Great Metal Albums of 1983: Dokken- Breaking the Chains

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

dokken_-_breaking_the_chains

Before I get lynched for stating that the 1983, “Breaking the Chains” album was Dokken’s debut album, I will be the first to point out that this album was released in Europe two years earlier. I didn’t discover this fact until 1986 when I went over to the Continent. Therefore, like many Americans, I assumed that the 1983 effort was their debut. However, for parity, I will make it a point to listen to the earlier version and take notes on any differences.

Even when this album did come to my attention, I didn’t go out and buy it straight away. Reason being was that my friend and heavy metal officianado, Frank Formica, had seen them live supporting Aldo Nova and Blue Oyster Cult and fed back that he wasn’t impressed. He stated that it was like watching a puppet show in regards to how they moved on stage and that only about thirty people were getting into them. This meant that I gave “Breaking a Chains” a miss and didn’t actually listen to it until after their third album.

Now I would like to say that the debut album was a blinder of an album and I was a fool for not picking it up in 1983. I’m afraid I am cemented in the belief that their next two albums after were strides better. However, you have to start somewhere and “Breaking the Chains” was a good a springboard as any. There are some decent songs on here, my favourite being the title cut, which would still be a strong track if it had appeared on one of the later albums. Other stand out tracks for me are “Felony,” “Live to Rock, (Rock to Live),” “Nightrider” and “Stick to Your Guns.” In addition, “In the Middle” has been growing on me recently. But one thing I can say about most of the tracks here is that guitarist George Lynch is already showing his magic on the six string and this, like the later albums, would continue to improve with age.

Track Listing:

  1. Breaking the Chains
  2. In the Middle
  3. Felony
  4. I Can’t See You
  5. Live to Rock, (Rock to Live)
  6. Nightrider
  7. Seven Thunders
  8. Young Girls
  9. Stick to Your Guns
  10. Paris is Burning
Dokken

Dokken

I couldn't find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I've included a solo shot.

I couldn’t find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I’ve included a solo shot.

Don Dokken- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

George Lynch- lead guitar

Juan Crocier- bass, backing vocals

Wild Mick Brown- drums

As any metal historian worth his salt can tell you, Juan Crocier would leave the band and go to newer pastures. No prizes for guessing which band he would end up with. While I like the album, the lack of commercial success of “Breaking the Chains” had the band Elektra label considering dropping them. While history would go on to prove that the decision to give them another chance was the right one, we nearly lost them after one album and we would have been denied the better ones.

Next post: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

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

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2017 by 80smetalman

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I believe I’m not the only one who thinks “Shout at the Devil” is Motley Crue’s best album. It would be after that Motley Crue would be more into posing instead of the quality of their music. The band’s image with that album was darker, to the point they would be accused of Satanism. Then again, I’ve always said that being accused of that was the mark of a metal band’s success.

They first came to my attention courtesy of MTV where I saw the video for the album’s first single, “Looks That Kill.” You know the one where the band traps a bunch of scantly clad women in a steel fence only to be rescued by some Valkyrie type warrior. In 1983, I found that video to be cool but having watched it again recently, I just laugh at it. Furthermore, nowadays, I agree with anyone who says that video is sexist. Still, I do like the song, probably my favourite Crue song of all time.

Let me be blunt here, I have always thought that Motley Crue weren’t the most talented musicians to get together and call themselves a band. However, on “Shout at the Devil,” they definitely play to their strengths. There are some good songs on it too. True, beginnings like they way Motley Crue start the album off with “In the Beginning,” which sounds like a sermon before crashing headlong into the title track seem more common these days but it was a good attention grabber. “Bastard” is a decent song and the instrumental “God Bless the Children of the Beast” convinces me that Mick Mars is not the worst guitarist in metal. Like Pat Benatar and Vow Wow and quite a few other bands, they have their own cover of the Beatles classic, “Helter Skelter.” Probably the most, covered Beatles song in heavy metal. Other bands have produced better covers of it but Motley Crue’s isn’t bad.

