Archive for December, 2013

Great Rock Albums of 1981: REO Speedwagon- Hi Infidelity

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2013 by 80smetalman

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Late February in 1981, I have just returned to the US after being in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean for six months. Desperately recovering from a six month diet of powdered eggs and milk, I go into the café at the PX. Being away from the American music scene for so long, I have a look at the juke box and I spy a new song from REO Speedwagon called “Keep On Loving You.” Naturally, I have to listen to it so I put my quarter in and wait. My thoughts upon hearing it was sure, it’s a power ballad but after “Time For Me to Fly,” I came to the conclusion that they did those well anyway. I thought the same with the song I was listening to at that moment, especially when Gary Richrath delivers with a killer guitar solo as he normally does. My ending thought was that a new album from REO Speedwagon was definitely a great thing to come back to when I returned home.

In order to appreciate this album, I had to take myself back to the same mindset I was in during 1981. I thought this was a great rocker of an album back then and listening to it again after so many years with that frame of mind reminded me so. The problem was is that when I first tried to remember the album, the power ballads came to mind first as did the two more pop sound tracks, “In Your Letter” and “Out of Season.” However, even those songs aren’t as poppy as I made myself believe, especially the latter where Neil Doughty shows he can dominate a keyboard. He does the same with the opener “Don’t Let Him Go” even though the song is a good album opening rocker. I also forgot what a great little rocker “Follow My Heart” was but two songs still stick out for me because some of the shit I went through in that year. The lyrics from “Take It On the Run” could have been written especially for me back then but still, the song is probably my favourite on the album. As he does with most of the songs, Richrath rocks it. The result of the last song made the next one on the album totally appropriate. I don’t want to bore you with details of my personal life, but if there had been a He Man Woman Haters Club, I would have joined it, nuff said on that. The songs after that one are all good rockers and the band shows a bit of versatility by letting Bruce Hall sing lead on “Someone Tonight.” The closer “I Wish You Were There” is another power ballad but it is takes the album out on the right note. It was no wonder, this album got played to death in my car stereo back in 1981.

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Let Him Go

2. Keep On Loving You

3. Follow My Heart

4. In Your Letter

5. Take It On the Run

6. Tough Guys

7. Out of Season

8. Shakin’ It Loose

9. Someone Tonight

10. I Wish You Were There

REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano

Gary Richrath- lead guitar, 12 string guitar, backing vocals

Neil Doughty- piano, synthesisers, keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, lead vocal on “Someone Tonight”

Alan Gratzer- drums, backing vocals

This album would be a major turning point in some respects for REO Speedwagon. While “Hi Infidelity” is a rocking album, the fact that they would have a ballad type single in the Billboard Top Ten would prove to be their ultimate downfall. So you could say it was here where they would go from being good to being popular and they weren’t the only band this would happen to in 1981. Saying that, if you can forget all that history and just have a listen to the album, you will see why everyone I know was screaming about so much back in that year.

Next post: Styx- Paradise Theatre

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 1981: Fleetwood Mac- Live

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, video games with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2013 by 80smetalman

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First of all, I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and got all of the things you wanted and the same goes for any who don’t celebrate it. I did get the Black Sabbath “13” album and am looking for an excuse to go out in the car so I can play it. Also, I might have gotten another CD from my daughter but I won’t see her until Sunday.

Fleetwood Mac has always been one of those intriguing, controversial bands who put out some great albums in the 1970s and 80s. Most everyone knows of their best known “Rumours” album and a good many can say the same for the follow up “Tusk” album. Both are great albums and probably one of the reasons they put out a live album on the wake of the previous two. Much of the material from the mentioned studio albums is to be found on “Live” and for good reason. Those albums gave us so many great classic songs. For me, however, and this will be an ongoing theme for me throughout the tour of 1981, it had some personal meaning in my own life at the time. One of my comrades in arms bought this album at the PX in Rota, Spain just before we sailed back to the USA. It got played a lot on the voyage home and it was this album that made the trip home a lot easier.

Fleetwood Mac “Live” not only had great musical  memories, it also gave me one small regret and hearing again after so many years brought it back. That regret is the fact that I never saw them live. Listening to this album, I can safely say that it would have been totally awesome to see Fleetwood Mac in concert. Not just the great songs on it, but the energy they put behind each of the songs they play.  I have always said the Lindsey Buckingham does not get the respect he deserves as a guitarist, his efforts on the live album are proof of that. I mean, the man can play. Of course, the rest of the band are all very good on the album.

