Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Album

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-joan_jett__the_blackhearts_-_album

In 1982, Joan Jett had established herself as the queen of rock. However, her grip on the throne was not at all secure. The former queen whom she deposed in, if we were talking medieval times, would be described as a bloody coup, was still around and would jump at any chance to get that throne back. That former queen, Pat Benatar, did put out a cool live album in 1983, which I’ve already posted about. So, what Joan Jett and the Blackhearts needed was a great follow up to the 1982, “I Love Rock and Roll,” which established them. So, the question was, would “Album” be enough for Joan to retain her crown?

If you were take the opener and first single “Album” as an answer, then it would be a definite no. “Fake Friends” as a single put many people off the album and I too wasn’t impressed and thought that possibly the band had fumbled the ball here. Fortunately for me, especially after the Chris DeBurgh experience, I don’t let one song dictate an album for me. In fact, even after more than thirty years of hearing this album, I remain convinced that “Fake Friends” should not only have not been released as a single, it shouldn’t even be on the album!

As for the rest of the album, the songs are much better. Track two would have been a much better opener than “Fake Friends.” It starts off with the appropriate riff and goes strong from there. The follow up single, “Everyday People,” was much better as a single than the one already mentioned, however, even that is nowhere near the best track on this album. What I like about “Album,” is that it seems that every track improves as the album progresses. ” Hundred Feet Away,” “The French Song” and their take on the 1950’s Bobby Lewis classic, “Tossin’ and Turnin'” are all good rocking tunes. The only exception is the band’s attempt at a power ballad. “Why Can’t We Be Happy” isn’t a bad song, it’s just that I feel that Joan’s voice isn’t suited to ballads. However, she more than makes up with the next two songs, which in my view, are the two best on the album, with the latter being better than the former. “Coney Island Whitefish” torpedoes a hole in the theory about penultimate songs on albums being filler or just not as good. I love the chants of “scumbag”in the chorus. The closer, “Had Enough,” ends the album on a very aggressive note.

Track Listing:

  1. Fake Friends
  2. Handyman
  3. Everyday People
  4. A Hundred Feet Away
  5. Secret Love
  6. The French Song
  7. Tossin’ and Turnin’
  8. Why Can’t We Be Happy
  9. I Love Playing With Fire
  10. Coney Island Whitefish
  11. Had Enough
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett- vocals, guitar

Ricky Bird- guitar

Gary Ryan- bass

Lee Crystal- drums

Additional Musicians

Kenny Laguna- keyboards

The Uptown Horns

The Ross Levinson Strings

So the question is: Was “Album” good enough to secure Joan Jett’s place as the queen of rock. The answer is complicated. The album was good enough to keep her on the throne but not enough to keep her there securely. Even if you were to take “Fake Friends” out of it. There were several young metal maidens lurking in the shadows who would emerge to challenge and as the decade would prove, we wouldn’t see the last of Pat Benatar. But forget all that and just enjoy this album.

Next post: Ozzy Osbourne- Speak of the Devil

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Aldo Nova- Subject…Aldo Nova

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2016 by 80smetalman

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“Subject…Aldo Nova” was the follow up to Aldo’s much adored debut album. The big question will always be: Was it as good as the first? At first, I was tempted to answer no but after a few more listens, I’m not so sure. On “Subject,” Aldo does go for a more commercial 1980s sound and therefore it’s not as hard rock as the debut. However, the hard stuff definitely does not totally disappear on the album. Maybe he was under pressure from the record company to go for a more commercially viable sound but I can’t say. It’s still a very good album nonetheless.

The first three tracks are all space rock sounding instrumentals which can easily be blended into a single track. These tracks tell you from the outset that “Subject” is going to be a little different. “Monkey On Your Back” does bring things back to what I liked about the first album. In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of “Fantasy” so you know it’s a cool song. From there, things go even harder with the next two songs and he definitely nails the guitar solo on “Cry Baby Cry.”

Further evidence that Aldo is not trying to veer too far away from the first album’s format comes with the first power ballad, “Victim of a Broken Heart.” Unfortunately, this song is more ballad and less power but he still manages to land another great guitar solo which saves the song for me. Then comes the thirty-nine second “Africa (Primal Love)” which has me wondering: Was this necessary? Personally, I don’t see the point of it being included here but hey ho, things return to normal with “Hold Back the Night.” The big difference here was that there is a bit of barely audible talking in the middle which made me stop what I was doing and listen intently to hear what he was saying. I still couldn’t make it out. But there’s another cool guitar solo after so who cares?

