Great Rock Albums of 1987: The Smiths- Strangeways, Here We Come

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2021 by 80smetalman

A great perk of my job working with adults with Autism is that in the house I predominately work in, when the service user who requires 95% of my attention goes on a home visit, my evenings at work are quite leisurely. Such was the case last week. I was searching the Sky Movie channels looking for a film to watch when I discovered a film called, “Shoplifters of the World.” Reading the info, I gave it a watch and it was pretty good.

From the film: Shoplifters of the World

Set in Colorado in 1987, the film is about fans of British new wave rock band, The Smiths who are lamenting the band’s break up. As a result, one devoted fan breaks into the local radio station and pulls a gun on the deejay, who is a total metalhead, and demands he plays a bunch of songs by his favourite band. As the story develops, the Smiths fan and the metalhead deejay form a bond as the station draws a large crowd of the band’s fans in support. On a side note, I love how the deejay relates his story of how is wife walked out on him while he was listening to “Master of Puppets.” He was so engrossed in the album, he didn’t even notice her leave. Anyway, the film ends with a mutual appreciation between the gunman and deejay, which is what music is supposed to do. I recommend this film.

The movie had me doing more research into The Smiths and it might have been a good thing, as their 1987 album, “Strangeways, Here We Come” had totally passed me by that year. Maybe I was listening to too much metal then. Listening to the album now, it has slowly grown on me but it took a couple of listens for it to be so. The first two tracks are decent enough, a smooth light indie pop sound but then the band tries to stretch out a bit on the track “Death of a Disco Dancer,” for me it falls flat. If I listened to this track too much, the title could be changed to “Death of 80smetalman” because it is a song to slit your wrists to and this is coming from someone who listens to Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album.

Fortunately, that is the low point on the album as things drastically improve with the next two tracks. My favourite track on the album, “Girlfriend in a Coma” coming just after. The following track, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” carries things on. Then it appears that the album might be venturing back into “Death of a Disco Dancer” territory with “Last Night I Dreamt That Someone Loved Me.” It starts as if it’s going to be a slow, gloomy song but it then picks up. I think this song would have sounded even better with the use of power chords.

Since “Girlfriend in a Coma” was single, then by rules of 80smetalman, “Unhappy Birthday” is the hidden gem on the track. It’s a mid-tempo straight ahead rock tune and there is some good guitar work from Johnny Marr. Although he’s not a (insert great guitarist here), his work on this song is good. “Paint a Vulgar Picture” has a very impressive intro and is good, upbeat song and Johnny actually plays a guitar solo on it. Also, it might drag on a little too long. There is a rockabilly beat to “Death At One’s Elbow,” and is well done. However, the remaining track is unremarkable in my view but does the job of ending the album.

Track Listing:

  1. A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours
  2. I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish
  3. Death of a Disco Dancer
  4. Girlfriend in a Coma
  5. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
  6. Last Night I Dreamt That Someone Loved Me
  7. Unhappy Birthday
  8. Paint a Vulgar Picture
  9. Death at One’s Elbow
  10. I Won’t Share You
The Smiths

Morrisey- lead vocals, piano, handclaps

Johnny Marr- guitar, keyboards, harmonica, marimba, harmonium, additional vocals, handclaps

Andy Rourke- bass, keyboards, handclaps

Mike Joyce- drums, percussion, handclaps

Thanks to a good film, I got to experience an album that passed me by back in the day. The Smiths would break up after “Strangeways, Here We Come.” While not their best album, it’s still good in places and worth having a listen to. But definitely watch the film.

Next post: Dio- Dream Evil

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: WASP- Inside the Electric Circus

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2021 by 80smetalman

Let me start with a debate I unintentionally started on Mike Ledano’s blog a few years back. He posted about a new album from former WASP guitarist Randy Piper. After reading the review and listening to the sample track and then remembering when I saw WASP perform at Donningtion 1987, I was of the mindset that Blackie Lawless fired the wrong guitarist. Believe me, that comment created lots of debate with one person in particular stating that Blackie indeed fired the right guitarist because Randy Piper was a screw up.

The whole debate actually started before the recording of the album, “Inside the Electric Circus.” Prior to recording, Blackie Lawless made the transition from bass to rhythm guitar and consequently fired Piper and in came Johnny Rod on bass. So the big question was for this album, did the transition pay off?