While, the album is heavy laden with songs from “Rumours” and “Tusk,” there are some classic gems from Fleetwood Mac’s past that pop up on the album too. I absolutely love the live version of “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” is nicely done as well. Then there is the live version of my all time favourite Mac song, “Go Your Own Way.” If there is a heavy metal cover of this song anywhere, someone please let me know because I would love to hear it. This song would sound fantastic if it was metallised. Saying that, if I have to pick out one personal disappointment about “Live,” it’s the absence of “The Chain” on it. I would have loved to have heard John McVie play my all time favourite bass line live. By way, I have heard Shark Island’s cover of said song and it is done well.

Track Listing:

1. Monday Morning

2. Say You Love Me

3. Dreams

4. Oh Well

5. Over and Over

6. Not That Funny

7. Sarah

8. Never Going Back Again

9. Landslide

10. Fireflies

11. Over My Head

12. Rhiannon

13. Don’t Let Me Down Again

14. One More Night

15. Go Your Own Way

16. Don’t Stop

17. I’m So Afraid

18. The Farmer’s Daughter

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

Lindsey Buckingham- guitars, vocals

Stevie Nicks- vocals

Christine McVie- keyboards, vocals

John McVie- bass

Mick Fleetwood- drums, percussion

My fellow music blogger Every Record Tells a Story recently posted his view of the top ten double live albums. This album wasn’t mentioned. I’m not saying that it should be in the top ten of any double live album list, especially against the albums ERTaS lists. However, this album is worth a definite mention as a great double live album. For me, it will forever be the closest I ever get to seeing Fleetwood Mac live.

Next post: REO Speedwagon- Hi Infidelity

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 1981: The Police- Zenyatta Mondatta

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Police-album-zenyattamondatta

This classic album from The Police first came to my attention when my ship had pulled into Rota, Spain for the final stop before sailing across the ocean and home. I didn’t clock it at first when I went in the PX although it was there, I heard about it when the ship got a two month out of date tape of old Casey Kasem who presented the US chart show back then. On that episode, he showed the video to the album’s first single “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and I must say that I liked it. Although I have to say that a friend of mine liked it more because he used to sing it a lot, even one night when after a bit too much to drink, tried to dance while singing and ended up on his bum. God, the things that trigger memories.

Casey Kasem, anyone remember him?

Casey Kasem, anyone remember him?

With “Zenyatta Mondatta,” The Police once again prove that the rock/reggae fusion works well. The fusion is very plentiful throughout the entire album, the only possible exception being the penultimate song “Shadows in the Rain” which sounds rather spacey to me. Still even that’s not a bad song. What I find more interesting and I didn’t really notice it when I first heard the album all those years ago is that Andy Summers does bend the six string a little bit on a couple of songs. The most noticeable is the third track “When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around” and it leaves me to wonder what Andy would have actually sounded like if he had been given more autonomy on the guitar. Still, he does play well as does Stewart Copeland on the drums. Back on the subject of the album, I found the track “Canary in a Coal Mine rather good too and of course there is the other big single, the one I used to call “The baby talk song:” “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da.” There are also a couple of good instrumentals on it which, shoots down the myth believed by younger Police fans who never heard them until their last album that they were all about Sting. What rubbish!

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me

2. Driven to Tears

3. When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around

4. Canary in a Coal Mine

5. Voices Inside My Head

6. Bombs Away

7. De Do Do Do De Da Da Da

8. Behind My Camel

9. Man in a Suitcase

10. Shadows in the Rain

11. The Other Way of Stopping

The Police

The Police Sting- lead vocals, bass, synthesiser Andy Summers- guitar, guitar synthesiser Stewart Copeland- drums, percussion, synthesiser “Zenyatta Mondatta” is a good steady rock album with songs that are consistent throughout. Like other musical trios whose albums I’ve visited here, it shows plainly that three can sometimes be enough. I won’t get on here again till after Christmas Day so I’ll wish everyone a Merry Metal Christmas now! If you’re stuck for something Christmasy to listen to, you could try the Christmas album I visited this time last year, tee hee.220px-Bob_Rivers_-_I_Am_Santa_Claus_cover

Next post: Fleetwood Mac- Live 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 1981: John Lennon- Double Fantasy

Posted in 1980s, Death, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by 80smetalman

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Like every year so far, I begin with albums that were actually released in the previous year but didn’t come to my attention until the new year. In 1981 I had a good excuse. I spent the first two months of the year sailing around the Mediterranean on a ship. As it was the end of the deployment, there weren’t many port calls although there was a field operation in Tunisia. Therefore, news of new record releases were very slow in making their way to my attention.

