Archive for November, 2015

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Utopia

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2015 by 80smetalman

Utopia

First, happy Thanksgiving to all! I know it’s a North American holiday but I still celebrate it every year despite living in the UK for nearly 30 years. British friends who have celebrated it with me, quickly see why I do. That’s why I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving. My children love it so I have had three Thanksgiving dinners over the past week and a half and partly why I haven’t posted in over a week.

Now onto the self titled album from Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. I have only recently listened to this album. Back in early 1983, I read a negative review of it where it said that the other members of Utopia pull Todd down. I’ve never agreed with that and after listening to “Utopia,” I still don’t agree with it. Now, for the bad news, even though it doesn’t support the idea of Todd’s talents being wasted by joining up with the other members of the band, the album is still a few noticeable levels below their 1980 epic, “Adventures in Utopia.” The good news, though, is that it is better than their previous “Swing to the Right” album. Another point of history is that long time bassist, Kasmir Soulton, left during the composing of the album to pursue a solo career. I may visit this album.

“Utopia” opens with the best track on the album, “Libertine.” With the possible exception of “Hammer in My Heart,” it is probably the hardest rock song on it. When I first heard the opener, I thought that maybe the band was back to the glory days of “Adventures in Utopia.” Unfortunately, the album does tend to go more keyboard oriented and while this doesn’t destroy the album, it doesn’t make it great. I was not impressed by “Bad Little Actress” but “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” was rather amusing. Unfortunately, the next few songs sound pretty much the same. At least until you get to the more harder, “Hammer in My Heart.” That song takes things back up a little and “Burn Three Times” was even more amusing than “Feet.” On the first few notes of the closer, “There Goes My Inspiration,” I thought the album was going to go out on a total high. However, it soon drags a little making it and adequate closer and that’s is basically my verdict on “Utopia-” adequate.

Track Listing:

  1. Libertine
  2. Bad Little Actress
  3. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
  4. Neck On Up
  5. Say Yeah
  6. Call It What You Will
  7. I’m Looking at You But I’m Talking to Myself
  8. Hammer in My Heart
  9. Burn Three Times
  10. There Goes My Inspiration
Utopia

Utopia

Todd Rundgren- guitar, vocals

Roger Hammond- keyboards, synthesizers, vocals

Doug Howard- bass

John Willie Wilcox- drums

Like I said, “Utopia” is an adequate album from Utopia. There are some good points on it that outweigh the blandness. As for the question of Todd Rundgren wasting his talents with the band, I can add further light to this when I visit Todd’s 1983 solo album later on down the line.

Next post: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band- The Distance

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 Metal Albums of 1983: The Plasmatics- Coup d’Etat

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-CoupdEtat

Here is the last of the great metal albums which came out in 1982 but it didn’t come to my attention until the early months of 1983 due to my being posted in Japan at the time. Like Billy Squier’s “Emotions in Motion” album, “Coup d’Etat” by the Plasmatics was an album that I have neglected for quite a long time. Saying that, I still have fond memories of seeing the video for the single, “The Damned” from this album on the video screens of Sgt Peppers on Okinawa. At this time, music video was still something I was only becoming familiar with, so seeing Wendy O Williams in that outfit while singing away while standing on the school bus as it crashed through walls of television sets was something else. Probably why “The Damned” is my favourite Plasmatics song of all time. It also helps that it’s a great song to begin with.

Wendy driving the school bus in "The Damned."

Wendy driving the school bus in “The Damned.”

For years, I have regarded this band as punk but as I listen to “Coup d’Etat” again after so many years, I firmly believe that the album holds all the classic trademarks of heavy metal. Track after track has some heavy metal hook that grasps my attention and leaves me wondering why I didn’t take notice of it more. First, the album has both a grabbing opener that makes you want to stick around for the rest of it and a closer that seals the belief that this is a great album once it’s over. Of course all the tracks in between keep things running along very nicely. Standout tracks, apart from “The Damned” of course are “No Class,” “Stop” and “Mistress of Taboo.”

Another thing which not only I but probably many others had is the lack of appreciation for the talents of the rest of the band. Yes, Wendy was the main feature of the Plasmatics, both for her looks and her very unique vocals and I have already sung the praises of lead guitarist Ritchie Stotts when I reviewed the “Metal Priestess” album. He’s even better on this album by the way. I submit “Paths of Glory” into evidence. However, nothing should be taken away from the rhythm section of Beech, Romanelli and Tolliver. These guys are definitely tighter on this album and the results prove itself in the music. What this album has done is to look at the entire band in a whole new way and give them the respect they are long overdue.