“Always Be Mine” ventures back into the realm of more commercial rock so I’m assuming that it was an intended single. The chorus is rather catchy so that’s a feather in its cap. After “All Night Long,” which is more synth sounding but starts with a good solo, the album kind of goes out the same way it came in, with two short instrumentals only the final track, “Paradise” is a full length song and a bit of a power ballad but the guitar solo does take the album out on an absolute high. All in all, “Subject” doesn’t quite climb to the heights reached by its predecessor but still gets pretty high up the mountain.

Track Listing:

  1. Subject’s Theme
  2. Armageddon (Race Cars)
  3. Armageddon
  4. Monkey On Your Back
  5. Hey Operator
  6. Cry Baby Cry
  7. Victim of a Broken Heart
  8. Africa (Primal Love)
  9. Hold Back the Night
  10. Always Be Mine
  11. All Night Long
  12. War Song
  13. Prelude to Paradise
  14. Paradise
Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova- guitars, vocals

Billy Carmassi- drums

David Sikes- bass on track 5

Neal Jason- bass on tracks 8,9,10 and 12

Steve Buslowe- bass on track 11

Dennis Chartrand- piano

Chuck Burgi- drums on track 10

Kevin Carlson- 2nd guitar solo on tracks 3 and 12

Aldo Nova had hit the ground running with his debut album and still going strong on “Subject.” It seemed as far as American commercial rock was concerned, he would disappear but I can’t help thinking that his other albums are as good as his first two.

Next post: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Album

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

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Aldo Nova

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by 80smetalman

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When my household finally caught up with the times in 1983 and got MTV, the video for the big single, “Fantasy,” from Canadian rocker Aldo Nova’s debut album received a fair amount of airplay. Okay, it may not have been played as much as Big Country’s “In a Big Country” or the full twenty minute video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but I saw it a good few times. Naturally, I assumed that the song was current. It was only later that I discovered that the song and the album were actually released over a year earlier. Therefore, this was another great album that came out in 1982, which I missed on account of my commitments to the military back then. It is also the reason why I am still posting it for 1983. I guess I should be grateful to MTV or else I might have missed it all together.

Even before I first saw the video for “Fantasy,” Aldo Nova was making a name for himself in metal circles back then. He supported giants Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult on two different tours and the reports I received from my friend and my sister was that he was pretty good. That, along with the single I heard, was enough grounds to explore the debut album and what a wise decision that turned out to be.

In typical 1982 fashion, the album opens with the big single but like so many other great rock and metal albums from that year, the rest of the album carries on very well. In the case of Aldo, the tracks “Hot Love” and “It’s Too Late” keep me headbanging away. Both are great rocking gems. Then comes the power ballad, “Ball and Chain” and it is this track that has forced me to put Aldo Nova into the category of deeply under appreciated guitarists. He really rips his solo here. “Ball and Chain” also has me pondering something else. This song, along with April Wine’s “Just Between You and Me” and the Killer Dwarfs’ “Fire In Your Eyes,” has me thinking that maybe Canadian bands are the best at power ballads. Something to debate anyway.

It would have been wrong of me to say that the album picks up after the power ballad because it never really slowed down. Still, “Heart to Heart” is a great song and in metal power, I put it between the power ballad and first three tracks. Following it is what sounds for me was a definitely intended AOR single, “Fooling Yourself.” However, the chorus is quite catchy so I don’t blame him for this one. Even more so because the next track, “Under the Gun” is the best rocking track on the album complete with another great guitar solo.

The album seems to slow down a great deal after that. I wouldn’t call “You’re My Love” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” power ballads, just ballads although the latter has a cool guitar solo reminding me of why I added Aldo to my ever growing list of underrated guitarists. I would like to say that the album closes with a blinder but I really can’t say that about “See the Light.” The song reminds me of something you would hear from a nightclub band. It is done very well and sounds good despite being keyboard dominated but with all the harder tracks, I found myself straining in anticipation for a power chord that never comes. It’s only Aldo’s guitar solo that saves it for me and that gets me into the song at the end. While the last three songs may not measure up to the rest of the album in my view, those other seven songs are more than enough to make this album a great one.

