Great Rock Albums of 1983: Men At Work- Cargo

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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2016 by 80smetalman

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1983 saw another album from possibly the best band that nobody’s ever heard of. Hopefully, this might jog a few memories. Back in the year, on several occasions, I saw the video for the Michael Stanley Band’s only top 40 hit, “My Town.” This song was a very good rock anthem and while I don’t lament its lack of chart success because that was the direction music was heading then, I did think that more rockers and metalheads would have been singing along to its very cool chorus, especially with the way this song rocks!

“Oh, and this town
Is my town, alright?
Love or hate it, it don’t matter
‘Cause I’m gonna stand and fight
This town, is my town
She’s got her ups and downs
But love or hate it, it don’t matter
‘Cause this is my town”

Does anybody remember now?

“You Can’t Fight Fashion” has been considered the Michael Stanley Band’s best album and I won’t argue the fact. The album starts out more progressive with the first three songs. When I listened to it the other night, I just wanted to sit back and soak those songs in. None of those songs are ballads but they aren’t very hard rockers but all done very well. What stands out in those tracks and even more in the fourth track, “Highlife” is the superb sax playing by Rick Bell. Put it this way, after hearing his sax rip on those tracks, I will never question the idea of horns in rock ever again, provided those horns are played well to complement the song.

The other thing that “Highlife” does for the album is provide a brilliant point for the change of tempo in the album. Things start to rock with said song and then with the “My Town” coming right on the heels of “Highlife,” things get interesting indeed. Even though the next track, “The Damage is Done” is a ballad, it is a very good power ballad with just the right combination of piano and guitar power chords. Then, “Fire in the Hole” is just as powerful rocker as “My Town” and I think it would sound rather good metalized. It also sets the pace for the album to go out on a real rocking feel, a duty which the closing song, “Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels) preforms outstandingly.

Track Listing:

  1. Hard Times
  2. Just Give Me Tonight
  3. Someone Like You
  4. Highlife
  5. My Town
  6. The Damage is Done
  7. Fire in the Hole
  8. How Can You Call This Love
  9. Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels)
Michael Stanley Band

Michael Stanley Band

Michael Stanley- guitar, vocals

Tommy Dobeck- drums

Bob Pelander- keyboards

Greg Markasky- lead guitar

Kevin Raleigh- keyboards, vocals

Michael Gismondi- bass

Rick Bell- saxophone

If you didn’t do my homework assignment when I posted about the 1982 “MSB” album, you should definitely do it now and listen to “You Can’t Fight Fashion.” I’m sure at least one person will remember hearing “My Town” and then you can listen to the rest of this fine album.

Next post: Men At Work- Cargo

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: Stray Cats- Built For Speed

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2016 by 80smetalman

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Internet didn’t exist back in 1983 and that is going to be my excuse for posting an album that came out in the middle of 1982 in 1983. A quick historical point here, it was the early 1980s when computer technology was becoming accessible to the common masses. I did do an introductory course in computers during my first semester at college in the Autumn of this year but that’s not important here. What is was the fact that back then, I had to rely on record stores, radio, word of mouth and a late night television show called “Video Rock” to learn about new music. Our house didn’t even get MTV until the December of this year! It was the mentioned television show where I first learned about the Stray Cats in the summer of 1983.

It was their 1950s look and sound that first got my attention. At a time where everyone was trying to be different, the Stray Cats actually were. While I wasn’t very impressed with the first single I heard, “Stray Cats Strut,” I did like the second one that reached my ears, “Rock This Town.” Even though, like most people, I got the impression they were in love with the fifties, I thought they were at least trying to be original at the time. Besides, with “Rock This Town,” they proved to me they were good musicians. Brian Setzer was a competent guitarist, (no Van Halen or Nugent but competent) and Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker work very well together as a rhythm section, a point I will certainly expand on when I get to 1985.

