Title - The Complete ATCO Recordings: 1982-2004 [4CD]
Artist - Vandenberg
For those unaware, Dutch guitarist and songwriter Adrian Vandenberg formed the band Teaser in 1981. Joining forces with lead vocalist Bert Heerink, bassist Dick Kemper, and drummer Jos Zoomer, Teaser’s first demo led to a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records.
The Complete ATCO Recordings: 1982-2004 [4CD] (releasing September 24th, 2021) contains the hard rock bands three early ’80s albums for Atlantic and a host of rarities and live tracks on the fourth disc.
The band – now named band after their guitarist and songwriter – released their eponymous debut Vandenberg (CD1) via Atlantic imprint ATCO in 1982.
Produced by Vandenberg and recording engineer Stuart Epps at Jimmy Page’s Sol Studios in the UK, the album featured the power ballad Burning Heart, the track making an impressive dent on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1983.
The track Wait was also issued as a single. Vandenberg became a big concert draw, with major tours supporting Ozzy Osbourne and KISS, as well as shows in Japan, where the band had grown popular enough to headline in their own right.
Disc One: Vandenberg (1984)
1. Your Love Is In Vain
2. Back On My Feet
4. Burning Heart
5. Ready For You
6. Too Late
7. Nothing To Lose
8. Lost In A City
9. Out In The Streets
OK, well, first off, just how the album Vandenberg largely flew under the radar is beyond me! This is one incredibly great, well composed hard rock release, up there with the best of them from within the genre, that is for damn sure!
The songs are tight and the band has musicianship chops galore and, of course, Adrian Vandenberg is easily one of the best rock guitarists to ever grace the scene.
Impressing with his emotive and technical acoustic and electric style, and adored by legions of rock guitar fans worldwide, listening to this 9-track CD now, every track (every single track) sounds just as fresh now as it did in 1982!
Then again, quality, timeless music will always stand the test of time. For me, Burning Heart is worth the price of admission alone with some of the most heartfelt vocals and downright gorgeous guitar playing this side of Alpha Centauri!
Following hot on the heels of their debut, 1983’s Heading For A Storm (CD2) was released the following year, cementing the success of the first record.
Again co-produced with Stuart Epps at Sol Studios, the singles Friday Night, Waiting For The Night and Different Worlds further broadened their appeal.
Disc Two: Heading For A Storm (1983)
1. Friday Night
2. Welcome To The Club
3. Time Will Tell
4. Different Worlds
5. This Is War
6. I’m On Fire
7. Heading For A Storm
8. Rock On
9. Waiting For The Night
Their sophomore album was a notable step upwards for Vandenberg in terms of songwriting, performances and overall production for you can tell a great deal more effort went into this record versus their already-astounding debut.
Adrian’s playing is much sharper and is full of impressive guitar breaks and Bert Heerink also sounds more confident with his vocals, which sounded a bit more stilted on the first album, in truth.
Indeed, this is somewhat understandable given that he’s not singing in his native language (Dutch). Anyway, this album is fairly solid throughout, but the highlights for me are Welcome To The Club, Friday Night and This Is War.
Fans had to wait until the end of 1985 before they could hear more Vandenberg, with the release of Alibi (CD3). The biggest change for Vandenberg’s third record was the production duties were now handled by pop producer and former Golden Earring drummer, Jaap Eggermont.
An accomplished and respected artist, Adrian Vandenberg also produced the album cover artwork for Alibi, Heading For A Storm and the self-titled debut.
Shortly after Alibi, Vandenberg effectively split up, with Adrian joining Whitesnake for the remainder of the 1980s.
Disc Three: Alibi (1985)
1. All The Way
2. Pedal To The Metal
3. Once In A Lifetime
5. Dressed To Kill
6. Fighting Against The World
7. How Long
8. Prelude Mortale
By the time Alibi rolled around, Vandenberg was fast losing steam and creative ideas (though the cover with the Alligator bursting out from underground near ancient temples is a refreshing ode to surrealism in a metal dominated field of leather and makeup).
The group had fallen prey to the then-contemporary, overly produced, highly glossed sound that glam metal was to bring to the forefront of commercial hard rock, and failed miserably at conforming to the sound (and the label’s) demands.
There are moments where the band still show traces of their original promise, but those are few and far between.
As noted, shortly after this, group founder and lead guitarist Adrian Vandenberg would disband the group and join David Coverdale’s Whitesnake project at the pinnacle of the band’s commercial success.
Ergo, and sadly, Alibi is most certainly one for die-hard fans and Whitesnake collectors only.
CD4 collects together the officially released rarities, including demos of Back On My Feet, Ready For You, Nothing To Lose, I’m On Fire, Out In The Streets, Out Of Cash and Help Me Thru The Night.
Disc Four: Rarities & Live Tracks (1982-2004)
1. Back On My Feet (Demo)
2. Ready For You (Demo)
3. Nothing To Lose (Demo)
4. I’m On Fire (Demo)
5. Out In The Streets (Demo)
6. Out Of Cash (Demo)
7. Help Me Thru The Night (Demo)
8. Burning Heart (Stereo Edit)
9. Once In A Lifetime (Special Mix)
10. Burning Heart (Mono Edit)
11. Ready For You (Live)
12. Lost In A City (Live)
13. Friday Night (Live In Japan),br>
14. Welcome To The Club (Live In Japan)
15. Roll Through The Night (Live In the USA)
16. Too Late (Live)
17. Burning Heart (2004 Unplugged)
The fourth and final disc brings together 17 rarities and live tracks culled from around the world, and aside from the aforementioned ones we also get varying degrees of musical wealth within both mono and stereo edits for the Burning Heart single along with Once In A Lifetime (Special Mix).
The set finishes with the live tracks Ready For You, Lost In A City, Friday Night and Welcome To The Club (both recorded in Japan), Roll Through The Night (Live in the USA) and Too Late.
This final CD of the new collection rounds out on the 2004 Unplugged version Burning Heart (for Vandenberg recorded a new version of that song at that time, of course).
Thankfully, a brand new version of Vandenberg formed in 2020, releasing the 2020 album, with a line-up featuring Rainbow vocalist Ronnie Romero, with Randy van der Elsen on bass and Koen Herfst on drums.
This collection is completed by an extensive, new essay from Adrian Vandenberg himself, detailing the history of the band.
Official 4CD Purchase Link