Archive for August, 2013

Great Rock Albums of 1980: Warren Zevon- Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

Posted in 1978, 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, video games with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by 80smetalman

Warren_Zevon_-_Bad_Luck_Streak_in_Dancing_School

I plead guilty to the fact that when you hear an album from a particular artist, you expect their next album to be pretty much exactly the same and you are a bit disappointed when it’s not. However, I know I’m not the only one. This was the case when I heard this 1980 release from Warren Zevon. His 1978 album “Excitable Boy” had me rolling on the floor in stiches with songs like “Excitable Boy” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” Even the hit single “Werewolves of London” deeply amused me. However, I can’t say the same with “Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.” None of the songs had me laughing the same way and maybe that was a good thing. I now appreciate how good of a musician Warren Zevon actually is.

Okay, so the album wasn’t as hilarious as its predecessor. The most amusing songs on the album are “Jeannie Needs a Shooter” (co written with Bruce Springsteen) and “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado” and then there’s the song “Play It All Night Long” which satirizes the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd tune “Sweet Home Alabama.” The rest of the album just contains some decent songs which are still enjoyable to listen to. It leaves me to conclude that Warren Zevon never got the recognition he deserved for his talents as a singer, musician and song writer. Furthermore, he puts a good band behind him and there are contributions on the album from Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Glen Frey, Don Henley, Don Felder and Joe Walsh to name a few.

Track Listing:

1. Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

2. A Certain Girl

3. Jungle Work

4. Empty Handed Heart

5. Interlude No.1

6. Play It All Night Long

7. Jeannie Needs a Shooter

8. Interlude No. 2.

9. Bill Lee

10. Gorilla, You’re a Desperado

11.Bed of Coals

12. Wild Age

warren

Warren Zevon- vocals, piano, bass, guitar, organ, synthesiser, keyboards, harmonica

Jorge Calderon- guitar, vocals

David Lindley- guitar, violin, steel guitar

Rick Marotta- drums, percussion, bells, vocals

If you fancy a listen to a decent light hearted rock album, than this one is a sure thing. There are some amusing moments on it with some good songs to get into. I know, I’ll be checking out more of Warren Zevon’s work in the future.

Next post: Heart- Bebe Le Strange

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

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

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Cars- Panorama

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Cars_-_Panorama

We’ve established that bands whose second albums don’t match their debut one is the sophomore jinx but what about a band’s third album? Does that make it the junior jinx? Those who went to high school in North America will know what I’m talking about here. Some people may put that branding on the third album by The Cars since many consider it not as good as their first two albums. I’m inclined to agree with that. “Panorama” isn’t quite as good as the self titled debut nor “Candy O.” Still, this in no way makes it a bad album, in fact, I very much enjoyed listening to it.

Why do people consider “Panorama” to be not as good. I explanation I can offer (and I whole heartedly agree with Stone over at Metal Odyssey with this) was that in the last two years of the 70’s, The Cars were ahead of their time. The problem was that by 1980, time was catching up with them. Many rock artists had a listen to them and thought, “These guys got something here.” Therefore, in 1980, many started to copy their unique sound. So when the third album wasn’t anything totally different, the reception wasn’t as great. However, a more simpler reason is that it’s hard enough following up one great album, it’s even harder to follow two. BTW, The Cars weren’t the only ones to experience this in 1980, but you will have to stay tuned for the other one.

“Panorama” starts off well with the title track and goes quickly to the song “Touch and Go” which I know from having their greatest hits album. I’ll admit that it’s not the greatest of their greatest hits, but it’s still a good song and the next two songs “Give Me Some Slack” and “Don’t Tell Me No” carry the album through fairly well. Then comes track five, “Getting Through” that really grabbed my attention and kicked things into gear, a very good song to say the least. “Misfit Kid” is a good bridge to the next really memorable track, “Down Boys.” This to made me stop what I was doing and listen more closely, I especially liked the introduction. The next track, “You Wear Those Eyes,” didn’t impress me at first, then came a very interesting guitar bridge and that turned my opinion on the song. As I said before, Elliot Easton isn’t a great guitarist all the time but he definitely shines when he’s needed to. The final two tracks do their job in taking the album home. So all in all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Panorama,” it’s a good solid album from a group that doesn’t disappoint.