Track Listing:

  1. Fantasy
  2. Hot Love
  3. It’s Too Late
  4. Ball and Chain
  5. Heart to Heart
  6. Fooling Yourself
  7. Under the Gun
  8. You’re My Love
  9. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
  10. See the Light
Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova- vocals, guitars, bass, synthesizers, keyboards

Dennis Chartrand- piano

Michel Pelo- bass

Robert Biagioni- bass

Michael La Chapelle- drums, percussion

Terry Martel- drums, percussion

Daniel Barbe- backing vocals

Dwight Druck- backing vocals

Thank God for MTV is all I can say. While their playing of the video for “Fantasy” may have misled me as to when Aldo Nova’s first album came out, it did give me the opportunity to actually discover Aldo and listen to the album. Something I will always be glad about.

Next post: Aldo Nova- Subject Aldo Nova

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Zebra

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2016 by 80smetalman

zebra_album

Don’t ask me how but for some reason, the debut album from the American hard rock/heavy metal band Zebra passed me by. I don’t remember it getting any airplay on local radio nor do I remember seeing any videos from them on MTV. If it hadn’t been for Rich at Kamertunes, I never would have heard of this band ever let alone get the opportunity to listen to the debut album. But thank God for Youtube as once again, it allows me to listen to another album I never heard before.

Now that I got to listen to this album thrice, I am now able to deliver a verdict on it. I always believe in starting with the negative or at least the less positive. I don’t feel that I missed anything major by not listening to the album way back in 1983. The album has a definite “it’s all been done before” feel to it. I can’t really say that there’s anything original about it. Furthermore, I think Zebra attempts to be all things to all people here. There’s snippets of progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal dotted all throughout and I’m sorry, the track “Slow Down” sounds too 1950s. I know the song was written in 1958 but there seemed little attempt to bring it up to date. I said it then and I’ll say it now, if I want the 1950s in the 80s or any decade, I’ll listen to the Stray Cats. Likewise, the closer, “The La La Song,” begins like an easy listening tune which spoils most of the song even though it goes a harder not long into it.

Now for the more positive. Overall, the album is pretty good. While I don’t think I missed anything by not buying it, if I had heard it in 1983, I still would have bought it. One can’t fault the efforts of the three men who make up Zebra. There are some really cool intros on tracks one, two and four and they are all decent to very good tracks, all hard rock. The only gripe is that possibly the opener, “Tell Me What You Want,” ends too abruptly. “Who’s Behind the Door,” I have to say impresses the hell out of me. I do detect a bit of Rush influence here and the vocals are ear catching. “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” does sound like classic 1970s progressive rock, sort of in the vein of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The musicianship is ace on this one and it is my favourite track on the album. The next track rocks pretty good as well with a good guitar riff. In short, the seven better tracks do cancel out the two unimpressive ones.

Track Listing:

  1. Tell Me What You Want
  2. One More Chance
  3. Slow Down
  4. As I Said Before
  5. Who’s Behind the Door
  6. When You Get There
  7. Take Your Fingers From My Hair
  8. Don’t Walk Away
  9. The La La Song
Zebra

Zebra

Randy Jackson- guitar, lead vocals, piano, Mellotron, synthesizer, percussion

Felix Hanemann- bass, backing vocals, keyboards, strings

Guy Gelso- drums, backing vocals, percussion

Zebra’s debut album came and went in 1983 and escaped my notice for thirty-three years. Now that I finally did, I liked what I heard from the debut album. However and I know I’m repeating myself here, I don’t think I missed anything super special.

Next post: Aldo Nova

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Thin Lizzy- Life

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by 80smetalman

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“Thunder and Lightning” might have been the final studio album for Thin Lizzy but that didn’t mean they were in any way finished. Further along in the year, 1983, the band released the live album, “Life.” The album was recorded over a series of concerts played in September and October, predominantly taking place at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

The closest I got to ever seeing Thin Lizzy live was seeing the tribute band, Limehouse Lizzy, in Stroud over ten years ago. It’s a shame they never came back, but I digress. Both the tribute band and this album make me regret the fact that I have never seen the actual band in concert. What I have heard in both camps here give me the impression that they would have been sensational, but no use crying over something I have no control over.

