Archive for November, 2012

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Frank Zappa- Joe’s Garage Act 1

Posted in 1979, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 29, 2012 by 80smetalman

One of the big advantages of having your own recording studio is that you can make albums without worrying about what producers or corporate executives might think.  Frank Zappa was forced to start his own label because many of the big record companies were too afraid of his risque lyrics and themes. This was an advantage for Frank because he was unrestrained by any of the corporate restrictions and therefore was able to get on and make records the way he wanted and at this stage, he was making records as fast as one every three months. It was out of this that the album “Joe’s Garage Act 1” was born.

“Joe’s Garage Act 1” has all the rude themes and humorous lyrics that is traditional with most Zappa records and there are some classic reminders on this one. “Catholic Girls” and “Crew Slut” are typical cases of him poking fun at society and not holding back. I still find myself quoting lines from the former like “Hey, she gave me V.D.” and “She was on her knees.” However, I can’t leave out my favorite from this album, “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee.” Again, this is Zappa at his funniest and is what made him great. This song is so amusing that I had to write down the lyrics for a friend because she kept wanting to sing them. Yes, “Joe’s Garage Act 1” has all the humor that is renowned with a Zappa record and is probably the best at doing so.

Another great thing about the album is the musicianship. I said it before, Frank Zappa is a great guitarist but not only that, he always brought out the best in the musicians who played with him. Each song again is an example of this and the guitar solo in “Crew Slut” is among the best. So with “Joe’s Garage Act 1” you have both things coming together and the end result is one hell of a fantastic album.

Track Listing:

1. Central Scrutinizer

2. Joe’s Garage

3. Catholic Girls

4. Crew Slut

5. Wet T-Shirt Night

6. Toad O Line

7. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee

8. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up

Fran Zappa

Frank Zappa- guitar, vocals

Warren Cuccurullo- rhythm guitar, vocals, organ

Denny Walley- vocals, slide guitar, guitar

Craig Twister Steward- harmonica

Jeff- tenor sax

Marginal Chagrin- baritone sax

Patrick O’Hearn- wind, bass

Peter Wolf- keyboards

Stumuk- bass and baritone sax

Tommy Mars- keyboards

Vinnie Coliauta- drums, percussion

Arthur Barrow- bass, vocals

Ed Mann- vocals, percussion

Dale Bozio- vocals

Terry Bozio- guest vocals

November has been Testicular and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and I bring this up because it was prostate cancer that took Frank from us in 1993. I played all his albums, well the ones I have, when I heard the news that day. Frank Zappa will always be remembered for being a musical genius and this album is a true testament to that.

Next post: Blue Oyster Cult- Mirrors

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Aerosmith- Night in the Ruts

Posted in 1979, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by 80smetalman

One way you can tell how brilliant a band is is when they put out a decent album when they are at one of the lowest points in their career. When they put out “Night in the Ruts” in 1979, they had fully made the transition from musicians dabbling in drugs to druggies dabbling in music. Joe Perry said in an interview about ten years ago that by this time, they were making records to pay their dealers. In spite of all that, “Night in the Ruts” is still a pretty good album. I know it’s not as good as some of their earlier ones like “Draw the Line” and it doesn’t come close to “Toys in the Attic,” (my all time fave). Still when Aerosmith can put out a decent album when they were at such a low, it only cements how great their earlier albums are.

I have to confess, that there are some parts of this album where it sounds like a bit of a dirge but it’s a good dirge. There is  that familiar 70’s rock sound that Aerosmith were famous for then and Joe Perry comes out of his drug induced state to put down some good guitar solos. Steve Tyler also has some good vocal moments and Aerosmith’s three unsung heroes, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer do what they do best. Tracks like “No Surprise,” “Bone to Bone (Coney Island Whitefish Boy” and “Reefer Head Woman” lead the way to what is a decent album.