The Stray Cats’ album “Built For Speed,” pretty much sounds like the two songs I’ve already mentioned. They are firmly locked in the 1950s rockabilly sound reminiscent of Eddie Cochran or Bill Haley and the Comets, not a bad thing. Each song, with the exception of the slower “Lonely Summer Nights” possesses a catchy sound that draws you in. It might not get you to start fist pumping and banging your head but I did find myself wanting to snap my fingers along with them, which is saying something for someone with no natural rhythm. Apart from “Rock This Town,” the other songs which stand out for me are “Little Miss Prissy,” “Rumble in Brighton” and “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie.” All contain a strong dose of the elements that turned my ear to the Stray Cats in the first place. Not only was it something different at the time, what was different was done very well.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock This Town
  2. Built for Speed
  3. Rev It Up & Go
  4. Stray Cats Strut
  5. Little Miss Prissy
  6. Rumble in Brighton
  7. Runaway Boys
  8. Lonely Summer Nights
  9. Double Talkin’ Baby
  10. You Don’t Believe Me
  11. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie
  12. Baby Blue Eyes
Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Brian Setzer- vocals, guitar

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, percussion, vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, bass, vocals

Outside of this album, I have little experience of the Stray Cats. For me, their 1950s persona would only last for the one album. Their next album would pretty much escape my notice and in the years following, it would be their post break up projects that I would be more into. Saying all this, however, doesn’t stop “Built For Speed” from being a pretty good album.

Next post: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion

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: Huey Lewis and the News- Sports

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

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Huey Lewis and the News were another band I inwardly debated about featuring here. Most metalheads consider this band to be pop or top 40 and in some cases I would tend to agree. However, as my mind drifts back to 1983, I remember that I didn’t hate them. My first experience of them came late that summer when I saw their video for the first single from the “Sports” album, “Heart and Soul.” Okay, the song didn’t have me fist pumping away to it but I did like the hard guitar part during the chorus. My verdict then was that “Heart and Soul” was a decent enough song and Huey Lewis and the News weren’t all that bad. That was my attitude towards them, even after the release of the more successful single, “I Want a New Drug,” for the next few months. Then, in February 1984, I happened to see them open for 38 Special. Now, I won’t say that I became a die hard News fan that night but they definitely won my respect.

“Sports” was the making of the band. It produced several singles in addition to the two I already mentioned. “The Heart of Rock and Roll” is one of those fun filled songs that is an okay listen provided you don’t take it too seriously. I have been in the situation and know others who have been in the situation described in the single, “If This is It.” In fact, I think most of us have been left dangling by a boy/girl friend whom one is not sure if they want to stay in or get out of the relationship with you. Still, they make it seem okay with this light hearted song. Of all the singles though, my favourite happens to be “Walking on a Thin Line.” Even though I never saw actual combat while in the marines, I still think the song speaks directly to me.

“Don’t you know me I’m the boy next door.

The one you found so easy to ignore.”

When they played this song, Huey Lewis asked if there were any vets in the audience. I think I was the only one who screamed “Yes!” I got some looks from people around me but that was Regan youth for you.

Besides the hits, I found “Bad is Bad” to be a good bluesy type song and the intro to “Finally Found a Home” leads the listener to believe that this song is going to be a scorching rocker. It’s still not bad even though it does go more pop as it progresses. Both these songs, as well as, “You Crack Me Up,” confirm to me that The News were actually a good band of talented musicians and I think they certainly had the potential to completely rock out.

Track Listing:

  1. The Heart of Rock and Roll
  2. Heart and Soul
  3. Bad is Bad
  4. I Want a New Drug
  5. Walking on a Thin Line
  6. Finally Found a Home
  7. If This is It
  8. You Crack Me Up
  9. Honky Tonk Blues
Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis- lead vocals, harmonica

Mario Cipallina- bass

Johnny Colla- guitar, saxophone, backing vocals

Bill Gibson- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Chris Hayes- lead guitar, backing vocals

Sean Hopper- keyboards, backing vocals

Say what you like about Huey Lewis and the News. Maybe they were a bit too pop but listening to the “Sports” album, I’m not really bothered. They proved to be a good tight band who could probably excel at playing any type of music.

Next post: Stray Cats- Built For Speed

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Killer Dwarfs

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2016 by 80smetalman

KILLERDWARFS1

I stated that sometime during the tour of 1983, I would make a revelation. My original plan was to wait a little further down the line before I made this revelation but recent posts on another blog has made it impossible for me to hold it in any longer. So now, I am going to reveal my favourite Canadian band of all time. Yep, you guessed it, it’s the Killer Dwarfs, who released their debut, self titled album in 1983.

It was the name alone that first got my attention. While browsing around my local record shop, I happened to pick up a compilation album, which I will visit in 1984, and the third track in was the single “Heavy Mental Breakdown” by the Killer Dwarfs. Being a Dungeons and Dragons player,  the name gave me a tickle and that, along with some of the other great tracks I did know, was enough for me to buy the album. A couple of listens to the song on the compilation album was enough for me to send a cheque to Attic Records in Canada and buy their debut album. Unlike Chris DeBurgh, it was the best record buying decision I ever made and I’ve been a huge Killer Dwarfs fan ever since. My best experience was seeing them open for Iron Maiden at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in 1988.

