Great Rock Albums of 1983: Joe Jackson- Night and Day

Posted in Uncategorized, 1980s, Music, Rock, television with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Night_and_day_JJ

What I liked about the “Night and Day” album by Joe Jackson in 1983 was the fact that it was different. While rock was busy dividing and sub-dividing itself into categories and sub categories, including my beloved heavy metal, Joe went out and made an album that you really can’t put anywhere. Of course, as was the style of the time, so called music officianadoes simply called it new wave. That is very lazy in my humble opinion. I just appreciate it the album because it was so unique although the fine musicianship of Joe and his band had something to do with it as well.

My first experience with Joe Jackson came a year earlier with the song many know him best for, “Is She Really Going Out With Him.” Why I never visited any of his previous albums, I’ll never know but it was the “Night and Day” album that made an impression on me. Funny thing is that this album is a contrast to the mentioned song as that song is more of a hard rock tune and this album has definite hints of jazz and combined with some of the sarcasm with some of the lyrics, reminds me a little of the great Frank Zappa.

Let’s start with what many people know, the two singles “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us in Two.” In 1983, a lot of people played the former song before going on nights out and I don’t blame them. It is a great song to get you in the mood. The latter song is more of a ballad type and I get the impression that it’s about a relationship on the rocks. While slower than the other songs on the album, it’s definitely not soppy and is a decent song.

Singles aside, the rest of the album holds up very well. All songs are definitely played very well here. Many of them are piano dominated with his best efforts heard on the track “Cancer,” one of my favourites on the album. He just goes to town on the ivories for the final two or three minutes of the song. Furthermore, I love the assertion the song makes that every thing will be found to cause cancer. The way scientists are going on these days, that song is a bit of a prophecy fulfilled. He also sarcastically sings about television in with “T.V. Age” and “Real Men” was written in response to the emerging gay community in New York. As you have probably guessed by now, I do take a specific interest in albums’ opening and closing songs. For me, they can make or break an album. Both of the positioned tracks on “Night and Day” pass my mark. “Another World” grabs your attention from the start and “A Slow Song” takes the album out on a sublime note. Overall, this album is proof that music didn’t need to be categorized to be good.

Track Listing:

  1. Another World
  2. Chinatown
  3. TV Age
  4. Target
  5. Steppin’ Out
  6. Breaking Us in Two
  7. Cancer
  8. Real Men
  9. A Slow Song
Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson- vocals, pianos, organ, alto saxophone, harmonica, synthesizer, vibraphone

Sue Hadjopoulos- flute, percussion, congas, xylophone, timbale, bells, bongos, backing vocals

Graham Maby- bass, percussion, backing vocals

Grace Milan- vocals

Ed Roynesdal- keyboards, violin

Larry Tolfree- timbale, percussion, drums

Richard Torre- percussion, clave, bongos, cowbell

Al Weisman- vocals

There’s a very interesting thing about the “Night and Day” album. As you go through the list of musicians on it, there’s not one guitar mentioned. Normally, the metalhead in me would scream, “Wot, no guitars!” That leads to another question: How can an album not have any guitars on it and sound this good? The answer is down to the musical genius that is Joe Jackson.

Next post: Golden Earring- Cut

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 1983: Jackson Browne- Lawyers in Love

Posted in Uncategorized, 1980s, Music, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on May 20, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Jackson_Browne_-_Lawyers_in_Love

Proof of my Swiss cheese memory. I remember the album from Jackson Browne, “Lawyers in Love” quite well in 1983. However, it took me listening to this album after so many years to realize that during my tour of 1980, I missed out his then album, “Hold Out.” Thing is, I liked that album too and fondly remember the song “Disco Apocalypse” because it was talking about the death of disco, or at least that’s what I thought. Maybe it was just the fact that none of the songs on the mentioned album stuck out like the title track on “Lawyers in Love” did for me in 1983. It was the lyrics in the second verse that have lingered in the back of my mind for over thirty years.

