Archive for November, 2013

Great Metal Albums of 1980: KISS- Unamsked

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 28, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Kiss_Unmasked_Album_Cover

This is definitely one album I can blame the military on for letting slip past me. It was released around the time I was floating around the Indian Ocean on a ship. My first indication that KISS had released an album at that time was the news that Peter Criss was leaving the band, which he did shortly after. However, the album never made any waves in the sense that everyone was talking about it and as a result, it passed me by and became one of those many albums I had to discover in retrospect.

Listening to it again, I’m not sure how I would of reacted to it back then. Right now, I am saying to myself, “This isn’t the hard rocking KISS I knew from the 70s.” Then again, my adolescent experience with religion was still tugging at the coat tails of my consciousness back then when I believed all that Satan worshipper crap aimed at them. So, I might have liked it, but I can’t say for sure.

“Unmasked” starts off ok with “Is That You” giving me the impression that KISS were remaining true to their roots. However, when I heard the next two songs, “Shandi” and “Talk to Me,” I thought, “What the hell!” These songs make them sound like sound fresh faced top 40 band or a lounge act. “Naked City” is a slight improvement and fortunately the album makes a more traditional KISS return after that for the remainder of the album. It gets more harder with some decent rockers like “Tomorrow,” “Two Sides of the Coin” and “She’s So European” before going out with an all right closer. Unfortunately, those songs don’t fully remove the unpleasant taste in my mouth put their by tracks two, three and four even with some good guitars solos from Ace.

Track Listing:

1. Is That You

2. Shandi

3. Talk To Me

4. Naked City

5. What Makes the World Go Round

6. Tomorrow

7. Two Sides of the Coin

8. She’s So European

9. Easy As It Seems

10. Torpedo Girl

11. You’re All That I Want

KISS

KISS

Paul Stanley- vocals, rhythm guitar

Gene Simmons- bass, vocals

Ace Frehley- lead guitar, vocals

Peter Criss- drums, vocals

Uncredited Musicians

Anton Figg- drums

Vini Poncia- backing vocals

Tom Harper- bass on Shandi

Holly Knight- keyboards

The jury is still out as to whether or not I should regret missing this album back in the day. I’m not saying it’s a bad one, there are some good moments on it that remind me of their more golden years. However, even now there are some tracks that don’t sit well with me.

Next post: The Scorpions- Animal Magnetism

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 Metal Albums of 1980: Saxon- Strong Arm Of The Law

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Lawsaxon'

We have already established that many a great heavy metal band put out a great album in 1980. However, Saxon had to go one better and put out two. “Strong Arm of the Law” was the follow on to their brilliant “Wheels of Steel” album and it is in no way any less brilliant than its predecessor.

The first thing they repeated with this album was to begin the first track with sound effects. “Wheels of Steel’s” “Motorcycle Man” opened with the sound of a motorcycle, the opening track to “Strong Arm of the Law,” “Heavy Metal Thunder” opens with the sound effects of a storm and like the other opening song, the sound effects lead nicely into a throat grabbing metal tune, which again is followed by a brilliant second song. The title cut slows things down very slightly but it reminds me of what I liked about Saxon’s later material. But don’t worry, the tempo picks right back up again with the next two tracks. “Hungry Years” might seem to start slow but the power kicks in very quickly after the intro and that sets the stage perfectly for the final two songs. With the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the final track “Dallas 1PM” may be the appropriate song to play at the moment. I have adopted it as my personal remembrance of the tragic event. I was living in 1963 but I don’t remember where I was so I must have done it. No, actually I was only two and a half and my mother and I were visiting my grandparents in Philadelphia.

Track Listing:

1. Heavy Metal Thunder

2. To Hell and Back Again

3. Strong Arm of the Law

4. Taking Your Chances

5. 2ooo Ft.

6. Hungry Years

7. Sixth Form Girls

8. Dallas 1PM

Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson- bass

Pete Gill- drums

Most bands have a difficult time putting out one good album in a year so well done to Saxon for putting out two. Both of their albums in 1980 rank right up there with some of the ones I have already covered and “Strong Arm of the Law” may not be a cruising album, but one to sit down and headbang away to.

Next post: KISS- Unmasked

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

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

 

Great Metal Albums of 1980: Saxon- Wheels of Steel

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Wheelssaxon

Like so many albums, this was yet another one I first experienced after listening to some of the band’s later ones. I didn’t experience “Wheels of Steel” by Saxon until 1986, when I heard the title track played at Oscar’s Night Club in London. Actually it was in Newbury Park, which is officially part of Essex but that’s not important. It’s also a shame that about two years after I stopped going, it became a McDonald’s. Still, on the night I heard the that song, I knew it was a good one. So, it was only natural that I would have to hear the album.

