Great Rock Albums of 1981: ZZ Top- El Loco

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2014 by 80smetalman

250px-ZZ_Top_-_El_Loco

I first listened to “El Loco” in conjunction with another classic ZZ Top album “Tres Hombres.” For me, it turned out to be a double delight getting to listen to two great albums by the same band one after another and it marked another turning point in my musical life. It wasn’t until 1981 that I listened to any ZZ Top at all. That was because back in 1977, the uncle of my best friend had one of their albums, (I don’t know which), and he said it sucked and I was dumb enough back then to let that influence my music listening tastes. That is why I never listened to them back in the 70s and why I don’t allow things like that to happen anymore.

“Tres Hombres” has my two favourite ZZ Top songs of all time on it. You’ll have to read my 1979 post to discover which ones, but “El Loco” is a very good album too. The album was also the beginning of a turning point for the band musically. It was the first album they would use synthesisers in some of their songs and I must comment that they do a grand job of it on the track, “Groovy Little Hippy Pad.” For the most part, however, they stay true to their more bluesier roots. The first track “Tube Snake Boogie” is a classic and still has me rocking away to it whenever I hear it. Billy Gibbons shows his guitar worth on that and many of the other songs here. The final two tracks, “Heaven, Hell or Houston” and “Party on the Patio” are definite standouts. The band also reinforces another dimension to their music in the fact that they have a sense of humour with their songs. “Ten Foot Pole,” “Pearl Necklace” and the fore mentioned “Groovy Little Hippy Pad” bear witness to this. All in all, I remain thankful to yet another old marine buddy who opened my eyes to more cool music in the shape of ZZ Top and “El Loco.”

Track Listing:

1. Tube Snake Boogie

2. I Wanna Drive You Home

3. Ten Foot Pole

4. Leila

5. Don’t Tease Me

6. It’s So Hard

7. Pearl Necklace

8. Groovy Little Hippy Pad

9. Heaven, Hell or Houston

10. Party on the Patio

ZZ Top

ZZ Top

Billy Gibbons- guitar, vocals

Dusty Hill- bass, keyboards, vocals

Frank Beard- drums

I may have missed some of the classic ZZ Top albums when they came out in the 70s, although I did make up for that in the 80s, it didn’t stop me from appreciating what a great band ZZ Top are. The more I travel back in time, the more I have grateful I am to the USMC. Hard core Republicans might not like this fact but my experiences there opened a great chasm in my musical awareness and played a major role in shaping me in the metal head I was to eventually become. I can say that ZZ Top had an hand in that too.

Next post: 1981 Triumph and Tragedy

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

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Marshall Tucker- Dedicated

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

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I must thank Wikopedia on this occasion or I would have been totally wrong here. The Marshall Tucker Band came to my attention in 1981 through my lieutenant who was heavily into them. It was only when I did a little research that I found out they had been going on well throughout the seventies. What would have been a greater sense of shooting myself in the foot was that 1981 was when I first heard the song they were most famous for, “Can’t You See.” I now realise that the song was actually released in 1973, so thank you Wikopedia.

Still none of this hides the fact that the Marshall Tucker Band put out a decent album in 1981. “Dedicated” is another album that got over looked due to the wave of Southern Rock bands that were coming into the light at the time. Saying that, “Dedicated” reminds me of the dilemma that many Southern Rock bands faced at the time, straddling the fine line between genuine rock and country music. I remember a friend from up North calling Southern Rock nothing more than country music with a few power chords. Boy, was he naïve. Then again, he didn’t experience Southern Rock they way I did back in 1981.

Looking more closely at “Dedicated,” it is plain that The Marshall Tucker Band were one of those bands who did try harder to tightrope the line between country and rock. They weren’t as heavy as Molly Hatchet or Blackfoot but that doesn’t stop the album from being good. There are some great traditional rock tunes like “Rumours Are Raging,” “Silverado” and my personal favourite, “Tell The Blues To Take Off The Night,” which has some good bluesy guitar work on it. There are also more radio friendly tunes like “Tonight’s The Night (For Making Love) and the appropriate closer, “Ride In Peace.” There are a couple of more countrified tunes like “Love Some” although it is still a good song. The Marshall Tucker Band does a great job in taking all of these things and rolling them up into one good album.

