Archive for January, 2012

Great Rock Albums of 1978: Todd Rungren- Hermit of Mink Hollow

Posted in Humour, Music with tags , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by 80smetalman

I know this cover isn’t the one for “Hermit of Mink Hollow,” it’s for an earlier album from 1972, “Something/Anything?.” The reason, I’m putting this album on the post as well is because the “Something/Anything?” album is one of those that got left out in the last chapter “Great Rock Albums of the 70s.” Therefore, I thought I would say a few words about it here.

“Something/Anything?” is considered by many Todd Rundgren fans as one of his very best and I’m not one who’s going to debate that. While it’s pop oriented, including hit singles “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw the Light,” there are some great rocking moments on it. Songs such as “Black Maria,” “Little Red Lights” and “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” are some very powerful rocking hits. Todd Rundgren also shows a sense of humour similar to Warren Zevon in songs like “Piss Aaron” and “You Left Me Sore.” At the end, he takes both the hard rock sound and humourous lyrics to make the song “Slut” which leaves you in no doubt of his versatility. With all that said, let’s look at the 1978 offering “Hermit of Mink Hollow.”

The first thing I noticed when I first heard this album was that Rundgren follows the blue print from the “Something/Anything?” album. But he takes it one step further by playing all the instruments and furnishing all vocals himself. While past albums have large portions of them featuring Todd Rundgren alone, this is the first album to totally feature no other musicians. “Hermit of Mink Hollow” was totally created, arranged and produced by him.

The tracks on the album prove that working solo was a good idea for Todd Rundgren. True, it is also a pop oriented album, the single “Can We Still Be Friends” bears witness to it, there are some good rock moments and tracks which show his humourous side as well. “Out of Control” and “Determination” show that Rundgren can rock with the best of them and even after all these years, I still burst out laughing when I hear “Onomataopoeia.” Tracks “Bread” and “Bag Lady” show his aversion to social inequality, while the former song has a good rock edge as well, once again proving his versatility.

Track Listing:

1. All The Children Sing

2. Can We Still Be Friends

3. Hurting For You

4. Too Far Gone

5. Onomataopoeia

6. Determination

7. Bread

8. Bag Lady

9. You Cried Wolf

10. Lucky Guy

11. Out of Control

12. Fade Away

There are not many artists out there who can play all the instruments, supply all the vocals and arrange production all themselves on an album and there is, in my humble opinion, no one who can do it better than Todd Rundgren. The two albums mentioned here are proof of that.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Street Legal

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

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1978: Warren Zevon- Excitable Boy

Posted in 1978, Humour, Music with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2012 by 80smetalman

Back in the days of 1978, my idea of humour in music was Frank Zappa and songs that I listened to on the Dr Demento show on a Sunday evening. I listened to songs from the latter because I was amused by the funny lyrics and not because I thought the song rocked. In my mind, Frank Zappa was the only person whom I thought could rock and and be humourous at the same time. Then in June of that year, a friend of mine played the title track of Warren Zevon, “Excitable Boy” and my views then changed.

Warren Zevon brought a fresh new sound to rock with this album and showed that you can have funny lyrics and a rock sound. I wonder if the likes of Steel Panther were influenced here but there is no evidence to suggest this. Back to the topic, the single “Werewolves of London” paved the way to commercial success as hit reached number 21 in the charts allowing me and others to sample the other delights the album has to offer. Most of his songs were parodies, such as “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” which takes a rip out of Cold War paranoia. This album provides a good laugh as well as a good listen.

Track Listing:

1. Johnny Strikes Up the Band

2. Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

3. Excitable Boy

4. Werewolves of London

5. Accidentally Like a Martyr

6. Nighttime in the Switching Yard

7. Veracruz

8. Tenderness on the Block

9. Lawyers, Guns and Money

Warren Zevon- organ, synthesiser, piano, guitar, bass and vocals

Jorge Calderon- harmony vocals, Spanish vocals on Veracruz

Danny Kootch Kortchmar- guitar

Russ Kunkel- drums

The album also included many guest artists such as Jackson Browne and Mick Fleetwood. “Excitable Boy” has always been one of my favourite humourous musical album, probably second to Weird Al Yankovick who I’ll be visiting much further down the line. Later in 1978, Dr Demento began playing songs from this album on his show, which just shows how good it is.