Thinking back to their previous album, “The Last Command,” which I found to be a bit average except for three very kick ass songs, I find “Inside the Electric Circus” to be a big improvement except for the fact that there aren’t any songs which transcend the ionosphere. However, the bulk of this album holds up and there is very little I would call filler. In fact, I have been finding rather difficult to find a standout track. There just seems to be a bit more oomph to the album.

There are a few throwbacks to the better tracks on “The Last Command.” I do get a “Wild Child” vibe on “Restless Gypsy” and though it’s not as phenomenal as its predecessor, “Restless Gypsy” is still a brilliant track. It is on this track where I have to conceded that Blackie didn’t fire the wrong guitarist because Chris Holmes delivers a killer solo on the track. My question is why don’t I remember him playing any solos like that at Donnington? Likewise, I can feel a “Blind in Texas” vibe to “Shoot From the Hip.” Going back to the debut album, I can hear a “I Wanna Be Somebody” vibe on “Easy Living.” On the other hand, the intro on “95-Nasty” has a opening riff that reminds me a little of AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock, We Salute You.” And now I can say that I have a favourite track, It’s “I’m Alive” due to its Heart’s “Barracuda” vibe with a couple of killer guitar solos. I think I need to apologize to Chris Holmes.

Track Listing:

  1. The Big Welcome
  2. Inside the Electric Circus
  3. I Don’t Need No Doctor
  4. 95-Nasty
  5. Restless Gypsy
  6. Shoot From the Hip
  7. I’m Alive
  8. Easy Living
  9. Sweet Cheetah
  10. Mantronic
  11. King of Sodom and Gomorrah
  12. The Rock Rolls On

Blackie Lawless- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Chris Holmes- lead guitar

Johnny Rod- bass, backing vocals

Steve Riley- drums, backing vocals

To answer the original question, I think that the transition of Blackie to rhythm guitar and the adding of Johnny on bass did pay off on “Inside the Electric Circus.” While they stuck to the formula of their previous album, they did it better on this album. I saw the results at Donnington as I was surprised as to how much better they were than when I had seen them the year before. Even though I can’t remember any great solos from Chris Holmes, he definitely plays them on the album.

Next post: The Smiths- Strangeways, Here We Come

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Metallica- The $5.98 EP/$9.998 CD- The Garage Days Revisited

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2021 by 80smetalman

To mark the occasion of their appearance at the 1987 Donnington Festival, Metallica’s UK label, Vertigo, suggested they release new material. However, initial songwriting attempts with new bassist, Jason Newstead, resulted in one demo and then James Hetfield broke his arm in a skateboarding accident. (I forgot about that incident but I remember while on tour, a roadie played rhythm guitar so the tour could carry on.) Anyway, the band decided that instead of trying to write new material, they recorded covers of some of their favourites. Thus, “The $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD- The Garage Days Revisited” was born.

Up first is a cover of Diamond Head’s “Helpless.” Listening to this, if I hadn’t heard of Diamond Head before, I would have thought that this was a Metallica original. Basically what Metallica do here is increase the song to Metallica level and it’s true to what Metallica were doing at the time. Next comes “The Small Hours” which is a cover of a Holocaust tune. Admittedly, I have no experience of Holocaust, that will be rectified, but there is that Metallica “Thing That Should Not Be” aura to it. It’s just slow crunching guitar at the start before speeding up in the middle and a cool guitar solo from Kirk.

In the middle of the order is the cover of the Killing Joke tune, “The Wait,” which was left off the British pressing in order to comply with UK laws regarding the length of EPs. When I hear this song, I definitely think that it would have been a perfect fit if put on the “Master of Puppets” album as I definitely get that vibe on it. I can bang my head along with it much longer than its four minute and fifty-five second length. That’s a minute and fifteen seconds longer than the Killing Joke’s version!

Jason Newstead gets to show off his bass skills on the penultimate track, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” a cover of a Budgie classic. I remember when I saw Metallica and Donnington 87, James introduced Jason as ‘the new mother fucker.’ Was there animosity already? I won’t venture a guess but Jason does lay down a solid bass line here, which compliments Kirk’s guitar solo very well. Metallica took a 70s hippy song and brought it into the late 80s.

Ending this five song Metallica party is my favourite song, “Last Caress/Green Hell,” two Misfits tunes combined together. The reason I like it is that any lyrics which stuck it to the anti- rock establishment was cool in my book and “I killed your baby today” and “I raped your mother today” definitely qualifies. I’m surprised there wasn’t any outcry from the religious zealots in the US over it. Still, the fast thrash pace adds to the fun. At the end, there is some riffs to the Iron Maiden classic, “Run to the Hills,” which I also remember them doing at Donnington. Maybe not necessary but it brought back good memories.