Track Listing

  1. Put Your Love Into Me
  2. Stop
  3. Rock’ N Roll
  4. Lightning Breaks
  5. No Class
  6. Mistress of Taboo
  7. Country Fairs
  8. Paths of Glory
  9. Just Like on TV
  10. The Damned
  11. Uniformed Guards
The Plasmatics

The Plasmatics

Wendy O Williams- lead vocals

Ritchie Stotts- lead guitar

Wes Beech- rhythm guitar, lead guitar on tracks 2, 9, 5

Junior Romanelli- bass, keyboards

T. C. Tolliver-drums, percussion

I’ve just had a thought, I wonder if the opening track on this album was a response to a song on AC/DC’s “Back in Black” album. Interesting thought, though. What I do know is that this album helped start my 1983 in style and while I may have neglected it for a long time, (fool, me), it gave me a video that has stuck well in my mind for over thirty years.

Next post: Utopia

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Billy Squier- Emotions in Motion

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Sqmot

Like I’ve probably said a million times on here, one of the greatest things about writing this blog is that it allows me to reminisce about some of the great albums of the time. Albums that I might not have listened to for nearly three decades or more! Not listening to an album for that extreme length of time, one forgets how great an album can be. Therefore, it is a pleasant surprise when you put such an album on and just realise that very thing. All of the above can be said for the “Emotions in Motion” album from Billy Squier. The reason why I haven’t listened to this one in such a long time was the fact that I never bought it because my sister had it and while she was away at college, I would sometimes borrow it and listen to it. Dawn, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re not too upset with me for borrowing this fine album without asking.

A year ago, when I visited Squier’s “Don’t Say No” album, I commented that Billy was the best American artist not to have cracked Great Britain. However, since I was in Okinawa when I first saw the video for the album’s single, “Everybody Wants You,” I can safely say that Billy Squier did make it in Japan. Listening to “Emotions in Motion” again after so many years, it’s easy to see why. I like this album even more than the more commercially successful “Don’t Say No.”

Billy_Squier_-_Don't_Say_No

First, like so many albums that were released in 1982, (this one didn’t come to my attention until 1983) it starts off with the single. “Everybody Wants You” is a good song and probably a good choice to be released as a single, especially with the catchy riff it contains, but it’s not the best song on the album. In fact, I’ve been having great difficulty in choosing such as all of the songs are that good here. Another fact I’ve forgotten about the album is that the title track is much harder than I remembered it being and that’s a good thing. Damn my Swiss cheese memory!

As I said, after the first two songs, the hit single and title track, “Emotions in Motion” continues to kick some serious ass. “Learn How To Live” suckers you in with an alluring acoustic intro before blasting you away with more powerful chords. Furthermore, the song is suited fine to Billy’s vocals and would not work with anyone else. “In Your Eyes” is a power ballad worthy to included with many of the others I’ve mentioned in so many posts. It nearly touches the bar set by April Wine in 1981. However, the rest of the album are all just simply great rockers, period. Another surprise after a 30 year non listening famine is that I had forgotten that Squier can play a guitar. The problem is that his best known songs, including “Everybody Wants You” don’t have noteworthy solos. Any doubts about his guitar ability is silenced once you hear him go to town on “Keep Me Satisfied” and his lead guitar intro on “One Good Woman” is quite impressive as well. There are others as well. In the end, I must say shame on me for neglecting such a great album for all of these years.

Track Listing:

  1. Everybody Wants You
  2. Emotions in Motion
  3. Learn How to Live
  4. In Your Eyes
  5. Keep Me Satisfied
  6. It Keeps You Rocking
  7. One Good Woman
  8. She’s a Runner
  9. Catch 22
  10. Listen to the Heartbeat
Billy Squier

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- lead vocals, lead guitar

Kevin Osborn- guitar

Jeff Golub- guitar

Allen St John- keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals

Greg Lubahn- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Chouinard- drums

Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Everybody Wants You” and emotional support

While I admit that I have neglected many a fine album over the years, there hasn’t been one making me feel this guilty about it like “Emotions in Motion” from Billy Squier. I just had a thought and I hope my British friends will support this. Since he’s the best American not to have made it in Britain, maybe it’s time he does. So I urge all of my British friends, as well as the rest of you reading this, to go out and listen to this album. I know you won’t be disappointed. Hell, maybe I’ll go and put him on the wishlist for this year’s Bloodstock Festival.

