As the year 2000 is over, we take a retrospective look...

Bandi: This year was the best year in melodic rock since 1991. I know it might sound exaggerative but that's the last year I can remember I had so many great releases to choose from. Though it is to admit last year was quite strong too. So the signs say something really must have started, we are going up again, though we all know and have to face that melodic rock won't rule MTV charts as it did in the last years of the 80s and maybe till 91 or so. But there's a generation of musicians who grew up on those cult bands and now they build a very strong follow up for them. Even if we take a look at the best albums of this year we can see two generations mixed there. On one hand there are the young and fresh bands (Dreamhunter, Kharma, etc) and seasoned, cult AOR heroes like Mark Mangold or Kevin Chalfant just to name some. The materials and the competition this year was so strong that some of my all time favorites (David Coverdale, Bon Jovi, Pink Cream 69, Kip Winger, Danger Danger, etc.) didn't even qualify in my top 10. It does not mean those albums were bad. Not at all! The others were just so much better.

Kimmo: I'll have to second Bandi's opinion here. Even though I didn't feel like awarding any album the full points, I must say that there was a whole lot of good albums released this year. What's more, there are still a few that we didn't get to hear, like the new Mitch Malloy album, which might have confirmed our thoughts even more.

Bandi: Another sign of the strength of the albums is that The VU delivering the song of the year could only qualify as 7th among the albums on my chart. The reason is very simple: the other albums were so much stronger. My top 10 albums of the year were so very close to each other that it took me weeks and weeks of calculation, re-thinking, re-listening till I could set my list up. The winners are so very close to each other that there were really only nuances that decided.

Kimmo: The Vu song was my favourite this year too, yet the album almost didn't make it to my top 10. Even worse succeeded Bon Jovi, who had not one, but two songs worthy of a top 10 position ("It's My Life" and "One Wild Night" are huge favourites of mine) , but unfortunately a whole lot of less impressive material too on their "Crush" album. Strangely enough, I couldn't single out one particular song from my Album Of The Year, Brian McDonald's "Wind It Up" to the Song Top Ten...still a great album! As for my album chart, there were 15 or so strong contenders, and it took a while for me as well to narrow them down to ten.

Bandi:Taking a look at the albums on my list one has to realize that almost the half of them were released by Frontiers. That makes them the Label of the Year in my book. Congratulations!

Kimmo: AOR Heaven had quite a strong impact on the chart as well. What was excpected is the absence of major labels...Only EMI with Coverdale are trying to fit in...

Bandi: As I said last year was very good and this year even better. If we go on like this next year Loud & Clear will all be about raving how great albums we are flooded with. Well, we are ready for it.

Loud & Clear's Top 20 Albums of 2000:

1. Danger Danger: The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves (MTM)
"The band has again successfully combined modern rock influences with the classic D2 sound, and added a couple of neat twists in there as well." full review here!

2. Kharma: Wonderland (MTM)
"This group has managed to create a very interesting combination of 70'ies style Pomp Rock and traditional Scandinavian Hard Rock sounds." full review here!

3. The Sign: Signs Of Life (Frontiers/Now & Then)
""Crossed The Line", "Aryon" and "Wine" are some of the best AOR tracks I've heard all year, and most of the remaining songs aren't too bad either." full review here!

4. T'bell: Replay (AOR Heaven)
5. Dreamhunter: Kingdom Come (Z Records)
6. Hugo: Time On Earth (Frontiers/Now & Then)
7. Millenium: Hourglass (Frontiers/Now & Then)
8. Street Talk: Transition (AOR Heaven)
9. Mcdonald, Brian: Wind It Up (MTM)
10. Firehouse: O2 (Spitfire)
11. Ten: Babylon (Frontiers/Now & Then)
12. Two Fires: S/t (Frontiers/Now & Then)
13. Alyson Avenue: Presence Of Mind (AOR Heaven)
14. David Coverdale: Into The Light (EMI)
15. Frontline: Right Attitude (AOR Heaven)
16. Nelson: Life (Perris Records)
17. Jim Peterik And World Stage: S/t (World Stage Int'l Records)
18. Talk Of The Town: The Ways Of The World (AOR Heaven)
19. The Vu: Phoenix Rising (Frontiers/Now & Then)
20. Hair Of The Dog: Rise (Spitfire)

Personal Top 10 Albums of 2000:

Kimmo
1. Mcdonald, Brian: Wind It Up (MTM)
Absolutely filler-free album. I quote my original review: "it seems like the scale starts from "good" and goes up to "awesome"!"
2. Alyson Avenue: Presence Of Mind (AOR Heaven)
Awesome scandinavian female-fronted AOR ála Witness, Robin Beck etc.
3. Nelson: Life (Perris Records)
Who would have thought that the Timotei Twins would return with an album that almost challenges their debut in being the definite Nelson album?
4. The Sign: Signs Of Life (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Supergroup with a superb album.
5. Kharma: Wonderland (MTM)
Wonderful! Even with a song called "Hold On"!
6. Danger Danger: The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves (MTM)
I might drop a quarter of a star from the rating now, but still an excellent album.
7. T'bell: Replay (AOR Heaven)
A fantastic timetravelling experience to the early eighties.
8. Hugo: Time On Earth (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Solid second album from the cult AOR God.
9. Dreamhunter: Kingdom Come (Z Records)
Powerful melodic scando hard rock, I hear echoes of Pretty Maids and Bonfire here!
10. The Vu: Phoenix Rising (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Featuring the song of the year "Keys To The City". Damn it's good!