Track Listing:

  1. Helpless
  2. The Small Hours
  3. The Wait
  4. Crash Course in Brain Surgery
  5. Last Caress/Green Hell

James Hetfield- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Kirk Hammett- lead guitar

Jason Newstead- bass, backing vocals

Lars Ulrich- drums

What I didn’t know was that “The $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD- The Garage Days Revisited” was out of print from 1989- 2018 and was considered a collector’s item. Those who had this should consider themselves lucky. While this wasn’t a Metallica album in the proper sense, it was a great bridge between “Master of Puppets” and their next album “And Justice for All.”

Next post: WASP- Inside the Electric Circus

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Anthrax- Among the Living

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2021 by 80smetalman

Anthrax’s 1987 album, “Among the Living,” which was the follow up to the fame launching “Spreading the Disease” album was one that caught a lot of people off guard. Many people assumed that after the success of the slightly more melodic predecessor, they would continue the same way with the new album. Boy, was everybody wrong! If anything, “Among the Living” was the thrashiest album to date.

This is evident with the very first song, the title track where they do quote the previous album title in the lyrics. This track beats you around the head with two very large blunt objects. It is just hard and heavy, just the way any thrash metal fan would expect. However, Joey Belladonna still has his highly melodic voice, blowing the myth that thrash singers all sound like barking dogs out of the water. If anything, the title track fulfills the speculation of what Joey would have sounded like if he was the lead singer in the Stormtroopers of Death.

Listening to the album again these past few days has brought a paradox to my insane mind. Back in 1987, I accepted the title track as a great opener to the album. However, all three times I saw Anthrax live in the past decade, they opened with the second song on the album, “Caught in a Mosh” and it is a great song to open a show with. Believe me, it gets people moshing but here’s the thing, even though Anthrax opens their live shows with it, it still doesn’t sound out of place being second on the album. God, I better stop thinking about this or my head might do a “Scanners.”

Ian and Bello proving that age has little effect on metal. Bloodstock 2016

Another concern, at least for the record company was that a return to a more hardcore thrash style might not be a successful venture. Album sales and the consensus from many in the metal world that this is Anthrax’s best album shoot that down. Although, I am still partial to “Spreading the Disease” but I admit I’m mental. However, further proof is the fact that in February, 1987, while watching the famous UK show, “Top of the Pops” in the student bar, I had the satisfaction to see Anthrax break into the top 40! Okay, it only got to 34 but it was a slap in the face to all the pop loving trendies.

Yet a further element which sets Anthrax apart from many other thrash bands is that their songs are about topical issues. “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” is an anti drug abuse song inspired by the tragic death of John Belushi. It is also “nice fukin’ life” spelled backwards. However, Scott Ian still gets asked by the less informed why he wrote a song about the National Football League. I agree with Scott here, listen to the song you asshole! “Indians” is about how badly the Native Americans have been treated throughout the centuries since Europeans came to the Americas. Then there’s my vote for hidden gem, “A Skeleton in the Closet.” This song is about former Nazis who were allowed to come to the West undetected and live among the populace as if nothing happened in their past but are still being hunted by those who won’t forget the holocaust.

All of these songs are done with the full ear pounding power of Anthrax. Each song has drum fills, pounding bass and a rhythm guitar which can change speed at the drop of a hat. Dan Spitz produces some good solos along with the mosh parts and it is his efforts on “A Skeleton in the Closet,” which makes it my hidden gem. However, in spite of all the hardcore, thrash and speed metal all rolled into one, Joey Belladonna sings through these songs as if it’s just another day at the office. There are also some nice little surprises along the way, for example, the acoustic intro to “A.D.I./Horror of it All.” With all of these element in place, it is little wonder these songs are so good.

Track Listing:

  1. Among the Living
  2. Caught in a Mosh
  3. I Am the Law
  4. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
  5. A Skeleton in the Closet
  6. Indians
  7. One World
  8. A.D.I./Horror of It All
  9. Imitation of Life

Joey Belladonna- lead vocals

Scott Ian- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Dan Spitz- lead guitar, backing vocals

Frank Bello- bass, backing vocals

Charlie Benante- drums

Anthrax proved with “Among the Living” that you don’t always have to compromise your principles to be successful. With this album, they came back harder and faster and for that, the album was very successful.