Track Listing:

1. Rumour Are Raging

2. Tonight’s the Night (For Making Love)

3. Love Some

4. Silverado

5. Something’s Missing in My Life

6. This Time I Believe

7. Tell the Blues to Take Off the Night

8. Special Someone

9. The Time Has Come

10. Ride In Peace

Marshall Tucker Band

Marshall Tucker Band

 Doug Gray- vocals

Toy Caldwell- guitar

George McCorkle- guitar

Jerry Eubanks- keyboards

Paul Riddle- drums

Franklin Wilkie- bass

There is one note of tragedy to this album in that it was made after the death of the band’s bassist and brother of guitarist Toy Caldwell, Tommy Caldwell, who was killed in a car accident. It has been said that the closing track is a dedication to him. This album was a fitting tribute to Tommy and a good album all around. It is also probably the best one to end my series of posts on Southern Rock in 1981 as it’s popularity north of the Mason-Dixon line would decline after.

Next post: ZZ Top- El Loco

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Nantucket- A Long Way To The Top

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

Long_Way_To_The_Top_LPDue to the fact that I didn’t hear this album until the August of 1981, I have always assumed that “A Long Way to the Top” by Nantucket was released in that year. I now know that it was released in 1980. The title cut is a cover of the AC/DC classic and was recorded as a tribute to the passing of Bon Scott. It won the band a supporting slot with AC/DC on the “Back in Black” tour. That must have been one hell of a concert and I wish I wasn’t on sea duty at the time.

Like the Johnny Van Zant Band, Nantucket were yet another great Southern Rock band who were around at Southern Rock’s peak of popularity but never really got recognised outside the Southeast of the U.S. At least, Johnny Van Zant could be identified with his famous late brother but this wasn’t the case for Nantucket. I admit, if I hadn’t been down south at the time, I probably would have never heard of them either. Fortunately, for me, I did get to hear this wonderful album.

First, the tribute to Bon is a very fitting one, Nantucket do a splendid job covering this long time AC/DC gem. Lead singer Larry Uzzell does try to sound like Bon and while no one can ever duplicate Scott, his efforts are noteworthy. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint either but is played in the great tradition that made Nantucket a name for themselves in the South. “Time Bomb,” “5o More,” “Living With You” and “Rugburn” are all great songs. The one standout track, other than the title cut, for me is “Too Much Wrong in the Past.” That is a classic rock song. I love the way that song fakes the listener in with the piano and lead guitar as if it’s going to be a power ballad and then just explodes, very nicely done.

Track Listing:

1. A Long Way to the Top

2. Living With You

3. Time Bomb

4. 50 More

5. Media Darling

6. Rugburn

7. Too Much Wrong in the Past

8. Over and Over

9. Turn On the Radio

10. Tell Me (Doctor Rhythm Method)

11. Rescue

12. Rock the 80s

Nantucket

Nantucket

Tommy Redd- guitars, vocals

Larry Uzzell- lead vocals

Tommy Downing- lead guitar

Eddie Blair- sax, keyboards, vocals

Kenny Soule- drums

Pee Wee Watson- bass, vocals

Nantucket were another band that should have gotten more world wide attention but unfortunately didn’t. This album proves that they were as good as many of their Southern contemporaries. Still, I would have loved to see them open for AC/DC.

Next post: Marshall Tucker Band- Dedicated

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

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

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Johnny Van Zant Band- Round Two

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

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Whether it was the glam metal scene in LA or the thrash scene in San Francisco back in the 1980s, of all the bands from those areas who gained world wide popularity, there were many bands who were just as good but never fully broke out of the local scene. The same thing can be said of Southern rock in the earlier part of the decade. I was fortunate to have been stationed in North Carolina during this time, so I was fully able to appreciate it when Southern Rock was at the height of its glory. It gave me a good feeling whenever I trotted back across the Mason-Dixon Line to New Jersey, that many of my friends were listening to Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws and 38 Special. Unfortunately, not so many people heard of Johnny Van Zant when I mentioned them up north. They were mainly well known just in the south.

As all my British friends would say, this was a bloody shame because the Johnny Van Zant Band were a very good band and their second album, “Round Two” bears witness to this fact. There is a definitely influence from Johnny’s older brother on this album because I can detect some Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds here. But in no way does this band simply rip off the great Skynyrd. They bring their own brand of hard rock to tracks like “(Who’s) Right or Wrong,” “Shot Down” and “Standing in the Falling Rain.” Lead guitarists Robbie Gay and Eric Lundgren  know how to play on these songs as well as others. They also do a very hard version of the Beatles classic “Drive My Car.” The album does have a ballad in the form of “Yesterday’ Gone.” I must declare that of all the Van Zant boys, Johnny’s vocals are the most attuned for singing ballads. Not that he can’t sing harder songs just as well, maybe better. It’s just too bad “Round Two” has been allowed to lay dormant for so many years.