Track Listing:

1. Panorama

2. Touch and Go

3. Give Me Some Slack

4. Don’t Tell Me No

5. Getting Through

6. Misfit Kid

7. Down Boys

8. You Wear Those Eyes

9. Running to You

10. Up and Down

The Cars

The Cars

 

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead vocals on tracks 1,2,3,5,6,8,10

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Benjamin Orr- bass, lead vocals on tracks 4,7,8,9

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

The rest of the rock world might have caught up with The Cars in 1980, but that doesn’t make “Panorama” a bad album. It was an enjoyable listen but then again, people tried to duplicate them but The Cars are the original thing.

Next post: Warren Zevon- Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

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 1980: The Jam- Sound Affects

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by 80smetalman

The_Jam_-_Sound_Effects

The Jam were another British band that were big in their own country but hardly heard of in the USA. At least I didn’t hear of them until the mid 80s and that was when Paul Weller was making it solo and The Jam were referred to in retrospect to him. Worse still, I didn’t listen to them until much later and if you read my post on their 1979 album “Setting Sons,” you will know the history behind it. I still like to once again thank my ex-wife for introducing them to me.

In the late 70s, they had that angry British punk sound that typified the era and the country back then. In 1980, the punk scene in the UK was beginning to die out and make a new beginning on the West Coast of the USA. I think that is reflected in this album. There is that very notable sound that The Jam possessed back then, only with “Sound Affects,” the ferocity began to slow down a bit. The only song, I would call angry is “Set the House Ablaze” and that happens to be my favourite song on the album, but I won’t deride the others either. “Man In the Corner Shop” is a good one as well as “Monday.” The others are also reminiscent of The Jam with that short, sharp rock sound that took them to the top. But instead of going at 200 miles an hour, it goes about 150 and there is nothing wrong with that.

Track Listing:

1. Pretty Green

2. Monday

3. But I’m Different Now

4. Set the House Ablaze

5. Start

6. That’s Entertainment

7. Dream Time

8. Man In the Corner Shop

9. Music For the Last Couple

10. Boy About Town

11. Scrape Away

The Jam

The Jam

Paul Weller- guitar, vocals

Bruce Foxton- bass, backing vocals

Rick Buckler- drums, percussion

Punk may have been in reference to a famous Jam song going underground in 1980, but it didn’t stop one of the big names of British Punk from putting out a cool album. It might not have been as fast or as angry, but it doesn’t stop it from being good.

Next post: The Cars- Panorama

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Black Emerald Should Be Signed

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2013 by 80smetalman
Black Emerald

Black Emerald

Last week at the Bloodstock Festival, the very first band I was treated to on the day totally blew me away. Standing in the New Blood tent, where unsigned acts get to show their stuff, the Reading based Black Emerald opened the day and for me, provided a fantastic beginning to what would go on to be a monumental day. When they left the stage, I was totally of the opinion that if there were any record company scouts observing this band, they would be insane not to sign them to a record contract.  One week later, after listening to their demo CD and currently listening to material they posted on the Reverbnation web site, I am still of that opinion. Therefore, the object of this post is to make you the reader of the same mind frame.

Let’s start with the vocals. most of which are carried out by bassist Simon Hall. If you’re expecting some operatic,  melodic vocals in the vein of Coverdale, Gillan, Tempest of Dio, then you will be deeply disappointed. Instead, if I were to make such comparisons, I would go more in line with Hetfield or Mustane and there lies the pleasant problem. Hall’s vocals are unique enough to call his own so it is difficult to compare him with anybody and that’s a good thing. In addition, guitarists Edd Higgs and Dave Toland also contribute in the lead vocal department giving Black Emerald more versatility. When I observed this phenomenon, it immediately took me back to 70’s bands like KISS, Styx and The Eagles where most, if not all, in the band were just as capable of taking the mike.