Next post: Metallica- The $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD Garage Days Revisited

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: King Diamond- Abigail

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2021 by 80smetalman

King Diamond’s 1987 album, “Abigail,” is my joint favourite concept album of all time. The concept of the album is very easy to follow and the music behind it is just superb. I have to give full marks to guitarists Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner who both do a spectacular job on it. The rhythm section of Timmi Hansen and Mikkey Dee are just as brilliant and of course, the album wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for the vocals of King Diamond. For this post, I will convey how each song tells the story of Abigail.

Track Listing:

“The Funeral”- The album opens with the funeral of Abigail LeFey who was still born on July 7, 1777. The priest conducting the service says that seven silver spikes should be driven through her body and asks, “Who will be the first?”

“Arrival”- the album advance nearly 70 years into the future. It is now 1845 and Jonathan LeFey, along with his bride to be, Miriam Natias, are set to move into the home which Jonathan inherited. On the way there, the coach gets stuck and seven horsemen arrive to warn them not to go to the home. Jonathan’s refusal is accented by King Diamond’s falsetto- “Get out of my way, I don’t believe a word you say.” The guitar solo which opens the song is really cool too.

“A Mansion in the Darkness”- Jonathan and Miriam move into their new mansion. There’s a great guitar solo in the middle of the song.

“A Family Ghost”- on the first night, Jonathan meets the ghost of Count de la Fey, who is a deceased relative. The Count takes Jonathan down to the crypt where the casket of the still born Abigail rests. The Count tells Jonathan that Abigail is going to possess Miriam and he must kill her to prevent that. More great guitar soloing from Andy LaRocque.

“The 7th Day of July 1777”- The story informs us of what exactly happened on the date which this track is titled. On this day, The Count discovers that his wife has been unfaithful to him and is pregnant as a result. Therefore, The Count pushes The Countess down the stairs where she breaks her neck and dies thus causing her baby to be still born. The Countess’s body is cremated and the baby, who is named Abigail, is put into a casket and left. There is some pounding bass and more soloing. King Diamond’s vocals make the account of the murder quite eerie sounding.

“Deadly Omens”- The story returns to 1845 where Jonathan and Miriam get several omens. The church bells ring but no one is inside the church at the time. Plants die and there is a bad stench in the house. The final omen is the discover of a cradle. Both Jonathan and Miriam deny bringing it with them. Keyboards accompany the song which go great with the guitar and yes, there are more guitar solos. In fact, I think Denner and LaRocche do a trade off.

“The Possession” – Miriam discovers she is pregnant and Jonathan realizes that the count was right. He accuses Abigail of possessing Miriam and thinks about getting a priest to do an exorcism. There is some really good rhythm guitar work on this track.

“Abigail”- Abigail through Miriam admits that she has taken possession of her. Miriam momentarily gains control and suggests that Jonathan pushes her down the stairs like the Count did to the Countess. Jonathan pretends to agree to this and when Abigail regains control of Miriam, suggests they go down to the crypt so she can be reborn. This is my favourite track on the album. I love how King Diamond’s high vocals sing, “I am alive, inside your wife. Miriam’s dead, I am Abigail.” There are more guitar solos and a nice little keyboard solo at the end.

“Black Horseman”- When Jonathan is distracted, Miriam pushes him down the stairs. Miriam gives birth but dies in labour, the last thing she sees is the baby’s yellow eyes. The black horsemen arrive at the mansion and see the horrific sight of Abigail eating her previous body. The horsemen take the baby to a hidden chapel, bury her and drive seven silver spikes through her so she can’t be reborn as described in the opening track. I love how the guitars work together on this track and once again, I find myself singing the praises of Michael and Andy but again, you can’t deny the rhythm work of Timmi and Mikkey.

King Diamond

King Diamond- lead vocals

Andy LaRocque- guitar

Michael Denner- guitar

Timmi Hansen- bass

Mikkey Dee- drums

Roberto Falcao- keyboards

Andy LaRocque

Quite a number of critics agree with me that this is one of the greatest heavy metal concept albums of all time. It was my favourite but in 1988, another great concept album came out and I can’t decide which one I like more. King Diamond and his band put out a blinder of an album with “Abigail.”