It is only fitting that since 1980 ended with the tragic murder of John Lennon, I begin 1981 with the album he released just before his death. It has been said in secret whispers that if John hadn’t died so tragically, this album wouldn’t have had the acclaim that it received. I am not going to argue one way or the other here. It’s not the rockiest album I’ve heard, even from him and if it were up to me, all of the songs Yoko Ono sings would be removed from the album. In the same way Linda McCartney had over Paul, Yoko had a definite hold over John and that is why she appears so much on this album. The songs he does make the album for me. My favourite song has always been “Watching the Wheels” especially as I can relate it to what I was going through at the time. I would come to the halfway point of my enlistment and I was getting really fed up with the military bullshit. So, I would sing this song only changing the lyrics to “I’m just waiting for my EAS to come around.” For those wondering, EAS means expiration of active service.

Another song that really stands out for me on the album is “Clean Up Time.” This is probably the closest to a real rocker on the album. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” is amusing and there are the two other singles, “Just Like Starting Over” and “Woman.” Both are decent songs but better to listen to when in a more mellow mood.

Track Listing:

1. Just Like Starting Over

2. Kiss Kiss Kiss

3. Clean Up Time

4. Give Me Something

5. I’m Losing You

6. I’m Moving On

7. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

8. Watching the Wheels

9. Yes I’m Your Angel

10. Woman

11. Beautiful Boys

12. Dear Yoko

13. Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him

14. Hard Times Are Over

John Lennon

John Lennon

It has been suggested that the reason behind the mellow feel and soppy love songs that incorporate most of the “Double Fantasy” album is that John was repenting for his chauvinistic attitudes in the 1960s. Maybe so and if it is the case, then he can say he left the world paying back that debt because this album is in no way chauvinistic. It pours out his love for Yoko and his son and I don’t think anyone should begrudge him that.

Next post: The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta

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

 

 

1981- More Cracks Emerge

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized, video games with tags , , , , , , on December 16, 2013 by 80smetalman

As we have seen, (sorry it’s the teacher in me) 1980 gave us many a great rock and metal album. In fact many of the great all time classics came out in this year. So it was only natural to assume that we should expect more of the same in 1981 and I will endeavour to show that this was the case.

Bezerk

Bezerk

Many changes were a foot in this year in and out of music and with me personally. Space Invaders gave way to Pac Man and the forerunner of Mario with Donkey Kong. However, my game in that year was definitely Bezerk. Loved killing all of those robots and the fact that Evil Otto was indestructible didn’t stop me from shooting at him anyway. America returned to conservative leadership under the presidency of Ronald Reagan but it would be another two and a half years before my mind changed about him. All that aside and I know that this is going to sound very clichéd but I don’t give a rat’s bottom, music got me through 1981. I had some challenging times while serving my country in that year. Without going into too much personal detail, let’s say that I had a lot of sympathy for Joe in a particular Jimi Hendrix song. It was some of the great albums that will be visited here that helped me through the tough times.

1981 wasn’t all doom and gloom. I bought a car that year and although it gave me lots of problems, (putting 24,000 miles in ten months on any car has that effect) my 73 Chevy Nova would be the undisputed party wagon of the year. I bet if someone lifted out the back seat, they would still find a roach or two and I’m not talking about insects. The music was still there to add to that party atmosphere. So, without further wait, I will go onto the great albums of 1981.