“God sends his spaceships to America, the beautiful
They land at six o’clock and there we are, the dutiful
Eating from TV trays, tuned into to Happy Days
Waiting for World War III while Jesus slaves
To the mating calls of lawyers in love”

“Lawyers in Love” is more of a light rock sound. It doesn’t veer too far away from his best known single and my personal favourite, “Running on Empty.” While none of the songs reach the level of “Running on Empty,” there are still some good songs on it. “Tender is the Night” may give the impression that’s it going to be some sort of ballad, but the song does have a great hook with the guitar. It’s one of those songs you want to sing along to while you’re driving in the car or carrying out some mundane activity. It makes such tasks less so mundane. “Downtown” is a pretty cool song too. I have to say that while none of the songs are ones to bang your head to, there was enough of a rock hook to reel me in on just about all of them. The best rocker is probably the closer, “For a Rocker.”

Another thing which turned my ear more to Jackson Browne was he was getting more political with his music in the 1980s. In 1983, on account of my experiences in the marines and when I came out, I was getting more politically aware and paying more attention to such songs. “Say It Isn’t True” is probably the best example of this. While Jackson was called naive by some for this anti- war song, it made a statement. It didn’t make me go out and attend no nukes rallies but it made me think, as did the title track. But that’s just me.

Track Listing:

  1. Lawyers in Love
  2. On the Day
  3. Cut it Away
  4. Downtown
  5. Tender is the Night
  6. Knock on Any Door
  7. Say It Isn’t True
  8. For a Rocker
Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne- lead vocals, guitar

Craig Doerge- synthesizer, piano

Bob Glaub- bass, organ

Ross Kunkel- drums

Billy Payne- organ on “On the Day”

Rick Vito- lead guitar, vocals

While I was headbanging most of 1983 away, Jackson Browne’s album “Lawyers in Love” provided a light break in the action. It’s a good album to just listen to. Not a headbanger but has plenty of cool hooks that appealed to metalheads like me back in the day.

Next post: Joe Jackson- Night and Day

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 1983: Robert Plant- The Principle of Moments

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

220px-Principle_of_moments

Here is another example why I stopped trusting commercial radio or MTV for all of my music liaisons. In 1983, the two singles from Robert Plant’s “The Principle of Moments” album, “In the Mood” and “Big Log” got a lot of airplay on MTV. If I were to judge this album just on those two songs, I would have thought that Robert Plant had completely abandoned his roots and was making mellow out, commercial songs. I know that even then, Robert wasn’t comfortable when people like me said that his former band, Led Zeppelin, were one of the founding fathers of heavy metal but this album shows that he didn’t totally abandon his beginnings.

“The Principle of Moments” is a long way from the heavy metal sounding delights of Led Zeppelin “II” or “IV.” Nonetheless, it is still a good album with some rock delights for all. When I heard the introduction on the opening song, “Other Arms,” I found myself checking the credits on the album because I was sure that Robert had gotten Jimmy Page to play on it. Obviously, I was dreaming but saying that, Robert Blunt does a magnificent job on the six string all throughout the entire album. Does he site Jimmy as an influence? Don’t know but it might be worth checking out.

Maybe it’s me mellowing in my old age, (I’ll be halfway between 50 and 60 in three weeks), but listening to “In The Mood” again after all these years, I’ve decided it’s not as bad as I thought back then. In fact, there’s a pretty tidy guitar solo from Blunt which has me wondering how I missed something like that back in 1983. I’ll blame the weed. Another really good standout track is “Wreckless Love” which is possibly the hardest rock tune on the album. However, other songs like “Messin’ With the Mekon” and “Horizontal Departure” come fairly close. “Thru With the Two Step” is another interesting song on the album. It starts out like it’s going to be a mellow one, more in the style of Led Zeppelin’s later progressive years. Then it goes into a more hard blues sound with a killer guitar solo from Blunt. God, I have to check this guy out more.

The only stone left unturned is the vocals of Plant himself. They are as good as ever here. Sure, he doesn’t scream like he did back in the 1970s but he still shows he has a decent range.