Next post: Anthrax- Among the Living

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Joe Satriani- Not of This Earth

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2021 by 80smetalman

Joe Satriani was one of those artists where I heard their second album before their first one. Therefore, I have always found myself comparing his debut, “Not of This Earth,” to his iconic second album, “Surfing With the Alien.” That’s not really fair to the debut album because it does stand out on its own. However, in 1987, I heard the name Joe Satriani and I learned that he was a guitar instructor to some of the greats. Does Steve Vai and Kirk Hammet ring any bells? Therefore, with the benefit of hindsight, I can say that it would have been a tragedy for music if Joe hadn’t recorded any music of his own.

When he recorded “Not of This Earth,” Joe stated that he didn’t just want to make a guitar album but one which incorporated many types of music. That’ is exactly what he does and the proof of the pudding is in the music. One track where he does this so well is “The Snake.” While like on all of the tracks, there is plenty of guitar to be had, there is also a very noticeable clunking bass line which complements the guitar very well. The intros on both tracks one and three could have been used in suspenseful segments in films. There is an air of foreboding on both of those intros but they lead the way for the rest of the song to blow your mind. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that track three, “Rubina,” sounds very classical. Then again, with all of his knowledge and experience, he could play guitar to any form of music and make it sound brilliant.

For those who want to hear Joe play like a metal guitarist, then the track, “Memories,” is the one. He really lays down the jams on the guitar here but again, if you listen closely, you can hear the acoustic guitar and bass in the background, which both work well with the song. After two rather short but interesting tracks, we get “Driving At Night,” which sounds like a taster to what is to come for the next album. The we get to the song which stands out for me, “Hordes of Locusts.” This is the most metal sounding track on the album, especially with the crunching rhythm guitar and bass in support while Joe just jams away on the guitar. He really makes the guitar scream on this one. Plus, there are guitar parts which sound like a deejay scratching, it’s simply amazing! That is followed by some more guitar string bending and then the closer, ” The Headless Horseman” makes me wonder if I am really being chased by him. Maybe it’s good that the closing track is less than two minutes.

Track Listing:

  1. Not of This World
  2. The Snake
  3. Rubina
  4. Memories
  5. Brother John
  6. The Enigmatic
  7. Driving At Night
  8. Hordes of Locusts
  9. New Day
  10. The Headless Horseman
Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani- guitars, keyboards, bass, percussion

Jeff Campitelli- drums, percussion, DX, whistle

John Cuniberti- vocals (he gives a sinister laugh at the beginning of “The Headless Horseman”), percussion

Do I regret listening to “Surfing With the Alien” before this debut album? Not really, on the one hand, it would have better prepared me for the second album if I listened to “Not of This Earth” first. But I can say that after being blown away by the second album, this one came as a nice surprise.

Next post: King Diamond- Abigail

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Suicidal Tendencies- Join the Army

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2021 by 80smetalman

After converting all my new British friends to Suicidal Tendencies in the Autumn of 1986, it was fantastic news that they put out a brand new album in 1987. I needed no encouragement to pick this album up straight away. However, I wasn’t the only one. After no new material since their 1983 debut album, many fans were beginning to give up on Suicidal Tendencies. Fortunately, they came through.

“Join the Army” immediately reminds you what you missed about Suicidal Tendencies for those four years. “Suicidal Maniac” is everything that was so great about the first album, a great hearty thrashing opener. Then they slow things down a little and go more mainstream metal with the title cut and there is nothing wrong with that. The song is a call to arms for punks and metalheads alike to put aside their differences and join together into one big army.

I don’t care about the clothes you wear

It’s the size of your heart, not the length of your hair.

What is interesting about the album is that it does seem to go back and forth between speedier, more thrash songs and more metal oriented ones for the first half. Maybe they do this so you can catch your breath. I mean after the more thrashier “You Got, I Want,” they slow it down with “A Little Each Day.” The latter is a cool track with some great riffs and a killer solo from guitarist Rocky George. At the midpoint, actually the sixth track is a song they played both times I saw them, 2017 Download and 2018 Bloodstock, “The War Inside My Head.” This is a great thrash track and I remember Mike Muir doing his little dance when they played it. This is definitely one to get a mosh pit started. It’s not only my favourite track on the album, it’s one of my favourite ST songs of all time!

