Great Rock Albums of 1982: John Cougar- American Fool

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-JC_American_Fool

Before anyone starts putting their hands up in a Arnold Horshak moment to tell that his name is now John Mellancamp, let me just say that as far as I’m concerned, in 1982, he was simply John Cougar. I remember watching a tv interview with him and he explained the reason behind the name change. Simply, he was advised by his agent that Mellancamp wasn’t a rock and roll name. Therefore, he took on the name Cougar in order to sound more hard rock. It was only when he achieved commercial success that he retook his real surname and then eventually dropped the Cougar all together but that story is for some time down the future.

Arnold Horshak from the TV show Welcome Back Kotter

Arnold Horshak from the TV show Welcome Back Kotter

“American Fool” was the commercial breakthrough album for John Cougar featuring the hit singles “Hurt So Good,” my second favourite song of his and the more known “Jack And Diane,” which got so much air play at the time that I got tired of hearing it. It would be at least another decade and a half before I finally could enjoy that song again.

Keeping with the trend in 1982, those two songs lead off the album but fortunately, like many of the albums covered so far from 1982, the rest of the album has more behind it. The songs on the album all have the vibe of straight forward no nonsense rock and roll that Cougar said he was trying to achieve. I have to agree, while “American Fool” isn’t a head banger, there is some good guitar hard rock to go around. In fact, I must say that after a renewed listen, I’m quite impressed with some of the guitar work on it. Sure, there’s no blood curdling solos but the guitars do enhance the feel good factor. One of those albums you listen to while driving in the car or sitting on the front step with a beer in hand, though I wouldn’t recommend it this time of year. Tracks that really impress me were “Danger List” and “Can You Take It” but needless to say, the other tracks are worth a listen as well. John Cougar livened up those summer months of that year when I was actually in the States.

Track Listing:

1. Hurt So Good

2. Jack and Diane

3. Hand to Hold On To

4. Danger List

5. Can You Take It

6. Thundering Hearts

7. China Girl

8. Close Enough

9. Weakest Moments

10. American Fool

John Cougar

John Cougar

John Cougar- lead vocals

Larry Krane- guitar, backing vocals

Mike Wanchic- guitar, backing vocals

Kenny Aronoff- drums

George ‘Chocolate’ Perry- bass

Mick Ronson- guitar, backing vocals

Robert ‘Ferd’ Frank- bass, backing vocals

Eric Rosser- keyboards

David Parman- backing vocals

I think that “American Fool” came at a perfect time when you could play straight forward rock without being catagorised into something else. I have met people a couple of years after this album who considered John Cougar to be heavy metal. No way, but it is enjoyable good rock.

Next post: The Jam- The Gift

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 1982: The Go Go’s- Vacation

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-GoGos-Vacation

Owing to a heavy work schedule over the past few days and going to visit family tomorrow, I’m afraid I won’t be getting two posts out this week, ┬ámy apologies. Although I do have to share some blame because instead of getting on the computer on Monday evening, I decided to watch the recorded Eagles-Cowboys game and seeing the way the Eagles played this week, I would have been better off posting on here.

Eagles vs Cowboys

Eagles vs Cowboys

I was still not tired of listening to The Go-Go’s debut “Beauty and the Beat” album in June of 1982 when browsing the record section at the PX in Rota, Spain, I discovered that they had put out a second one. I made a mental note to get it once I returned to the States a few weeks later, although I didn’t need to because my sister had recorded several songs off of it. My reaction was that it pretty much sounded like the previous album while at the same time being rather good.

Keeping with the trend of 1982, “Vacation” begins with the hit single which is also the title track. It’s not a bad song, probably what you would expect from a single, quite lively. It’s the songs that come after it that tingle my interest a bit more. The very next track, “He’s So Strange” has a lot more substance to it and is quite a good listen. It sounds as if they are at least trying to venture forth a little and be creative. With several of the other tracks, there is a strong guitar start to the songs. At least The Go-Go’s were trying to be a little hard rock. “Girl of 100 Lists,” “Everything But Party Time” and “Beatnik Beach” are examples of this and the closer, “Worlds Away” does an excellent job in concluding the album. There is one thing I found slightly disappointing and that is the fact that there is not one memorable guitar solo from Charlotte Caffey on the album. I don’t know if that was down to her or other things. I mention this because I always believed that she was the most musically talented of the group. Still, “Vacation” was still an enjoyable album while The Go-Go’s still managed to excite my then 21 year old hormones.