Next post: Todd Rundgren- Hermit of Mink Hollow

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

Also available on Amazon, Froogle and Barnes & Noble

Great Rock Albums of 1978: Jefferson Starship- Earth

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by 80smetalman

It was said that long ago, God created Jefferson Starship and then Jefferson Starship created Earth. At least that was what the television advert said back in 1978. This album was the follow up to their platinum 1976 album, “Spitfire” and it was one of the few Starship albums to feature the same line up on consecutive albums. Throughout, their turbulent history, the band have had so many changes, if all former members of Jefferson Airplane/Starship got together for a charity softball game, they would have enough people to fill both teams.

“Earth” was symbolic for the supposed mellow sound of Jefferson Starship through the mid to late seventies. Most notable were the chart hits “Count On Me” and “Runaway.” These songs, combined with most of the other keyboard dominated tracks do give the album a sort of mellow out feel. However, to me, they also showcase the keyboard skills of Pete Sears, who in my humble opinion, was one of the most underrated all around musicians in rock at the time.

Ok, you’re probably thinking, why is someone who is so heavy metal enriched, speaking about an album that is considered mellow? Well, “Earth” marked the end of Jefferson Starship’s mellow out period and would progress to a more harder sound. However, that will be mentioned in a future post. But in spite of the mellow nature of this album, there are some hints of a rocking sound in it. The track “Skateboard” bears witness to this and “Show Yourself” does have a rocky edge and features the political lyrics of the old Jefferson Airplane. However, the hidden gem is the supposed top 40 ballad “Runaway.” Yes it is what it says, however, “Runaway” contains a killer solo by guitarist Craig Chaquico. The solo makes the song for me. Finally, few albums have that final track that once you finish listening to it, leaves you with a feel good factor about the album. “All Night Long” is one of my favourite album ending songs of all time.

Track Listing:

1. Love Too Good

2. Count On Me

3. Take Your Time

4. Crazy Feeling

5. Skateboard

6. Fire

7. Show Yourself

8. Runaway

9. All Night Long

Jefferson Starship

Grace Slick- vocals, piano

Marty Balin- vocals

Paul Kantner- guitar

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar

Pete Sears- bass, keyboards

David Freiberg- bass, keyboards

John Barbata- drums

If you fancy a good mellow out trip down memory lane, give “Earth” a listen. It shows why Jefferson Starship were such a versatile band.

Next post: Warren Zevon- Excitable Boy

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

Also availble on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1978: The Band- The Last Waltz

Posted in films, Music, soundtracks with tags , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by 80smetalman

There were many movie soundtracks before 1978, I know, I had to endure my sister listening to such soundtracks as “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Lady and the Tramp.” Even in this pivotal year of 1978, there was “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease,” but for me, it was the soundtrack from the film, “The Last Waltz” that made me ever want to listen to a soundtrack.

I went to see this film when it came out, only one cinema in the area even showed it and I must concur with the friend who I went to see it with. The movie sucked, the music was great. Seeing such great legends as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the guitar talents of Eric Clapton and the finale with Bob Dylan rocking away on “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” totally blew my then seventeen year old mind.

                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Waltz was the final concert by The Band after sixteen years on the road. Eight years in bars, the other eight years playing arenas. The concert actually took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 and there were numerous guest stars in addition to the ones pictured here, to help them take it home. From what I saw from the film, it was a great night of music and the soundtrack bears witness to it.

