Archive for January, 2014

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Joe Walsh- There Goes The Neighborhood

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2014 by 80smetalman

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After the break up of The Eagles in 1980, Joe Walsh was the first ex-band member out of the blocks with a solo album. Of course, he was already experienced in that department having had a number of solo albums before joining and whilst with the band. Most notable of those was the 1978 album, “But Seriously Folks,” which I visited on here a long time ago. It’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve been at this for three years now. “There Goes The Neighborhood” was his first solo release since “But Seriously Folks” and on account of rockers like the famous “Life’s Been Good” on that album, it took me a rather long time before I was able to warm to this 1981 effort.

I realise now that I was guilty of pigeon holing Joe Walsh back then because there are no rockers like his very famous 1978 single on this album and that is something I don’t do for many other artists and don’t like it when the media and so called music fans do it. Now with my wrist slapped and a refamiliarisation of the album thanks to YouTube, I can talk about this album through a fresh pair of ears. What put me off the album in 1981 was the first single, “Life Of Illusion,” which each time I heard it, gave me the impression that I was dining in an Italian restaurant. Don’t ask where I got that from. I didn’t have that impression this time around but it’s still not the best song on the album. The tracks “Down On the Farm,” “Bones” and “Rivers (Of the Hidden Funk) all top it for their more bluesy guitar sound. The last of those featured former band mate Don Felder, who co-wrote the song, on guitar and although it’s not stated, I can’t help wondering whether or not the two did their guitar solo trade off like they did on a very famous Eagles classic. The rest of the album varies between that blues sound and a more progressive rock sound.

Track Listing:

1. Things

2. Made Your Mind Up

3. Down On The Farm

4. Rivers (Of Hidden Funk)

5. Life Of Illusion

6. Bones

7. Rockets

8. You Never Know

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh- guitar, vocals, synthesiser

Don Felder- guitar, backing vocals

Jody Boyer- vocals

Victor Feldman- percussion

Ross Kunkel- percussion

David Lindley- percussion, violin, vocals

Bob Mayo- guitar

Kenny Passarelli- bass, backing vocals

George Perry- bass, backing vocals

Timothy B Schmidt- backing vocals

Tom Stephenson- keyboards

Joe Vitale- drums, flute, keyboards

Now I know why I try not to pigeon hole artist if I can help it. So, “There Goes The Neighborhood” wasn’t the hard rocker that Joe Walsh’s previous album was. It’s still not a bad album and there are a few tracks where he still works some magic with the guitar.

Next post: Rush- Moving Pictures

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: Grace Slick- Welcome To The Wrecking Ball

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2014 by 80smetalman

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In 1981, even after her contribution on the “Modern Times” album by Jefferson Starship, Grace Slick was reported to have said that she was going to blow herself up if she got kept on being asked if she was going back to the Starship. I don’t blame her, there was still quite a bit of discord between her and the band at this time. Additionally, it was a month after the release of “Modern Times” that I saw her album “Welcome to the Wrecking Ball” for sale in the shops. This was one of those albums I wanted to listen to but never got around to it. I really liked her more progressive sounding “Dreams” which she put out the previous year so the precedent for buying was certainly there. But I didn’t, and now thanks to You Tube, I was able to finally listen to the album and now I’m really kicking myself.

Maybe it was because “Dreams” was more progressive and my musical tastes were becoming harder is why I didn’t buy it. Lousy excuse, because “Welcome to the Wrecking Ball” is nothing like “Dreams.” This entire album is (and I can’t put it any other way) is one hell of a rocking album. It starts with the title track and then avalanches into a thrilling pool of bang your head style rock that some people could mistake for heavy metal. The only reason why I won’t call it that is the track “Shooting Star.” This song could have been written by Paul Kantner and used on either of Jefferson Starship’s albums “Red Octopus” or “Spitfire” from the mid 70s. The song is more of a trippy way out there kind of song but it does fit in well with the album. It’s the only song, save for “Lines” that doesn’t begin by a pounding guitar riff. “Lines” starts with a reggae sound before exploding into your face in likewise hard manner. One thing for sure is that given Grace’s powerful vocals on these songs, it is clear that she definitely can sing hard rock. Just listen to “Round and Round” and you’ll see what I mean. Maybe a metal band should give her a guest vocal spot on a song, I know it would sound superb.

The unsung hero on this album is Scott Zito. He wrote all of the songs along with Slick and after hearing what he can do on the guitar on first, “Dreams” and now this album, I’m glad that she kept him on to play guitar because he can play.

