Great Rock Albums of 1982: 38 Special- Special Forces
Before 2015 gets too far down the road, I must pause a second to reflect on an honour bestowed on me back in 2014. As a result of my post on Triumph’s “Allied Forces” album, I was given honourary Canadian citizenship by one of my Canadian readers. It may not seem like a big thing to some, but whenever I get any sort of honour bestowed on me, it is a big thing to me because it means that people actually like what I write. So thank you for the giving me this honour.
Whilst still reflecting on the old and new year, I made an interesting observation over the holidays. During the festive period, I consumed several bottles of The Trooper, the beer brewed by Iron Maiden. During my time in the States, I got to do likewise with many bottles and cans of Yuengling. Maybe it’s me but there seems to be a remarkable similarity in the look and taste of the two beers. I wonder if Bruce Dickinson came to America and somehow stole the recipe for Yuengling and is now using it in The Trooper. One can only speculate. I’ll have to research my theory further by drinking more of both.
Southern rock hit its highest point in 1981 but it hadn’t descended down the summit in 1982. There were still Southern Rock bands making some great albums and getting their songs played on the radio, even up North. One of them was 38 Special whose single “Caught Up in You” from the 1982 album “Special Forces” got into the top ten in the pop singles charts. I have said many times before that I normally didn’t pay too much attention to the singles charts but whenever I see that a good rock or metal band I like has a song that gets in there, I find it a cause for celebration.
Hit single aside and “Caught Up In You” follows the trend in 1982 of leading off the album, the rest of the album is the brand of Southern Rock I have always liked about the previous 38 Special albums. There are some great riffs in the likes of “Back on the Track” and “Breakin’ Loose” as well as some great rhythm and harmonies on the tracks “Back Door Stranger” and “Take ‘Em Out.” As usual, Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes do a magnificent job with the vocals on the album singing the songs that play to their strengths. The track I find most fascinating, though, is “Chain Lightning.” It starts off with an acoustic riff and at first sucks you into thinking of a possible ballad but then the guitars slam in and the song totally rocks out. Jeff Carlisi reminds me on the song why I consider him very underrated among guitarists. And if you think “Chain Lightning” sounds good on record, you should hear it played live. I got that opportunity in 1984 and it was totally kicked ass. They do sneak another single in and I have to admit, I prefer “You Keep Running Away” to “Caught Up In You” even if chart history dictates otherwise. I have never considered “Special Forces” to be a totally mind blowing as “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” or “Rockin’ Into the Night,” it isn’t really that far below them. A good solid album that kept Southern rock in the spotlight in 1982.
1. Caught Up in You
2. Backdoor Stranger
3. Back On the Track
4. Chain Lightning
5. Rough Housing
6. You Keep Running Away
7. Breakin’ Loose
8. Take ‘Em Out
Don Barnes- guitar, lead and backing vocals
Jeff Carlisi- lead guitar
Larry Junstrom- bass
Steve Brookins- drums
Jack Grondin- drums
Donnie Van Zant- lead and backing vocals
Jimmy Barnes- harmonica, harp
Terry Emery- piano
Steve McCray- keyboards
Lu Moss- backing vocals
Carol Bristow- backing vocals
38 Special achieved the double in 1982 by putting out a great album and breaking the top ten in the singles charts. This was a a great time for the band but what nobody saw back in that year was that the one achievement would have a detrimental effect on the other one with their future albums and attitude towards music.
Next post: Blackfoot- Highway Song, Live in London
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