Another feature I identified with this band is that they have a lead guitarist who can shred. Unfortunately, I don’t know which one was the one who did most of the shredding last Sunday. The other problem at Bloodstock and a little on the demo was that his efforts lacked volume, which I blame on sound production. Fortunately, I have heard three tracks on Reverbnation and this isn’t a problem, I can hear the lead guitar just fine. Finally, I also mentioned the tight rhythm section and drummer Connor Shortt leads this very well, along with the bass and rhythm guitar.

untitled

Simon Hall- bass, vocals

Edd Higgs- guitar, vocals

Dave Toland- guitar, vocals

Connor Shortt- drums

Demo Songs

1. B.O.D.

2. Drown In the River

3. Figure On a Barbed Wire Cross

One last aspect of this band is their material. They sing about all things heavy metal, sex, drugs and Satan. Five days on after listening to their CD, I still find myself singing the lines from B.O.D.: “Smoking weed, smoking crack.” That’s the other thing, if they were to break America, the religious right would undoubtedly put them on their hit list. So, I hope that I have put forward a strong enough argument to why Black Emerald should be given a record contract. But if you don’t want to take me word, check them out on www.reverbnation.com and type Black Emerald in the search. You won’t be disappointed.

Next post: The Jam- Sound Effects

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

Bloodstock! The Sunday

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2013 by 80smetalman

Many of you have been waiting with baited breath for my account of the Bloodstock concert this past Sunday, well here it is. To start with, the drive there was quite uneventful in a good way and I was glad that most people in Britain decided to spend their Sunday morning in bed allowing me to make such good time. I mean, the two CD’s played for the journey (The Best of Seputura and Megadeth’s “Youthanasia”) weren’t finished by the time I pulled into the car park. It did foretell what a great day it was going to be.

First, I feel I must apologise for the poor quality of the photos, they were taken with my cell phone camera. Anyway, as I got there very early, I thought I would start handing out cards for “Rock And Roll Children.” Handing one to a man of my age, he returned the favour by giving me a CD and saying that I should check this band out on the New Blood Stage and that’s were things began in earnest.

Black Emerald

Black Emerald

 

The CD was for a band called Black Emerald from Reading. What a great opener to the day as this hungry, unsigned band kicked the ass of those who ventured into the tent to see them. I won’t go into great details about them here but these guys have everything needed to be big. Good vocals, a tight rhythm section and a guitarist who can shred as well as songs about heavy metal’s favourite topics, sex, drugs and Satan. I can’t think of a better way to open the show. I was so impressed with Black Emerald that the next post will be why if any label happened to be there while they were on stage and didn’t immediately sign them, well they’re insane.

Gamma Bomb

Gamma Bomb

 

From Black Emerald to the Emerald Isle as we made it in time to see the first band to ascend the Ronnie James Dio stage, Irish metallers Gamma Bomb. What a great way to start things on the main stage at Bloodstock! Their speed metal had me ferociously banging my head away from start to finish and I loved the lead singer’s comment that they had started drinking at 9 AM and would continue for the rest of the day. I guess that’s bound to happen when you mix the Irish and heavy metal. Trust me, I have met many Irishmen and the great majority of them love their drink. Still, I will be looking for their albums in the future.

States of Panic

States of Panic

 

One improvement that Bloodstock 2013 had over 2010 was that in 2010, whenever I an act finished on the one stage, I felt frustrated that when I went to one of the other stages, nothing was happening there either. This year that wasn’t a problem. We decided to take a break after Gamma Bomb and to my surprise, there was music coming out of the Sophie Lancaster tent. My stepson and I went inside and were both delighted by the music played by the band that was currently on the stage, States of Panic. I know you can’t see from this photo but their image might suggest that these guys are simply clones of The Black Veil Brides. However, they had a sound all their own and that sound was fine and I was glad that I was able to catch them on stage.

Music wasn't the only metal on Sunday

Music wasn’t the only metal on Sunday

 

The next hour and a half or so was spent going in between the three stages. I did catch part of both bands that played the main stage, Whitechapel and Sacred Mother Tongue who both kept the day rocking as well as a band from each of the other two stages. While, they were all enjoyable, I didn’t see enough of any of them to give an account here. When we decided to go for lunch, we happened to go past this display of knights in armour. The sword play was a vicious as any mosh pit as they really went at it.

