Great Metal Albums of 1981: Girlschool- Hit and Run

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Throughout the twenty eight years I have lived in the UK, there has been a lot of back and forth banter between my country of origin and my adopted country over which country did what things better. There are some things that each country will always do better than the other like the UK will always be better at cricket and the US will always be better at American football. In the world of music, neither country has been able to hold dominance over for very long. However, in 1981, one area where the UK outshone the US was in the category of all female bands. The US had The Go Gos who weren’t bad as far as rock bands go but they didn’t hold a candle to the UK’s female metal outfit Girlschool.

Their 1981 album “Hit and Run” is precisely the reason why Girlschool reigned supreme of all female music acts that year. They gave many of the male acts a good run for their money as well as they proved they could rock with this album. This is evident with the very first chords in the opening song “C’mon Let’s Go.” A great song that gets things going. Those who don’t truly appreciate metal complain that it’s the same two chords going over and over and if they were to listen to “The Hunter,” they would site this as proof. My response is that yes, it might be the same two chords but what two great chords they are. They certainly capture and hold my attention even throughout the vocals and guitar solo, so who cares? “(I’m Your) Victim,” “Kick It Down” and “Follow the Crowd all move the album along very nicely until something very interesting happens. Of all the songs, that I would like to hear metalized, ZZ Top’s monster tune “Tush” never occurred to me. I feel a fool because Girlschool metalize this song very well.

After “Tush,” things kick up a gear and stay there for the remainder. The title track has always been my favourite Girlschool song and I was disappointed that they didn’t play it either time I saw them live. Maybe one day, I’ll get to see them again and they will play it for me. One can hope. However, another song I have always liked is the pen ultimate “Yeah, Right.” This is a song that you want playing on the stereo before going to any metal event, a definite uplifter. The two tracks in between “Hit and Run” and “Yeah, Right” are also good jams and things go out very well with the closer “Future Flash.” In short and I don’t care how cliched this sounds but with “Hit and Run,” Girlschool proved they could play with the big boys.

Track Listing

1. C’mon Let’s Go

2. The Hunter

3. (I’m Your) Victim

4. Kick It Down

5. Follow the Crowd

6. Tush

7. Hit and Run

8. Watch Your Step

9. Back to Start

10. Yeah Right

11. Future Flash

Girlschool

Girlschool

Kim McAuliffe- rhythm guitar, vocals

Kelly Johnson- lead guitar, vocals

Enid Williams- bass, vocals

Denise Dufort- drums

I’ve realised that for many years I have taken for granted all the great albums that came out in 1981. To have so many great bands put out so many great albums in the same year is something truly phenomenal and there’s still more to come. Girlschool can stake their own claim to the year with “Hit and Run.” In spite of what I said about it when I posted on the album not long ago, “Hit and Run” beats the pants off The Go Gos’ “Beauty and the Beat” and that makes these fine ladies the best female artists of 1981.

Next Post: Iron Maiden- Killers

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Anvil- Hard ‘N’ Heavy

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2014 by 80smetalman

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After listening to “Hard ‘N’ Heavy,” the debut album from Canadian metal outfit, Anvil and thinking back to the documentary made about them four years ago, I find myself asking, “Why didn’t they make it into the big time?” This album alone should have catapulted them into the stratosphere of music, it’s that good. My gut reaction is my belief that Canadian metal was largely ignored back then with the exceptions of Rush and Triumph but was that really the case? My mind is still grappling with the question but in any case, whenever any of the great metal albums from 1981 are mentioned, “Hard ‘N’ Heavy” definitely deserves to be among them.

If I still had one of those radio/cassette alarm clocks and had this album on cassette, then I would have would have woken up every morning to the opening track, “School Love” and not just because it starts with a school bell. I love what comes after, the killer sound of guitar, bass and drums that meld together to make the song. Of course, after “School Love” woke me up, I wouldn’t be able to do much else because I would have to head bang away through its entirety. What impresses me with many of the songs is that Steve ‘Lips’ Kudrow is a far better guitarist than what I have given him credit for. There are some killer solos on “Hard ‘N’ Heavy.” “AC/DC” (which is not a tribute to the band of the same name), “At the Apartment,” Oh Jane” and “Bondage” all immediately come to mind here.

There are a good many songs that would sound even better if metalized and there are a couple of Rolling Stones songs that qualify here. But what Anvil have done with “Paint It Black” on the album is something truly phenomenal. They just didn’t metalize the song, they ultra metalized it. Another aspect that the band has always done well in my mind is add a certain sense of humour to a lot of their songs. That humour is apparent in all of the songs here while all the time, taking nothing away from the style that makes Anvil a true metal band.

