This new double CD release is the follow up to the first Japanese volume, Best of Lana Lane 1995-1999, and is the second "Best of" collection in the series. It is a Japanese Import and contains 29 tracks with over 2-1/2 hours of music. All songs have been remastered for this release, and the 2CD package includes a large full - color booklet with new photos by Raj Naik and song lyrics. Cover art, once again, is by the incredible Jacek Yerka.
Following are notes from Producer, Erik Norlander:
The end of the 20th Century was a time of change for Lana Lane. We had just completed two unforgettable years following the releases of the Garden of the Moon album in 1998 and the Queen of the Ocean album in 1999. Those two albums brought with them several related releases (Echoes from the Garden, Echoes from the Ocean), a Ballad Collection, a reissue (Love is an Illusion 1998 Version) and a live album (Live in Japan). And after three visits to Japan within these two years, we released the first "Best Of" title for Lana, The Best of Lana Lane 1995 - 1999. In many ways we had closed a chapter for Lana Lane in 1999, and it was time to write a new one.
While we ended the 20th Century with a strong connection between Japan and the USA, the new chapter for the 21st Century began with a transcontinental relationship with Europe. We wrote a new album called Secrets of Astrology in
2000, and it was recorded largely in The Netherlands with European musicians. The album had a very different sound from any previous Lana Lane release, and the change was bittersweet. While this album really allowed us to stretch out and grow as artists, it also brought the challenge of essentially starting over again with a new band and defining a new style. The songs "Raining" and "Speed of Sound" show the flirtation with progressive metal
and the harder European style that we explored on the Secrets of Astrology album. Nearly concurrent to Secrets of Astrology, I also recorded a solo album in 2000 called Into the Sunset that brought many of the same transformations and challenges. Lana sang several songs on the Into the Sunset album for me, and this collection contains her beautiful, nearly - acapella, recording of "Hymn" along with a really high energy live version of "Fly", a song that also debuted on the Into the Sunset album.
Closely following Secrets of Astrology and Into the Sunset, Lana and I went back into the studio in California to record the Ballad Collection II, a follow - up to the very successful Ballad Collection that we released in 1998. We enjoyed recording the first Ballad Collection so much, and it was so warmly embraced by so many, we decided to record a sequel album as a deliberate contrast to the heavier studio albums released in that same year. To return to the warmer sound of the 90s was something we wanted to do both for both the Lana Lane listeners and for us as artists. While we enjoyed our newfound heavier direction, we also did not want to abandon the beauty of the past production style we had so carefully built up in the previous decade.
Contained on this collection are three songs from the Ballad Collection II. First there is "Critical Mass", our cover of the lushly acapella part one of the two - part Crosby Nash epic, "To the Last Whale ...". Next is another cover,"Autumn Leaves", the classic jazz standard performed in a more progressive style with a landmark guitar solo by Neil Citron along with an expectedly unforgettable vocal from Lana. Finally there is "Hands to Heal", an original song from Don Schiff and Tully Winfield, the writing duo that created so many Lana classics from the 90s("Under the Olive Tree", "Take a Breath", "Let Heaven In", "Cold Outside").
In 2001, Lana and I took this new music on the road to promote not only Secrets of Astrology, Into the Sunset and Ballad Collection II, but also to introduce the entire Lana Lane catalog to Europe, a region we had not paid too much attention to in the prior years. We embarked on a lengthy
European tour as "Lana Lane and Erik Norlander", again with a mostly European band and crew. Surely the bright spot on this tour was the addition of Dutch guitarist Peer Verschuren who would go on to become a central figure in the 21st Century sound of Lana Lane. As noted above, the live version of the Into the Sunset song, "Fly", appears on this collection, recorded on the 2001 tour and originally released on the Erik Norlander - Stars Rain Down live CD in 2004.