Track Listing:

1. Welcome to the Wrecking Ball

2. Mistreater

3. Shot in the Dark

4. Round and Round

5. Shooting Star

6. Just a Little Love

7. Sea of Love

8. Lines

9. Right Kind

10. No More Heroes

Grace Slick

Grace Slick

Grace Slick- lead vocals

Scott Zito- lead guitar, harmonica, backing vocals

Danny Guilino- rhythm guitar

Phil Stone- bass

Bobby Torell0- drums

Paul Harris- keyboards

I’m not finished kicking myself for not buying this album but I will start searching Amazon and like places. The problem is that I don’t get paid till Friday. “Welcome to the Wrecking Ball” by Grace Slick is definitely the most underrated album that I have come across for 1981, if not for all time. I’m glad she just let herself go on this one for this is a fantastic album.

Next post: Joe Walsh- There Goes The Neighbourhood

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

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Jim Steinman- Bad For Good

Posted in films, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2014 by 80smetalman

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They say that you should never judge a book by a cover and I think that also applies to record albums too; fortunately, not to this one by Jim Steinman. For those who aren’t so familiar with the name, Jim Steinman has worked as a record producer for many years and is responsible for producing some of the greats, including Meatloaf as well as the soundtrack to “Shrek 2.” In 1981, he tried his hand at cutting his own album, “Bad For Good” and it was pretty much a success for him. At first, I was attracted to the album by this rather cool looking at the time album cover. However, the music inside isn’t too bad except for one rather important detail: When I first listened to the album and even now, my first impression in my mind is, “This could have been Meatloaf.”

There is a definite resemblance to “Bat Out of Hell” throughout this album. Each and every song has that feel to it, especially the duet with Karla DeVito on “Dance In My Pants.” The style of the song bears strong connections to the famous “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” However, what this song has that the Meatloaf classic doesn’t is a killer guitar solo. That’s part of what makes the album as good as it is in the first place. Steinman’s vocal range is limited but he does have some powerful musicians behind him playing on the songs. Most notably, there is Todd Rundgren along with his band mates from Utopia who pop in and out on several songs. What results is a good rock sound that somehow straddles the line between FM commercialability and hard rock. Therefore, all can listen to it and not worry about going across the imaginary line. Still, only three tracks really stand out for me, the first of which I’ve already mentioned. The second is the single, “Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through,” which I have on a compilation CD. The third is “Life and Death of an American Guitar,” which gets covered by the already mentioned Meatloaf on his “Bat Out of Hell 2” album. Speaking of that song, I don’t hear any difference between the two versions.

Track Listing:

1. Bad For Good

2. Lost Boys and Golden Girls

3.  The Life and Death of An American Guitar

4. Stark Raving Love

5. Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)

6. Surf’s Up

7. Dance in My Pants

8. Left in the Dark

Extra EP

1. The Storm

2. Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through

Jim Steinman

Jim Steinman

Jim Steinman- lead vocals, keyboards, spoken word

Rory Dodd- lead vocals on “Surf’s Up,” “Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through” and “Lost Boys and Golden Girls”

Karla DeVito- lead vocals on “Dance In My Pants”

Todd Rundgren- guitars

Davey Johnstone- guitars

Kasim Sultan- bass

Steve Buslowe- bass

Neal Jason- bass

Roy Bittan- piano

Steven Margoshes- piano

Roger Powell- synthesiser

Larry ‘Synergy’ Fast- synthesiser

Max Weinberg- drums

Alan Schwartzberg- drums

Joe Stefko- drums

Jimmy Maelen- percussion

Alan Rubin- trumpet

Tom Malone- horn arrangements and trombone

Lou Marini- tenor sax

Lew Del Gatto- baritone sax

Ellen Foley- backing vocals

Eric Troyer- backing vocals

What surprised me after doing a bit of homework on “Bad For Good” was how well it actually did commercially. In spite of many criticisms from the rock magazines at the time, it went to 62 in the US, 14 in Sweden and even broke into the top ten in the UK. With that success and an album that I actually liked, I remain surprised as to why Mr Steinman never has cut another album.

Next post: Grace Slick- Welcome to the Wrecking Ball

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: Jefferson Starship- Modern Times

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by 80smetalman

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When Jefferson Starship released their previous album, “Freedom At Point Zero,” Rolling Stone magazine commented that they had become just another heavy metal band. We all know that any one who has heard that album can deduce that the person from Rolling Stone who said it obviously has no understanding what heavy metal is but that’s beside the point. In response to that statement, Paul Kantner, wrote back saying, “Fuck You, We Do What We Want.” Those words became immortalised on the closing track of this album “Modern Times.”