Track Listing:

1. Theme From the Last Waltz

2. Up On Cripple Creek

3. with Ronnie Hawkins Who Do You Love

4. with Neil Young Helpless

5. Stagefright

6.  wtih Joni Mitchell Coyote

7. with Neil Diamond  Dry Your Eyes

8. It Makes No Difference

9. with Dr John Such a Night

10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

11. with Paul Butterfield  Mystery Train

12. with Muddy Waters  Mannish Boy

13. with Eric Clapton  Further On Up the Road

14. The Shape I’m In

15. with Bobby Charles Down South In New Orleans

16. Ophelia

17. with Van Morrison   Tura Lura Lura (It’s an Irish Lullabye)

18. with Van Morrison Caravan

19. Life is a Carnival

20. with Bob Dylan  Baby Let Me Follow You Down

21  with Bob Dylan  I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)

22. with Bob Dylan  Forever Young

23. with Bob Dylan  Baby Let Me Follow You Down (reprise)

24. with all the guests plus Ringo Starr and Ronnie Wood   I Shall Be Released

The Last Waltz Suite

25. The Well

26. with Emmylou Harris  Evangeline

27. Out of the Blue

28. with The Staples  The Weight

29. The Last Waltz Refrain

30. The Last Waltz with Orchestra

The Band:

Robbie Robertson- guitar

Rick Danko- bass

Garth Hudson- keyboards

Richard Manuel- organ, piano, dobro guitar

Levon Helms- drums

This album definitely changed my view of movie soundtracks and since then, I have purchased and listened to a good number since. The Last Waltz is definitely a piece of music history which I would encourage everyone to listen to at least once in their life time.

Nest post: Jefferson Starship- Earth

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

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1978: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- You’re Gona Get It

Posted in 1980s, Music with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by 80smetalman

The second album from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers got my attention back then. I must admit, that I never even knew they had put out an album prior to “You’re Gonna Get It” until I did some preliminary research. Some have said that the first album was musically superior to the second. If that’s the case, then it must be a really good album. Still, I curse the sheltered life I lived back then, but that’s another story.

Like any new music back in 1978, many people called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers a punk band. That’s just the ignorance of some people, because when I listened to some of the tracks, I was convinced they were not. “You’re Gonna Get It” is a good rock album that has some good bits with both guitar and organ used in a combination that works on so many levels. It’s just a well made feel good album.

Track Listing:

1. When the Time Comes

2. You’re Gonna Get It

3. Hurt

4. Magnolia

5. Too Much Ain’t Enough

6. I Need to Know

7. Listen to Her Heart

8. No Second Thought

9. Restless

10. Baby’s a Rock’n Roller

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty- lead vocals, guitar, piano

Mike Campbell- lead guitar, accordion

Bermont Tench- piano, organ, vocals

Ron Blair- bass, accoustic guitar

Stan Lynch- drums, vocals

For me this album was the start for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Although, I haven’t always liked everything they’ve done since, I can say that I really like this album.

Next Post: The first movie soundtrack I liked, The Last Waltz

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

Also available on Amazon, Froogle and Barnes & Noble

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1978: Patti Smith Group- Easter

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by 80smetalman

One great thing visiting all of these classic albums does for me in other ways is to take me down various alleys off memory lane. The same applies to this classic rock album. See, I first learned of the Patti Smith Group when I saw them perform on the old Saturday Night Live Show way back in 1978. This was the original Saturday Night Live, which brought us the talents of Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, the late Gilda Radner. (I won’t name the entire crew here.) As was the norm, the Patti Smith Group performed two songs and though I can never remember what the second song was, the first song was the famous rock anthem, “Because the Night.”

I remember when this album first came out, everyone (at least in my redneck area) called the Patti Smith Group a punk rock group. Even Saturday Night Live kind of made fun when Gilda Radner came up with the character, Punk Rock Star Candy Slice, who many thought was based on Patti Smith.

When I listened to the album, I never considered the album to be punk, nor did I care if it was. To me, it was just a great rocking album with some great tracks like “Rock and Roll Nigger” as well as the well known single already mentioned.

