Archive for June, 2014

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Frank Zappa- You Are What You Is

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Zappa_You_Are_What_You_Is

It was little secret that Frank Zappa was capable of putting out several albums in a year. Earlier in 1981, he had put out “Tinseltown Rebellion” and then a series of albums called “Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar.” Then later in the year he put out this album “You Are What You Is,” which is probably his best known album for this year. Like with many of Zappa’s albums, the songs are all bound together but not in the way like “Joe’s Garage” as there is no visible story line in the songs.

As expected with any great Zappa album, there is that perfect blend of humour and fantastic musicianship. The album begins with “Teenage Wind” which is a parody about teenage hang ups and right on the heels of that is “Harder Than Your Husband.” This song, with it’s country music sound is definitely a good hoot. The first song that real portrays the quality musicianship of Frank and his band is “Doreen.” While stalwart Ray White proves his underrated vocal ability Zappa backs him up with some great guitar work. I’ve always thought that his guitar talents have gone unnoticed. But it’s not just Frank smoking the fingerboard on this album. Accompanying him is some guitar player known as Steve Vai. You might have heard of him.

The title track was also the first video he ever made and like sometimes with his music, it landed him in some trouble. I guess the portrayal of then president Ronald Regan as the president from hell might have had something to do with it. I just wonder why some people are so devoid of a sense of humour. Following the track “Mudd Club” are two tracks that I really like. “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing” and “Dumb All Over” are both mega swipes at religion and both songs are done with that tongue in cheek Zappa sense of humour. The remainder of the album continues with funny songs until the closer “Drafted Again” which is remake of a song from the early days “I Don’t Want to Get Drafted.”

Track Listing:

1. Teenage Wind

2. Harder Than Your Husband

3. Doreen

4. Goblin Girl

5. Theme From the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear

6. Society Pages

7. I’m a Beautiful Guy

8. Beauty Knows No Pair

9. Charlie’s Enormous Mouth

10. Any Downers

11. Conehead

12. You Are What You Is

13. Mudd Club

14. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing

15. Dumb All Over

16. Heavenly Bank Account

17. Suicide Chump

18. Jumbo Go Away

19. If Only She Woulda

20. Drafted Again

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- vocals, guitar, composer

Arthur Barrow- bass

Jimmy Carl Black- vocals

Bobby Harris- trumpet

David Longeman- drums

Ed Mann- -percussion

Tommy Mars- keyboards, vocals

David Ocker- clarinet

Mark Pinske- vocals

Motorhead Sherwood- tenor sax, vocals

Craig Twister Stewart- harmonica

Steve Vai- guitars

Ray White- rhythm guitar, vocals

Ike Willis- rhythm guitar, vocals

Ahmet Zappa- vocals

Dweezil Zappa- vocals

Moon Zappa- vocals

With so many albums under his belt, it was very hard to keep track of everything Frank Zappa produced. Fortunately, for me, “You Are What You Is” wasn’t one of them. This is a very good Zappa album in the tradition of Frank Zappa. Definitely his best in 1981.

Next post: Rolling Stones- Tattoo You

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: Pat Benatar- Precious Time

Posted in 1980s, Books, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Kings and queens of rock music have come and gone throughout the years but it can be safely said that in 1980 and 81, Pat Benatar was the undisputed queen of rock. She ascended to the throne in 1980 on the wings of her second album “Crimes of Passion” after the previous rock queen, Debbie Harry, in my view, abdicated. The more astute among you probably realise that I never visited Blondie’s “Auto-American” album and for good reason. While “Crimes of Passion” ascended Pat Benatar to her rightful throne, her third album in 1981, “Precious Time,” kept her firmly seated there.

“Precious Time” continues on in the same hard rocking theme that made Pat Benatar a household name in rock circles. I admit, when I first heard the introduction to the opener, “Promises in the Dark,” I thought she might be going a bit softer but about thirty seconds in, the guitars take over and that Benatar sound is back in full swing. The second track is the big single, “Fire and Ice” and contains what I think is the best ever guitar solo from Neil Giraldo. “Just Like Me” and the title track are both traditional Pat Benatar rockers and the track “It’s a Tuff Life” goes quite reggae but nonetheless is a great track. In all of these tracks and the following, “Take It Anyway You Want It,” the vocals of Pat Benatar combined with the guitar of Neil Giraldo definitely work well like they did with the two albums.

Now, if they were ever to make a film from either of my books, “Rock And Roll Children” would be filled with some great concert footage, but with my latest one, “He Was Weird,” I would insist that one song from this album, “Evil Genius,” be on the soundtrack. While the lyrics of this song don’t exactly fit in with the main character in the story, the song itself would greatly add to the ambiance of the movie. The lyrics are spot on here and that helps make the song even better for me. I can’t leave out the fact that this album proves that The Beatles wrote a song that had an impact on hard rock and heavy metal. This album provided me with my first opportunity to hear the classic “Helter Skelter” covered by a great hard rock act. Here, Pat Benatar, to quote Cheryl Cole, makes the song her own and no I don’t watch “X-Factor.”