It was a wise thing to let Jefferson Starship do what they wanted for this album follows on nicely from the last one. While not heavy metal, there is a great deal of hard rock on the album to be loved. The first two tracks, “Find Your Way Back” and “The Stranger” were both singles for the band but in no way are either of these songs pop. Probably why the highest they charted was the former of the two, which peaked at 29. “Wild Eyes” is a typical Jefferson Starship rocker and the last track on side one (I only bought cassettes at this time), “Save Your Love,” Craig Chaquico demonstrates why I rant on about his guitar playing so much. Side two gives us three shorter in length powerful rockers. The opening riffs of “Mary” have stuck in my mind for over thirty years now the way that familiar riff of “Smoke On the Water” has. The fourth song, “Alien,” goes a little more on the progressive side and some say that it’s a little way out there. Then comes the closer, “Stairway to Cleveland.” “While not a piss take of the Led Zeppelin classic, the reason why Jefferson Starship gave that title to the song was because they thought that Cleveland was the direct opposite of heaven at the time. I knew a few guys from Cleveland back then and they wouldn’t debate them on that. The song also makes good digs at politics and some of the institutions of the time as well as Rolling Stone.

One of the hypes behind the release of “Modern Times” was it marked the return of Grace Slick to the band. Not particularly true. She does sing backing vocals on most songs and lead on “Alien” and as a duet with Mickey Thomas on “The Stranger.” That’s one reason the song is so good. Of course, you can never fault the musicianship of this band on any album and definitely not here. Chaquico shines with his guitar throughout with Paul Kantner laying down the reliable rhythm for him. Pete Sears does his normal keyboard wizardry and Aynsely Dunbar shows why he was considered a brilliant drummer back then.

Grace Slick

Grace Slick

Track Listing:

1. Find Your Way Back

2. The Stranger

3. Wild Eyes

4. Save Your Love

5. Modern Times

6. Mary

7. Free

8. Alien

9. Stairway to Cleveland

Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

David Freiberg- piano, organ, synthesiser, bass, vocals

Pete Sears- bass, piano, synthesiser, moog

Aynsley Dunbar- drums, percussion

Grace Slick- vocals

There was one time back in 1981 when I didn’t watch Fridays solely to see Melanie Chartof. I watched because Jefferson Starship was appearing on it that night. They were my favourite band back then and the “Modern Times” album reminds me why.

Next post: Jim Steinman- Bad For Good

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: Franke And The Knockouts

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Franke and the Knockouts were originally going to be placed in my selection of One Hit Wonders for 1981 because all I can remember about them was their one song “You’re My Girl” being played on the radio at the time and watching them perform the song on the ABC late night comedy show “Fridays.” For those who don’t remember “Fridays,” it was ABC’s attempt to match the very successful “Saturday Night Live” on NBC. It was roughly done in the same format and although it ran for a couple of years, “Fridays” couldn’t hold a candle to “Saturday Night Live” even after the departure of all the original greats like Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. One thing I could say I liked about “Fridays” however was Melanie Chartof. She did stir my red blooded maleness and was the main reason I watched the show in the first place.

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Melanie Chartof

Melanie Chartof

So you’re probably asking, “What’s all this got to do with the album by Franke and the Knockouts?” Let me get back on track here. After doing a tiny bit of research, I discovered that they weren’t one hit wonders. I never knew it was them who performed “Hungry Eyes” and I can’t even blame my naivety on being in the service. Must have been asleep on that one. Still, the debut, self titled album from Franke and the Knockouts is more of a progressive AOR sound that fit right in about that time. The first three tracks give a definite feel that this album is heading down the AOR path. The single “You’re My Girl” marks a slight turning point for the songs get a bit more rockier after that. Not a total rock out but you can hear more of the guitar on those songs. That brings me to another point and my obsession for guitarists. From what little I hear from Billy Elworthy on the album, I hear that this is potentially a great guitarist. Unfortunately, he isn’t given the time to show what he can really do and that’s a bit of a let down for me.

Track Listing:

1. Come Back

2. Sweetheart

3. She’s a Runner

4. You’re My Girl

5. One For All

6. Tonight

7. Running Into The Night

8. Tell Me Why

9. Annie Goes Hollywood

10 Don’t Stop

Franke And The Knockouts

Franke And The Knockouts

Franke Previte- lead vocals

Billy Elworthy- guitars

Blake Levinsohn- keyboards

Leigh Fox- bass

Claude LeHanaff- drums

Tommy Ayers- synthesiser, organ, backing vocals

I have to confess, I always thought the name Franke and The Knockouts reminded of a doo-wap band from the late 50s or early 60s. These guys are nothing like that. Instead, they bring a good fusion of progressive rock that can be enjoyed and is probably the reason a later hit would be often used in films.

Next post: Jefferson Starship- Modern Times

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 Fools- Heavy Mental

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Originally I was fearful that this post was going to be much shorter than usual. Has there ever been an album that you used to listen to many years ago but now a days seems to have vanished from the face of the earth? For me, it was the “Heavy Mental” album by The Fools. This was another album I came across when I was home on leave after six months away. My friend Frank introduced me to it and he used to play it all the time when riding in his car. Therefore, I heard it a lot over two weeks in 1981 and though I haven’t heard it again before today, the album has always stuck in my mind. Now that I have heard it again, I regret not buying this album from Frank when he was selling off all of his music collection as a result of him finding Jesus.