When I first heard the single from the album, “Remember, Walking in the Sand” I thought this was a definite attempt to get into the singles charts, capitalizing on the success from their cover of The Beatles classic, “Come Together.” I still believe this is the case. This was a song that was first made in the 1960’s and I wondered what were they trying to do. Saying that, like with “Come Together,” they put their own unique spin onto it which makes the song somewhat enjoyable.

Track Listing:

1. No Surprise

2. Chiquita

3. Remember, Walking in the Sand

4. Cheese Cake

5. Three Mile Smile

6. Reefer Head Woman

7. Bone to Bone (Coney Island Whitefish Boy)

8. Think About It

9. Mia


Steve Tyler- vocals

Joe Perry- lead guitar

Brad Whitford- rhythm guitar

Tom Hamilton- bass

Joey Kramer- drums

Before I close, I just wanted to say that I just realized some information I thought reliable all these years has been proven to be slightly inaccurate. I was told that the infamous bottle incident in Philadelphia happened on this tour. It actually occurred in 1978 on the “Live Bootleg” tour. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, what happened was during a show at the Philadelphia Spectrum, someone threw a bottle that shattered in Steve Tyler’s face. The band immediately walked off stage and the culprit was found, dragged onto the stage and beaten up in front of the audience. (It’s bad enough to get your ass kicked but having it kicked in front of 20,000 people must be humiliating.) Anyway, nothing happened for an hour and a half, then Aerosmith returned and Steve Tyler announced, “Fuck you Philly, we ain’t ever coming back!” I wasn’t at this concert but I know someone who was in this was her account. However, I saw them in 1986, they did come back eventually and while they were good that night, they weren’t excellent. In fact Ted Nugent kind of blew them away. I cite the reason as being that Aerosmith still hadn’t fully forgiven Philadelphia for the bottle incident. He made reference to it during the show when he said, “Don’t throw anything up here, remember what happened last time.” I do make mention of this in “Rock And Roll Children.”

That incident was probably an indicator of things to come for the band. Joe Perry, after violent arguments with the band,  left halfway through the recording of the album and would eventually be replaced by Jimmy Crespo. A greatest hits album would be put out the following year leaving many to think that this was the end of the line. It would be seven years before the next good album would be released. I’m glad that the end of the line theory was wrong. Despite all that, “Night in the Ruts” is still a good album.

Next post: Frank Zappa- Joe’s Garage Act 1

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: The Jam- Setting Sons

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by 80smetalman

I have to thank my ex-wife for this one because she is responsible for getting me into The Jam. I had heard of them in the past but never got around listening to them. Then one day we were at a car boot sale, which I guess is like a swap meet for my American readers, when we were going through a load of records that one seller had on display. We came across The Jam’s Greatest Hits album and she practically did cartwheels. We bought it straight away and I think it only cost us 10 pence (roughly 15 cents). I have to say, when we got home and listened to this album, I have to say I was converted. To me, they were straight ahead no nonsense rock, often called punk, but I’m not so quick to do labels. I know that I liked the hard aggressive sound that they made.

The other interesting note, that is if you are interested, is that if you were to make a Venn Diagram of my ex-wife’s and my musical tastes, it would overlap with such bands as Heart, Alice Cooper and Marillion and a few others. Although she did really like my Kenny Wayne Sheppard album. From that common ground, our musical tastes go in different directions. She was more into New Romantic 80’s stuff where I went more for the harder stuff. Anyway, enough of that.

The great thing about The Jam’s “Setting Sons” album is that it continues with that same powerful rock that attracted me to them in the first place. Songs like “Thick as Thieves,” “Private Hell” and “Smithers-Jones” all give that great aaargh feeling which typifies their sound back then. It also helps that this album contains the hit “The Eton Rifles,” which I confess is my all time favourite song by The Jam.

