Archive for June, 2011

Great Rock Albums of the 70s: Aerosmith- Toys In The Attic

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2011 by 80smetalman

Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” was probably the very first true rock album I heard. Before that, it was old 45 records and compilation albums that went on sale at your local Jamesway. (Sad, I know). Before this album, I was very musically naive, but hearing it was a total eye opener. From the first track, I was hooked and wanted to listen to the whole album and like every other teenager back then, I had a big snigger at the track, “Big Ten Inch Record.”

Track Listing

1. Toys in the Attic

2. Uncle Salty

3. Adam’s Apple

4. Walk This Way

5. Big Ten Inch Record

6. Sweet Emotion

7. No More, No More

8. Round and Round

9. You See Me Crying

Of all the tracks, it was “Walk This Way” that stands out. That is because once I heard the album, I seemed to hear that particular song played everywhere. Therefore, the song holds a special place in my metal heart.

Now that I am much older and wiser (pause for laughter), I can fully appreciate the great musicianship by Aerosmith on this album. The clear vocals by Steven Tyler and the guitar solos by Joe Perry backed up by the others make this album a magnificent listen. Aerosmith hadn’t begun to destroy themselves with the excesses of success, which is another reason this album is so crisp.

Steve Tyler- vocals

Joe Perry- lead guitar

Brad Whitford- rhythm guitar

Tom Hamilton- bass

Joey Kramer- drums

Thirty six years after its first release, “Toys In The Attic” continues to stand the test of time. It is a standard bearer for many of the albums which have followed it and will always be ranked among my favourites.

Next post: Black Sabbath: Paranoid

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Great Guitarists of the 70s

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by 80smetalman

When people think of the great rock guitarists in the 70s, they will almost always mention what I call the big 3, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.  

These three were considered by many to be the top of the heap back then. Eric Clapton thrilled many with his gutsy blues style and Jimmy Page opened a door with a new style for the many metal axemen which would follow him. Eddie Van Halen was the late comer, arriving on the scene in 1978 and carrying on into the 80s, he set the standard which other guitarists could only hope to achieve.

I’m sure many would put forward arguments for many other guitarists and rightly so. The 70s did have its share of those who could smoke the fingerboard. Of that many, the three I wish to put forward here are Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ted Nugent.

As a teenager in the mid and late 70s, I heard many would be guitarists copying the famous riffs on “Smoke On The Water” first played by Ritchie Blackmore when he was in Deep Purple. Blackmore had a style all his own. However, considered by many to be the “master of the riff” was Tony Iommi. You only have to listen to classic Sabbath songs like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” to see why. Like Van Halen, Ted Nugent was a late comer for me. Sure, he had been around before then but it wasn’t until 1977 when I heard “Cat Scratch Fever” on my little AM only radio, that I would eventually realise that I was listening to one of the guitar greats.

As in the above, I am definitely sure that many would suggest a lot of guitarists for the final category, the “underrated guitarists.” There were many guitarists who are considered great but didn’t fully get the recognition they deserved. However, I am going to list the three who I feel were definitely underrated back then; Brian May, Gary Richrath and Craig Chaquico.

Most of the British readers may be a little shocked that I am including Brian May here. It is true that in Britain, he was already being put in the above category. However, this wasn’t the case in the USA. While Queen were often in the charts, I don’t remember much talk about May’s guitar skills back in the 70s. In fact, one person shot him down saying that the guitar was dubbed in fifteen times when Queen albums were being produced. Boy, I wish I had a time machine. That is why Brian May didn’t get the respect he deserved as a guitarist.

The problem is when people think of REO Speedwagon, they tend to think of their more commercial stuff in the 80s and don’t realise what a hard rocking band they were back in the 70s. I am going to touch on this more in the future. But this is why their guitarist Gary Richrath, still probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I challenge anyone to listen to the song “Roll With the Changes” of the album “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and say differently. When I listen to that song and most of their other 70s stuff, I fully appreciate the guitar work of Richrath.

Back in the 1970s, Jefferson Starship were considered a band that made “mellow out love songs” and just about all of their singles were that. That is why their guitarist, Craig Chaquico, didn’t get the recognition he deserved back then. However, when I hear his solos on the songs “Run Away” and “Ride the Tiger,” I know that I am listening to a man who knows how to work the six string. Chaquico was a great guitarist and fortunately for him, Jefferson Starship changed to a more rocking sound in the 80s and his talents were given more appreciation.