Bandi
1. Dreamhunter: Kingdom Come (Z Records)
When I first heard the title track of the album on a Z Records Sampler, I knew something huge was coming. That song was the Song of the Year for me for a very long time, it almost made it but then the VU album also came out. Anyway, as I said in my review back then, my expectations were very high concerning this album, and the band made it! There's not a single weak song on this album. Congrats!
2. T'bell: Replay (AOR Heaven)
This album totally blew me away. The quality of the songs are just so high, almost all of them are 10 pointers. I was in big trouble which album to chose for the Album of the Year position. The only reason I have chosen Dreamhunter was that there were some really outstanding songs on that one that got 11 points out of 10 in my book.
3. Kharma: Wonderland (MTM)
This album is definitely more vivid than the first two, so it could even have beaten them, There were maybe one or two songs on it that weren't 10 pointers, that's the only reason they are "only" third.
4. The Sign: Signs Of Life (Frontiers/Now & Then)
If the song "Stranded" wasn't on this album it would have qualified at least one or two steps higher. A great example of old-timer musicians releasing wonderful, fresh, up-to-date melodic rock music.
5. Jim Peterik And World Stage: s/t (World Stage International)
Though we have already heard most of these songs, this album was great. If most of the songs hadn't been released before this album could have also qualified higher.
6. Millennium : Hourglass (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Brilliant follow-up of "Angel Fire", I think even one step better. Not as smooth as that one was, but a lot more vivid in its arrangements and songwriting.
7. The VU: Phoenix Rising (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Who says these guys, these songs are old? This music is never too old! It was great inn 1985, it sounds great fifteen years (hell, so much to write down!) later too. Some really precious gems on this album.
8. Street Talk: Transition (Point Music/AOR Heaven)
This is the second album fronted by Göran Edman in my Top 10. This definitely makes him the Vocalist of the Year for me. Kevin Chalfant and Jorn Lande were in strong competition with him for the title but Jorn's solo album failed to impress me and Göran's albums are altogether in higher position than Kevin's. This Street Talk album has the second funniest song of the year (just to go on with titles.) "Energizer Bunny" The winner of this category is clearly "Postman" from T'Bell.
9. Two Fires: Two Fires (Frontiers/Now & Then)
The second album featuring Kevin Chalfant in my top 10, so standing applauds for him too! Very strong album but a bit more diverse songwriting could have made it even better.
10. Alfonzetti: Ready (MTM)
This was the latest comer for me. Unfortunately, I could only put my hands on this album in December but it impressed me with its energy. It qualified in my top 10 but if I had got it earlier it might have made it even higher. Who knows?

Vesa
1. Firehouse: O2 (Spitfire)
The last CD I bought in 2000 and it rocked so good that it became the album of the year for me.
2. Danger Danger: The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves (MTM)
The top album until the bitter end...the guys did a really good job here. Sadly they have been pretty quiet after the release. Problems?
3. David Coverdale: Into The Light (EMI)
Man with one of the best voices in the business. He really does a great job here.
4. Two Fires: Two Fires (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Great singing, great songs. One of the nicest suprises for me in 2000.
5. Millennium : Hourglass (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Quality songs with a very good singer. The next one will be awesome.
6. Hair Of The Dog: Rise (Spitfire)
Party rock, the music that I love. Honest fun. I get "Hammered" with this CD.
7. Teer: S/T (Frontiers/Now & Then)
The biggest suprise of the year. Young band that makes great hard rock. There is future after all.
8. House Of Shakira: Best Of Two (MTM)
Best Of Two (MTM) Awesome songs, sadly not enough exposure. Somehow the Swedes make better music than us Finns.
9. Mötley Crue: New Tattoo
The Crue is back, what more can I say.
10. Westworld: Skin (Roadrunner)
Who needs TNT anymore when Westworld is around? Sadly it's only a project band.

Christian
1. Ten: Babylon (Frontiers/Now & Then)
By far, their best work since the debut album.
2. Hugo: Time On Earth (Frontiers/Now & Then)
Gary Hughes' one-time partner in crime strikes back with an album that doesn't put down the lovers of melody!
3. Frontline: Right Attitude (AOR Heaven)
Even though this cd is almost entirely made up of songs from their japan only release "Heroes", they prove once again that they're the definite masters of german AOR.
4. Street Talk: Transition (AOR Heaven)
If you thought that you couldn't get nothin' more soft and mellow than "Collaboration"; you were wrong! Fredrik Berg is the heir to Dianne Warren's songwriting throne.
5. Talk Of The Town: The Ways Of The World (AOR Heaven)
Forget that "Reach For The Sky" disappointment. This is 1st class scandinavian AOR.
6. Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Beethoven's Last Night
This closes the trilogy of the TSO saga. A great farawell to Paul O'Neill & Jon Oliva (from Savatage fame) ambitious project.
7. Iron Maiden: Brave New World
What can I say that it hasn't been already said? A great comeback of the classic line-up of the absolute masters of Heavy Metal.
8. Rhapsody: Dawn of Victory
Richard Wagner's "The Valkyrias" aria with rock guitars. A must have for Epic Metal lovers.
9.Lana Lane: Secrets Of Astrology
The queen of symphonic/progressive melodic metal. People, you should give her a try!
10. Rob Rock: Rage Of Creation
Although it isn't nothin' new under the sun, Rob Rock (ex-Impellitteri singer) along with Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford guitarist/producer), really recreate that magic athmosphere of the 80's when heavy metal was the king.