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Track Listing:

1. Promises in the Dark

2. Fire and Ice

3. Just Like Me

4. Precious Time

5. It’s a Tuff Life

6. Take It Anyway You Want It

7. Evil Genius

8. Hard to Believe

9. Helter Skelter

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- vocals

Neil Giraldo- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Scott St Clair Sheets- rhythm guitar

Roger Capps- bass

Myron Grombacher- drums

With “Precious Time,” it is easy to see why Pat Benatar was the undisputed queen of rock in 1980 and 81. Come the following year, there would be a serious challenge to her rule but that is best left for another time. In the world of hard rock, 1981 was without a doubt Pat Benatar’s year and “Precious Time” backs this up.

Next album: Frank Zappa- You Are What You Is

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

To buy He Was Weird go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403623312&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird

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

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Loverboy

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

LoverboyLB

Most likely, I am repeating myself again, I have a habit of doing that. But I, along with the rest of my battalion, spent the summer of 1981 on air alert. That meant we couldn’t go very far and for three of those nine weeks, when my company was the alpha increment, we couldn’t even leave base. Therefore, most of my free evenings that summer were spent at the Driftwood watching Twinkles and her co-workers strut their stuff to some great songs both from that year or before. There was one song that seemed to get played a lot, no matter which of those ladies was up on stage at the time. That song was “Turn Me Loose” by Canadian rockers Loverboy. This was one of those songs that rocked my summer and would have done so even if I didn’t have the Driftwood’s juke box reminding me how good it was.

“Turn Me Loose” is simply the song that spearheads a great rocker of an album. There are plenty of other cool songs on the album on it. The follow up single, “The Kid is Hot Tonite” testifies to this and the same can be said of “Teenage Overdose.” I am very sure that if I named any track on the album, at least one person would put it forth as a great track. The keyboard introduction on DOA might, at first, make you think that this is going to be a more progressive track, and maybe it is compared to the rest of the album but the hard rock vibe doesn’t disappear. It is little wonder why this  debut album from Loverboy was present in the tape collection of many people I knew back in 1981.

Track Listing:

1. The Kid Is Hot Tonite

2. Turn Me Loose

3. Always On My Mind

4. Lady of the 80s

5. Little Girl

6. Prissy Prissy

7. Teenage Overdose

8. DOA

9. It Don’t Matter

Loverboy

Loverboy

Mike Reno- lead vocals

Paul Dean- guitar, backing vocals

Doug Johnson- keyboards, backing vocals

Scott Smith- bass, backing vocals

Matt Franette- drums

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but for me, a marine in North Carolina at the time restricted to going no further than 15 miles from the base, the debut album from Loverboy brought a much needed way to let off steam to me and my comrades in arms. I was glad to have this rocking album then and those memories still resonate whenever I listen to any song from it.

Next post: Pat Benatar- Precious Time

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: J Geils Band- Freeze Frame

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by 80smetalman

J._Geils_Band_-_Freeze_Frame

 

In the UK, The J. Geils Band are considered one hit wonders and “Freeze Frame” is the album which produced the one hit that they are known for. “Centerfold” was a humungous hit for them, not just in the US or UK, but throughout most of the world. I was in Israel in April of 1982 and it was in the top ten charts there. I think it was number five. The truth is that they are definitely not one hit wonders in the US. Not only was “Love Stinks” a big hit for them in 1980 but this very 1981 album produced some other hits as well.

As all of us know by now, it doesn’t take a couple of top 40 hits to make a good album and “Freeze Frame” has plenty of good material on it. I love the organ intro in the title track, which is the very first song on the album and there is some catchy keyboard melodies with “Flamethrower.” Both are really good songs and I like the Devo like sound with “Rage in the Cage.” A similar new wave sound is heard quite pleasingly on “Insane, Insane Again.” However, they don’t totally abandon their blues rock sound from the 70s. “Angel in Blue” is very reminiscent of that sound and has another memory for me. It wasn’t Twinkles at the Driftwood but another dancer at another similar type go-go bar. My memory is foggy, I will blame it on too much beer that night, but I think it was a bar called The Other Place. The dancer, who was dressed in blue, moved along to this song in a very hypnotic way. Even though this was the first time I heard this song in many years, that memory of the dancer’s movements to this song is etched in my brain. Still, it’s a fantastic song and the album ends with the very cool and amusing “Piss On the Wall.”