Let’s talk about the debut album. I’ll be the first to say that future albums were better and more polished than this one but that doesn’t stop this album from being a killer, yes pun intended. The opener, “Are You Ready,” sucks you in from the first notes and the second track, “Can’t Lose” does a great job in keeping your attention. Both songs are good rockers with catchy rhythms. Things go along very nicely through the next to tracks to the mentioned single to close out side one and leaving you very curious to hear what side two is going to sound like. Well, the second side doesn’t disappoint and I found it better than side one. All five songs stand out very well all the way down to a very good power ballad of a closer. That was why when I read about Russ Dwarf’s recent acoustic recordings of some of the classic Killer Dwarfs songs, I questioned why “Fire in Your Eyes” wasn’t included among them. While the song on this album has some great electric power chords, I still think it would sound great unplugged.

Now let’s talk about my favourite track on this album. If I were ever to write my auto-biography or there were to be a film made about my life, I would call it or insist it be called, “Outlaw of a Modern Man.” Besides the fact that I think that title applies to me at least a little bit, I found the title to be very amusing. At least the band and I have a similar sense of humour. The song itself is just a great power rocker. Only barely more than three minutes long, it packs a lot of dynamite into that short time. In spite of all the accusations of being pop metal, this song shows that the Killer Dwarfs can rock! But I knew that when I bought this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Are You Ready
  2. Can’t Lose
  3. Drifter
  4. Prisoner
  5. Heavy Mental Breakdown
  6. Read Between the Lines
  7. Gotta Lose to Win
  8. Outlaw of a Modern Man
  9. Time to Move On
  10. Fire in Your Eyes

This is the only photo I could get of the first line up.

This is the only photo I could get of the first line up.

Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham- vocals

Bryce ‘Dwarf’ Trewin- guitar

Ange ‘Dwarf’ Fodero- bass

Darrell ‘Dwarf’ Millar- drums

Unfortunately, after their debut album, the Killer Dwarfs would nearly fade into obscurity. Both members of the string section would leave and the band would part ties with its record label. However, they would be back and better than ever but that story is best left for the appropriate time. The other unfortunate thing is that on account of all this, their debut album would be pretty much forgotten. I would be one of the ones who wouldn’t because it was the first album that made me a die hard Killer Dwarfs fan.

Next post: Huey Lewis and the News- Sports

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: ZZ Top- Eliminator

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2016 by 80smetalman

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I wasn’t completely accurate when I said that Molly Hatchet’s “No Guts No Glory” album was the first vinyl record I bought after leaving the marines. In fact, I was only telling half the truth because I bought the record through a mail order record club but not only did I buy Molly Hatchet, I had also bought “Eliminator” by ZZ Top and they came in the same package. I won’t lose any sleep over it though, after all I had two great albums from 1983 to listen one right after the other, which I did.

For many people, ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” album epitomized 1983. It was one of those albums that brought people of different musical tastes together. Johnny-come-lately trendies liked it because ZZ Top sounded a little different and back then, anything to mainstream enthusiasts that sounded different was branded new wave. However, for harder rockers like me as well as those who had been listening to them for years, it was the fact that ZZ Top managed to do so well without compromising their musical style, well not too much anyway. They retained their Texas-bad boy-boogie-blues style rock that had endeared them to listeners such as myself. Believe me, unlike some artists about this time, “Eliminator” has never had me pining for their earlier classics like “Tres Hombres” or “El Loco.” It’s great as it stands.

The main reason why I like is that Billy Gibbons just basically rips through the entire album with his guitar solos. Pick any song on this album and guaranteed, I will be rocking away to his solo on it. But while Billy is sensational, you must give credit to the Dusty Hill and Frank Beard who must be one of the tightest rhythm sections in music. Another plus for “Eliminator” is the songs are so upbeat without being mushy. Most of the songs are topics we can all identify with. Yes, every girl is crazy about a sharp dressed man. It’s just too bad I didn’t take those words to heart back then and more than the average man, I am definitely a sucker for a nice pair of legs. We’ve all eaten TV dinners at one time in our lives. Oh, I do like that song because ZZ Top proved that they could add keyboards and still sound great. Then I think everybody gets the innuendo with “I Got the Six.” I could say that the song was about a dice game but I don’t think anyone would believe me somehow. One more thing, I think that “Got Me Under Pressure” is a very underrated song with some amusing lyrics.