Following the 2001 European Tour, Lana and I wrote a new album called Project Shangri-La, and we intended to return to Europe to record this album with Peer and other newfound European friends. But then we had the terrible terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and it made it nearly impossible -- certainly impractical -- to travel abroad in the time that followed. Lana and I made the difficult decision to change courses and record Project Shangri-La in California with our previous team from the 90s, Neil Citron and Mark McCrite on guitar, and Don Schiff on NS/Stick. We then added a new artist to the Lana Lane family, hard rock legend Vinny Appice on drums. Project Shangri-La was a difficult production, not because of any personalities or
technical issues, but rather because we had started with one vision and then completed it with another. It had started with a vision more like Secrets of Astrology, and then it was finished with a style more akin to Queen of Ocean. It was a really interesting blend, and this album remains a unique gem in the jewelry case of Lana Lane for precisely that reason. What stood out, of course, were the always compelling vocals of Lana along with some excellent songwriting. Lana took a big hand in the writing of Project Shangri-La, and I think her song, "Before You Go", is one of the best in the her entire recorded catalog. The live version that appears at the end of Disc One in from our 2003 European tour performed with Dutch musicians Peer Verschuren and Ernst Van Ee along with our longtime American collaborator Don Schiff, and this combination really brought out the intended Euro - American blend that makes the music from Project Shangri-La so special. Appearing on this collection is the title track, "Project Shangri-La", remixed specifically for this release. Also included is the heavy rocker, "The Beast Within You", a song that clearly has links to the Secrets of Astrology compositional style. Finally, we have included the Italian language cover of "Time to Say Goodbye",
Lana's duet with neo - classical rock tenor, Mark Boals.
The first bonus track, "Phantom's Theme", is our cover of the Paul Williams song written for the Brian DePalma film, "Phantom of the Paradise". We originally recorded "Phantom's Theme" in 2002 as a piano and vocal piece for the limited edition Club Citta 2002 Souvenir CD that was given out to visitors of our 2002 concert in Kawasaki. Then specifically for this collection, this summer we have gone back to the original 2002 recording and added drums, bass, guitars and more keyboards to the production which, in my view, gives the song a more symphonic quality. "Phantom's Theme" fittingly appears just before "The Beast Within You" since that song was directly inspired by the "Phantom of the Paradise" film.
Following the Project Shangri-La album, we recorded our first Covers Collection CD in the second half of 2002. While we had included cover songs on many of our prior releases, this was the first Lana Lane CD to exclusively contain cover songs. The choice for this collection from the first Covers Collection is the Kansas classic, "The Wall". Four years later in 2006, we recorded a second Covers Collection album called Gemini with the implied title, "Covers Collection II". Look for a clue in the Gemini cover art! For Gemini, we took the concept of "two" and let it run through the whole album. It was not only the second covers collection, but we recorded two songs by each original artist. This collection contains our Gemini versions of The Moody Blues classic, "Nights in White Satin" along with a quite symphonic Foreigner track, "Starrider". Our Project Shangri-La drummer, Vinny
Appice, once again appears on the Gemini album with his very identifiable heavy groove style. And on both "The Wall" and "Starrider", you can hear another long time Lana Lane friend, master bassist, Tony Franklin. All three tracks also feature the familiar excellent guitar work of Mark McCrite.
Following the Covers Collection, in 2003 we recorded another album solely in California, a very unique projected called Winter Sessions. Winter Sessions was done with a consistent lineup of Gregg Bissonette on drums, Don Schiff
on NS/Stick, Don's brother Dave Schiff playing woodwinds, and then longtime guitarists Mark McCrite and Neil Citron. Neil's familiar melodic solos fill the
album, and he reprised his Curious Goods talk box style for "Spirit of the Gypsy". This song also features Mark on not only his very identifiable acoustic guitars, but also on lap steel guitar playing the haunting themes that run throughout the song. We also managed to bring our Dutch touring guitarist, Peer Verschuren, into the album for a remote guest appearance on the Rocket Scientists song, "Carry Me Home". Peer recorded his parts independently in The Netherlands, and despite the fact that we had been working together for a few years by this time, this recording marked the first time Peer appeared on an actual Lana Lane studio album.