Track Listing:

1. Til Victory

2. Space Monkey

3. Because the Night

4. Ghost Dance

5. Babeloque

6. Rock And Roll Nigger

7. Priviledge (Set Me Free)

8. We Three

9. 25th Floor

10. High on Rebellion

11. Easter

The Patti Smith Group

Patti Smith- vocals, guitar

Lenny Kaye- guitar, bass

Jay Dee Dougherty- drums, percussion

Ivan Kral- bass, guitar

Bruce Brody- keyboards, synthesiser

 If this album is to be branded punk, then it does a magnificent job of bridging the gap between punk and more mainstream rock from the time. “Easter” is one of those albums that everyone remembers when talking about the classic albums. It always manages to sneak in there with all of the great albums of 1978. I shall always remember it for this and its brilliant music.

Next Post: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 

Great Rock Albums, 1978: Rory Gallagher- Photo Finish

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2012 by 80smetalman

It was 1982 when I first discovered Rory Gallagher and then it was several months later before I learned his name.  The encounter happened when I was on sea duty in the marines. The ship’ s onboard tv station would show anything that came to hand, the many reruns of  the then popular sitcom “Alice” laid proof to that. One evening, when expecting the same, I saw a three piece band on the television, with most of the camera focused on the guitarist/singer. I didn’t know who they were and there was much speculation among my fellow marines, but what we all agreed was, these guys could jam. The guitarist especially was “bitchin’.”

A few months later, the mystery as to who had rocked us out was finally solved. While on liberty in Barcelona, Spain, we were in a bar that decorated its walls with album covers. I could amaze you with some of the great albums that were stuck on them, but I won’t. However, in amongst those albums was the “Photo Finish” album by Rory Gallagher. Fortunately, we weren’t drunk enough yet so we could all look and agree that the person on the front cover of the album was that guitar ace who had dazzled us a few months earlier. Unfortunately, I waited a month to when I went home on leave to purchase this album and being Sound Odyssey in South Jersey, they had no clue what I meant and said they couldn’t get it. (Probably weren’t bothered.) But there is a happy ending. Four years later, I came to the UK and saw that this album was still readily available. Needless to say, I purchased it there and then and haven’t regretted it since.

Not only should Rory Gallagher have been included in my “Great Guitarists of the 70s” post many months ago, he also is number one on my list of “Great acts who never made it in America.” Many Americans, although I am bracing myself for replies to the contrary, haven’t heard of Rory Gallagher and know what a great musician he was. I say “was” because his death in 1995 robbed the world of yet another great musician.

“Photo Finish” is proof in the pudding of what a great guitarist Rory Gallagher was. Each of the tracks on this album displays a unique riff coming from his talented hand and every track on it shines in its own way. Unlike a lot of albums, I can subvocalise most of the songs and am right now playing them in my head. Obviously some stand out more than others. My favourites are “Shin Kicker,” “Brute Force and Ignorance,” “The Mississippi Sheiks,” “Cloak and Dagger” and “Shadow Play.”

Track Listing:

1. Shin Kicker

2. Brute Force and Ignorance

3. Cruise on Out

4. Cloak and Dagger

5. Overnight Bag

6. Shadow Play

7. The Mississippi Sheiks

8. Last of the Independents

9. Fuel to the Fire

10. Early Warning

11. Juke Box Annie

 

Rory Gallagher- guitar/vocals

Gerry McAvoy- bass

Ted McKenna- drums

For a classic blues based album, this is one of the best. It shows that Rory Gallagher deserves his place along with the greatest guitarists. For metal heads, there are some great rocking moments on it as well, another reason why it appeals to so many. “Photo Finish” is definitely, for many Americans anyway, a great undiscovered gem.

Next post: Patty Smith- Easter

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

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 p.s. I have just learned from a friend that when Jimi Hendrix was asked in an interview at Woodstock what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitarist, he responded with “I don’t know, ask Rory Gallagher.”