“She don’t like other women, she likes whips and chains.
She likes cocaine and filppin’ out with great Danes.
She’s about all I can handle, it’s too much for my brain.”

The famous ZZ Top Eliminator car

The famous ZZ Top Eliminator car

Another first for me with this album was that it was the first one where I was influenced by video. Videos for the songs “Gimme All Your Lovin,'” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” all featured the famous eliminator car, (see above) and those three lovely ladies. Now, I’ll be the first one to say that ZZ Top didn’t need such things for this album to succeed because the music is that good but on the other hand, who am I to complain?

Remember these ladies from the ZZ Top videos?

Remember these ladies from the ZZ Top videos?

Track Listing:

  1. Gimme All Your Lovin’
  2. Got Me Under Pressure
  3. Sharp Dressed Man
  4. I Need You Tonight
  5. I Got the Six
  6. Legs
  7. Thug
  8. TV Dinners
  9. Dirty Dog
  10. If Only I Could Flag Her Down
  11. Bad Girl
ZZ Top

ZZ Top

Billy Gibbons- guitar, vocals

Dusty Hill- bass, keyboards, vocals

Frank Beard- drums, percussion

“Eliminator” by ZZ Top brings back fond memories of 1983 for me. It was a great album and on a personal note, it was a great one to return to civilian life to. It’s an album in the ZZ Top style that happened to gain loads of commercial success. Well done!

Next post: A Revelation That Might Interest Some Readers!

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: Joan Armatrading- The Key

Posted in Books, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-The_Key,_Joan_Armatrading_-_album_cover

In Laina Dawes’s book, “What Are You Doing Here?,” which is about a black woman’s liberation through heavy metal and the prejudice she experienced as a female metalhead of African origin, she mentions great black female rock singers like Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy from Mother’s Finest and Skin from Skunk Anansie, both of whom have made a big impact on the rock scene. However, I don’t remember, though I could be wrong, any mention of another great lady who belongs with the two already mentioned, Joan Armatrading. Note to self: find and reread that book. The two Joan Armatrading albums I’ve listened to, the 1981 album “Me Myself I” and her 1983, “The Key,” are both great rocking albums. Therefore, I am forced to think that Joan doesn’t get the musical respect she deserves.

untitled

Way back in 1983 during my final weeks in the marines, Joan’s single from the album, “I Love it When You Call Me Names,” got a good amount of airplay. I love the hard rocking edge to the song and the lyrics just cracked me up. This song appears to be about a sado- masochistic couple who get off on abusing each other. The lyrics, “He loves it when she beats his brains in” are sufficient evidence to the fact and there’s a cool guitar solo at the end. That song continues to amuse me to this day and I’m a little surprised that no thrash band has covered it.

While it may not have the amusing lyrics like the single, the rest of “The Key” is a really cool album. There are the straight forward rockers like “Drop the Pilot,” “Tell Tale” and “What Do Boys Dream.” Then there’s the power ballad, “Everybody Gotta Know” and while “Foolish Pride” incorporates horns, it is still a decent song that will dent anyone’s belief that horns can’t be used in a rock tune. Joan does show her versatility with the reggae sounding title track. This is a good bouncy song that has you repeating the chorus, “I found the key to your heart,” for several minutes after the song’s conclusion, a fine album by a fine singer.

Track Listing:

  1. I Love it When You Call Me Names
  2. Foolish Pride
  3. Drop the Pilot
  4. The Key
  5. Everybody Gotta Know
  6. Tell Tale
  7. What Do Boys Dream
  8. The Game of Love
  9. The Dealer
  10. Bad Habits
  11. I Love My Baby
Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading- lead vocals, guitars, piano

Adrian Belew- guitar

Daryl Stuermer- guitar

Gary Sanford- guitar

Tony Levin- bass

Larry Fast- synthesizer

Stewart Copeland- drums

Jerry Marotta- drums

Julian Diggle- percussion

Mel Collins- saxophone

Annie Whitehead- trombone

Guy Barker- trumpet

Dean Klavatt- piano

Jeremy Meek- bass vocal

I never realised it before but there are some great musicians who play on “The Key.” One reason why this album is so good. However, this takes nothing away from Joan and her great vocal ability and song writing skills. She is certainly a power force in rock.

Next post: ZZ Top- Eliminator

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

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

 

 

 

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