Track Listing:

1. Freeze Frame

2. Rage in the Cage

3. Centerfold

4. Do You Remember When

5. Insane, Insane Again

6. Flamethrower

7. River Blindness

8. Angel in Blue

10. Piss On the Wall

The J Geils Band

The J Geils Band

Peter Wolf- vocals

J. Geils- guitar

Seth Justman- keyboards

Danny Klein- bass

Magic Dick- harmonica, trumpet, saxophone

Stephen Bladd- drums

It’s a shame that the J. Geils Band only had the one hit in the UK when they had so many great records in the US. “Freeze Frame” itself has so many great songs on it alone. So, I hope my British readers will take my word for it and check this album out for themselves. In spite of all that I have said here, The J. Geils band aren’t my choice for the best American act not to crack the UK. After all, they did have one hit. That one is still yet to come.

Next post: Foreigner 4

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: Diesel- Watts In a Tank?

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

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The same friend who first introduced me to The Fools and U2 in 1981, also introduced me to this album by Dutch rockers, Diesel. I instantly identified with the big Top 40 hit “Sausalito Sumernight,” because the rambler they were singing about in the song could as easily have been the beat up 1973 Chevy Nova I was driving at the time. Trust me. However, even if it wasn’t for that, I still would have liked the song for its humorous approach and the guitar solo at the end. What was more fortunate was that this friend played the entire “Watts In a Tank?” album and I could see that the rest of it was pretty good too.

Back then I was also a big Dungeons and Dragons player too. Hey 1537, maybe we should get together for a game sometime. Anyway back to this album, one evening shortly after, while playing said game, all of the characters in the party where at an inn when the Dungeon Master (DM) announced that the evening’s entertainment would be provided by Gimli and the Dwarves. Next thing, we were treated to “Down in the Silvermine” from this very album. Since, I was playing a dwarf character that night, I stated that he immediately got up on the table and started dancing to the music. Note: the character did this, I didn’t do it myself. Ever since then, that song has been my favourite Diesel song.

There are some other great tracks on the album as well and some that have some personal meaning to me. I listen to or think of the track “Good Morning Day” on the morning after there has been some change in my life. “Going Back to China” has a humorous nod to it as does  “Remember the Romans.” Both songs are really well played. “Alibi” is another stand out track. “Watts in a Tank?” falls somewhere between hard rock and power pop and that’s is probably why it had some chart success in 1981 and probably why I like it. Going back to “Good Morning Day,” there are some decent power chords in that one. The same goes for the closer “Bite Back” that takes the album home very nicely.

Track Listing:

1. Sausalito Summernight

2. Going Back to China

3. Alibi

4. My Kind of Woman

5. All Because of You

6. Down in the Silvermine

7. Good Morning Day

8. Ready For Love

9. The Harness

10. Remember the Romans

11. Bite Back

Diesel

Diesel

Rob Vunderink- guitars, lead vocals

Mark Boon- guitars, lead vocals

Frank Papendrecht- bass, backing vocals

Pim Koopman- drums, keyboards, backing vocals

I once heard chart show host Casey Kasem say in 1981 that the Dutch bought more records per capita than anyone else in the Western world. So, it’s easy to imagine a Dutch band making it in the US. (Not sure how they did in the UK that year.) Fortunately instead of giving the world another trendy plastic bubble gum pop boy band, they gave the world Diesel and “Watts In a Tank.” That’s something to thank the Dutch for.

Next post: The J. Geils Band- Freeze Frame

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 Cars- Shake It Up

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Often I have heard people declare that The Cars were ahead of their time and I say that it is decidedly so. The 1981 album “Shake It Up” proves it in a good sense. True, the album is a little more pop oriented than its predecessors but I can’t help thinking that they influenced a generation of synth pop bands that would come about in the middle of the decade. I’m not saying they sold out here, no way. It’s just those pop bands tried to imitate The Cars and not very well either.

If the tracks “Since Your Gone” and  “This Could be Love” were played at trendy 80s clubs in London, they would have gone down very well there and probably anywhere else in the world. These two songs could be fore runners to all of that and the best thing here is that they are far superior to any of that stuff. Greg Hawkes is a total keyboard wizard here. There are still much of the things they did well on those other album that are present on this one. “Victim of Love” is one of those songs and I have always liked the title track as well. “Cruiser” is a very good song as well. I guess that what I am trying to say here is that The Cars ushered in a new style of music without even realising it and did it by doing what they had always done very well.

Track Listing:

1. Since You’re Gone

2. Shake It Up

3. I’m Not the One

4. Victim of Love

5. Cruiser

6. A Dream Away

7. This Could be Love

8. Think It Over

9. Maybe Baby

The Cars

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead vocals

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

Benjamin Orr- bass, lead vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

The obvious conclusion I can draw here is that The Cars pioneered music into a new direction in the late 1970s and early 80s. They were doing lots of great new things before the pop bands took over only The Cars did it much better. Proof in the pudding is the “Shake It Up” album.

Next post: Diesel- What’s In a Tank?

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