A good friend of mine stated that “Wheels of Steel” used to be his cruising song and I fully see why. However, the same could be said for the entire album. It’s just one of those albums that you pop in your CD when you just want to drive. Of course you have to have the windows rolled down and the stereo going full blast. I wanted to do that the other day and the temperature was just above freezing.

“Motorcycle Man” is probably the closest that Saxon will ever get to thrash. It’s a good, fast number that you should play with the car windows down, whatever the weather. While the same vibe holds for the rest of the album, I do really like the second song “Stand Up and Be Counted.” “See the Light Shining” is also a standout track for me and although the lyrics to “Street Fighting Gang” remind me of what I call the Rumble Fish effect; (Middle class suburban kids who love the idea of urban style gang fights, but would never participate in one), it is still a good song. All in all, I remain very impressed with “Wheels of Steel.”

Track Listing:

1. Motorcycle Man

2. Stand Up and Be Counted

3. 747 Strangers in the Night

4. Wheels of Steel

5. Freeway Mad

6. See the Light Shining

7. Street Fighting Gang

8. Suzie Hold On

9. Machine Gun

Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson- bass

Pete Gill- drums

If you are ever going on a long drive or just fancy a cruise, then this album in the stereo is a must. “Wheels of Steel” is one of the best driving albums ever no matter what Jeremy Clarkson says. It’s a brilliant metal album as well. On a side note, there’s much about my exploits at Oscar’s in Rock And Roll Children.

Next post: Saxon- Strong Arm of the Law

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 Metal Albums of 1980: Van Halen- Women and Children First

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First

Another offering from the American side of heavy metal came in the form of the third album from Van Halen. (Although you could say that this was a Dutch-American collaboration since the Van Halen brothers were originally from the Netherlands.) Still what we got in 1980 was “Women and Children First.” Now, my alternate mindset is hearing some collective scoffs and sighs from some of you and I know why. In comparison to Van Halen’s first two albums, this one doesn’t compare. However, if you can divorce yourself from those iconic first two albums and look at “Women and Children First” on its own, you may find that it’s really not that bad of an album.

For me, the two best tracks are the first two songs on the album: “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some,” the latter being a concert favourite for several albums after. The former song was the one stuck in my mind for most of my first tour of sea duty and it helped get me through it. The spoken David Lee Roth part of the latter: “I like the way the line runs up the back of your stocking” amuses me to this day. While they may be the two strongest tracks, the album doesn’t end there. The next song, “Fools” begins with the traditional guitar work that made Eddie Van Halen the principal guitarist back then. The next track “Romeo’s Delight” reminds of some of the classic rockers that we got from the first two albums and continues through the next two tracks. While “Take Your Whiskey Home” seems to be an attempt to re-create my all time favourite Van Halen song, “Ice Cream Man,” it’s still a good jam. However, and this is where things fall down, in my view. The acoustic track “Could This Be Magic?” where the only female singer ever let on a Van Halen album, Nicolette Larson, provides backing vocals. I love a good acoustic jam but this song had me asking myself: “Are they taking the p*ss here?” Still one questionable track does not make a bad album and it redeems itself with the closing song.

In short, except for that one possible track, there is nothing for me to dislike on “Women and Children First.” David Lee Roth sings to his capabilities, Eddie shows the world that he still has a trick or two up his sleeve on the guitar, and Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony still prove why many people back then considered them to be the best rhythm section around at the time.

Track Listing:

1. And The Cradle Will Rock

2. Everybody Wants Some

3. Fools

4. Romeo’s Delight

5. Tora Tora!

6. Loss of Control

7. Take Your Whiskey Home

8. Could This Be Magic?

9. In a Simple Rhyme

10. Growth (Hidden track)

Van Halen

Van Halen

   David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

It is tough for any act to follow up on a great album so imagine how difficult it is two follow up on two. With “Women and Children First,” Van Halen make a valiant effort and while it may night reach the dizzy heights of the first two, it is still a good album and should be seen as such.

Next post: Saxon- Wheels of Steel

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to 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 1980: Triumph- Progressions of Power

Posted in 1979, 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Triumph_PofP

In 1980, we had metal contributions from Great Britain, the USA and Australia, so it would only be natural that we had at least one from Canada. Of course in this year of great rock and metal albums, there was a brilliant album from Rush, which I have already posted on, but since even they don’t want to be called heavy metal, I decided to honour their wishes and not refer to them as such. I’m digressing again, what Canada did give the metal world that year was a brilliant album from Triumph.