Mike Muir and Co, Download 2017
ST comes on stage, Bloodstock 2018

Listening to “Join the Army” these last few days and reflecting back to younger times in 1987, I have come to the conclusion that the album was ahead of its time. While the Stormtroopers of Death might have been the first ones to call people of differing hair lengths to come together with “United Forces,” the song “Join the Army” was the one which actually got people to do it. Then there is the song about skateboarding, “Possessed to Skate.” Not only was this the single, not that it got anywhere in the charts, it is the first song I know of to be about the topic. Therefore, the likes of OPM know who they have to thank for their inspiration.

The second half of the album is more of a thrashfest reminiscent of the first album. Even the single is at Motorhead speed. Things to note: the opening riff on “I Feel Your Pain,” the sudden tempo change on “No Name, No Words,” which was another thing they did so well on the first album and “Born to be Cyco” is just two minutes and thirteen seconds of pure madness. If anyone had any doubts that this album wouldn’t be brilliant, their fears are definitely relieved with this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Suicidal Maniac
  2. Join the Army
  3. You Got, I Want
  4. A Little Each Dday
  5. The Prisoner
  6. The War Inside My Head
  7. I Feel Your Pain
  8. Human Guinea Pig
  9. Possessed to Skate
  10. No Name, No Words
  11. Born to be Cyco
  12. Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right (But They Make Me Feel a Whole Lot Better)
  13. Looking In Your Eyes
Suicidal Tendencies

Mike Muir- lead vocals

Rocky George- guitar, backing vocals

Louiche Mayorga- bass, backing vocals

R.J. Herrera- drums

I would like to think that I was solely responsible for bringing Suicidal Tendencies to Great Britain but I know it’s not the case. It doesn’t hurt to dream. I can say that I introduced them to a fair number of students at Queen Mary College in London. I wonder how many of them got this album, if not, they missed out on a brilliant one.

Next post: Joe Satriani- Not of This Earth

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: TNT- Tell No Tales

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2021 by 80smetalman

One point I forgot to mention about Tesla in my last post is that they were referred to as ‘the thinking man’s hair metal band.’ So my question is: Where does that leave Norwegian heavy metal band TNT? In 1987, they were the ultimate hair metal band. When I saw them in London in said year, I heard several ladies remarking that they wished they could have hair like the band. Even Dawn said when she got the 1987 album, “Tell No Tales,” she couldn’t stop from staring at their hair. That only left the question, they had the hair but what about the music?

Well “Tell No Tales” starts off okay with “Everyone’s a Star.” It does the job of getting the listener’s attention and the band is tight on it. That is followed by the single from the album, “10,000 Lovers.” My theory as to why this was a single is because it attempts to straddle the line between power ballad and rocker. What stands out is this is the first song where Tony Harnell gets to show off his vocal range. He makes this song while the rest of the band go along in support. I can see why Dawn picked him as a vocalist in her band of underrated musicians from an ancient post of mine.

If you want to visit or revisit that post from 2017, here’s the link:

Getting back to the album, “As Far As the Eye Can See” is the first serious rocker on the album. Tony’s vocals are as good as they are on the single and there is a cool guitar solo from Ronni LeTekro and the rhythm section of Morty Black and Diesel Dehl keep the song ticking along very well. Then after a brief instrumental where Ronni and Morty get to show their skills, although not for long enough, we get the first serious ballad in the form of “Child’s Play.” This is a good power ballad and it shows the band’s versatility and though it’s the longest song on the album, it does go on a little too long in my opinion.

After an acoustic intro, we get straight into three solid songs. “Listen to Your Heart” is probably the hardest song on the album kicks off the three song party. Now that I listen to it, one could argue that it should have been the album opener but I’m happy at where this track is placed. The party continues on with “Desperate Night.” This one is a raw rocker and the tempo changes keep you interested and the harmonies are the best on the album made even better with the way the guitars kick in after the harmonies. Furthermore, I love how Tony holds his note before the guitar solo takes the song out. It gets the vote for hidden gem. Afterwards, things slow down with the second power ballad, “Northern Lights.” It starts off as what some might call a proper ballad but when the guitars kick in, so does the power. It sets the album up to close out with the title track, which could have been a little longer but who’s complaining?