Side two of “Shout at the Devil” isn’t quite as good as the first side. The only real standout song is their second single, “Too Young to Fall in Love.” However, what they do well is to stick to the basic formula of heavy metal and it works well for them. Then again, I do like some of the riffs on “Knock’em Dead Kid” and Mars’s guitar solo on “Ten Seconds to Love” is rather cool. In reference to what said about four of the last five songs not standing out, they do keep the album ticking over to an interesting closer in “Danger.”

Track Listing:

  1. In the Beginning
  2. Shout at the Devil
  3. Looks That Kill
  4. Bastard
  5. God Bless the Children of the Beast
  6. Helter Skelter
  7. Red Hot
  8. Too Young to Fall in Love
  9. Knock’Em Dead Kid
  10. Ten Seconds to Love
  11. Danger
Motley Crue

Motley Crue

Vince Neil- vocals

Mick Mars- guitars

Nikki Sixx- bass

Tommy Lee- drums

“Shout at the Devil,” will always remain for me, Motley Crue’s best album. However, it seem when they broke through with it, the abandoned some of the things that this album helped gain them that commercial success.

Next post: Dokken- Breaking the Chains

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Waysted- Vices

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

waysted_vices

The US and Great Britain has always enjoyed an exchange of musical ideas, although Canada has also been included in this. This has been even more the case in regards to heavy metal where both countries have benefited from this metal exchange. When I came to Britain in 1986, I too participated in this exchange of metal. I brought American metal bands like the Stormtroopers of Death and Suicidal Tendencies and my British friends introduced me to bands like Waysted. The problem was that when I was introduced to Waysted, it was their 1986 album which was first played to me. As a result, I never got around to listening to Waysted’s 1983 debut album, “Vices,” until last week.

So, did I miss out on anything great from not listening to “Vices” for three decades? My honest opinion is that I don’t feel that I missed out on any really mega fantastic album here because it doesn’t quite reach that bar. On the other hand, if it had been played to me back in 1983, I would have bought it as it’s a decent album.

I find that the opener, “Love Loaded,” does the job of getting you to want to listen to the album more. However, it’s the second song, “Women in Chains” that really gets things going. When a song repeats a line constantly, it can be either amusing, revitalizing or off putting. With “Women in Chains,” it does the second. The next track, “Sleazy” is more a catchy straight forward rocker with some pretty decent guitar hooks in it. “Right From the Start” tries to be this trippy way out concept song but I wasn’t too impressed. Fortunately things get back to more of a rock vibe with the next song, “Toy With the Passion.” “Right From the Start” has a cool intro but goes a bit more power ballad afterwards. However, there’s some good guitar work on it. “Hot Love” is a let’s be sleazy tune done in a bluesy fashion. The song works and I do love the piano solo on it. The penultimate track, “All Belongs to You” is okay and the chorus is a bit catchy but nothing spectacular. Then things go out very interestingly with a metalized cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic, “Somebody to Love.” Wow, what a way to close an album!

Track Listing:

  1. Love Loaded
  2. Women in Chains
  3. Sleazy
  4. Night of the Wolf
  5. Toy With the Passion
  6. Right From the Start
  7. Hot Love
  8. All Belongs to You
  9. Somebody to Love

Waysted

Waysted

Fin Muir- lead vocals

Ronnie Kayfield- lead guitar, backing vocals

Paul Raymond- rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards

Pete Way- bass

Frank Noon- drums

Note: This is the best photo of Waysted I could find. I don’t know when this one was taken but that’s why there are five musicians listed in the band and only four in the photo.

“Vices” charted 78 in the UK so I can see why it never reached the States in 1983. If it had gotten into the Import section at my local record store, I would have clocked it. Saying that, it’s an album worth listening to because for Waysted, it is a promising start for better things to come.