Track Listing:

1. School Bells

2. AC/DC

3. At the Apartment

4. I Want You Both (With Me)

5. Bedroom Game

6. Oooh Baby

7. Paint It Black

8. Oh Jane

9. Hot Child

10. Bondage

Anvil

Steve ‘Lips’ Kudrow- vocals, guitar

Dave Allison- guitar, vocals

Ian Dickson- bass

Robb Reiner- drums

Whoever first said that Anvil are the greatest band never to have had a break gets total agreement from me. I can only wonder why they didn’t make it to the great heights achieved by so many other bands in the 80s. “Hard ‘N’ Heavy” is a fantastic metal album and deserves its place among so many of the other great metal albums from 1981.

Next post: Girlschool- Hit and Run

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Sammy Hagar- Standing Hampton

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2014 by 80smetalman

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According to Wikipedia, “Standing Hampton” by Sammy Hagar was released in 1982 but other sources state it was actually 1981. I always thought the latter because I remember hearing some of the songs on it in that year. One of these was definitely the track “Heavy Metal” which appears on the soundtrack for the film of the same name, which I covered a few weeks back. Fair dues to the film makers, when they pieced together the songs for the soundtrack, they took them straight from the album and that is a good thing, especially with Sammy’s song. Wikipedia says that it is a different version but I am beginning to doubt a lot of what they say because it doesn’t sound different to me. Either way, “Heavy Metal” is definitely a mind blowing anthem.

True, “Standing Hampton” starts off with the more airplay oriented “I Fall in Love Again,” which isn’t a bad song but not as heavy as the others on the album. After the opener, the rest of the album kicks into gear with “There’s Only One Way to Rock” and that is definitely heavier and goes on throughout rest of the album, including the heaviest song mentioned above. Great heavy tracks like “Baby It’s You,” Baby’s On Fire” and “Can’t Get Loose” go together very well to stamp Sammy firmly on the page of heavy metal. Now, one might think “Sweet Hitchhiker” would make a fantastic closer to a great album and it is a fine song but Sammy goes on better and ends things with a magnificent cover of the famous Janis Joplin jam “Piece of My Heart.” I’m sure Janis would be proud of Hagar’s efforts on the song.

Track Listing

1. I Fall In Love Again

2. There’s Only One Way to Rock

3. Baby’s On Fire

4. Can’t Get Loose

5. Heavy Metal

6. Baby It’s You

7. Surrender

8. Inside Looking In

9. Sweet Hitchhiker

10. Piece of My Heart

Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar- lead vocals, lead guitar

Gary Pihl- guitar, backing vocals

Bill Church- bass, backing vocals

David Lauser- drums, backing vocals

One of the things I really enjoy about writing this blog is the opportunity to go back in time and fully appreciate artists I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. It would be another album before I really got listening to Sammy Hagar so in my view, his best was yet to come. “Standing Hampton” was a great stepping stone for him towards greater glory.

Next Post: Anvil- Hard and Heavy

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Saxon- Denim and Leather

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2014 by 80smetalman

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I know I’ve said this before, but Saxon didn’t fully come to my attention until 1985. I had heard of them before that and even remember liking one of their songs but I can never remember which one. I blame it on the booze. Their master song “Princess of the Night” appears on a compilation album I had bought in the above year but it would be more than another year until I saw this great album “Denim and Leather” on sale at my local record store for $3. I snapped it up without further thought and it is probably the wisest investment I ever made.

“Denim and Leather” is my all time favourite Saxon album and it is easy to understand why. But before I sing it’s praises, let me begin with the one minor flaw with the album, if you want to call it that. It is with the song “Rough and Ready,” which is about being a hard man. Now, in my mind, there is nothing more ridiculous than someone who is clearly not hard trying to sound like they are and sorry Biff, you’re not convincing here. Saying that, the song does redeem itself with some good musicianship equal to the rest of the album.

That leads nicely to the monster classics on this album, there are no fewer than five blockbusting songs on “Denim and Leather.” Of course,  I have to mention the track already mentioned “Princess of the Night.” It has such a killer intro that stays with you long after the song is done. Even now, I listen to it and say “wow!” Not taking anything away from the three songs that follow “Princess of the Night,” especially “Never Surrender,” but “Play It Loud” is definitely the “Wheels of Steel” of the album in the sense that it is the perfect song to play at full volume when driving in your car. I bought the album on cassette so I got to do a lot of that back in the day. Just when you’ve gotten over it, your ear drums are once again assaulted by another great one in the form of “And the Band Played On.” The guitar work in this song is completely amazing, my head just wants to keep banging away to it even when it’s over. “Midnight Rider” follows on and between this song and “Princess of the Night,” I get the impression that Saxon are into trains because that’s two songs about them. That doesn’t stop the former from also being a killer song. Then following “Fire in the Sky,” which like April Wine’s “Caught in the Crossfire” is about nuclear destruction, a relevant fear back in 1981 with Ronald Regan wanting to put cruise missiles everywhere, is one of the finest album closers of all time. The title track “Denim and Leather” is the best way to bring any album to a close. Like the other gems on the album, it has that memorable guitar crunch that aids Biff Byford’s vocals in creating history. For me, Saxon’s “Denim and Leather” is definitely my pick for one of the best albums of 1981.