Track Listing:

  1. Other Arms
  2. In the Mood
  3. Messin’ with the Meckon
  4. Wreckless Love
  5. Thru With the Two Step
  6. Horizontal Departure
  7. Stranger Here… Than Over There
  8. Big Log
Robert Plant

Robert Plant

Robert Plant- vocals

Robbie Blunt- guitars

Paul Martinez- bass

Jezz Woodroffe- keyboards

Phil Collins- drums on tracks, 1-3, 5,6, 8

Barriemore Barlow- drums on tracks 4 and 7

John David and Ray Martinez- backing vocals

Unlike “In the Mood,” my thoughts haven’t changed much on “Big Log.” Maybe it’s that image conjured up from the video of Robert Plant swimming in the pool. But don’t let that spoil your enjoyment of “The Principle of Moments” because it is a good album. Classic Robert Plant.

Next post: Jackson Browne- Lawyers in Love

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 1983: Big Country- The Crossing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by 80smetalman

Big_Country_-_The_Crossing

It was the beginning of December in 1983 when MTV finally came into my household. That was because we were offered a really good deal on it, so my mother agreed to it but that’s not important here. What I did discover almost straight away was that while many an act owed their success to MTV, that channel also had the potential to kill an act. In those first few weeks, just about every time we switched on the channel, the video for Big Country’s first big hit, “In a Big Country” would be playing. It got played to the point that whenever it came on, either me or my sister and even my then 12 year old brother would crack the sarcastic comment, “Hey, never seen this one before.” The irony is that when I first heard that song, I thought it was decent enough. I liked Big Country’s Scottish Celtic-folk sound mixed in with a bit of hard rock. It was definitely something I would call new wave. Unfortunately, the over saturation of the song on MTV put me off and as a result, I never got to appreciate how good their debut album, “The Crossing” was.

Another ironic point about this album was that by chance, I saw the video for their second single, “Fields of Fire.” I say by chance because unlike “In a Big Country” they hardly played it and that’s a shame because I preferred “Fields of Fire” to the other one. It is a bit harder. Throughout “The Crossing,” the folk-rock combination weaves its way in, out and around all the tracks. The first three or four tracks edge closer to the more progressive side. There are some very interesting musical arrangements here, especially with the song, “Chance.” Things tend to sound a bit more harder after that, although the track “1000 Stars” does slightly remind of U2. Furthermore, I do like the acoustic folk sound on “The Storm.” But “Harvest Home” is more hard rock for and that is followed by my favourite track, “Lost Patrol.” Another song, I will add to my list of songs that would sound good metalized.

At first, I didn’t know what to think about the closer, “Porrohman.” But once I sat down and really listened to it, I found it to be one of those that absorbs you in and you have no choice but to just enjoy it to its end. A great song to end the album with. One more point I have to make is about the vocals of Stuart Adamson. What makes his vocals good is that they fit right in with the music and that does well here.

Track Listing:

  1. In a Big Country
  2. Inwards
  3. Chance
  4. 1000 Stars
  5. The Storm
  6. Harvest Home
  7. Lost Patrol
  8. Close Action
  9. Fields of Fire
  10. Porrohman
Big Country

Big Country

Stuart Adamson- vocals, guitar, piano, ebow

Bruce Watson- guitar, vocals, ebow, mandolin, sitar

Tony Butler- bass, vocals

Mark Brzezicki- drums, percussion,vocals

Did you know that some people actually consider Big Country to be one hit wonders. I don’t. From what I heard from their later work, they seem to go a bit more harder. Still, they were never one hit wonders. That label kept people like me from hearing how good “The Crossing” actually was.

Next post: Robert Plant- The Principle of Moments

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 1983: Marillion- Script For a Jester’s Tear

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2016 by 80smetalman

Marillion_-_Script_for_a_Jester's_Tear

I had heard of Marillion in 1983 but didn’t actually hear them until their 1985, “Misplaced Childhood” album made a major breakthrough in the US. Even then, it would be another two years before I listened to their back catalog, which included this, their debut album, “Script for a Jester’s Tear.” I have to thank my first wife for giving me this opportunity as it was her albums that help me appreciate their early work. Actually, Marillion was the first concert we saw together as husband and wife but that story is better for another day.