Next Post: Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil

To by 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: Virgin Steele- Guardians of the Flame

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2017 by 80smetalman

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Virgin Steele’s 1982 debut album might have passed me by, (I blame being in the service at the time), but their second album, “Guardians of the Flame,” didn’t. I have a friend of my sister’s to thank for that because she was a big Virgin Steele fan. It was this album that she played on cassette in her car one day and the rest was history.

What hooked me straight away is that my all time favourite Virgin Steele song is the opener on “Guardians of the Flame.” “Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight” is one of those with a fast catchy beat that hooks you immediately. One can’t helped to headbang away to this tune. It is helped by the guitar work of Jack Starr, then the entire album is as well, and the rhythm section sounds the tightest on this song. What’s best is that lead singer, David DeFeis doesn’t try so much to be Joe Cool metal singer on it. His vocals are good enough but his attempts at high screams have always been off putting for me. He doesn’t do that on “Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight.”

DeFeis does those things on the next two tracks but fortunately, Starr’s guitar work cancels out the screams and makes those songs enjoyable. Maybe he gets the hint by track four because he doesn’t scream on “The Redeemer” making it a strong, powerful track. I sense a little Black Sabbath influence here and done well. The song is seven minutes long but a lot of that is Jack laying down the jams, so it’s a very enjoyable track.

Following a brief instrumental is the title cut. It begins like any other straight forward Virgin Steele metal tune but then in the middle, it goes totally progressive rock. I mean that when I listen to this part, I could be listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. However, it works with the second longest song on the album, just shy of seven minutes. You got to give them credit for having the balls to stretch out a bit here and credit where do for pulling it off. Again, Jack Starr has an influence on it too.

Things go back to more power metal after that with three really strong metal tracks. Then the album closes with the ballad like, “A Cry in the Night.” Using a ballad as a closer is always risky but there is a great guitar solo towards the end that helps to take the song out in very good way and has me making mental notes to listen to it again.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight
  2. Burn the Sun
  3. Life of Crime
  4. The Redeemer
  5. Birth Through Fire
  6. Guardians of the Flame
  7. Metal City
  8. Hell or High Water
  9. Go All the Way
  10. A Cry in the Night
Virgin Steele

Virgin Steele

David DeFies- vocals, keyboards

Jack Starr- guitar

Joe O’Reilly- bass

Joey Avazian- drums

I was impressed by the second album from Virgin Steele, “Guardians of the Flame” and I would seek out their later material. So what I ask myself is why I never got their debut album. If any of you can shed light on whether I’ve committed a travesty or had a lucky escape by not listening to it, I would be very grateful.

Next post: Waysted- Vices

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Girlschool- Play Dirty

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2017 by 80smetalman

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During the torrent of new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), Girlschool were somewhere in the middle. They weren’t mentioned in the same breath as the giants of the time but they were better known than other bands like Diamond Head and Raven. True, their music didn’t get the airplay it deserved but most metalheads in 1983 knew who they were. I was fortunate on one occasion in the year to catch one of the few times the title track from the album, “Play Dirty,” got played on MTV.

“Play Dirty” marked a change in direction for Girlschool towards a more softer rock sound. Some would compare them to Def Leppard, really? However, the softer sound comes out with the first two tracks on the album. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that keyboards were ever used on a Girlschool album. Those tracks aren’t bad but they aren’t real headbangers either. Things do go much heavier with the third one, the title track. Even then, there are keyboards at the bridges on the song and though I have to admit, they compliment that part of the song well, it took me a couple of listens to get used to it. Besides, Kelly Johnson’s guitar solo on said song makes counters any keyboards.

Track four, a cover of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy,” marks a definite return to more traditional ground. I get the feeling that the band had a lot of fun recording this cover because it sounds good. Marc Bolan would have been proud. Even if he’s not, “Play Dirty” goes even harder after that with “Breaking All the Rules.” Now this song sounds like the Girlschool I knew and love. Keyboards are used again on “Burning in the Heat” but only as a scary movie type introduction. Something I give Ozzy credit for starting but done by many metal bands then and now. After this introduction comes more traditional Girlschool. For me, it’s probably the best lesser known track on the album.