Next post: The Plasmatics- Coup d’ Etat

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 Metal Albums of 1983: The Scorpions- Blackout

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2015 by 80smetalman

 220px-Scorpions_Backout

First of all, let me say a well done to Deke for picking out all four albums on display in the last post. He gets 50 80smetalman points for that, not that they’re worth anything in the real world. For those who didn’t get all four and many got some, the albums were Van Halen I, Twisted Sister- “Stay Hungry,” Led Zeppelin- “Remastered” and Grace Slick- “Dreams.” Thank you all who participated and I hope everyone is happy that they finally got to see those famous ammo cans. It is really a cool way to store cassettes.

Now onto the album. “Blackout” by the Scorpions might have been released in 1982 but it brought my 1983 in rocking style. I spent the first seven weeks of the year at a small camp near Mt Fuji, Japan so music news was something scarce. It was when I returned to Okinawa that I heard this album though I can’t remember if I first heard it at Sgt Pepper’s or Kin Loo. It’s not important, what was important was the fact that when I heard “Blackout,” I was totally blown away.

It just happens that the album starts out with my favourite Scorpions song of all time. The title track is such an energy producing song that it’s only right that it should open the album. I mean talk about power chords. What is really cool is that after your ears are pummeled by “Blackout,” the album doesn’t stop to catch a breath but immediately goes into another great song, “Can’t Live Without You.” This song praises the fans who buy Scorpions records and see them live. And as the song goes, I do play an imaginary guitar when I hear these songs.

Things continue nicely over the next four songs. The single, “No One Like You,” follows on perfectly from its predecessors and goes very well into the next few after. After those three harder songs, things go slightly melodic with my second favourite Scorpions of all time, “Arizona.” The power chords are very melodically done in such away that I just say ‘wow’ each time I hear the song. Maybe they should have released that one as a single. After “Arizona,” there is what seems to be a concept song in “China White” before closing with the eerie sounding ballad, “When the Smoke is Going Down,” which is the best song to end things with on this great album.

One constant which is heard on every song on “Blackout” is the great lead guitar work from Mathias Jabs and at times Rudy Schenker. Jabs has been called underrated by many metal fans and the way he smokes the finger board here supports that statement. As always, I won’t take anything away from the rest of the band, especially as I have always considered Klaus Meine to be one of the best in the business.

Track Listing:

  1. Blackout
  2. Can’t Live Without You
  3. No One Like You
  4. You Give Me All I Need
  5. Now
  6. Dynamite
  7. Arizona
  8. China White
  9. When the Smoke is Going Down
The Scorpions

The Scorpions

Klaus Meine- lead vocals

Rudy Schenker- rhythm and lead guitar

Matthias Jabs- lead and rhythm guitar

Francis Buchholz- bass

Herman Rarebell- drums

I can’t think of any way better to start of a year than with “Blackout” by the Scorpions. It is such a great metal album and it brought my 1983 in just right. However, even after all these years, I still don’t grow tired of it.

Next post: Billy Squier- Emotions in Motion

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

 

 

1983: The Year the Dam Well and Truly Burst

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2015 by 80smetalman

Got a little ahead of myself on the last post. I stated that the next post would be The Scorpions but I realize that before I talk about the album that started my 1983 off right, that I should first introduce the year. 1983 was a very pivotal year for me in a lot of ways. Most important was the fact that I spent the first half of the year as a marine and the second half as a civilian. In fact, my last military haircut was on June 25, five days before I got out and it would be seventeen months before I got another one.

I have mentioned on several other blogs about how I used to store my cassettes. During my time in the marines, I bought a lot of cassettes due to the limited living space. At first, I bought a proper cassette case but that only held 30 tapes. Whenever we had some sort of training exercise, whether using live or blank ammo, there would be spare ammo cans laying about, which we were allowed to keep. I managed to get two and it was enough to house 58 more tapes. Those cans were probably my best souvenir from my time in.

