Archive for March, 2014

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Johnny Van Zant Band- Round Two

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Whether it was the glam metal scene in LA or the thrash scene in San Francisco back in the 1980s, of all the bands from those areas who gained world wide popularity, there were many bands who were just as good but never fully broke out of the local scene. The same thing can be said of Southern rock in the earlier part of the decade. I was fortunate to have been stationed in North Carolina during this time, so I was fully able to appreciate it when Southern Rock was at the height of its glory. It gave me a good feeling whenever I trotted back across the Mason-Dixon Line to New Jersey, that many of my friends were listening to Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws and 38 Special. Unfortunately, not so many people heard of Johnny Van Zant when I mentioned them up north. They were mainly well known just in the south.

As all my British friends would say, this was a bloody shame because the Johnny Van Zant Band were a very good band and their second album, “Round Two” bears witness to this fact. There is a definitely influence from Johnny’s older brother on this album because I can detect some Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds here. But in no way does this band simply rip off the great Skynyrd. They bring their own brand of hard rock to tracks like “(Who’s) Right or Wrong,” “Shot Down” and “Standing in the Falling Rain.” Lead guitarists Robbie Gay and Eric Lundgren  know how to play on these songs as well as others. They also do a very hard version of the Beatles classic “Drive My Car.” The album does have a ballad in the form of “Yesterday’ Gone.” I must declare that of all the Van Zant boys, Johnny’s vocals are the most attuned for singing ballads. Not that he can’t sing harder songs just as well, maybe better. It’s just too bad “Round Two” has been allowed to lay dormant for so many years.

Track Listing:

1. (Who’s) Right or Wrong

2. Standing in the Falling Rain

3. Yesterday’s Gone

4. Let There Be Music

5. Keep Our Love Alive

6. Night Time Lady

7. Drive My Car

8. Shot Down

9. Cold Hearted Woman

10. Play My Music

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Gay- lead guitar

Erik- Lundgren- lead guitar

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Morris- drums

As I progress through hard rock and metal history, I am discovering albums and bands that I took little notice of or missed completely. I can’t say that I missed the Johnny Van Zant Band because I saw them live in 1982 but that’s another story. I do regret not listening to this album more back in the time and I wish more people did as well. Here’s everyone’s chance to rectify that now.

Next post: Nantucket- Long Way to the Top

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

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1981: Mother’s Finest- Iron Age

Posted in 1980s, Books, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by 80smetalman

MOTHERSFINEST_IA

Back in 1981, I remember hearing of the band Mother’s Finest. I remember listening to some of their music and I remember liking it but that’s all I can remember. Like quite a lot of things with me, the band Mother’s Finest was filed away into some dark cabinet inside my mind only to be pulled out thanks to Laina Dawes in her book “What Are You Doing Here?” The band gets quite a lot of mention in the book and rightly so because they were a brilliant hard rocking band. Why did they slip my mind? Well, I will say that it would not have been intentional nor would it have anything to do with the fact that several members of the band were African American. However, for some reason, I didn’t listen to them like I should have and that was a major loss for me.

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After listening to “Iron Age” I have refamiliarised myself on the hard rock yet funky and melodic band Mother’s Finest are. The guitars groove in a very unique way but are no less harder. “Movin’ On” is as good an album opener as any opening songs on what history has considered the more classic albums. “Rock And Roll 2 Nite,” “Time” and “Evolution” are all great memorable tracks and former the foundation on which this album is built and you can’t fault any of the other tracks either. But what makes “Iron Age” or Mother’s Finest themselves for that matter stand out for me is the vocals of Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy. Her vocals mixed with the music sound just like Aretha Franklin goes metal and that’s a wonderful thing. Her vocals are right up there with the Queen of Soul in power and tune. I can’t think of any other way to describe them, I’m at a loss here.

Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin

Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin

Track Listing:

1. Movin’ On

2. Luv Drug

3. Rock And Roll 2 Nite

4. U Turn Me On

5. All The Way

6. Evolution

7. Illusion (C’Mon Over to My House)

8. Time

9. There Goes Th’ Rain

10. Earthling

Mother's Finest

Mother’s Finest

Joyce ‘Baby Jean’ Kennedy- vocals

Glenn Murdock- vocals, guitar

Wizzard- bass

Moses- guitar

B.B.- drums

Note: I know there are seven people in the photo but the album on lists these five

 My theory (and that’s all it is) as to why Mother’s Finest didn’t get the recognition they so richly deserved was down to the attitudes of the time. Even in 1981, I began seeing music dividing up along several lines and unfortunately one of those lines was racial. I remember both black and white marines referring to music as ours and yours. The problem was that because of the mixed racial make up of Mother’s Finest, some people didn’t know where to put them and consequently they got pushed out. Damn shame because people need to hear what a great band they are. On a happier note, one of my objectives for this blog and for writing “Rock And Roll Children” in the first place was for people to get out their old music and listen to it all over again. It gives me great delight to discover that like me, many of you have never stopped. Saying that, I think we should all give Mother’s Finest a good listen.