Track Listing:

1. Girls on the Phone

2. Tick as Thieves

3. Private Hell

4. Little Boy Soldiers

5. Wasteland

6. Burning Sky

7. Smithers- Jones

8. Saturday’s Kids

9. The Eton Rifles

10. Heatwave

The Jam

The Jam

Paul Weller- guitar, lead vocals

Bruce Foxton- bass, backing vocals

Rick Buckler- drums, percussion

So full marks to my ex-wife for introducing me to The Jam. “Setting Sons” is a classic Jam album in which every song has that power for which they were known for. It shows that hard and to the point is sometimes the best way.

Next post: Aerosmith- Night in the Rights

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Olivia Newton John- Totally Hot

Posted in 1978, 1979, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by 80smetalman

Everybody reading this must be probably think that I’ve totally lost the plot here. Okay, I lost it many years ago but posting about an Olivia Newton John album, I must be totally bonkers. I mean she was the girl who played along side of John Travolta in “Grease.” We won’t go into some of the songs that were on that soundtrack. Even before “Grease,” ONJ was more of a country singer whose more mellower songs made the cross over into the rock charts. What I can say is that as a result of “Grease,” she wanted to shed her goody-two shoes image and so she went with a more rockier sound and “Totally Hot” was the result.

I’m not going to kid anyone into thinking this album is a total rock out, it’s not. In the rock stakes, Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar by far blow her away but I have to give her credit where it’s due, she tried. “Totally Hot” has both of my favourite ONJ songs of all time on it, “A Little More Love” and “Deeper Than the Night.” The first song does have some good rock guitar in it and of the two mentioned, it takes the number one spot. While I don’t shoot the devil horns in the air and start headbanging away to it, it is still a good song. The rest of the album is in my view more of an attempt at prog rock without the classy musicianship. Still, it is pretty good and that’s why after a long mull in the mind, I have decided to visit it here.

Track Listing:

1. Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting

2. Dancin’ Round and Round

3. Talk to Me

4. Deeper Than the Night

5. Borrowed Time

6. A Little More Love

7.  Never Enough

8. Totally Hot

9. Boats Against the Current

10. Gimme Some Lovin’

Olivia Newton John

Olivia Newton John- vocals

Mike Botts, Ed Greene- drums

David McDaniels, David Hungate- bass

Jai Winding, David Foster- piano

John Farrar, Steve Lukather- drums

Michael Boddicker- synthesiser

Steve Modaio- trumpet

Marty Grebb- alto sax

Chuck Finley- trombone

Gerald Peterson- tenor sax

Lenny Castro- percussion

The other thing I like about this album is that before it, I thought Olivia Newton John was on the skinny side for my personal tastes. But she put on some weight as well for this album and was looking good for the leather shot on the album cover. The album itself is still a decent listen.

Next post: The Jam- Setting Sons

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to

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

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Pat Travers- Live! Go For What You Know

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by 80smetalman

Raise your hand if there has been a musical artist you like who you hadn’t t listened to in many years where when you finally do get around listening to them again, you remember how much you really liked them. I put up my hand to Pat Travers. He was another musical great who never made it onto being played on the old AM clock radio. I first heard about him when I saw this album advertised in a music catalog. Back in the late seventies, they use to have these record clubs where you get an initial offer of buying six albums for a penny to join but you had to buy so many albums in two years. It was such a catalog where I discovered Pat Travers.

Once again, it was my military experiences of widening my musical horizons where I finally got to listen to this great artist and it was this live album. “Live! Go For What You Know” was the perfect album to showcase all of his great songs and guitar talents. The most noted song from this album is “Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights” which many of the bands playing to bars and clubs in North Carolina seemed to play. I also really like “Hooked on Music,” “Go All Night” and “Heat in the Street” but all of the songs here are some powerful, blues based, kick ass rock and roll.

