Welcome to the revamped DIG' EM UP column! DEU will be still dedicated to reviews of albums that "got away", but now we are trying to come up with special themes each time this column is updated.

The bands/albums introduced here never made it big but they are essentials in our collections. We recommend them with our best intention and hope some of you will learn about bands/albums you missed back then. So go and hit bargain bins, local second hand CD stores, or web-shops that carry rare, out of print items and DIG 'EM UP.

Bandi, the Dig 'Em Up Supervisor


This time we've concentrated on the Ladies. No, not the likes of Heart or Lita Ford that you're all more than familiar with, but a few less-known acts.

FIONA: "Squeeze"

Geffen Records 1992
Review by Satu Reunanen, 8 június 2003

This New Jersey-born rocker Fiona Flanagan first started in music business in 1985, making music for a movie and releasing her first album, ”Fiona”. After that came ”Beyond The Pale” in ’86 and ”Heart Like A Gun” in ’89, which became well-known from its' single that included a duet with Kip Winger, called "Everything You Do (You're Sexing Me)". ”Squeeze” followed, with the line-up of Jimmy DeGrasso-drums (ex-Y&T/White Lion), Laura McDonald-bass and Dave Marshall-guitars. This was the first album done without the help of Beau Hill, a producer/collaborator and by now ex-husband. Fiona even did some work acting, appearing in an episode of Miami Vice and in a movie called "Hearts Of Fire" and sang a few songs on it.

Fiona’s music has always stayed true to the hard rock and all the catchyness and some clichès along the way. The songwriting credits on this album are quite interesting, especially Jani Lane (of Warrant fame), who wrote a rocking track ”Life On The Moon” here. It’s not the best track though, ”Treat Me Right” (by Fiona/Marc Tanner/Mark Gable) and ”Nobody Dies Of A Broken Heart” (by Bob Mitchell) are the ones that really won’t stop playing in your head. The starting song ”Kiss The Boys Goodbye” (by Harry Paress/Curt Cuomo) is a catchy one too, though a bit lame. And then there’s ”Don’t Come Cryin’” written by Diane Warren...now this must be one of Warren’s not so glorious moments (eventhough still a great song) as she’s written mega songs for artists such as Cher, Toni Braxton, Celine Dion, Christina Aquilera, Alice Cooper, Bad English, Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, Heart, Jeff Healey, Kiss, Ratt, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston...you name it! For instance Heart’s ”Who Will You Run To” was a winner without a doubt, and Braxton’s ”Unbreak My Heart”.

Fiona’s ”Squeeze” is a sensual album, even the cover with all the four band members posing half naked, hugging each other. Might make some tough guys go puke themselves from the cuteness, but it fits the mood really well here and should attract the right audience for this kind of music. The songs are basic, straight hard rock/pop with hooks and some childish background vocals along the way, for instance on ”The Best Is Yet To Come”. And some of the songs have a hint of disco to them with hard rock guitar added in. But these don’t spoil the pleasure. Every track works and is really good hard rock. And the airy, ethereal ballad ”Mystery Of Love” is beautiful, the other slower track along it being ”All Over Now”, ia really touching. Too bad these are the only slower moments here. The title track is a jamming song with the guitar on top, an ok song. Fiona’s got a voice that you’ll recognize easily, it’s soft, clear and clean enough and even on the faster tracks it works. But she’s out of the music business now, so we’ll just have to stick to these four albums. Definitely one of those female rockers that we’ll miss.

IF ONLY: "No Bed Of Roses"

Long Island 1994
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
30 May 2003

"No Bed Of Roses" is the only album from UK's If Only. It was produced by Geoff Downes of Asia, and features a couple of songs co-written by Bob Marlette (The Storm, Alice Cooper...). What the band members are doing these days I don't know, but it would be a shame if they have given up music. Especially vocalist Tina Egan has a fine voice, and guitarist Greg Hart is a gifted songwriter.

With 16 songs on the album, there's plenty to choose from. Granted, a few of the tracks don't quite cut it and had they been dropped, the album would've been much tighter. I don't know, it might be the fact that I'm partial to the style, but in my opinion the AOR tracks here are far more impressive than the hard rockers such as the opener "Loaded Gun", which features Egan doing a really rough vocal or the very dull "I'm No Angel". Much better are the likes of "No Bed Of Roses", the brilliant "Rock And A Heart Place", "Ghost Of You" and Desmond Child-like "Stand Like A Stone". A special mention must go to the ballad "Forever My Love", which sounds so familiar that I'm sure someone else has covered it too...hit material.

Anyway, this album is worth digging up, even though it maybe a bit too long for it's own good. Still, program your CD player to play only the good ones, and you still have more excellent tunes than on a standard eighties album!

Note: I was recently informed that Tina Egan sadly passed away a few years ago.

[added 27 Feb, 2004, from Ian Edwards (Bassist of the band)] This is a remastered version of the original album with tracks 13 to 16 added as extras. The extra tracks were essentially demos with lead vocal by Jackie Bodimead who was the original singer before Tina and Judit joined. Also, some of the excellent lead guitar work was performed by Martin Chaisson. Both Jackie and Martin left the band when the album was nearly complete which meant a delay of quite a few months.


