get edgy here when I say the comparison word! Not in the songs though just  the production end of it! Why on earth did not Stanley make Kiss records sound like this? Kiss’ album Unmasked could have perhaps been spared the 3/4’s Kiss Filler Week. On second thought …..Nope!

NOTHING TO FEAR- one of my favourite tracks of the New England boys! This song is a slow builder at the beginning  with just guitar and Waldo’s atmospheric keyboards enhancing the sound in the back! Kids just like how UFO used the keys properly so did New England!  Before you know it boom Hirsh slams down the drums and John hits some real cool power riffs and were offf! Nothing To Fear is a great track great everything about it! Watch the video for it posted above filmed last summer! (2014)It’s a great version and Hirsh nails down the lead vocal once the song ramps up!

SHOOT-Jimmy and John lock horns right off the hope and Gary does some cool Bassing and along this song just cooks like New England doing a mash-up with Deep Purple. This song is a road racer of a track! After John tells us the listener that “he’s gonna shoot Ya….” Whammo into some serious keyboard action and John takes over and wrap everything with Hirsh smashing around his drums at the end of the tune! Whoosh…….no fooling around! Crank the vid posted!

TURN OUT THE LIGHT-Yep another slowish kind of tune but a little heavier of a punch than Shall I Run Away! Good song though plenty of single action here and why it was not released as one who the hell knows!

THE LAST SHOW-hey peeps were getting to the end of the Show! Another good rocker! Yeah throw some Deep Purple in the mix with Boston in the New England mash-up! Great song well-played  and well sung!

ENCORE-the album ends with a song called Encore! Genius if you ask me! The song is big bombastic and a fitting send off of great rock!

IN CONCLUSION- the fact that these guys fell under the rock radar is injustice I mean basically they slipped through the cracks so much I forgot about them and this album should have been reviewed here a lot earlier! But all these years later it was good spinning this record like talking or in this case listening to a long-lost friend!

New England did however have a shot at the big time as they opened for Kiss on there Dynasty tour and New England did release a second record Explorer Suite that featured some great hard rock AOR tracks like Seal It With A Kiss,Livin In The 80s and a song that should have catapulted them to the top which was Hey You On The Run.

Who knows what happened back than as I read a blurb in some magazine that they disbanded in 1982. I do know that Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo formed Alacatrazz with Graham Bonnet (x Rainbow singer) and a young Yngwie J Malmsteen and carried on for a bit.  It’s good to see these guys playing together again (occasionally) with the same 4 guys!

May 2015 and New England drops a new single titled I Know There’s Something Here (first new music in 33 years!)on iTunes!

Check it out….I know I’m gonna!