It wouldn’t have taken a computer to deduce the fact that any live album late in Thin Lizzy’s career would have been a glorified greatest hits album. Having owned their greatest hits album, (I have it on cassette), I can attest to this. Still there are some great surprises on here, starting with the fact that “Thunder and Lightning” would be the best track to open the live album or any concert. They play it just as loud and proud live, maybe more. In fact, the songs from “Thunder and Lightning” are all played rather well, “Cold Sweat” definitely gets an honourable mention here. In addition, in my mind, they pick the right songs from that album to play on this one. Saying that, I like the live version of “The Sun Goes Down.” To me it seems more sinister though it does go on even longer than on the studio version.

Of course, all the great Lizzy classics are on here and most of them are played very well live. I only have to wait to the third song to hear my all time favourite Thin Lizzy ditty and they definitely do it justice. Other notable efforts are “Emerald,” “Black Rose,” “Waiting for an Alibi,” “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)” and if they genuinely closed their shows, with “The Rocker” like they do on the album, then it was a very wise choice indeed. A great song to go out on.

Additionally, Phil Lynott got the former Thin Lizzy guitarists to play on different numbers on the album. Gary Moore, Snowy White, Eric Bell and Brian Robertson all play on the album. I now know why “The Rocker” was such a great closer. That’s because all the guitarists mentioned as well as Sykes and Goram of course play on the final song in what Phil calls ‘The All Star Jam.” That was great to hear, it must have been mind blowing to see.

Track Listing:

  1. Thunder and Lightning
  2. Waiting for an Alibi
  3. Jailbreak
  4. Baby Please Don’t Go
  5. The Holy War
  6. Renegade
  7. Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)
  8. Got to Give it Up
  9. Angel of Death
  10. Are You Ready
  11. The Boys are Back in Town
  12. Cold Sweat
  13. Don’t Believe a Word
  14. Killer on the Loose
  15. The Sun Goes Down
  16. Emerald
  17. The Black Rose
  18. Still in Love With You
  19. The Rocker
Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy

Phil Lynott- bass, lead vocals

John Sykes- guitar, backing vocals

Scott Goram- guitar, backing vocals

Darren Wharton- keyboards, backing vocals

Brian Downey- drums, percussion

Guest Musicians

Gary Moore- guitar on Black Rose and The Rocker

Eric Bell- guitar on The Rocker

Brian Robertson- guitar on Emerald and The Rocker

Snowy White- guitar on Renegade, Killer on the Loose, Hollywood and The Rocker

In November of 1983, I met up with a friend who was on leave from the army after spending two years stationed in Germany. Before he left the country, he got to see Thin Lizzy’s last ever gig in Nuremberg. I don’t remember many of the details but it sounded like an amazing event. They played many of their classics more than once and “The Boys are Back in Town” three times! Boy I was jealous, still am. I have to settle for the next best thing, this live album.

Next post: Zebra

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Thin Lizzy- Thunder and Lightning

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2016 by 80smetalman

Thin_Lizzy_-_Thunder_and_Lightning

Before I launch into the final studio album from one of the greatest rock bands from the 1970s, I feel I must bring to everyone’s attention the boo-boo I made on my last post. Having looked at it, I realise that I never posted the photos I took of the headline band, Twister, that night. I have since rectified this mistake and the photos are there for your viewing enjoyment. I’ve listened to a couple of Twister songs on Youtube and they’re quite good.

Yes, “Thunder and Lightning” would be the final studio album from Thin Lizzy. My first experience of this album came in 1986, when partying in my college dorm room, my new British friends and I were making a tape for my sister. A Thin Lizzy song was suggested and “Thunder and Lightning” was further suggested. Upon hearing that suggestion, the Thin Lizzy officianado in the room stated that it was the worst Thin Lizzy song you could play. Having to decide things like that for myself, I listened to the album and I never agreed with my friend’s opinion.

Whether it was the addition of John Sykes on guitar or Thin Lizzy trying to jump on the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), “Thunder and Lightning” is the heaviest Thin Lizzy album I have experienced. The title cut opens the album and from the first notes, you know that this is a much heavier brand of Thin Lizzy. That heaviness carries on through the second song as well. However, things slow right down with “The Sun Goes Down.” This one is much slower, a rock against the tide of the rest of the album. Still, there is some good keyboard work on it and I have always been a sucker for a great slow blues guitar solo. However, the song does drag in some places.

“The Holy War” returns things to its natural pace. While not quite as hard as the first two tracks, it does deliver through the melodic hard rock avenue and it’s possibly my favourite track on the album. It’s melody is quite catchy. That track sets up the rest of the album. From then on it’s one hard tune after the other, sort of a one, two, three, four, five punch. The opening riffs of “Cold Sweat” give that away. Even then, I can still hear the what some would say as traditional Thin Lizzy coming through and there is some good soloing from both Goram and Sykes.