Roadrunner 1984
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallström,
3 June 2003

"C'mon, C'mon, I am The Priestess" There's unfortunately a very sad ending to the story of Wendy Orleans Williams. You could say that her beginning as a New York soft-porn movie star, wasn't too bright either. Then again... who em I to pass judemental thoughts over someone's life or career move? She's mostly connected with the punk-ish metal band "The Plasmatics", which came alive in the late 70's New York scene. The over-the-top outfit with topless stage performances and cars blowing up all over the place, gave them a place in rock history. The band also featured the famous mohawk rocker Jean Beauvoir (Crown Of Thorns, Solo, etc.) on bassguitar. Wendy may not have been the best trained vocalist in the world, but darnit... she sang like a real trooper with lots of attitude.

"WOW" was her first solo album from 1984 and it's a great display of 80's party metal. Much credit must go to Gene Simmons and the whole Kiss family really. Simmons not only produced the whole she-bang but also co-wrote some of the tracks. The small hit "It's My Life" together with Paul Stanley was originally intended for "The Elder" (1981) album. The Wendy video is really something out of the ordinary and the song itself is fantastic. A straight-in-your-face tune with lovely sing-a-long chorus. Actually, King Kobra covered it on their "III" album in 1988. KISS also finally recorded it for the "Pyscho Circus" session, but it didn't end up on CD until their "Box" collection in 2001. Nothing compares to Wendy's "original" version though! "Thief In The Night" ended up on KISS' "Crazy Nights" album in 1987 and the ballad "Legends Never Die", was also on KK's "III" album. You can also find guest apperances by Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley & Eric Carr here. No to mention that Vinnie Vincent is involved as songwriter. The drums are louder than hell and not far away from Carr's "Creatures Of The Night" sound, just take a listen to power rock anthems like "Ready To Rock" or "Bump And Grind". She recorded a second solo album "Kommander Of Kaos" later on, it was however back to the rather poor punk/metal style again. "WOW" is highly recommended to everybody who enjoyed "Creatures Of The Night" (KISS) or if you've been looking for a female singer, who can actually sing like a metal priestess. I truly believe this to be one of my favorite female hardrock albums ever.

Wendy ended her own life in April 6, 1998 with a shotgun and a note that simply said "The act of taking my own life is not something I am doing without a lot of thought. I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm. Love always, Wendy.". She'd been depressed and felt she had peaked, life could only get worse at age 48. Rest in peace Wendy, there's always a special place in my heart for you... legends never die you know.

CHRISSY STEELE: "Magnet To Steele"

Chrysalis Records 1991
Review by Satu Reunanen, 8 június 2003

The Canadian Chrissy Steele appeared on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball with a rocking tune ”Love You ’Til It Hurts” and the powerballad ”Love Don’t Last Forever” in the early ’90ies and yours truly was immediately sold. The group behind ”Magnet To Steele” album and the songs were Bryan MacLeod, playing all the guitars, bass, background vocals, producing the album, engineering and programming together with Matteo Caratozzolo and Tim Feehan with Pat Stewart on drums. The song writing team also featured Jeff Paris, John Stolz, Mike Reno and Scott Smith from Loverboy and ”Cry Myself To Sleep At Night” was written by Mutt Lange, Craig Joiner and Anthony Mitman, which was also used by Bonnie Tyler and Romeo’s Daughter. The guests on background vocals were Mark Slaughter (Slaughter/The Vinnie Vincent Invasion), Dave Allen and Scott Adair. By looking at the names list you can be sure this album is no disappointment. The production is though, a bit.

The album is full of great tracks, my faves being the three already mentioned and ”Murder In The First Degree”. Chrissy’s got a powerful, rough, clear and charming voice, she can really change her voice from one style to another, staying in her range of course and sounding great all the time. After all, she was classically trained in opera and came from a musical family. The only problem with this album is the lack of bass. You can’t play this too loud even though you would want to, as it’s not far from getting your ears bleeding here. Too bad, ’cos this album rocks. It’s very dynamic otherwise, very catchy and very commercial hard rock. This turned out to be Chrissy’s only album, though you could say this should’ve been the fourth release of the band The Headpins, who found Chrissy as their new singer to replace Darby Mills. Chrissy did appear on background vocals for the band Fury in 2002, so she’s still alive and kicking. Who know’s, maybe we’ll hear from her again someday?


LUBA: "All Or Nothing"

Capitol 1989
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
30 May 2003

Luba is a Canadian singer who released her first album in 1984. She had a successful career in her home country during the eighties, with several hit singles and platinum selling albums such as this one, after which she disappeared from the scene. She did resurrect her career with a new album a couple of years ago.

"All Or Nothing" is an AOR album with a twist: the song structures are quite conventional, but the arrangements are a little more colourful than usual, with banjos, mandolins and fiddles - sounds like The Hooters? Yes it does actually.

Most of the songs on this album are very good, but there are a few especially worth checking out. "Giving Away A Miracle", "As Good As It Gets", "Milena" are all fine tracks with strong hooks, while the best of them all is the fantastic ballad "No More Words" which ranks among my all-time favourites. Great melody, sparse arrangement, excellent lyrics and fine vocals from Luba, it doesn't get much better than this.