Track Listing:

1. Vacation

2. He’s So Strange

3. Girl of 100 Lists

4. We Don’t Get Along

5. I Think It’s Me

6. Everything But Party Time

7. Get Up and Go

8. This Old Feeling

9. Cool Jerk

10. The Way You Dance

11. Beatnik Beach

12. Worlds Away

The Go Go's

The Go Go’s

Belinda Carlisle- lead vocals

Charlotte Caffey- lead guitar, backing vocals

Jane Weidlin- rhythm guitar, vocals

Kathy Valentine- bass, backing vocals

Gina Schock- drums, backing vocals

While The Go Go’s were able to build on the success of “Beauty and the Beat” with “Vacation” for some reason, they would go into obscurity after this album. I don’t know why because the second album is certainly likeable.

Next post: John Cougar- American Fool

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 1982: REO Speedwagon- Good Trouble

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

220px-Goodtrouble

Many people have said that REO Speedwagon’s follow up to the highly commercially successful “Hi Infidelity” album was a disappointment. True this album wasn’t the commercial success of its predecessor but that doesn’t make it a bad album in anyway. Quite the opposite, “Good Trouble” is, in my humble view, every bit as good as “Hi Infidelity,” possibly better. So, why didn’t it sell so well? I offer this explanation. In spite of the fact that they had two very big singles on “Hi Infidelity,” they didn’t want to have every song sound like “Keep On Loving You.” Instead, they went back to their roots which made them so good during the 70s. “Good Trouble” isn’t as hard and heavy as “Nine Lives” but reminds me a lot more of their excellent “You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and that album was considered their best by many, although my fave is still “Nine Lives.”

I’m getting the impression as I revisit albums from 1982 that it seems to have been the thing to have the big single as the album opener. Every album I have covered so far has done this and the same happens with this REO classic. “Keep the Fire Burning” comes and goes and does the job its meant to do. It was a top ten single during a time when the charts actually meant something to me, well a little bit. After that, REO Speedwagon unleash hell for the rest of the way. “Sweet Time” begins like it’s going to be a ballad but then some rocking guitars kick in and the rest of the song goes totally up tempo. Then, three songs later, comes my hidden favourite track, “I’ll Follow You.” That song definitely brings me back to the glory days of REO Speedwagon. It starts hard and then Gary Richrath nails a killer solo. However, as much as I have praised Gary before the guitar altar, the track allows you to hear why Neil Doughty is such a fantastic keyboardist. Most certainly underrated among keyboard players. The other tracks are no less hard rocking. “Stillness of the Night” is a prime example on this scale as Gary shreds away big time on it. Then there is the paradox of the closer and title track. It ranks right up there with any good album closer but the track was also used as the opener when they toured on the album, versatility or what? So, ignore the charts and lack of commercial success, “Good Trouble” is a great rocker of an album.

Track Listing:

1. Keep the Fire Burning

2. Sweet Time

3. Girl With the Heart of Gold

4. Every Now and Then

5. I’ll Follow You

6. The Key

7. Back In My Heart Again

8. Let’s Be-Bop

9. Stillness of the Night

10. Good Trouble

REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- rhythm guitar, piano, lead vocals

Gary Richrath- lead guitar

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, lead vocal on “Let’s Be-Bop”

Alan Gratzer- drums, percussion

Maybe it was down to the lack of commercial success of “Good Trouble” their next album would be a total sell out. That’s a shame because “Good Trouble” is every bit a classic rocking album and reminds me of the time when REO Speedwagon was good and not settling for being popular.

Next post: The Go Gos- Talk Show

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 1982: Asia

Posted in Uncategorized, 1980s, Music, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2014 by 80smetalman

Asia_-_Asia_(1982)_front_cover

When I returned from my second deployment in June of 1982, this debut album from Asia was there to greet me. It would be the first new album I would hear on my return. I did get a preview of what was to come when someone played the first single “Heat of the Moment” on the juke of a local bar (not the Driftwood) and that persuaded me to check out the rest of the album to which I was delighted to have done for this was a good album. On a totally unrelated note, this is the only album I know of that my sister and my ex wife both own, but don’t tell either of them.