One song that really intrigued me on “Thunder and Lightning” is “Someday She’s Going to Hit Back.” The title suggests this is an anti- domestic abuse song and having a read of the lyrics, it seems to support that theory. Here’s the paradox. This music to this rocker is really cool with another great guitar solo. However, I fear that on account of that, the message of the lyrics gets lost in the song. Just an observation here. Then comes “Baby Please Don’t Go,” another cool hard rock song but I am left to wonder if the last song sets up this one. However, both songs lead the way out for the album which ends on a terrific closer in “Heart Attack.” Not to take anything away from the penultimate song as that’s a good one too.

Track Listing:

  1. Thunder and Lightning
  2. This is the One
  3. The Sun Goes Down
  4. The Holy War
  5. Cold Sweat
  6. Someday She’s Going to Hit Back
  7. Baby, Please Don’t Go
  8. Bad Habits
  9. Heart Attack
Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy

Phil Lynott- bass, lead vocals

Scott Goram- guitar, backing vocals

John Sykes- guitar, backing vocals

Darren Wharton- keyboards, backing vocals

Brian Downey- drums, percussion

Usually in the case of final albums, they are a lackluster offering from a band whose attitude is to get it done and go. This isn’t the case here with “Thunder and Lightning.” There was some good thought put into it. Some say that the lyrics aren’t up to much but that’s a technicality. The music more than makes up for it. Definitely the rockingest album from Thin Lizzy.

Next post: Thin Lizzy- Life

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Another Great Gig, I Just Happened to See

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by 80smetalman

Last week, I happened to spend a few days in the great Northern English city of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Mrs 80smetalman really loves the place and goes every year but because of other commitments the previous years, this was the first time I went there in four years. First, I did attempt to go to the pub, The Broken Doll, which my good buddy 1537 recommended but it was too far away from my hotel and there were no Metro stations in that area. I did try. Therefore, I had to settle for Newcastle’s premiere rock pub, Trillian’s. I ventured there my first and last nights of my stay and I was definitely glad I went on the final night because I got to see two really cool bands.

This photo was taken four years ago. Trillian's still looks exactly like this. I didn't see the girl in the photo this time around.

This photo was taken four years ago. Trillian’s still looks exactly like this. I didn’t see the girl in the photo this time around.

The first band to hit the stage that night was a band called The Distorted. Now one could think that this band was trying to be like The Disturbed, especially when they played a cover of “Down With the Sickness” halfway through their set. However, I noticed a heavy influence of Black Sabbath in their music as well. The Distorted proved to be a very tightly knit quartet with all the tools necessary to go a lot further; a strong rhythm section, a guitarist who can shred and a good lead singer with some personality. He could connect with the audience, just a shame there weren’t more people there for him to connect to. On one song, he put a skull on his wrist and acted like it was doing the singing, cool, I thought. I really enjoyed this band.

Later that evening, I managed to catch up with the guitarist, a really cool chap, who told me that they nearly got to Bloodstock this year. They made it all the way to the regional semi-finals. Well with what I heard at Trillian’s I hope they go all the way in 2017.

The Distorted on stage.

The Distorted on stage.

Singing with the skull

Singing with the skull

In one of the fastest equipment changeovers I have ever witnessed, headliners, Twister were soon out on stage. While The Distorted wanted to pound your skull a bit, Twister were slightly more melodic but not less heavy. Furthermore, they already have an album out. “Trees” will be available for download on September 5th and from what I saw on stage, it too, will be worth it. Twister also fields four members but have two guitars, both of whom are capable of laying down a good solo. Listening to them, one could easily tell that their influences are more old school. The cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” kind of gave it away but their music can stand well on its own. While they make a good foursome, most of the attention was on the mop haired blonde lead singer. He definitely made himself known while Twister was on the stage. He along with the band, also impressed me this night and I loved how they closed the show with the AC/DC classic, “Whole Lotta Rosie.”

Twister on Stage

Twister on Stage

Twister rocking Trillian's

Twister rocking Trillian’s

Link for Twister: https://www.facebook.com/TwisterUK/

Link for The Distorted: https://www.facebook.com/TheDistorted/

Next post: Back to the great albums of 1983 with Thin Lizzy- Thunder and Lightning

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