The famous ammo cans

The famous ammo cans

Bonus points if you can guess the albums

Both as a marine and a civilian, the one thing that remained constant throughout was the music. I’m tempted to quote from a rather popular film from this year which I’ve never seen but I’ll refrain. It would be this year that I would declare myself a metalhead but I wouldn’t totally forget other great forms of rock. Southern Rock’s popularity may have waned north of the Mason-Dixon line but having spent the last three months of my enlistment in North Carolina, I still got to hear killer albums from Nantucket, Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet. But as it says in the title, 1983 was the year the dam well and truly burst and heavy metal flooded the world.

Next post: The Scorpions- Blackout  (yes it truly is this 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

 

80smetalman’s Choices for National Anthems

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by 80smetalman

National Anthems inspire love for one’s country. Every one I’ve heard definitely does that. Some are hard driving like the US, UK or Canada while others are more somber like Japan or Wales. Even Italy’s which reminded me of a parade or Spain’s which sounds like a sixteenth century dance still can inspire love for the country. However, most national anthems are over a century old and while there’s nothing wrong with that, since they still inspire nationalistic feelings, I wonder if more modern ones could be used. See, I have come to associate certain songs by certain bands with the country they come from and that has me thinking. Maybe these songs should be national anthems for their country.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd

USA: Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (I’m talking the full fifteen minute live version)

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

UK: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Rush

Rush

Canada: Tom Sawyer by Rush

Bonfire

Bonfire

Germany: Proud of My Country by Bonfire

TNT

TNT

Norway- Seven Seas by TNT

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen

Sweden- As Above, So Below by Yngwie Malmsteen

Hanoi Rocks

Hanoi Rocks

Finland- Tragedy by Hanoi Rocks

Golden Earring

Golden Earring

The Netherlands: Radar Love by Golden Earring

U2

U2

Ireland- Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2

Loudness

Loudness

Japan- Crazy Nights by Loudness

AC/DC

AC/DC

Australia- Highway to Hell by AC/DC

Note: For Brazil, it would definitely be something by Seputura and France would be a suitable song by Gojira.

While this is meant to be a little bit of fun, I’m sure some of you are cracking your knuckles and limbering your typing fingers to contribute some of your own suggestions. Well, I’m waiting.

Next post: The Scorpions- Blackout

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

Memories of Some Great Rock Clubs

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by 80smetalman

From October 1982 to April 1983, I was stationed on Okinawa although I did spend some time in South Korea and seven weeks near Mt Fuji in Japan. For an emerging young metalhead such as myself, the challenge was to find a good place to unwind and totally rock out. The enlisted club provided very cheap beer and live bands brought over from the Philippines that usually consisted of four or five musicians with a pretty girl on lead vocals. Some of these bands were quite good, others, not so. However, it didn’t quench my desire to find some real hard rock so I had to look elsewhere. The town outside my base, Henoko, didn’t provide anything of the like but there was a town, just a twenty minute bus ride away that did.

Kin

Kin

The town of Kin had several cool rock bars, the most notable of these was called Sgt Peppers. It had a great sound system with several really cool video screens. The best part was that they always played great rock and metal. It was here that I first learned about bands like Saxon, Whitesnake and the Plasmatics. However, they mixed it with some classic rock as well. I remember the live video of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath as well as live footage from Nazereth playing “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog.” The great thing about Sgt Peppers is that whenever you went in, you were never disappointed by the music being played.

One disadvantage with Sgt Peppers was the fact that beer was so expensive, $2.25 for a bottle was rather dear in 1982-3. So, if the funds were running low, I would go one street over to another cool rock bar called Kin Loo. The Kin Loo wasn’t as sophisticated as Sgt Peppers but the beers were only $1.50. Yes, I too wish I could pay those prices for a beer these days. It might not have had the video screens like the other place but the music was still good. The best thing was that you could request what you wanted to hear and they would not just play one song but an entire side of an album. That gave me a chance to reminisce about old favourites and get an idea of anything new. This gave me the opportunity to listen to the album that started my 1983 in great style, The Scorpions, “Blackout.”

Both of these bars were great in helping me unwind from the stresses of military life. I did manage to get to the very south of Okinawa where there was an even larger Sgt Peppers and a club called Condition Green with an in house band with the same name. But that was only the one time so I had to rely on those bars in Kin. Fortunately, they were both able to provide me with what I needed. That’s why I still remember them so fondly after so many years. Unfortunately, unlike the Driftwood, the internet didn’t have any photos of them so I can’t say if they’re still there.

Next post: National Anthems

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