Fozzy

Fozzy

 

I knew nothing of this band before they went on stage but there was something familiar about the lead singer. Then he got the crowd to chant “Y2J” and it all fell into place. I knew that WWE Superstar Chris Jerico was singing with a band, but I didn’t know it was this one. Had I known this before hand, I would have assumed that Fozzy were a joke band and not bothered with them. For once, I am grateful for my ignorance. Fozzy are not a joke band. True, I only rate Jerico’s vocals as passable but this is made up for by the fact that he has a great band behind him and that he has something that many singers of superior vocal ability lack, stage presence. Y2J owned the stage during the entire time he was on it and he was able to use his physical abilities as a wrestler to his advantage when he climbed up the stage rigging and sang from on top of that.

Y2J singing from the rafters

Y2J singing from the rafters

 

Fozzy made a believer out of me, I was impressed to the point that I will have to check out their recorded material.

Amorphis

Amorphis

 

Amorphis provided a much needed respite between what had been and what was to come. Their more melodic metal sound allowed me to catch my breath for a second while yet continuing to enjoy some fantastic sounds. Once again, they proved my theory that keyboards can work with metal if done properly. Seeing the keyboard player for Amorphis brought back memories of Claude Schnell and Jens Johanssen. This in no way takes anything from the rest of the band, especially the way the guitarists shredded.

Exodus

Exodus

 

One thing I pride myself on when I wrote Rock And Roll Children was my accuracy. When Exodus take the stage in the story, the characters are amazed that mortal men can play so fast. Seeing Exodus again after all these years, I am glad that they continue to prove me right. They were fast, furious and just mental and that effect went out to the entire crowd. They weren’t on stage five seconds when a huge mosh pit opened up at the front. I’m afraid to say that when he saw the pit, my step son lost his nerve and didn’t want to go in but I can’t really blame him. Instead, we stood to one side and enjoyed all the fast paced music delivered by those on the stage. The energy was indescribable as Exodus stamped their name on memory of Bloodstock forever. They only stopped briefly so the lead singer could organise one massive wall of death.

The Wall of Death

The Wall of Death

 

When that was over with surprising no casualties, Exodus went on to finish their slaughter of the ear drums to the point that it could be argued that they won the day.

Devil Driver

Devil Driver

 

While Devil Driver may not have matched the violence of Exodus, they continued to carry on the fast metal. Having never heard anything from them before, I can say that I did like them. Especially when the lead singer invited everyone out to California, the only place where weed is legal.

Anthrax

Anthrax

 

This was my fourth time seeing Anthrax live, the last time was Donnington in 1987. Let me say that they haven’t lost any of that intensity they had back then. They took me with old favourites like “I Am the Law,” “Indians,” and the song they opened with, “Caught In a Mosh” to that magical time nearly 30 years ago when I was a pure Anthraxian and it made me renew my vows to follow them always. They also proceeded to convert my fifteen year old step son, although that didn’t take much. I was so impressed with the performance of Anthrax that I can even forgive them for not playing one single song from the “Spreading the Disease” album. I used to think that there were few better songs to open a concert than A.I.R.” but now I’m not so sure. Not many bands can boast to having two great show opening songs. As for the band themselves, they all proved they still have it.

Slayer

Slayer

 

The problem with the headline act is that they have all the lights and this makes it difficult to get a good photo. After several attempts, this was the best I could get. Slayer fulfilled their duties as a headline act. Taking the energy provided by all the bands on the day to an even higher level. The played a good mix of their material throughout the ages and had the crowd at their mercy. I had never seen them live before this day and I must say that all the good things I heard are all true. This was just one speed paced set going from one song to the next in wildfire succession. It proved to be the perfect end to a magnificent day of heavy metal.