Next Post: Johnny Van Zant- Round Two

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: Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

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Every Saturday night, the local FM radio station in Jacksonville, North Carolina had a feature starting at midnight called the Saturday Night Six Pack. They would play six albums, both classic and new in their entirety. One Saturday night in July of 1981, while I was doing the midnight to 4AM barracks security watch and before my company gunnery sergeant banned the listening of music whilst on duty, they played a brand new album from The Danny Joe Brown Band. I remember it well because it was played straight after Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” album. I also remember that it was a very good album and listening to it again, only confirmed the earlier belief. You are probably wondering why I never bought the album, it was due to being strapped for cash. Crap military pay and car troubles are not a good combination.

What strikes me about this album is that while you can definitely feel that Southern boogie rock vibe throughout the entire album, it is not a clone of any Molly Hatchet album. On the album, Brown certainly does diversify somewhat from the sound of his then former band. The piano intro on “The Edge of Sundown” reminds me a little of Billy Powell from Lynyrd Skynyrd before it breaks off into some great pounding guitars. In fact, some of the guitar work on the album, “The Alamo” to name one, reminded me of The Dreggs and I half expected to see Steve Morse on the personnel list for the album. Like with Molly Hatchet, the three guitarists who Brown recruited for the album definitely know how to play. The entire album bears witness to that fact as there is some impressive playing on every song. Speaking of the piano, the fact that he uses keyboards on this album does not make it all go synth but compliments it perfectly and shows that Danny Joe Brown can be a bit versatile in his song writing. As for Brown’s vocals, I can’t say any different than what you would expect from him, whether it be a Molly Hatchet album or this one.

Track Listing:

1. Sundance

2. Nobody Walks On Me

3. The Alamo

4. Two Days Home

5. Edge of Sundown

6. Beggar Man

7. Run For Your Life

8. Hear My Song

9. Gambler’s Dream

10. Hit the Road

Danny Joe Brown Band

Danny Joe Brown Band

Danny Joe Brown- vocals

Bobby Ingram- lead and slide guitars, backing vocals

Steve Wheeler- lead and slide guitars

Kenny McVay- guitar

John Galvin- keyboards, keyboards

Buzzy Meekin- bass, backing vocals

Johnny Glenn- drums

This would be the only solo album from Danny Joe Brown. He would re-join Molly Hatchet after this one. Maybe the members of Hatchet realised what they lost when they let Brown go in the first place. When Brown did return, he would bring keyboardist John Galvin with him and that would influence their sound. But that’s all in the later years. If like many, you missed this album first time around, it’s not too late to have a listen to it now, definitely worth it.

Next post: Mother’s Finest- Iron Age

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: Molly Hatchet- Take No Prisoners

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

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No longer will I trust another person’s account of any album in influencing me whether or not to buy an album. Back in 1981, I was interested in buying the “Take No Prisoners” album from Molly Hatchet but a couple of my marine buddies had gotten it and they all said that the album sucked. As a result I was put off ever buying it and I never listened to it until a couple of days ago and let me tell you, those guys were wrong, very wrong. “Take No Prisoners” might not be as good as “Flirtin’ With Disaster” or their first self titled album or even “Beatin’ the Odds” but it doesn’t suck, no way.

For many years now, Jimmy Farrar has been given the blame for the lack of success of this album and probably for “Beatin’ the Odds” as well. I now think this is rather unfair to the man because as I said when I visited the previous album, if he was with any other band, his vocal ability would have been more praiseworthy. Unfortunately, he was in the shadow of Danny Joe Brown and that is the problem. I have to admit myself, when hearing a couple of songs on this album, I was thinking to myself that Brown would have made a particular bit sound better.