In 2003 we completed another European tour where we performed many of the songs from the Project Shangri-La album. As mentioned above, the moving live version of "Before You Go" appears on this release from that
tour. This recording marks the first appearance of drummer extraordinaire, Ernst Van Ee, on a Lana Lane song. The partnership with Ernst was one that would continue for many successful years to come, taking this Flying Dutchman not only across Europe from Spain to Russia, but also across
oceans to the USA and Japan along with his fellow countryman, Peer Verschuren. 2004 brought our longest tour to date, one that started in the USA and continued all across Europe to finally conclude in the Russian city of St.Petersburg. After scores of concerts, the band was tighter and more closely - knit than ever, and you can hear the results on the songs, "Alexandria" and
"Oblivion Days", taken from the Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg release. This tour also featured the exceptional vocalist, Kelly Keeling, who had previously toured with us in 2003. You can hear the
astounding blend of Kelly and Lana on those live tracks, and it is hard to believe that it is Kelly who is singing the astronomically high harmonies on "Alexandria" and "Oblivion Days". Kelly went on to contribute his signature vocals to the Lady Macbeth and Gemini studio albums as well. The last song from Live in St. Petersburg is not a live song at all, but a bonus studio track we recorded for the DVD, our cover of the James Bond theme, "From Russia With Love".
The 10th Anniversary of Lana Lane's first studio album came in 2005, and we began the year with a new studio CD, the concept album, Lady Macbeth. Like Secrets of Astrology before it, Lady Macbeth was recorded primarily in The
Netherlands. We brought in the familiar Dutch team of Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums. We also added a new musician for Lady Macbeth, our friend of several years, Kristoffer Gildenlöw, on bass. We recorded the trio of Peer, Ernst and Kris in Holland, and then I brought the tracks back to California to add the American contingent of Mark McCrite, Neil Citron, Don Schiff and Kelly Keeling. This combination was a powerful one, bringing the best of two continents together for one very special album. The songs, "Someone to Believe", "Summon the Devil" and "Keeper of the Flame" appear on the collection as a musical representation of the rise and fall of the famous Shakespearean villain.
Almost immediately following the release of the Lady Macbeth album in 2005, we went on the road for the Lana Lane 10th Anniversary Tour, beginning in Europe and concluding in Japan where we recorded the final show in Tokyo as the Lana Lane 10th Anniversary Concert DVD. While it was impossible to take all of the musicians from Lady Macbeth on the road, we did manage to bring together the complete European group of Peer, Ernst and Kris along with Mark McCrite from the USA. Three Europeans and three Americans made a great combination, and the live versions of "Astrology Prelude" and "Secrets of Astrology" certainly surpass the original studio versions with this incredible lineup.
2006 brought the second covers album, Gemini, as discussed above, and then in 2007 we recorded the next studio album, Red Planet Boulevard. Like Lady Macbeth before it, Red Planet Boulevard was recorded primarily in The Netherlands with Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums.
For the pre-production, I had played bass guitar and relied on these parts heavily for the album arrangements. The parts worked so well that I ended up playing bass on the whole album, and we completed Red Planet Boulevard literally as a power trio! This was something that had not been done before on a Lana Lane album where we usually had six or more different musicians contributing performances to each album. Lana recorded all of the vocals, lead and harmonies, at her cousin Davy Vain's studio in San Francisco, California, and this album marked the first time that no part of a Lana Lane studio album was made in the Los Angeles area. The geographic change also created a sonic change, according to Lana, and I agree with her. Red Planet Boulevard has a sound all its own, and it is a further step in the evolution of Lana Lane. Not an artist to repeat old formulas, this album definitely brought a new equation to the Lana Lane sound. The songs, "The Sheltering Sorrow", "Shine" and "Capture the Sun" represent Red Planet Boulevard on this collection.
Finally, we have recorded a wholly new song for 2008, the original composition, "Memory Lane". This song draws on Lana Lane styles old and new, and I hope you will find it to be a suitable epilogue to this period of
Lana's career. Now please set aside a comfortable 2-1/2
hours and enjoy The Best of Lana Lane 2000 - 2008!