Unfortunately, my stepson had the case of the spirit being strong but the flesh was weak. After an hour and ten minutes of Slayer, he was too tired to continue so I had to leave missing the final half hour. Still, “South of Heaven” was probably the best song to walk back to the car to. In the end, we both enjoyed an historical day of heavy metal, one that will match or supersede any of my previous and will dwell in the mind of my young stepson for a long time. Even getting home, at one in the morning following detours due to the motorway being closed and having to get up at 6:30 the next morning to drive to the in laws didn’t lessen the day. In the end, nothing could as it was a great piece of metal history.

Next post: Why Black Emerald should be signed to a record deal

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 Lonon

 

Rest in Peace Christian Fagg

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 9, 2013 by 80smetalman
Christian Fagg

Christian Fagg

I have just read about the tragic death of Christian Fagg, bassist for the band Trollkraft. Christian died while swimming with his girlfriend in Germany when he was swept away by the river. Band members have released a statement saying they don’t want people to mourn but remember Christian by drinking a beer and listening to music. Exactly what I will be doing tonight.

I got three of these for the weekend

I got three of these for the weekend

 

I hope that all of you out there will join me in expressing my condolences to Christian’ family and girlfriend and to the members of Trollkraft.

R.I.P. Christian

Great Rock Albums of 1980: Bruce Springsteen- The River

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2013 by 80smetalman

These photos aren’t the cover of the 1980 album “The River” from Bruce Springsteen, they are of my little vacation in Torquay on the southwest coast of England. Being American, I like to show my holiday snaps to everyone, so I thought I would show mine here. Don’t worry, there are only two. I did find a pub that sometimes has metal bands playing there, but not on the night I went.

A very nice view of Torquay Harbour

A very nice view of Torquay Harbour

 

I thought this looked cool

I thought this looked cool

I didn’t go into that pub, but I loved the suit of armour so I snapped it. Well, holiday over, onto The Boss!

Springsteen_The_River

If it wasn’t for me hearing about this album while I was on sea duty during the last four months of 1980 and the first two of ’81, I would have delayed the album to 1981. I can’t remember who it was but one of my fellow marines had a copy of “The River” by Bruce Springsteen (cassette, always cassette in the military due to limited living space) and played it to which I have to say that I was duly impressed. The very first track, “The Ties That Bind” is all you could ask for with a traditional Springsteen album and sets the stage throughout this impressive double album.

What I really like about it too is that fact that it talks about the two sides of life. There are some fun happy tracks like “Sherry Darling” and “Crush On You” but it also talks about some of the more depressing things of that time, recession, unemployment  and other aspects of life that aren’t all apple pie and smiles. The title track for me was the sign of the time for many people then and there was no getting away from that. The track “Drive All Night” has been used in not one but two films, “Copland” and “Reign Over Me.” However, no matter what the mood of any given song, there is that well known and loved straight ahead rock and roll sound that has made Springsteen famous for nearly forty years. As usual, he has the E Street Band backing him up and they as always, don’t disappoint.

Track Listing:

1. The Ties That Bind

2. Sherry Darling

3. Jackson Cage

4. Two Hearts

5. Independence Day

6. Hungry Heart

7. Out In The Street

8. Crush On You

9. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

10. I Want To Marry You

11. The River

12. Point Blank

13. Cadillac Ranch

14. I’m a Rocker

15. Fade Away

16. Stolen Car

17. Ramrod

18. The Price You Pay

19. Drive All Night

20. Wreck On The Highway

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano

Roy Bittan- piano, organ, backing vocals

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone, percussion, backing vocals

Danny Federicci- organ, glockenspiel

Garry Talent- bass

Steve Van Zandt- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Max Weinberg- drums

Pick any song on this album, even the top ten single “Hungry Heart” and no doubt it will be a good one. “The River” is definitely Bruce Springsteen at his best and the songs on the album bear testimony to that. It has been considered among his best with “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA” and I can hear why.

My Bloodstock Tickets

My Bloodstock Tickets

Next post: Will probably come out next week because as already mentioned, I’m off to the Bloodstock Festival on Sunday. Unfortunately, I have to go to the in laws for the next three days after that so I’m afraid you won’t read my account of Sunday until then. But you will get the account.

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