One of my on going rants here on 80smetalman is that the progressive rock of the 1970s descended into the synth pop of the 1980s. I still believe this but somebody forgot to tell Marillion this was the case. “Script for a Jester’s Tear” proved that there was still some good progressive rock to be found in the 1980s. In fact, I will go as far as to say that legends from the decade before such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes, (I’ll be visiting an album of theirs in the near future) would be glad that Marillion carried on the torch of progressive rock far into a decade where it wasn’t as widely appreciated.

In the true spirit of progressive rock, the shortest track on the album is just a mere five minutes and twenty nine seconds, that track is “He Knows You Know.” It’s also why that song was released as a single. The next shortest track is over seven minutes long and the remaining ones are all more than eight. In each of those tracks, there is the great keyboard work of Mark Kelly in tandem with some impressive guitar playing from Steve Rothery. Those two elements are strongly supported by the rhythm section and the unmistakable voice of lead singer, Fish. They make all of those tracks ones where you just want to kick back and listen and just appreciate the musical efforts of the band. All good tracks but my personal favourite has to be “Garden Party,” most likely for the acoustic guitar followed by hard rock intro. One other point is that at the time, the track “Chelsea Monday” was criticised for having nonsense lyrics. If they do, who cares? The music, especially Rothery’s guitar solo more than compensates.

Track Listing:

  1. Script for a Jester’s Tear
  2. He Knows You Know
  3. The Web
  4. Garden Party
  5. Chelsea Monday
  6. Forgotten Sons
Marillion

Marillion

Fish- vocals

Steve Rothery- guitar

Mark Kelly- keyboards

Pete Trewavas- bass

Mick Pointer- drums

I think what Marillion achieved in 1983 was to provide a common ground for trendies who were able to look beyond what synth pop was offering and metalheads like me who still appreciate a bit of melody. For those, Marillion’s debut album has it all. The paradox is that while “Script for a Jester’s Tear” was a huge success in the UK, it hardly made a dent in the US. Then again, I’ll be visiting another UK band who in the same year, had an album that went multi- platinum in the US but only sold about 17 copies in the UK.

Next post: Big Country- The Crossing

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 1983: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness

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

Midnightranger

An huge argument raged throughout the mid 1980s and for some, it still does today. It is even briefly debated in “Rock and Roll Children.” Was Night Ranger heavy metal? Pure metalheads gave a resounding no because of the band’s use of keyboards and softer, more commercial rock, especially in regards to the album following this one. However, this didn’t stop the rest of the world from claiming they were. My opinion in this matter can be found in the title of this post. You probably noticed that I didn’t call Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness” album a great metal album.

Listening to the second album from Night Ranger, it is quite easy to see why many of the less knowing would call it a metal album. Most of the first five songs do rock, although I still wouldn’t call them metal. Even the ballad, “Sister Christian” ranks up there as a very good power ballad. It did influence some metal bands who wanted at least one on their album to write their ballads in this style.

My first experience of the album came in the form of “You Could Still Rock in America.” Like the classic, “Don’t Tell Me You Love,” I thought this too was a Rick Springfield song at first. Another example of irony in my life, I first heard it after spending four weeks in London. My first musical experience there wasn’t great. The people I was staying with were all top 40 dance junkies and they tried to insist that there was no place in London to find the hard rock I loved so much. After lamenting the first two weeks, I did discover a really cool rock pub in Croydon in South London and things got better after that. Then I went to my first Donington Festival so my I ended up enjoying my London stay. When I returned, I heard this song playing on the radio and thought, “Damn right, you can still rock in America.” Saying that, I was glad that earlier reports about music in the UK were proved totally wrong.