Next post: John Lennon- Double Fantasy

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 Tribute to Blues Based Guitarists

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2013 by 80smetalman

Like I did with the “Who’s the Greatest Rhythm Guitarist?” poll, I have decided to put in an extra thought between the years of my metal history tour. So, since I have finished with 1980 and before heading into 1981, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on some of the great blues based guitarists I have come to know and love over the years. Now, I have always been a sucker for a good long guitar solo played in the mentioned fashion. Even when they were performed by guitarists who may not have been known for such a style. That is probably why my all time favourite Jimi Hendrix song is “Hey Joe,” although the lyrics may have something to do with it as well. Then the other day, I was listening to the Rainbow “Anthology” album and I must say that I was relatively blown away by Ritchie Blackmore on the final song, “Difficult to Cure.” 

 

Jimi Hendrix

      Jimi Hendrix

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One guitarist who many have considered one of the all time greats was old slow hand himself Eric Clapton. I had the pleasure of seeing him live in 1985 and despite the fact that the record company was trying to get him to go new wave, that night he played many of his classic guitar jams. In fact, I thought it was an act of sacrilege when the other guitarist in his band played a solo on “Cocaine.” Still, Eric showed why he is one of the all time greats.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

 

 

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

 

Pat Travers

Pat Travers

 

Robin Trower

Robin Trower

True most the guitarists I have featured here were from the years I have been visiting here on 80smetalman’s Blog but these were the ones who I have first come to know and appreciate. By the late 1980s, there were some who claimed that the blues guitarist was buried dead in the past. I can see their argument as so many great metal lead guitarists were stepping into the limelight. The blues guitarist may have been pushed to the side but they weren’t totally gone and then in the mid 90s, a new guitarist would take his place in the spotlight. His name was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. His album “Trouble Is” took me back to those days of listening and playing along to long bluesy guitar solos and the world was balanced once again.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

 

I could go on naming more great guitarist from this style, Jimmy Page was known to lay down a killer blues riff or two and right now Mark Knopfler’s efforts on “Sultans of Swing” comes to mind. For me, these were the pioneers of great guitarists. I loved their style and still do. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to a good ripping solo from one of today’s metal giants. It’s just I like to reflect back on some of the blues guitarist that first got me into rock and then metal. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride too.

 

Next post: 1981- The Dam Continues to Break

 

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

1980 Ends In Tragedy

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Death, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2013 by 80smetalman
John Lennon

John Lennon

In spite of all of the great rock and metal happenings, the kick ass albums from the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and AC/DC to name just a tiny few, triumphant events like the first ever Donington Festival and even tragic departures in the form of John Bonham and Bon Scott; all of them were over shadowed by an event that not only shocked the music world but the world in general, the murder of John Lennon. Like other infamous tragedies such as Pearl Harbour, the assassination of JFK and 911, many people can remember exactly where they were when they first heard the news that John Lennon and been shot and killed. Personally, I was on the USS Saipan and we had just returned through the Suez Canal and was on our way to Italy when the ship news service told us of the murder. Naturally, we were all shocked and some of my comrades in arms thought it was a joke. However, when we realised the truth, there was much mourning and sympathy, even from those who would have not listened to Lennon’s music and it caused what had been a landmark year in music to end on a tearful note.

John Lennon’s murder was as unnecessary as it was tragic. If it had been any ordinary Joe or Josephine, I would still say that the way in which he was shot down was completely wrong. Even after all these years, I still fail to see any reasoning behind Mark Chapman’s actions other than he simply wanted his fifteen minutes. Now, I am one of the biggest hippy liberals going but I have always maintained that if anyone callously and maliciously takes the life of another human being, then they should forfeit their own. Originally, Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and I do feel a slight touch of relief after reading that he has been denied parole seven times.

The Fab Four

The Fab Four

I know I’m once again preaching to the choir and stating the obvious, but influence that John Lennon and The Beatles had on music, even heavy metal,  lives on over thirty years after his death. For proof, listen to the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” and then look up the hard rock and metal bands who have recorded covers of said song. I know of at least one metal artist whose album I’ll be visiting in the tour of 1981 had a song in tribute to Lennon. I’m sure I’ll find others and more will re-emerge from the wastelands of my distant memories. So, in conclusion, as this coming Sunday marks the thirty-third anniversary of the tragedy, take a moment to remember this superstar. But also, as I close the door on the rock and metal of 1980, also remember the great musical triumphs from the year too. I’m not a psychic, but I think that’s what John would have wanted us to do.

Next post: Tribute to Blues Guitarists

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