Track Listing:

1. Princess of the Night

2. Never Surrender

3. Out of Control

4. Rough and Ready

5. Play it Loud

6. And the Band Played On

7. Midnight Rider

8. Fire in the Sky

9. Denim and Leather

Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitars

Paul Quinn- guitars

Steve Dawson- bass

Pete Gill- drums

When people mention NWOBHM, they are quick to say Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, but Saxon only gets mentioned as an after thought in many cases. I think the problem was that they put out their three greatest albums in rapid succession, sort of like Blackfoot. Furthermore, Oliver and Quinn often get left out when great guitar duos are mentioned. They are every bit as good a combo as Downing/Tipton and Smith/Murray. It is a shame that they didn’t make it as big as the the others but they’re every bit as good. “Denim and Leather” is proof in the pudding.

Next post: Sammy Hagar- Standing Hampton

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Judas Priest- Point of Entry

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2014 by 80smetalman

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You probably have already noticed that I didn’t go to Bloodstock this year and it wasn’t because of all the rain. While I would have loved to have seen Megadeath and Saxon on stage, my finances are dictated by other priorities, mainly my trip to the US in October. Enough of that said, onto the “Point of Entry,” the 1981 album from metal gods Judas Priest.

Many people have shot down “Point of Entry” over the years and I ask myself if this is fair. One such person even put the album on a par with “Turbo” and to me, that is totally way off base. I will be the first to admit, it is not one of Judas Priest’s best albums. What highlights this the most is that it is unfortunately sandwiched between what I think is their two best albums of all time: “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance.” I think that most of the other albums would pale significantly when put between those two monuments to metal. Taking them out of the equation and listening to “Point of Entry” on its own, I can safely say that it doesn’t totally suck.

“Heading Out on the Highway” is an adequate opener and “Don’t Go” does move the party along to the one of the more stronger tracks, “Hot Rockin’.” But I’m not too sure about “Turning Circles” and “Desert Plains,” maybe another listen is due here. However, the most of the remainder of the album is quite good. I do like the guitars in  “Solar Angels” and “You Say Yes” would be a great song to sing along to when drinking heavily. I’m going to have to try it just to make sure. “All the Way” and “Troubleshooter” are decent songs too but I’m not too sure about the closer. A good closing song should make me feel uplifted and I can’t say that “On the Run” does that. Overall though, I think “Point of Entry” is a good album from Judas Priest and there are some of the famous trademark screams from Halford and the solid guitar work of Tipton and Downing. Maybe after the likes of the albums that precede and succeed it, the bar may have been set too high.

Track Listing:

1. Heading Out on the Highway

2. Don’t Go

3. Hot Rockin’

4. Turning Circles

5. Desert Plains

6. Solar Angels

7. You Say Yes

8. All the Way

9. Troubleshooter

10. On the Run

Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Rob Halford- vocals

Glen Tipton- guitar

KK Downing- guitar

Ian Hill- bass

Dave Holland- drums

 “Point of Entry” isn’t the terrible album made out to be. If I were grading it I might be tempted to say it wasn’t done at the best of the band’s ability and it doesn’t stand out from many of the great metal albums that came out in 1981, but it’s still good enough to be included among them.

Next post: Saxon- Denim and Leather, out of respect of not going to Bloodstock

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Metal Albums of 1981: April Wine- The Nature of the Beast

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2014 by 80smetalman

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It was about this time of my life that I began to wonder if Canadian music was largely ignored by US and UK markets, especially metal bands from the Great White North. Rush and Triumph being the two exceptions of course.  Two of my very earliest posts asked this question and certainly feel free to go back through the archives and read those posts. I ask myself the same question because while searching through my local record store, I discovered “The Nature of the Beast” by Canadian band April Wine. There will be some debate as to whether or not to label April Wine a metal band and I will attempt to put forward the case for yes as I examine their most commercially successful album.