Enough of the negative though because this album really boogies. In every song, the guitar magic of the trio of Roland, Hlubeck and Holland shine through with those special riffs that made me love Molly Hatchet in the first place. “Power Play” is the stand out track for me but the others are right up there as well, “Bloody Reunion” especially. Then they play a perfect blinder with “Respect Me In The Morning.” Most tend to think that because the song is a duet between a man and a woman, in this case Jimmy Farrar and Baby Jean Kennedy of Mother’s Finest that the song will immediately be a ballad. It certainly is not. This song rocks in the way that Molly Hatchet are known for and Kennedy’s vocals only make it that much better. Truly this album deserves more respect that what I give and I immediately and sincerely apologise to the band for my ignorance over the past three decades.

Track Listing:

1. Bloody Reunion

2. Respect Me In The Morning

3. Long Tall Sally

4. Loss of Control

5. All Mine

6. Lady Luck

7. Power Play

8. Don’t Mess Around

9. Don’t Leave Me Lonely

10. Dead Giveaway

Molly Hatchet

Molly Hatchet

Jimmy Farrar- vocals

Dave Hlubeck- guitar, slide guitar

Duane Roland- guitar, slide guitar

Steve Holland- guitar

Banner Thomas- bass

Bruce Crump- drums

I realise now that I have actually committed a double faux pas. Not only have I ignored a cool album on account of here say, I have neglected another band whose albums I should be visiting here. I remember Mother’s Finest back in the day and did listen to some of their stuff. They shouldn’t be pushed into obscurity, there are many pop acts deserving of that. Therefore, I will be featuring them in one of my upcoming posts.

Next post: Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Blackfoot- Marauder

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Many people in the music world agree that Blackfoot’s golden era was from 1979-81 when they put out their three best albums, “Strikes,” “Tomcattin'” and “Marauder.” Having already visited the first two albums in the appropriate year, I now go to the 1981 classic. Many people are of the opinion that “Marauder” is the best of the three and the best Blackfoot album of all time. I won’t enter into a debate on that because I can definitely see why many make that claim in regards to this album, although for me personally, my heart has always been swayed by “Strikes.” Saying that, it is a close run contest because “Marauder” definitely does rock the house down.

“Marauder” opens with a great the heavy grab you by the balls “Good Morning,” which even with Rick Medlocke’s crazy laugh during the intro, sets the pace for the rest of the album. “Good Morning” is one of those tracks you have to put the stereo up to full volume and just go nuts. The second track, “Paying For It,” does nothing to lessen the adrenaline brought on by the opener. The ballad-like “Diary of a Working Man” just lets you catch your breath before the album bombards you with more great hard rockers. For me, I have always liked both “Dry County” and “Fly Away” and they are my two favourite songs on the album. The second song may start with an acoustic guitar on the album but it isn’t long before you’re banging away to the hard guitars once again. I must say that  I do like “Rattlesnake Rock and Roller” where Medlocke’s grandfather Shorty plays harmonica. Another demonstration that while Blackfoot can hit you in the face with great hard Southern rock, they can be versatile too. And like many a great album, it has a great closing song. “Searchin'” ends with the lead guitar reminiscent of “Highway Song” from “Strikes” or even “Freebird.” This seems a must for any great Southern Rock album.

Track Listing:

1. Good Morning

2. Paying For It

3. Diary of a Working Man

4. Too Hard to Handle

5. Fly Away

6. Dry County

7. Fire In the Dragon

8. Rattlesnake Rock And Roller

9. Searchin’

Blackfoot

Blackfoot

Rick Medlocke- lead vocals, guitar

Charlie Hargrett- guitar

Greg T Walker- bass, keyboards, backing vocals

Jakson Spires- drums, percussion, backing vocals

While the studio version of “Fly Away” might started acoustically, the version played on Blackfoot’s 1982 live album definitely blows people away and I will be visiting that album, I promise. “Marauder” is said to be the last great Blackfoot album. Well, it’s for sure the last hard rock album they would put out because they would start using synthesisers on later albums. So for a good Southern rock out, that will have you jumping off furniture, “Marauder” is the album to listen to.

Next post: Molly Hatchet- Take No Prisoners

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: 38 Special- Wild Eyed Southern Boys

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

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Now that my problems with wordpress are sorted, I couldn’t get on here for two days for some unknown reason, I can finally post about what I think was probably one of the best albums of 1981. Personally, I think it was a conspiracy from the “The 80s were all about Culture Club and Wham” brigade in a bid to stop me from thwarting their version of music history but I digress once again. For me, “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” was one of those albums that made 1981 for me. I don’t even need to relate a story from my military days here because that album would have had the same impact on me if I hadn’t been serving at the time.