After wowing with those more harder songs, things go back to the sound of the opening tracks. Keyboards a plenty here for I get the feeling that on “Surrender” that they were trying for a Night Ranger or Journey type hit single. However, it wasn’t released as one so this is a paradox that baffles me. It’s still a cool song and Kelly nails another cool guitar solo. The keyboards die with that song because “Rock Me, Shock Me” is a true Girlschool anthem. They should have played that on the radio but that’s the good thing about buying albums. You get to play the best songs from them that radio won’t play to yourself. The closer is a good rocker and the title has me wondering. In Britain, knob is a slang term in the media so I wonder if they were attacking the media or at least some person in it.

Track Listing:

  1. Going Under
  2. High and Dry
  3. Play Dirty
  4. 20th Century Boy
  5. Breaking All the Rules
  6. Burning in the Heat
  7. Surrender
  8. Rock Me, Shock Me
  9. Running for Cover
  10. Breakout (Knob in the Media)
Girlschool

Girlschool

Kim McAuliffe- rhythm guitar, lead vocals tracks 3,5,7,8,9,10

Kelly Johnson- lead guitar, lead vocals tracks 1,2,4,6

Gil Weston- bass, backing vocals

Denise Dufort- drums

Additional backing vocals: Lemmy, Vicky Blue, Marc Haircut

Don Garbutt- keyboards

While I like the album, “Play Dirty” marked a downward turn in Girlschool’s fortunes. Kim McAuliffe would leave shortly after the release and the US tour would never materialize. Shame, I would have loved to have seen them. That wouldn’t come for another two years but still, even with the keyboards, “Play Dirty” is still a decent album.

Next post: Virgin Steele- Guardians of the Flame

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Raven- All For One

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-raven_-_all_for_one

In 1983, not only the likes of NWOBHM bands like, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were gaining headway in the US but other bands like Raven were establishing themselves as well. It is true that Raven never came close to the commercial success the bands mentioned would go on to achieve, many metalheads would know of them nonetheless. One reason might be albums like their 1983 “All For One” album, which some people say was the last of their golden age albums.

“All For One” has everything any metalhead needs to like in a metal album. It has a straight ahead power chords augmented by some cool guitar solos from Mark Gallagher. Meanwhile, his brother John proves he is a decent vocalist and like Lemmy can play bass at the same time, thus fulfilling the second half of the rhythm section with drummer, Rob Hunter. I know I have said this many times about many bands but Raven were a good band that didn’t have the breaks of some of their NWOBHM contemporaries.

What I like about this album is that all of the tracks can be seen to be pure metal, if such a thing exists now a days. That starts right away with the first two tracks but it’s the third track, “Sledgehammer Rock” that really grabs my attention. The power of that song takes the album that much higher. In the 80s, many bands would use the technique of an a cappella harmonizing followed by a killer guitar riff but not done so much in 1983. Raven do it very well with the title track. Then they follow it up with some cool opening guitar riffs on “Run Silent, Run Deep.”

Only knowing this album on vinyl gives me the advantage of dividing “All For One” in two because Side 2 definitely outshines Side 1. It helps that the second side starts with my favourite track, “Hung, Drawn and Quartered.” This track is in the Judas Priest vein but Raven put their own mark on it, especially with Mark’s guitar solo on it. The next track, “Breaking the Chains” is the second best track so we get a one-two punch here that knocks you out. Again, we hear more impressive guitar work from Mark at the beginning of “Breaking the Chains.” It has a cool chorus and it’s well sung. The three remaining tracks, while not as dynamic as the two that lead the Side 2 charge, are very good songs in their own right. When they’re finished, you know that you’ve listened to a true metal album.