Track Listing:

1. (Who’s) Right or Wrong

2. Standing in the Falling Rain

3. Yesterday’s Gone

4. Let There Be Music

5. Keep Our Love Alive

6. Night Time Lady

7. Drive My Car

8. Shot Down

9. Cold Hearted Woman

10. Play My Music

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Gay- lead guitar

Erik- Lundgren- lead guitar

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Morris- drums

As I progress through hard rock and metal history, I am discovering albums and bands that I took little notice of or missed completely. I can’t say that I missed the Johnny Van Zant Band because I saw them live in 1982 but that’s another story. I do regret not listening to this album more back in the time and I wish more people did as well. Here’s everyone’s chance to rectify that now.

Next post: Nantucket- Long Way to the Top

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Mother’s Finest- Iron Age

Posted in 1980s, Books, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by 80smetalman

MOTHERSFINEST_IA

Back in 1981, I remember hearing of the band Mother’s Finest. I remember listening to some of their music and I remember liking it but that’s all I can remember. Like quite a lot of things with me, the band Mother’s Finest was filed away into some dark cabinet inside my mind only to be pulled out thanks to Laina Dawes in her book “What Are You Doing Here?” The band gets quite a lot of mention in the book and rightly so because they were a brilliant hard rocking band. Why did they slip my mind? Well, I will say that it would not have been intentional nor would it have anything to do with the fact that several members of the band were African American. However, for some reason, I didn’t listen to them like I should have and that was a major loss for me.

untitled

After listening to “Iron Age” I have refamiliarised myself on the hard rock yet funky and melodic band Mother’s Finest are. The guitars groove in a very unique way but are no less harder. “Movin’ On” is as good an album opener as any opening songs on what history has considered the more classic albums. “Rock And Roll 2 Nite,” “Time” and “Evolution” are all great memorable tracks and former the foundation on which this album is built and you can’t fault any of the other tracks either. But what makes “Iron Age” or Mother’s Finest themselves for that matter stand out for me is the vocals of Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy. Her vocals mixed with the music sound just like Aretha Franklin goes metal and that’s a wonderful thing. Her vocals are right up there with the Queen of Soul in power and tune. I can’t think of any other way to describe them, I’m at a loss here.

Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin

Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin

Track Listing:

1. Movin’ On

2. Luv Drug

3. Rock And Roll 2 Nite

4. U Turn Me On

5. All The Way

6. Evolution

7. Illusion (C’Mon Over to My House)

8. Time

9. There Goes Th’ Rain

10. Earthling

Mother's Finest

Mother’s Finest

Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy- vocals

Glenn Murdock- vocals, guitar

Wizzard- bass

Moses- guitar

B.B.- drums

Note: I know there are seven people in the photo but the album on lists these five

 My theory (and that’s all it is) as to why Mother’s Finest didn’t get the recognition they so richly deserved was down to the attitudes of the time. Even in 1981, I began seeing music dividing up along several lines and unfortunately one of those lines was racial. I remember both black and white marines referring to music as ours and yours. The problem was that because of the mixed racial make up of Mother’s Finest, some people didn’t know where to put them and consequently they got pushed out. Damn shame because people need to hear what a great band they are. On a happier note, one of my objectives for this blog and for writing “Rock And Roll Children” in the first place was for people to get out their old music and listen to it all over again. It gives me great delight to discover that like me, many of you have never stopped. Saying that, I think we should all give Mother’s Finest a good listen.

Next Post: Johnny Van Zant- Round Two

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

220px-Danny_Joe_Brown_Band

Every Saturday night, the local FM radio station in Jacksonville, North Carolina had a feature starting at midnight called the Saturday Night Six Pack. They would play six albums, both classic and new in their entirety. One Saturday night in July of 1981, while I was doing the midnight to 4AM barracks security watch and before my company gunnery sergeant banned the listening of music whilst on duty, they played a brand new album from The Danny Joe Brown Band. I remember it well because it was played straight after Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” album. I also remember that it was a very good album and listening to it again, only confirmed the earlier belief. You are probably wondering why I never bought the album, it was due to being strapped for cash. Crap military pay and car troubles are not a good combination.