38 Special’s previous album, “Rockin’ Into the Night” had already given me a strong desire to check out their next one. So even after I started hearing their first single “Hold On Loosely” on juke boxes from North Carolina to New Jersey and even cover bands playing it, I was already in the mind to buy “Wild Eyed Southern Boys.” This album takes elements from hard rock, country and blues rock and incorporates it into the band’s own unique blend of Southern Rock. There’s the more bluesier songs like “Hittin’ and Runnin'” and the almost funky “Honky Tonk Night Time Dancer” where Jeff Carlisi shows he can bend a guitar string somewhat to the more hard rock gems like “Fantasy Girl” and “First Time Around.” They also show they can have a little fun with their songs, just listen to “Back Alley Sally” and you will see what I mean. However, one song does tower above all the others, not trying to detract from those songs, but the title track for me takes all of those mentioned elements and puts them into one song. That song epitomises what I have always loved about Southern Rock. The acoustic intro followed by Carlisi’s burning guitar solos and some great power chords alternated with some melodic harmonising. That’s the paradoxical thing I have about 38 Special. I love the way that Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant trade off vocals here, it definitely works so well on “Wild Eyed Southern Boys.” So, my question is why don’t they do it more on their records?

Track Listing:

1. Hold On Loosely

2. First Time Around

3. Wild Eyed Southern Boys

4. Back Alley Sally

5. Fantasy Girl

6. Hittin’ And Runnin’

7. Honky Tonk Night Time Dancer

8. Throw Out the Ling

9. Bring It On

38 Special

38 Special

Donnie Van Zant- vocals

Don Barnes- vocals, guitar, piano

Jeff Carlisi- lead guitar

Larry Junstrom- bass

Steve Brookins- drums

Jack Grondin- drums

Lu Moss- backing vocals

Carol Bristow- backing vocals

Unlike Rossington/Collins, I did not have to listen to this album thirty years later before I decided I really like it. That’s because I was rocking to “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” all through time. Even after my cassette got destroyed in my car’s stereo. I got rid of that car a few months after that. It didn’t stop it from being one of my favourite album’s of 1981. The album for me is a classic rocker and you know the funny thing, I still think their previous album “Rockin’ Into the Night” was better. Strange huh?

Next post: Blackfoot- Marauder

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

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

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Rossington/Collins- Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 8, 2014 by 80smetalman

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I first heard about Rossington/Collins when I was on my leave after returning from overseas after reading about them in a magazine article. The fact that they were made up of many ex Lynyrd Skynyrd members strengthened my desire to listen to their first album, which I did. While I wasn’t disappointed with the album, I can’t say that I was overly impressed with it either. Since I was going to post about it, I naturally gave it another listen the other evening. God, what a huge difference thirty odd years can make!

The question begs, “What did I think I was listening to all those years ago?” because this is a very good album. The opening track “Prime Time” quickly reminded me about all the things I still love about Lynyrd Skynyrd without sounding like a clone of them. Then there’s the next track, the very blues-gospel sounding “Three Times As Bad” where lead singer Dale Krantz truly comes into her own. If the name sounds familiar, it is because she was one of Skynyrd’s back up singers for many years. This lady has definitely not been given the respect she deserves as a vocalist.; not just with the one song but throughout the entire album. Also Gary Rossington and Allen Collins both show that they still know how to work a six string in the expert way we loved in their previous band and there are some magical moments from keyboardist Billy Powell. The tracks “Getaway” and “Misery Loves Company” bear true testimony of these facts and “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” goes out on a very big high with the guitars on the final track, “Sometimes You Can Put It Out.” So, I ask myself again, what did I think I was listening too all those years ago?

Track Listing:

1. Prime Time

2. Three Times As Bad

3. Don’t Misunderstand Me

4. One Good Man

5. Opportunity

6. Getaway

7. Winners and Losers

8. Misery Loves Company

9. Sometimes You Can Put It Out

Rossington/Collins

Rossington/Collins

Dale Krantz- vocals

Gary Rossington- guitars

Allen Collins- guitars

Barry Lee Harwood- guitars

Billy Powell- keyboards

Leon Wilkeson- bass

Derek Bess- drums

I heard back in the time, that Rossington/Collins were excellent in concert too. Apparently, they would play the legendary “Freebird” but without vocals, only a spotlight shining down on a deserted microphone: a very fitting tribute to Ronnie Van Zant. Listening with a different set of years has its benefits because I can now fully enjoy this album in its full splendour. I wonder if that would work with a Duran Duran album. No, I don’t think I’ll try it.

Next post: 38 Special- Wild Eyed Southern Boys

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