If one were to listen to the first four songs only, they would be more inclined to put April Wine into the hard rock or power pop category. The opening song “All Over Town” starts hard enough with the opening riffs. However, I get the sneaking suspicion that it could have been played even harder. It’s still a good song though and the second song, “Telling Me Lies” sort of goes on in the same vein. It’s another song that borders on power pop. Then comes “Sign of the Gypsy Queen.” This is the first song that really shows off some impressive guitar work. I have “The Nature of the Beast” on cassette, which is gathering dust in my attic so I heard the version on YouTube. It was a live version and it is totally mind blowing. The guitar solos go on for much longer and my thought to this was “Why couldn’t have recorded it like that on the album?” It would have made a great song even greater. Following “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” is my second favourite power ballad of all time, “Just Between You and Me.” Yes, it’s a soppy love song lyrically, but the guitar breaks between the verses and the solo itself totally launch it to a new level. I will go out on the limb here and say that “Just Between You and Me” set the bar for how metal ballads should sound. It totally kicks the ass of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”

After the ballad, the album goes heavier kicking in straight away with “Wanna Rock.” I agree with the lyrics “Disco music has a social disease, if it ain’t gonna rock me then it ain’t gonna please.” “Wanna Rock” sets the stage for the hard rocking rest of the album and is the exhibit A, B and C for my case of April Wine being a metal band. It follows on with the anti-nuclear weapons song “Caught in the Crossfire” that starts with a very cool lead guitar intro. On the cassette it would start the second side but “Future Tense” starts with an almost thrash sound before slowing down a little while still maintaining metal integrity. It continues with the third best known song on the album and definitely more metal sounding than either “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” and “Just Between You and Me.” Big City Girls” is a true cooker of a song even if it is about prostitutes. “Crash and Burn” doesn’t do what it suggests in the title but continues the party. “Bad Boys” may not be as hard as the ones mentioned but it carries things on nicely to its excellent closer “One More Time” which ends the album very nicely. So, I hope I have convinced some of you that April Wine should be a metal band but don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself.

Track Listing:

1. All Over Town

2. Telling Me Lies

3. Sign of the Gypsy Queen

4. Just Between You and Me

5. Wanna Rock

6. Caught in the Crossfire

7. Future Tense

8. Big City Girls

9. Crash and Burn

10. Bad Boys

11. One More Time

April Wine

April Wine

Myles Goodwyn- vocals, guitars, keyboards

Brian Greenway- vocals, guitars

Gary Moffet- guitars, backing vocals

Steve Lang- bass, backing vocals

Jerry Mercer- drums

I have a confession to make, when I bought “The Nature of the Beast” I never knew that they had put out so many albums before hand. It was always in my mind to listen to these albums but I never got around to it, that’s going to change. I would love to hear how they stack up to this monster of a classic.

Next post: Judas Priest- Point of Entry

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Ozzy Osbourne- Blizzard of Oz

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2014 by 80smetalman

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“Heaven and Hell” proved for Black Sabbath that there was life after Ozzy, however, in 1981, Ozzy’s debut solo album “Blizzard of Oz” proved for him there was life after Sabbath. Since his departure from the band in 1978, the Oz had been battling with booze and drugs but he managed to clean himself up enough to put out an album that would forever be a major rock in the foundation of heavy metal. “Blizzard of Oz” changed the way many people, me too, at the time thought about hard rock music. It was in this year that I acknowledged heavy metal as its own genre of rock music and this album was one of the reasons why.

There is preciously very little about “Blizzard of Oz” that I could say that hasn’t been already said. The only thing I can do is to share how it has influenced me over the many years and I still worry if I will be able to do it justice. What I like most about it is the fact that Ozzy didn’t go out and recreate an album that sounded like his former band. His brand of metal here is totally unique but you still know that it is Ozzy at the mike. That comes through clearly with the opener “I Don’t Know,” a good opening song as any. It leads the listener onto to want to listen to the rest of the album while letting you know, (if this was 1981), that Ozzy was back. But there are so many great classic songs on the album that are still popular among metalheads today. “Suicide Solution,” “Mr Crowley” and the single “Crazy Train” will forever go down in the annals of metal history as classic all time great metal songs. Even the ballads “Goodbye to Romance” and the powerful “Mother Earth” play their part in making “Blizzard of Oz” the iconic album that is still is.

I don’t want to take anything away from the great Ozzy here because his vocals on here can’t be duplicated and prove his abilities. Still, what catapults this album from being good to being great is the guitar work from the late Randy Rhodes. He is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time and he definitely shows why on “Blizzard of Oz.” The solo on “Crazy Train” is one of my favourite and what he does on the other tracks is completely out of this world. So the math teacher in me concludes that Ozzy+ Randy = some memorable heavy metal.

Track Listing:

1. I Don’t Know

2. Crazy Train

3. Goodbye to Romance

4. Dee

5. Suicide Solution

6.Mr Crowely

7. No Bones Movies

8. Mother Earth

9. Steal Away (The Night)

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne- vocals

Randy Rhodes- guitar

 Bob Daisley -bass

Lee Kerslake – drums

Don Airey- keyboards

A few months ago, I shared a petition that Ozzy should receive a knighthood for his services to music. I was informed that the petition has nearly reached its quota for signatures and may have fully done so since then. “Blizzard of Oz” is a rock solid reason why he should get a gong. To sign the petition, go to: https://www.causes.com/campaigns/39911-knight-ozzy-osbourne

Next post: April Wine- The Nature of the Beast

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

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