What strikes me about this album is that while you can definitely feel that Southern boogie rock vibe throughout the entire album, it is not a clone of any Molly Hatchet album. On the album, Brown certainly does diversify somewhat from the sound of his then former band. The piano intro on “The Edge of Sundown” reminds me a little of Billy Powell from Lynyrd Skynyrd before it breaks off into some great pounding guitars. In fact, some of the guitar work on the album, “The Alamo” to name one, reminded me of The Dreggs and I half expected to see Steve Morse on the personnel list for the album. Like with Molly Hatchet, the three guitarists who Brown recruited for the album definitely know how to play. The entire album bears witness to that fact as there is some impressive playing on every song. Speaking of the piano, the fact that he uses keyboards on this album does not make it all go synth but compliments it perfectly and shows that Danny Joe Brown can be a bit versatile in his song writing. As for Brown’s vocals, I can’t say any different than what you would expect from him, whether it be a Molly Hatchet album or this one.

Track Listing:

1. Sundance

2. Nobody Walks On Me

3. The Alamo

4. Two Days Home

5. Edge of Sundown

6. Beggar Man

7. Run For Your Life

8. Hear My Song

9. Gambler’s Dream

10. Hit the Road

Danny Joe Brown Band

Danny Joe Brown Band

Danny Joe Brown- vocals

Bobby Ingram- lead and slide guitars, backing vocals

Steve Wheeler- lead and slide guitars

Kenny McVay- guitar

John Galvin- keyboards, keyboards

Buzzy Meekin- bass, backing vocals

Johnny Glenn- drums

This would be the only solo album from Danny Joe Brown. He would re-join Molly Hatchet after this one. Maybe the members of Hatchet realised what they lost when they let Brown go in the first place. When Brown did return, he would bring keyboardist John Galvin with him and that would influence their sound. But that’s all in the later years. If like many, you missed this album first time around, it’s not too late to have a listen to it now, definitely worth it.

Next post: Mother’s Finest- Iron Age

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Molly Hatchet- Take No Prisoners

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

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No longer will I trust another person’s account of any album in influencing me whether or not to buy an album. Back in 1981, I was interested in buying the “Take No Prisoners” album from Molly Hatchet but a couple of my marine buddies had gotten it and they all said that the album sucked. As a result I was put off ever buying it and I never listened to it until a couple of days ago and let me tell you, those guys were wrong, very wrong. “Take No Prisoners” might not be as good as “Flirtin’ With Disaster” or their first self titled album or even “Beatin’ the Odds” but it doesn’t suck, no way.

For many years now, Jimmy Farrar has been given the blame for the lack of success of this album and probably for “Beatin’ the Odds” as well. I now think this is rather unfair to the man because as I said when I visited the previous album, if he was with any other band, his vocal ability would have been more praiseworthy. Unfortunately, he was in the shadow of Danny Joe Brown and that is the problem. I have to admit myself, when hearing a couple of songs on this album, I was thinking to myself that Brown would have made a particular bit sound better.

Enough of the negative though because this album really boogies. In every song, the guitar magic of the trio of Roland, Hlubeck and Holland shine through with those special riffs that made me love Molly Hatchet in the first place. “Power Play” is the stand out track for me but the others are right up there as well, “Bloody Reunion” especially. Then they play a perfect blinder with “Respect Me In The Morning.” Most tend to think that because the song is a duet between a man and a woman, in this case Jimmy Farrar and Baby Jean Kennedy of Mother’s Finest that the song will immediately be a ballad. It certainly is not. This song rocks in the way that Molly Hatchet are known for and Kennedy’s vocals only make it that much better. Truly this album deserves more respect that what I give and I immediately and sincerely apologise to the band for my ignorance over the past three decades.

Track Listing:

1. Bloody Reunion

2. Respect Me In The Morning

3. Long Tall Sally

4. Loss of Control

5. All Mine

6. Lady Luck

7. Power Play

8. Don’t Mess Around

9. Don’t Leave Me Lonely

10. Dead Giveaway

Molly Hatchet

Molly Hatchet

Jimmy Farrar- vocals

Dave Hlubeck- guitar, slide guitar

Duane Roland- guitar, slide guitar

Steve Holland- guitar

Banner Thomas- bass

Bruce Crump- drums

I realise now that I have actually committed a double faux pas. Not only have I ignored a cool album on account of here say, I have neglected another band whose albums I should be visiting here. I remember Mother’s Finest back in the day and did listen to some of their stuff. They shouldn’t be pushed into obscurity, there are many pop acts deserving of that. Therefore, I will be featuring them in one of my upcoming posts.

Next post: Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to 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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