Apart from “Sister Christian,” the only really commercial oriented tracks are “When You Close Your Eyes,” another hit single for the band and “Passion Play.” The latter is a bit harder than the former but doesn’t rock like the rest of the album. Tracks that really do rock, besides the opener, are “Touch of Madness” and “Chippin’ Away.” “Rumours in the Air” is pretty cool as well. But what makes this album rock, even the songs that don’t rock as much is the guitar duo of Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson. One or the other or both in some cases, lay down some serious guitar heat in every song, except the acoustic closer. When people talk of guitar duos, the ones mentioned are Tipton/Downing, Smith/Murray or Gers/Murray (same band), Ojeda/French and the original guitar duo, Walsh/Felder. After hearing this album again after so many years, Watson/Gillis needs to be included among the others.

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis leading the way for Night Ranger

Track Listing:

  1. You Can Still Rock in America
  2. Rumours in the Air
  3. Why Does Love Have to Change
  4. Sister Christian
  5. Touch of Madness
  6. Passion Play
  7. When You Close Your Eyes
  8. Chippin’ Away
  9. Let  Him Run
Night Ranger

Night Ranger

Jack Blades- bass, lead vocals

Jeff Watson- guitars, keyboards

Brad Gillis- guitars

Alan ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald- keyboards

Kelly Keagy- drums, lead vocals

True metalheads like me do not consider Night Ranger heavy metal. However, they did know how to rock as the album “Midnight Madness” clearly shows. In 1983, they did rock America.

Next post: Marillion- Script For a Jester’s Tear

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 1983: Men At Work- Cargo

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Men_at_Work_-_Cargo

Let me clarify something I wrote when I posted about Men At Work’s debut album, “Business As Usual.” I stated that Men At Work was the closest I got to mainstream music back in the 1980s. That was definitely the case in 1982 however, after refamiliarising myself with their second album, which I find superior to the debut album by the way, and thinking about music in 1983, I have to agree to the premise that this band wasn’t really mainstream. Still, they were the closest I got to it.

One reason why the “Cargo” album might be considered mainstream was that it had three successful singles on it. “Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive” was a very fun catchy tune and I love the paranoid feeling that “Overkill” provides. I’ve had days when I feel exactly like that. However, my favourite all time Men At Work song is the single “It’s a Mistake.” Its release couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Call it kharma or deja vu but hearing a good anti war song right after coming out of the marines was unbelievable. The video of the song provided the proper punchline. Even without all that, I still would have found it a good song.

From the Men At Work video: It's A Mistake

From the Men At Work video: It’s A Mistake

Call “Cargo” what you will, post punk, new wave or even mainstream, none of it stops this album from being a good, fun album. There also elements of reggae in it as well, I site “Settle Down My Boy” and “Blue For You” as evidence,  so in my mind, all of those combinations make it anything but mainstream. I sort of like it when people aren’t able pigeon hole certain bands. With “Cargo” there is something for everyone to like. Hell, I even noticed a bit of a hard rock-ish sound on “High Wire.” What’s more, Men At Work incorporate a brilliant sense of humour on their songs, something I always like. That’s expecially the case with “I Like To.” Therefore, my conclusion is while “Cargo” by Men At Work may not be the hard pounding metal album I was liking more and more in those days, it was still a very enjoyable album.

Track Listing:

  1. Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive
  2. Overkill
  3. Settle Down My Boy
  4. Upstairs in My Room
  5. No Sign of Yesterday
  6. It’s a Mistake
  7. High Wire
  8. Blue For You
  9. I Like To
  10. No Restrictions
Men At Work

Men At Work

Greg Ham- flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals

Colin Hay- guitar, vocals

John Rees- bass, backing vocals

Jerry Speiser- drums, backing vocals

Ron Strykert- guitar, vocals

Men At Work might have been the closest I ever got to mainstream music back in the 1980s but they certainly weren’t mainstream. Good musicianship, fun and catchy music and lyrics and a sense of humour was why I liked the “Cargo” album.

Next post: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 814 other followers