When I visited their “Just a Game” album during my tour of 1979, I explained that because heavy metal was still in it’s infancy back then, Triumph was still looking for the sound that would stamp them firmly onto the metal monument. I can now safely say that after hearing “Progressions of Power” twice, that they definitely found the sound they were looking for. For me, this is yet another great metal album from the year. Not only did the opener “I Live for the Weekend” had me banging my head away, but that lasted through the second song “I Can Survive.” Even the more power ballad “In the Night” didn’t lessen my happy mood. Then there were two great back to back rockers, “Nature’s Child” and “Women in Love” and I have to really sing the praises of “Tear the Roof Off.” That songs really gets me going even if it is followed by a total ballad in the form of “Take My Heart.” Finally “Hard Road” that takes the album to it’s conclusion in a very well done fashion.

The problem that has always plagued Triumph is that because they’re Canadian, the get compared to Rush. Shame on those who do that. They are noticeably different. While Rush likes to go more progressive, Triumph lets you know that they are a hard rocking band and should be seen as such. I’m even going to go out on a limb here and say that I prefer the guitar playing of Rik Emmet to Alex Liefson but that’s just me. The solos he performs on this album are just grand.

Track Listing:

1. I Live For the Weekend

2. I Can Survive

3. In the Night

4. Nature’s Child

5. Women in Love

6. Take My Heart

7. Tear the Roof Off

8. Finger Talkin’

9. Hard Road

Triumph

Triumph

Rik Emmet- guitars, prophet 5 synthesiser, vocals

Gil Moore- drums, percussion vocals

Mike Levine- bass, keyboards

Way back when I first began this blog nearly three years ago, I said that Canadian metal doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I hope that as people follow me through this journey of heavy metal history, they will begin to give that respect to them. If you want a good place to start, then I can wholeheartedly suggest this album.

Next post: Van Halen- Women and Children First

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 Metal Albums of 1980: AC/DC- Back In Black

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by 80smetalman

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Someone somewhere must have some sort of sixth sense because every time I come around to visiting an AC/DC album here, tribute band Hells Bells comes to town. Therefore, I think that it’s only fitting that before I talk about any AC/DC album, I should go and see Hells Bells first for inspiration. That’s what I did with my step son last night.

Bombshell

Bombshell

Unlike their last visit, this time Hells Bells brought a support band with them. We were a couple of minutes late and so going up the stairs to the show, I thought it was a bit strange that I was hearing the  Blondie classic “One Way or Another.” Once inside the function room, the Stroud audience was being treated to Bombshell. My first thought to this band was on account of their name and the fact they were fronted by a very attractive lead singer reminiscent of Debbie Harry, that they were a Blondie tribute band. The very next song killed that theory. Bombshell turned out to be a very capable cover band playing their own version of some great rock classics like “Black Velvet,” “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone.” There was one trick up their sleeve. My first thought was “Why are they playing a Lady Ga Ga song when I recognised “Poker Face.” However, their hard rock version totally kicks the pants off the original version. Give me Bombshell’s anytime. So Bombshell provided a good opening to the evening’s festivities.

Hells Bells at their usual greatness

Hells Bells at their usual greatness

I would only be repeating myself from the last time I posted about this great tribute to AC/DC if I go into great details about the show. Of course, they played many of the great classics and as always, they were note perfect in regards to AC/DC. The only thing difference was that the entire band is growing moustaches this month for Movember in order to raise money for research for testicular cancer. This means there isn’t a whole lot to say about the night that I haven’t said before because as always, Hells Bells proved why AC/DC are one of the best loved bands in the world.

I thought I'd take this because I never seem to get the rhythm guitarist and bass in my photos

I thought I’d take this because I never seem to get the rhythm guitarist and bass in my photos

All of this brings me around to my all time favourite AC/DC album and that is my one tiny gripe about the show. Hells Bells only played three songs off “Back In Black.” “Shoot to Thrill,” “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are all great songs, especially the last one, but any song from this album would have had me banging my head in vigorous exultation. Of course, I also would have been over the moon if they had played “Given the Dog a Bone.” I have always like that song even before I discovered what the song was actually about. Of course, there are several songs with innuendo on the album. “What Do You Do For Money” and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” are perfect examples, especially with the lyrics in the latter, “Let me cut your cake with my knife.”