This is a brilliant album, kind of heavy metal meets Weird Al Yankovic. BTW, I will be visiting all of his album when they come up down the line. The lyrics of each song are just total parody here. I really like those in the songs “Alibi” and “Lost Number” but each song has a catchy hard rock feel which gets you banging away to it even if you aren’t paying attention to the lyrics. Thus it dispels the myth that people who create humorous songs lack music talent. (Never say that around a Zappa fan.) “What I Tell Myself” is proof of this and then there’s the cover of Roy Orbison’s “Running Scared.” It might have been a serious song for Roy, but The Fools add their own little silly touch too it and still make the playing of it sound good. My conclusion is that Christ, I have to get this album for myself. No offense Frank.

Track Listing:

1. Mind Control

2. Dressed in White

3. Around the Block

4. Local Talent

5. Lost Number

6. What I Tell Myself

7. Last Cadillac On Earth

8. Come Home With Me

9. Running Scared

10. Tell Me You Love Me

11. Alibi

The Fools

The Fools

Doug Forman- bass, lead vocal on Last Cadillac on Earth

Chris Pedrick- drums

Stacey Pedrick- guitar

Richard Bartlett- lead guitar

Michael Girard- lead vocals

Since Christmas has past and my birthday isn’t for another five months, I guess I’m going to have to buy this album myself. I know I sound like a tight fisted git but really I’m not. Besides, this album will be worth spending the money on. If you like the combination of hard rock and humorous lyrics, then this is one of the best.

Next post:  Frankie And The Knockouts

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: Joan Armatrading- Me, Myself, I

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, video games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Here’s an example of how my mind jumps around too much. I knew when I started 1981 that I wouldn’t be able to get everything in regards to my life in perfect chronological order. So in order to talk about “Me, Myself, I” from Joan Armatrading, I have to go back to Rota, Spain. We were granted a night’s liberty that night so my friends and I made a made dash to the Enlisted Men’s Club and started cracking open the Budweisers about 5:30 that afternoon. Providing the entertainment that night would be an English covers band called The Tender Years, who played some good rock tunes that night. What I remember most is because they were playing to a bunch of US servicemen and women, they put up a large sign that read, “We don’t play Freebird.” Of course, that didn’t stop the crowd from shouting out for it. Anyway, one song they played was the title cut of this album which stuck in my head. Good song, I thought to myself. However, I never did anything about it until later on in the summer when I heard that song played again on the radio and while the female lead singer from The Tender Years sang it well, it wasn’t as nearly as good as the original.

Hearing it back then and hearing it again now, I have to disagree with Wikapedia’s labelling of the album as “pop.” I doubt it would have been considered that back then even though disco was in it’s final throes of death. If I put a label, it would have to be soft rock or progressive rock. In some of the songs, “Ma Me Oh Beach” comes to mind here, Joan’s Caribbean roots definitely poke their nose above ground and if listened to carefully, some other songs as well. What really grabbed me is the fantastic guitar solos laid down in the title track and in the more bluesy track, “Turn Out the Light.” The latter also is best for showcasing her vocal credentials. Then  I also love the electric piano at the intro. Hell, it’s the second best song on the album and a good one! “Friends” and “All the Way From America” also stand out on this album for me.

What I know now that I didn’t know then was the amazing array of musicians that assist in propelling Joan to her glory. Paul Shaffer from David Letterman fame plays keyboards on the album and Clarence Clemmons from Bruce Springsteen’s band does what he does best with the sax. But one further surprise, the drumming chores are carried out by none other than Anton Figg, who has played for KISS and later Ace Frehley. So with an ensemble like that behind her, no wonder this album is so good.

Track Listing:

1. Me, Myself, I

2. Ma Me Oh Beach

3. Friends

4. Is It Tomorrow Yet

5. Turn Out The Light

6. When You Kisses Me

7. All The Way From America

8. Feeling In My Heart For You

9. Simon

10. I Need You

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading- vocals, acoustic guitar

Chris Speddig- guitar

Hiram Bullock- guitar

Ricky Hirsh- guitar

Dan Fedderici- organ

Paul Shaffer- piano

Phillip St John- piano

Tim Sowell- synthesiser

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone

Will Lee- bass

Marcus Miller- bass

Anton Figg- drums

With her great voice and an assembly of masterful musicians, it’s no wonder this was the most successful of Joan Armatrading’s albums. It can stand along with many of the great rock albums of the time. I’m only surprised it didn’t do more to break down racial barriers at the time. Oh yes, back to that night in Rota. I drank enough Buds that I was dancing on the table when The Tender Years played “Smoke On the Water.”

Next post: The Fools- Heavy Mental

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