Often have I mentioned the ever growing list of underrated guitarists from the seventies and recently, I have consciously been more picky about who I add to the list. However, Pat Travers is one guitarist who definitely belongs on the list. I might even go as far as to equate him with the likes of some I’ve already mentioned like Gary Richrath, Craig Chaquico and Rory Gallagher, ok I can’t leave out Brian May. Travers can definitely bend the six string to his will and a listen to this great live album will confirm it.

Track Listing:

1. Hooked on Music

2. Gettin’ Betta

3. Go All Night

4. Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights

5. Stevie

6. Makin’ Magic

7. Heat in the Streets

8. Makes No Difference

Pat Travers

Pat Travers- guitar, vocals

Mars Cowling- bass

Pat Thrall- guitar, backing vocals

Tommy Aldridge- drums

The moral of the story here is don’t go a long time without listening to someone you know is good. I made that mistake here with Pat Travers and my excuse of not owning any of his material doesn’t cut it. So, I’m going to have to go out and buy this fantastic live album. Praise the Lord for Amazon! I think you should give it a listen too, I guarantee you won’t regret it. I am wondering and my buddy Stone started my mind rolling on this one, if Pat Travers is yet another great artist the numpties at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have ignored.

Next post: Olivia Newton John- Totally Hot

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Todd Rundgren- Back to the Bars

Posted in 1978, 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 12, 2012 by 80smetalman

It has been said that Todd Rundgren released this 1979 live album in an attempt to cash in on the success of other live albums such as “Frampton Comes Alive” and Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain.” I’m not completely sure that I agree with that premise because of the content of the songs on this album. While “Back to the Bars” concludes with one of Rundgren’s greatest hits, “Hello It’s Me,” it doesn’t include some of his other noted songs. Furthermore, when he was preforming the live shows in 1978, it was around the same time his studio album “Hermit of Mink Hollow” was released.  So, if he wanted to cash in on a live album, surely he would have included a few songs from the new album, especially “Can We Still Be Friends.”

Enough speculating for now because “Back to the Bars” is actually a pretty good album. A good way to reminisce over Todd Rundgren’s creative days of the seventies. What I have always liked about him is the fact that you can’t completely pigeonhole him. Yes, many of the more known songs are in the progressive rock vein and he has his share of Top 40 singles but he is also capable of laying down some rocking jams as well and there are some on this album. Most notably, two songs from the “Something/Anything” album: “Black Maria” and one I’ve always really liked, “Couldn’t I Just Tell You.”

Track Listing:

1. Real Man

2. Love of the Common Man

3. The Verb To Love

4. Love in Action

5. A Dream Goes On Forever

6. Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel

7. The Range War

8. Black and White

9. The Last Ride

10. Cliche

11. Don’t You Ever Learn

12. Never Never Land

13. Black Maria

14. Zen Archer

15. Medley: I’m So Proud/ Oh Baby Baby/ La la Means I Love You/ I Saw the Light

16. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference

17. Eastern Intrigue

18. Initiation

19. Couldn’t I Just Tell You

20. Hello It’s Me

Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren- lead vocals, guitar, keyboards

Mark”Moogy” Klingman- keyboards

Kasim Sultan- bass

Roger Powell- keyboards

John Willie Wilcox- drums

Additional appearances by Rick Derringer, Stevie Nicks, Daryl Hall and John Oates

For Todd Rundgren fans and novices, this album is a good way to reminisce or explore the mid seventies period of Todd Rundgren with some classic songs. Now, one or two people have said that he isn’t too good live, but listening to this album, I can’t agree with that sentiment. If Todd Rundgren isn’t in the Rock Hall of Fame, then it’s just another proof that the people who run that institution are just plain idiots.