Stating the obvious here but back in 1980, the big question asked when this album came out was if new lead singer Brian Johnson could fill the shoes vacated by the passing of Bon Scott. For me and many others, there was no question here, Brian proved he’s got the goods. Full credit to the band here, they didn’t try to go out and find a Bon Scott clone because no such person exists. Brian Johnson is his own vocalist and this album highlights the fact behind the usual great musicianship of Young, Young, Williams and Rudd. This album does have some of my favourite guitar solos from Angus.

Track Listing:

1. Hells Bells

2. Shoot to Thrill

3. What Do You Do For Money, Honey

4. Given the Dog a Bone

5. Let Me Put My Love Into You

6. Back in Black

7. You Shook Me All Night Long

8. Have a Drink On Me

9. Shake a Leg

10. Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution

AC/DC

AC/DC

Brian Johnson- lead vocals

Angus Young- lead guitar

Malcolm Young- rhythm guitar

Cliff Williams- bass

Phil Rudd- drums

Thirty million sales world wide can’t be wrong. Many, including me, will say that this is the best AC/DC album of all time. Listening to the songs in it, I can see why.

Next post: Triumph- Progression of Power

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

 

 

 

 

A Metal Book Worth Reading

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by 80smetalman

While I was going through my daily dose of heavy metal google alerts this morning, I can upon a book that sounds fascinating to me. The book is called “What Are You Doing Here?” by Laina Dawes. It tells about the struggle on an African American woman in the world of heavy metal.

When Laina Dawes was eight years-old, she sat in front of her television watching the made-for-television movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park.”  Soon after, her parents gave her Kiss’ Double Platinum record, and later followed an obsession with bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.  Laina Dawes is a bona fide metal head. But her fandom is complicated, though it probably shouldn’t be, by the fact that Laina is a black woman.

During her time in the heavy metal scene, she has experienced a lot of racism and sexism, as well as judgment and hostility from various black communities. Laina Dawes is the author of “What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal” (Bazillion Points, 2013).

Dawes talks with host Frank Stasio about the complicated relationship she has with heavy metal. She says that although heavy metal has in the past been viewed as a white male scene, the music can be powerful for anyone who feels like they need an outlet for anger.

“Heavy metal has always had this stereotype of being a working-class blue collar music for predominantly men who are frustrated by their day job, and want to listen to music to let out their aggressions…” Dawes says. “I think that translates to how people are still drawn to the music…It’s for the positive energy and the positive aggression that you have the ability to let out…and we’re not able to do that in other aspects of their lives.”

Dawes grew up in rural Kingston, Canada, as one of the only black people in her community. Listening to heavy metal was one of only a few things that helped her deal with her frustration and feelings of isolation. 

Dawes tells host Frank Stasio that “the music was what got me through…I never did fit in, and I always felt like an outsider, but I knew that I desperately needed something to make me feel better, and to make me feel more empowered then I did in my everyday life.”

Although heavy metal can be very empowering to its listeners, the scene surrounding it can be very racist and sexist. Dawes spoke to many black women involved in those scenes in their respective communities who survived violence inflicted on them on the basis of their race.

“One of the women I interviewed for the book was knocked unconscious” states Dawes.

“Another girl in Atlanta was chased around the venue by a bunch of skin heads, because they had warned her that she had to leave because they didn’t want her there…And then they stayed so they chased her,” she recalls.  “You get these extreme stories of people violently reacting to your presence.”

And not only has there been push back from white people in the heavy metal scene, but black communities have taken issue with black people’s participation in heavy metal. Dawes explains that listening to heavy metal as a black person is often seen as something that makes you “less black.”

“One of the reasons I’ve faced resistance from various black communities is the [link to culture]. Blues music is not just music, it’s seen as a narrative of the lives of African Americans who came before us…it has a connection to African-American listeners,” says Dawes. “But on the other hand in terms of listening and participating as a fan or musician it should be wide open.”

But there are still black women breaking down barriers and performing heavy metal. Dawes says that her favorite part of this project has been meeting women who challenge the norm with their passion for the genre.

“The best part of this journey is meeting extremely strong women who want to play the music that they’re passionate about and also realize that there are a lot of roadblocks in their way,” Laina reflects. “And for them it’s not about the money. It’s about them being passionate about their art.”

I, for one, am going to read it because I have always battled against the accusations of heavy metal being sexist and racist and I’ve always believed that knowledge is the best weapon.