I know there are many more axemen I could name here and everyone is invited to contribute who they think might have been a great guitarist in the 70s.

Next Post: Great Rock Albums of the 7os, Aeromsith- Toys in the Attic

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Other Great Metal Influences, Part 10; Honourable Mentions

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2011 by 80smetalman

As this is the last in the great metal influences series, I thought it best to end it with some of the great unsung heroes of the 1970s who influenced the metal of the 80s. The list here is in no means exhaustive and there are probably a lot more acts that can be included in the list. These are the ones for me.

The first of these has to be without question, Slade. You only have to look as far as Quiet Riot to know that these guys were a big influence on 80s metal. It’s a shame that they never really made it in America until the 80s, but throughout the 70s, they were a major player on the rock scene in Britain. Any doubts, you can ask my wife, she’s met them.

Many will say that I should have given Blue Oyster Cult a solo spot in the series and there is great argument for this. They began to make huge strides into the rock scene in the late 70s, especially with their hit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” They were also the first band I heard of the be labelled “Satanic.” The band’s name gives that impression. I will be speaking a lot more of them when I begin my albums series.

Smashey and Nicey will love me for including Bachman Turner Overdrive in this list and with good reason. These rockers tore up the charts in the mid 70s with hits like “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Taking Care of Business.” Unfortunately, when I saw them in the 80s, they had declined and became what my friend described as a bunch of fat, burned out, 40 year old bikers.

Another great rock act from the early and mid 70s was Grand Funk Railroad. Back then, many rock fans put them on a par with Black Sabbath. However, they seemed to disappear into obscurity after that.

My final honourable mention has to go to Foghat. In the late 70s, they sold a good number of albums and were considered a great live act. I was jealous of two friends who saw them open for Blue Oyster Cult in 1981. The report was that the concert was fantastic.

Last but not least and I should be shot for almost forgetting them and I thank the Metal Excess blog for reminding me, is Heart. Throughout the 70s, they had a string of great rocking albums and songs that was so heavy, many acts from the 80s would have been jealous. Great hits like “Heartless,” “Barracuda,” “Magic Man” and Crazy on You” will forever linger in my memory as classic rock hits. Ann And Nancy Wilson proved to be great role models for the future ladies who would go on to carry the rock chick banner. Heart will be another band I could have included on their own in the series.

I hope you have enjoyed the entire series of great rock influences and will continue reading this blog in the future.

Next post: The Great Guitarists of the 70s.

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Other Great Metal Influences, Part 9; The Sweet

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by 80smetalman

If I didn’t include The Sweet in my category of great metal influences, my wife would never let me forget it, my stepson either. While many don’t think of these guys when compared to the likes of Kiss, Alice Cooper, Rush or Aerosmith, The Sweet were one of those bands that put out a string of great rock hits from 1970-78 that had audiences eating out of their hands. Songs like “Blockbuster,” “Whim Wham Bam,” “Pappa Joe,” “Ballroom Blitz” and two songs which were my favourites in 1974 and 1976, “Little Willy” and “Fox On the Run” entertained a generation of rockers.

The driving force behind The Sweet was                  

         Brian Conelly- vocals

Andy Scott- guitar

Steve Priest- bass

Mick Tucker- drums

As much as their hard rocking sound, the glam image was also what The Sweet was known for. Bands like Motley Crue and Poison can take their influences direct from them and with bands like Def Leppard recording covers of their songs, it is only fair to rank The Sweet as one of those great acts who were an influence on the metal of the 80s.

Next post is the final in the chapter of Great Metal Influences and will include Slade and Blue Oyster Cult

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Other Great Metal Influences, Part 8; Rainbow

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by 80smetalman

I happened to be listening to the Rainbow “Anthology” album the other day and it was responsible for this posting. While there are many who will argue that Rainbow was better in the 1980s, when Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner provided the lead vocals, many will also argue that their best period was in the mid to late 70s when Ronnie James Dio was the front man. After listening to the forementioned album, I have to agree with the latter case.

It is true that in the Bonnet/Lynn Turner eras, Rainbow had more success commercially. My compilation CDs have the hits “Fool For Your Loving” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” located somewhere on them with no tracks from the Dio era. However, many Rainbow officianados have equated “Man On the Silver Mountain” and “Long Live Rock and Roll” with those other hits even if the charts didn’t. My argument and it is agreed by many, is that the Dio era was their most creative period and it is why I have chosen to include it here.