Track Listing:

  1. Everyone’s a Star
  2. 10,000 Lovers
  3. As Far As the Eye Can See
  4. Sapphire
  5. Child’s Play
  6. Smooth Syncopation
  7. Listen to Your Heart
  8. Desperate Night
  9. Northern Lights
  10. Incipits
  11. Tell No Tales

Tony Harnell- lead vocals

Ronni LeTekro- guitar, guitar synthesizer

Morty Black- bass, pedal synthesizers

Diesel Dahl- drums

Whether you like the hair, the metal or both, TNT got a lot of notice with the album, “Tell No Tales.” It could be said that was TNT who first turned the attention of many metalheads to what was coming out of Norway. Though I admit I could be slightly biased since my future daughter in law comes from the country. Even so, this is a good album.

Next post: Suicidal Tendencies- Join the Army

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My future Norwegian daughter in law, Eline

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Tesla- Mechanical Resonance

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2021 by 80smetalman

My sister Dawn wrote reviews on heavy metal albums when she was in college back in 1987. She was nicknamed “Dawn the Destroyer” for her hard criticism of many albums. In the early part of the year, she sent me a clipping of her review of Tesla’s debut album, “Mechanical Resonance.” To be fair, she didn’t destroy the album but she didn’t sing its praises either. In fact, she called it a corporate produced album as there seemed to be songs for everyone on here. That review has always influenced me when listening to it and I’m afraid it will influence my post here.

“Mechanical Resonance” leads off with “Ez Come Ez Go” and my first thought was that this must be the MTV single for the album. It has a catchy vibe and is rather melodic metal. Plus, I love how it opens with the bass before the guitars and vocals kick in. However, it wasn’t released as a single, which I find strange. If there is any song which sounds like corporate produced metal, it’s the second track, “Cumin’ Atcha Live.” All the heavy metal cliches are found on the song. It begins with guitar solo and then there is this live feel to the song even though it’s not recorded live. Then comes the guitar solo trade off in the middle, all the things you might expect all in one song. This wasn’t a single either.

From what else I remember from Dawn’s review was that she says that there is a song for thrash metal fans. While there isn’t anything I could call thrash, the closest to that label would be “2 Late 4 Love.” This is the hardest pounding song on the album but again, I wouldn’t call it thrash. Another contender for the thrash label could be “Rock Me to the Top.” It’s medium fast but not fast enough to be called thrash. This song is more in the Judas Priest vein and that isn’t a bad thing. Lead singer Jeff Keith tries to scream like Robert Halford on it but as we all know, there is only one Rob!

Corporate inspired albums would also have a token ballad or two on them. “Gettin’ Better” begins with an acoustic guitar but that’s all as the song goes into straight ahead metal mode for the rest. That leaves, “We’re No Good Together.” On the first half of the song, it is a total ballad and while I’m listening, I wait in anticipation for the screeching guitar solo. However, at that bridge in the middle, the song just increases in speed making the second half of it a real belter of the song. When the guitar solos do come, they aren’t ones I associate with a ballad but are cool metal finger board smashing. This track also was not released as a single, therefore it gets my vote for hidden gem.

The two songs which were released as singles are two of my favourite tracks on the album. “Modern Day Cowboy” has a slight Dokken feel to it. Not a bad thing but Tesla do make it their own song. Well, they did write it. Perhaps, the corporations had this song a single because it incorporates everything the band does well on the rest of the album. The guitar solos are just fantastic. The other single is “Little Suzi” and I like it because it has a bit of the Southern Rock boogie swagger vibe to it. Judging from the video, I hope Tesla had as much fun recording it as it looks in the video.

Another piece of corporate metal evidence my sister puts forward is that there is a keyboard song for the Rush fans. I think that song would be “Changes.” There are keyboards in it but the piano intro is quite tastefully done. However, other than that, the song sounds nothing like what Rush was doing at that time. It goes hard and heavy with some pounding guitars and while there are keyboards in the song, they take a definite back seat. I will say that I think the second half of the album outshines the first, probably because of the two songs and “Changes.” However, the last three songs also hold their own as well, “Love Me” in particular. Therefore, to me, “Mechanical Resonance” is simply a good, enjoyable metal album.

Track Listing:

  1. EZ Come EZ Go
  2. Cumin’ Atcha Live
  3. Gettin’ Better
  4. 2 Late 4 Love
  5. Rock Me to the Top
  6. We’re No Good Together
  7. Modern Day Cowboy
  8. Changes
  9. Little Suzi
  10. Love Me
  11. Cover Queen
  12. Before My Eyes

Jeff Keith- lead vocals

Frank Hannon- guitars, keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals

Tommy Skeoch- guitars, backing vocals

Brian Wheat- bass, backing vocals

Troy Luccketta- drums, percussion

One aspect of Tesla which I hadn’t recognized until recently is that Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch are a very underrated guitar duo. Their guitar work on “Mechanical Resonance” is absolutely mind blowing in places. As for the album being a corporate produced affair, if that is the case, then the corporations did something right.