Track Listing:

  1. Take Control
  2. Mind Over Metal
  3. Sledgehammer Rock
  4. All For One
  5. Run Silent, Run Deep
  6. Hung, Drawn and Quartered
  7. Breaking the Chains
  8. Take it Away
  9. Seek and Destroy
  10. Athletic Rock

raven

John Gallagher- bass, lead and backing vocals

Mark Gallagher- guitars

Rob Hunter- drums, backing vocals

While “All For One” is probably my favourite Raven album, I don’t quite agree with the last of their golden age theory. I thought they put out some fine material after, which I will cover in the appropriate year. Still, if you’re a metalhead, you can’t go wrong with this album.

Next post: ~Girlschool- Play Dirty

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Savatage- Sirens

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2017 by 80smetalman

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UK Version

UK Version

“Sirens,” the debut album from one of my favourite bands of all time, is probably the only album released in 1983, which I actually own on CD. All the others, are either on vinyl or cassette. Plus, my copy is the 2011 remaster which has three really good bonus tracks. The reason for this is that they didn’t come to my attention until I saw them live in support of Ted Nugent in 1986. I was impressed with their music although I have to admit at the time, Jon Oliva’s vocals that evening didn’t totally bowl me over. However, that was enough to check out their album at the time, “The Power of the Rock” and I liked it. For some reason, I never inquired of any records before that and while I bought all the subsequent albums, I didn’t realize they had albums preexisting Power. Curse me for a fool but now I’ve fully rectified that.

Let’s pretend for a moment, I did things properly and bought “Sirens” when I should have. I would have still been totally impressed with this album and the band and would have loved them from that point. If I heard this and their other three albums before I had seen them live, I would have simply assumed that Jon was having a off night and enjoyed their show that much more. That is because “Sirens” has all the qualities which have made me a mad ‘Tage follower.

One problem I have discovered from listening to a CD in the car is that driving distracts you from properly listening to the album. I have always liked it when I listened while driving but I often missed the intricate little details that Savatage put in their songs and only now that I am listening it in the house, do I fully appreciate how good it is. Every song on the track radiates classic Savatage from the almost mysterious opener, “Sirens,” to the closer, “Out in the Streets.” Each song has it’s own identity while reminding you who’s singing and playing the song. If I have to pick favourites, it has to be “Scream Murder,” which barely beats out the closer.

For all my lack of impression of Jon’s vocals when I saw ‘Tage that evening in July, 1986, he sounds fine on “Sirens.” Even that shriek he is more famous for on “Hall of the Mountain King” is done very nicely on the title track here. He sound even more mental (in a good way) on “Rage.” Therefore, while even the hardest Savatage fan, if that’s not me, knows that Jon’s vocal ability is limited, he does very well with what he has here. As for brother Criss, his best guitar solos are on the last two tracks, probably why they’re my favourite, he does some really catchy hooks throughout the album. His solo on “I Believe” is quite good too. While the brothers Oliva show their stuff here, the rhythm section of Steve Wacholz on bass and Keith Collins on drums do their part in making this album so good. Hearing the album as I have the past few days, I think it knocks “Handful of Rain” off the number five spot on my list of favourite Savatage albums.

Track Listing:

  1. Sirens
  2. Holocaust
  3. I Believe
  4. Rage
  5. On the Run
  6. Twisted Little Sister
  7. Living for the Night
  8. Scream Murder
  9. Out on the Streets
Savatage I couldn't find a photo of this lineup online so I scanned the back cover of the CD

Savatage
I couldn’t find a photo of this lineup online so I scanned the back cover of the CD

Jon Oliva- shrieks of terror, vocals

Criss Oliva- metalaxe, guitars

Steve ‘Dr Kildrums’ Wacholz- barbaric canon, bass

Keith Collins- the bottom end, drums

Savatage’s debut album might have escaped my notice in 1983 but I did eventually get to listen to it. I slightly regret not getting “Sirens” then as it would have been the beginning of my loyal devotion to this band. However, no use fretting because even though it is such a great album, Savatage would go onto to bigger and better things. Still, what a great springboard to launch from.

Next post: Raven- All For One

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