For me, Asia gave the sign that the progressive rock which defined the 1970s, would carry on strong into the following decade. The opening song and previously mentioned big single signifies that Asia were a good tight band who joined together to make great music. It starts with a cool attention grabbing guitar riff before being overpowered by some sublime keyboard work. The guitars don’t totally go away but come back to begin each verse. The next couple of songs are keyboard lead but done very well and a guitar solo emerges on the track “One Step Closer” and goes on to take the song to its conclusion. A similar guitar riff starts “Time Again” but like some of the great progressive bands that went before such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Yes, there is some exciting intricate keyboard work laced throughout the song. However, the one song that certainly highlights the quality musicianship of the members of Asia is “Without You.” I got to hear a little of everything here with the keyboards, electric guitar and even an acoustic guitar bit, all very well done. My verdict: Asia’s self titled album reminds me of the day when musicians actually cared about the quality of the music they played.

Track Listing:

1. Heat of the Moment

2. Only Time Will Tell

3. Sole Survivor

4. One Step Closer

5. Time Again

6. Wildest Dreams

7. Without You

8. Cutting it Fine

9. Here Comes That Feeling

asia

Geoff Downes- keyboards, vocals

Steve Howe- guitars, vocals

Carl Palmer- drums, percussion

John Wetton- bass, lead vocals

Very shortly after this album, what we know as progressive rock would disintegrate into what would become synth pop. For us who grew up with progressive rock, it would become sad times and I could remember seeing many a person from my era force feeding quarter into a juke box when they spotted a song from the olden times. Asia reminds me that in 1982, those sad times weren’t upon us yet and there were still some out there who wanted to play some serious rock.

Next post: REO Speedwagon- Good Trouble

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 1982: Loverboy- Get Lucky

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-GetluckyLB

Sometime halfway through my second deployment to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, while watching a backdated episode of America’s Top 40 with Casey Kasem, I was treated to the Loverboy hit “Working for the Weekend.” Admittedly, it didn’t quite have the knock out punch I liked about “Turn Me Loose” but it was good enough to have me make a mental note on buying it when I either got to the PX in Rota, Spain or back to the States. It also brought back memories of the previous summer and the Driftwood, even though Twinkles had left a few months before the end of 1981.

True to my word, “Get Lucky” was the first new album I listened to when I returned that summer and I wasn’t disappointed. It has just the right blend of progressive and hard rock to make it work. “When It’s Over” is more proggy but the hard rock of “Jump” takes over nicely. Other good hard rock tracks come and go after leaving their own stamp on the album. “Emotional” reminds me of classic REO Speedwagon back when they were good in the 70s. “Lucky Ones” brings back fond memories of the first album and there’s always has been something about “It’s Your Life” that I liked. The album goes out on more a progressive note with “Take Me to the Top” but it’s definitely the right closer for this album. Of all the songs on “Get Lucky,” the one that stands well above the rest for me is “Gangs in the Street.” I don’t know if it’s because it reminds me of my all time favourite film, “The Warriors” or because the video tries to make Loverboy look bad ass in an unconvincing way or probably just because I like the guitar solo. Whatever it is, the song works and is why this album is so good.

Track Listing:

1. Working for the Weekend

2. When It’s Over

3. Jump

4. Gangs in the Street

5. Emotional

6. Lucky Ones

7. It’s Your Life

8. Better Watch Out

9. Take Me To the Top

Loverboy

Loverboy

Mike Reno- vocals

Paul Dean- guitar, vocals

Doug Johnson- keyboards

Scott Smith- bass

Mike Frenette- drums

Loverboy seem to have been forgotten by many people now, not me, but back in the very early 80s, they staked their claim on the rock world with two very good albums. They were another reason why Canadian artists have never gotten the respect they deserved.

Next post: Asia

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 1982: U2- October

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by 80smetalman

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U2’s second album “October actually came to my attention at the tail end of 1981 when I saw it at a record store. However, I was still listening to their debut album “Boy,” so I wasn’t quite ready for their new album. That all changed while I was early into my second deployment to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean when a fellow marine played the album opener “Gloria” that was on his self made cassette of punk tunes. Fact: believe it or not, back in 1981 and 2, U2 were considered punk by the mainstream. I’ve said this before and I know I’ll say it again, back then, anything new or that mainstream commercial radio just didn’t get was classed as punk.

Whether or not U2 were ever punk was not really an issue for me, all I know was that they were quickly growing on me. One reason why was that if I were to choose another name for “October,” I would call it “Boy II” because to me, the second album sounds very much like the first. That’s not a particularly bad thing by the way. Like “Boy,” “October” begins with the best know single from that particular album. I won’t make comparisons because “I Will Follow” will always be my favourite U2 song. Therefore I will not take anything away from the opener here. “I Fall Down” is a good follow on and I’m not sure what to make of “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” but it does stand out in the sense that I didn’t hear anything like it on “Boy.” For me, the album goes down the same road as its predecessor and you could argue “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” Even the end of the album slows down in the same way the closer on “Boy,” “Shadows in Tall Trees” does. While I won’t go as far as saying the two albums are completely identical, they are quite similar.