Next post: TNT- Tell No Tales

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1987: Gary Moore- Wild Frontier

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2021 by 80smetalman

When I lived in the US, I had heard of Gary Moore, especially from his Thin Lizzy days and knew that he was putting out solo albums but never indulged in them. That all changed when I got to the UK and met a lad from Northern Ireland named Kieran Devlin. We bonded over the likes of Thin Lizzy and Dio and it was he who made my experience of Gary Moore more than just a familiarity. One key contributor to this was Gary’s 1987 album, “Wild Frontier.”

According to history, Gary returned to his native Belfast in 1985 before recording this album. It has been said that his trip gave him the inspiration for it as there is a strong influence of Celtic music on the album. For me, that comes through with the very first track,, “Over the Hills and Far Away.” There is definitely a strong Celtic influence in the song which is about a man who gets wrongly arrested and convicted for robbery but is determined to reunite with his lover once he is free again. However, Gary doesn’t forget his rock roots either and that is certainly evident on the track, “Take a Little Time,” which is a real rocker. What is also cool is that in between the two mentioned tracks, the title track proves to be the perfect bridge between the more Celtic influenced opener and the rocker that is “Take a Little Time.”

Another Gary talent is his guitar playing which shines through on the instrumental, “The Loner.” He simply kicks back and lets the guitar do his talking for him. Five minutes plus of Gary just smoking the fingerboard and it sound brilliant! For me, it’s the best track on the album and because it wasn’t a single, it gets the hidden gem award too. He follows it up with the cover of the Easybeats tune, “Friday on My Mind.” I think the reason this track was released as a single was that there are 1980s sounding keyboards and synths on it and that could be an attempt to gain a more mass appeal. It did get to 15 in Finland, 18 in Ireland and 26 in the UK, so you can say that it worked. There is a hard rock core to it so let there be no talk that Gary was trying to go synth pop on it because he wasn’t.

Maybe it’s me but “Strangers in the Darkness” begins as if it’s going to be a Billy Idol song and that appears in other places. He has two distinct voice sounds which trade off throughout the song and it works. Gary’s guitar licks might have something to do it. Listening closely, the bass line sounds like it could have been an Idol song as well but nonetheless, the song ends with some great guitar work from Gary. That is followed by a mid tempo rocker, “Thunder Rising.” One might think that a song with such a title would be a rocking burner and it has the potential to be such but Gary keeps it mid tempo for the first half of the song. There is an interesting rhythm guitar riff in the middle and the guitar solo with keyboards accompaniment is done well and then it is let off the leash and it’s rightful rocking sound takes over the second half of the song. Then “Wild Frontier” closes out with a Celtic ballad, “Johnny Boy.” After the hard rocking end of the penultimate track, it does slow things down and provides a good end to the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Over the Hills and Far Away
  2. Wild Frontier
  3. Take a Little Time
  4. The Loner
  5. Friday on My Mind
  6. Strangers in the Darkness
  7. Thunder Rising
  8. Johnny Boy

The CD version of “Wild Frontier” has three additional tracks: 12 inch versions of “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Wild Frontier” plus the track “Crying in the Shadows”

Gary Moore

Gary Moore- lead and backing vocals, all guitars

Neil Carter- keyboards, backing vocals

Bob Daisley- bass

Roland Kerridge- drum programming

Piece of metal history: Eric Singer, who would later play for Black Sabbath and KISS, was Gary’s drummer for the tour.

From what I see, “Wild Frontier” only made it to #139 in the US album charts. Therefore, I was glad I was in the UK at the time this album came out, otherwise I might have missed it. I must also thank Kieron for giving me further experience into Gary Moore. I returned the favour by introducing him to the Killer Dwarfs.

DTP takes the stage, Download 2017

More useless information: A further reason I regret missing Bloodstock 21 was Devin Townsend headlined on the Friday night. According to sources, because of the Covid restrictions, Devin flew to the UK a month or so prior to Bloodstock so he could get quarantine over. Then, instead of bringing his band over and having them go through all of that, he simply hired and trained British musicians to play with him on the day. Further proof that Devin is a class act!

Next post: Tesla- Mechanical Resonance

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