Next post: Pat Travers- Live! Go For What You Know

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Pat Benatar- In the Heat of the Night

Posted in 1979, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by 80smetalman

It’s still fresh in my mind thirty-three years later. I remember that day in late 1979 after having to get up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 in the morning because the company XO had volunteered our platoon for mess duty. Gee, that was nice of him. Anyhow, having to clear the early morning cobwebs from my head, I had the radio on when a new fresh rocking sound came blasting out of it. First there was the drum intro, followed by accompanying rhythm guitar and bass. At the end of the line came that little canny lead guitar riff, all of which set the stage for the mind blowing vocals that came along  and completely blew me out of my combat boots. A female voice, clear and powerful, totally rocked my world that day. The song was “Heartbreaker,” and I would learn sometime later, that the voice belonged to Pat Benatar.

“Heartbreaker” is still my all time favourite Pat Benatar song and it is fitting one for her first album, “In the Heat of the Night.” This album established her as the female face of rock, more rockier than Blondie and even Heart, not that I want to take anything away from either of those. For me, this album was different, in my mind, a new even raunchier hard rock and I absolutely loved it, still do.

While, “Heartbreaker” was the break through single for Pat, the rest of the album is still a good rocking listen. I also love the song “I Need a Lover” and even prefer it to the John Cougar Mellancamp version. The other songs also give it credence, like “My Clone Sleeps Alone,” which I find to be rather amusing as well. “In the Heat of the Night” thrust Pat Benatar down our throats and we haven’t been able to get her out of our systems ever since.

Track Listing:

1. Heartbreaker

2. I Need a Lover

3. If You Think You Know How to Love Me

4. In the Heat of the Night

5. My Clone Sleeps Alone

6. We Live for Love

7. Rated X

8. Don’t Let it Show

9. No You Don’t

10. So Sincere

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- lead vocals

Nick Geraldo- lead, slide guitars, keyboards

Scott St Clair Sheets- rhythm guitar

Roger Capps- bass, backing vocals

Glen Alexander Hamilton- drums

Maybe my old company XO did me a favour back then when he volunteered me for mess duty. Sure, I would have eventually heard the song “Heartbreaker,” but I question if it would have had the same impact as it did then. That was the song that made me go even harder into the rock and where I would one day discover the delights of heavy metal. Pat Benatar was a true rock icon from 1979 through to 1983 and it was this album that launched it.

Next post: Todd Rundgren- Back to the Bars

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Gillian- Mr Universe

Posted in 1979, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by 80smetalman

For me, after he left Deep Purple, Ian Gillian kind of dropped off my radar throughout the rest of the 1970’s. This is mainly owing to the fact that none of Gillian’s songs ever got played on that old AM clock radio of mine. Therefore, this is yet another album that I listened to after the fact. What I know now that I didn’t know back then was that Gillian continued to rock on with his own band for the rest of the decade and was very successful in the UK.

Listening to “Mr Universe,” I get the feeling there’s a similar sound to the Deep Purple reunion album “Perfect Strangers.” The sound is more keyboard oriented but there is nothing wrong with that on this album. However, I do like the more rockier tracks “Vengeance” and “Puget Sound” as they have more harder sound. Furthermore, the guitar work of Bernie Torme, someone I would eventually come across when I got to London in 1986, is more present on those tracks. The other tracks are in no ways weak and all together this is a fine album.

Track Listing:

1. Second Sight

2. Secret of the Dance

3. She Tears Me Down

4. Roller

5. Mr Universe

6. Vengeance

7. Puget Sound

8. Dead of the Night

9. Message in a Bottle

10. Fighting Man


Ian Gillian- vocals, harmonica

Bernie Torme- guitar

Colin Towns- keyboards, flute

John McCoy- bass

Mick Underwood- drums

Ian Gillian has always been one of my favourite vocalists and I will forever be blown away when I heard him sing “A Child in Time” live. His vocals are no less formidable on “Mr Universe.” One thing that has been said of singers who surround themselves with good musicians is that they do so to compensate for their limited vocal ability. Yeah, that’s certainly true with Jedward and some say it about David Lee Roth. However, Ian Gillian is not the case and his vocals and band has me wondering why I never heard of them in the US back then.

Next post: Pat Benatar- In the Heat of the Night

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