Track Listing:

1. Gloria

2. I Fall Down

3. I Threw a Brick Through a Window

4. Rejoice

5. Fire

6. Tomorrow

7. October

8. With a Shout (Jerusalem)

9. Stranger in a Strange Land

10. Scarlet

11. Is That All

U2

U2

Bono- lead vocals

The Edge- guitar, piano, backing vocals

Adam Clayton- bass

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

As I said earlier, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. What U2 did with “October” is take their first album as a blueprint and made another album along the same vein. However, it is done in a way that doesn’t put the listener off. “October” would prove to be a small stepping stone towards the next album which would lead them to ultimate greatness in the golden decade. One thing I have always said about U2 was the fact that they were one band that metalheads and trendies both liked.

Next post: Loverboy- Get Lucky

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 1982: Rod Stewart- Tonight I’m Yours

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized, video games with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2014 by 80smetalman

rstonightimyours

Balance has been restored in the world now. Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” is the first piece of new music I heard in 1982. It wasn’t the entire album but the second single from the album “Young Turks” which I heard several times on the AM radio of my beat up Chevy Nova during my journey home on my final weekend pass before going overseas. Like many of the Rod Stewart songs I heard throughout the 1970s, minus the two albums previous to this one because I thought they were too disco. Then again, I did like the song “Ain’t Love a Bitch” off the “Blondes Have More Fun” album but I digress. That single did stick in my mind like many of his other singles although I am glad I didn’t have MTV at that time so I was spared the cheesy video of the song where everyone is dancing on the roofs of cars. That experience would come in the April when I discovered that “Young Turks” was number three in the Israeli charts.

Abandoning the disco feel of the previous albums, Rod went a little more new wave with “Tonight I’m Yours” while at the same time, not venturing too far from his rock roots. The new wave part is obvious on the first two singles from the album: The title track and the already mentioned one with the cheesy video. Both are done well and I like Rod’s personal spin on his cover of “How Long?” which was his third single. He does get down to some more serious rock after that. On “Tora Tora Tora (Out With the Boys)” Rod truly rocks out. The guitar breaks in the song are great and the way it interlinks with the sax is nicely done. I don’t know which of the guitarists on the album played the solo here but he should step forward and receive his accolades. A pleasant surprise comes right on the heels of “Tora Tora Tora” in the form of “Tear It Up,” which begins with a piano intro that could rival that of “Piano Man” of Billy Joel fame. However, as far as piano intros go, it still doesn’t quite measure up to the best of all time: “Joan Crawford” by Blue Oyster Cult. Rod continues his rock tradition with the next few songs pausing in the middle to belt out the ballad, “Just Like a Woman,” originally a Bob Dylan tune. The album returns to new wave, with “Young Turks” before going out very nicely with the suitable closer “Never Give Up On a Dream.” This album certainly proves that Stewart’s voice is far more versatile than what some people give him credit for.

Track Listing:

1. Tonight I’m Yours

2. How Long?

3. Tora Tora Tora (Out With the Boys)

4. Tear It Up

5. Only a Boy

6. Just Like a Woman

7. Jealous

8. Sonny

9. Young Turks

10. Never Give Up On a Dream

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart- vocals

Jim Cregan- guitars, backing vocals

Robin LeMesurier- guitars

Jeff Baxter- guitar on “Tonight I’m Yours,” pedal steel guitar on “Just Like a Woman”

Danny Johnson- guitar on “Jealous”

Byron Berline- fiddle

Jimmy “Z” Zavala- harmonica, saxophone

Kevin Savigar- keyboards

Duane Hutchins- keyboards on “Tonight I’m Yours” and “Young Turks”

Jay Davis- bass

Tony Brock- drums

Carmine Appice- drums on “Tonight I’m Yours” and “Young Turks”

Paulinho De Costa- percussion

Tommy Vig- tubular bells

Penny Jones- soloist on “Never Give Up On a Dream”

Linda Lewis, The Penetcostal Community Choir- backing vocals

I’m going to come out of the closet here, no not that way, but I am going to admit that I actually like a lot of Rod Stewart’s music. Something I would have never admitted to in male heavy metal circles. True, he’s not hard rocker or metal singer but his vocals and the music behind them is usually quite good. The album “Tonight I’m Yours” is proof.

Next post: U2- October

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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