When Rainbow was first formed in 1975, the band’s creator, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, brought his love of classical music which fused with lead singer Ronnie James Dio’s love for the medieval themes of swords and sorcery. This proved to be a winning combination for the band which gave them a unique sound that did not lose it’s hard rocking edge. Further proof can be heard in the early Rainbow albums such as “Rising.”

In the mid 1980s, long after Dio’s departure from Rainbow, more and more heavy metal bands began to copy the medieval theme first started by Rainbow. Ronnie James Dio spear headed this theme himself at the time when he founded and fronted his own band Dio where he achieved commercial success of his own. This is why Rainbow can be counted as one of the great influences of the metal we came to love in the 80s and why the songs penned by Ronnie James Dio will still be counted as classics long after his passing. It is also why I sing the praises of Dio so much in “Rock And Roll Children.”

Next post: The Sweet

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Other Great Metal Influences, Part 7- Thin Lizzy

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2011 by 80smetalman

Like T-Rex, Thin Lizzy was one of those great rock bands from the 70s which I didn’t fully appreciate until the 1980s. Sure, I loved the song “The Boys Are Back In Town” when I first heard it on the radio, back in 1977. Also, I would see their albums advertised, but think nothing more. But that was down to me and nothing to do with this great band.

For me, it seemed when I began to really expand my musical horizons in the early 80s, it seemed only natural that Thin Lizzy would be part of that. Their music seemed to fit right in with much of the metal going on at the time. I really began to get into their earlier material as well at that time. Therefore, it is no surprise that many of the metal acts of the 80s cite Thin Lizzy as one of their influences, with some acts even releasing covers of Thin Lizzy songs. I have heard Bon Jovi’s cover of “The Boys Are Back In Town” and only a few years ago, the great Metallica released a copy of “Whiskey In a Jar.” However, I am still waiting for a cover of my personal favourite Lizzy song, “Jailbreak” as long as they do the song justice.

An old friend of mine, (I haven’t seen him in over 27 years) saw Thin Lizzy play what was then to be their last ever gig back in 1983. My reaction to that is “You lucky ****.” Reports were, they were a great live act and not seeing them is a regret for me.

The death of Phil Lynott in 1986 marked an end of an era for Thin Lizzy fans. The way he died made many rock stars at the time rethink their life style and live cleaner. However, his spirit lives on in the music, just ask any true Thin Lizzy fan. Thin Lizzy was definitely a big influence on heavy metal.

Next post: Rainbow

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Other Great Metal Influences, Part 6, T-Rex

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2011 by 80smetalman

Last August, I drove to Bloodstock Open Air Festival for a great weekend of metal. For the two hour drive on the way, the in flight entertainment was provided first by a CD comprising of two bands fronted by former Yngwie Malmesteen vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, Kuni and Panther. That CD did a great job helping me through a traffic delay. The second CD was one I’ll be commenting on much further down the line, an album called “Rise” by a band called Hair of the Dog. It is one of my favourite metal CDs of the 2000+ era. Already riding on a high as I pulled up to the entrance to the car park, I was expecting the next CD to be Thunder’s first album “Backstreet Symphony.” Instead, I had inserted another CD into that slot on my 6 disc player. It was a compilation album whose first song was “Children of the Revolution” by Marc Bolan and T-Rex. I figured that it was the will of the gods of metal and drove into the car park with the song blasting through the speakers. It fit the mood perfectly.

T- Rex was one of those great bands from the 70s that influenced the metal of the 80s. Their hard rock style wowed a generation of rockers and the flamboyant style of Marc Bolan gave many acts since ideas about glam and make up.

The best thing about T-Rex was that any one of their songs could have been on my car stereo that evening and it would have had the same effect. From 1970 to 1976 when his life was tragically cut short in 1977, he  and T- Rex had a string of top twenty hits such as “20th Century Boy.”  One thing that no one can say about their music is that it’s dated. Many metal bands since T-Rex and a few non metal ones, (I remember the version of “Bang A Gong, Get It On” by Powerstation back in 1985) have recorded cover versions of many T-Rex songs.

Even though Marc Bolan has not been with us for over thirty years, T-Rex still continues to be a great memory to the music of today. In fact, after three days of rocking at Bloodstock, I hit the back button on the car CD player and listened to “Children of the Revolution” on the way out of the concert. I thought it was only fitting.

Next post: Thin Lizzy

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