Archive for June, 2016

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet Project

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Starflet3pq

Here’s another album that would have passed me by hadn’t been for MTV. The single from Queen guitarist Brian May’s album, (yes I know it’s really an EP) “Starfleet Project” was never played on radio, at least not on my local station in New Jersey and this was before it degenerated into a top forty station. I remember the video for “Starfleet.” It looked like something out of “The Thunderbirds” with the puppets and stuff. The science fiction theme to the video added to it. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the video but I loved the song and thus, had to get the EP.

From the video to "Starfleet"

From the video to “Starfleet”

Now you have probably noticed that the album is from Brian May and Friends and boy did Brian choose the right friends to help him record this. He got Eddie Van Halen to accompany him on the guitar and Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon fame to do the honours on the drums. Those names right there should tell you that what you are about to hear is totally going to blow you away and they do.

There might only be three songs on the album but they are three memorable ones, plus the fact that the shortest of these three is still over seven minutes made “Starfleet Project” an album in my book back then. Starting with the title track, it is the more commercial of the three. Brian shows that he knows his way around a keyboard a little bit but he still does some great guitar work on the song. I had always suspected from his Queen days that he could sing and he clearly shows it here.

Track two is the more bluesy “Let Me Out.” Here, May and Van Halen really start to go to town with the solos. They are so good that I can never remember what Brian wants to be let out of. However, it’s the third track that takes you to Neptune and beyond. Here we have the two mentioned guitar greats paying tribute to another guitar god, Eric Clapton, with “Blues Breaker.” When that happens you are guaranteed nothing short of guitar heaven. For nearly thirteen minutes, Brian and Eddie go back and forth trading off guitar solos, each one as good as the last. There is a short break in the action for a bit of ivory tinkling from Fred Mandel but things go back to the blistering solos. This song alone makes the entire album a must have.

Track Listing:

  1. Starfleet
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Blues Breaker
Brian May

Brian May

Brian May- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums

Phil Cohen- bass

Freddie Mandel- keyboards

Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Starfleet”

Queen might have been taking a hiatus in 1983 but Brian May wasn’t. He went well above and beyond and showed his true talents on this album.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Infidels

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.80smetalman.wordpress.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 1983: Don Felder- Airborne

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Felder_airborne

Having acquired MTV in 1983, I found, at the time, a more reliable source than radio to keep me informed of new music. If it hadn’t been for this revolutionary new TV station that showed music videos 24/7 and informed viewers of news in music, then the album “Airborne” by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder would have most likely passed me by.

One very good reason for this was that MTV showed the video to the single from this album, “Bad Girls” while I never recall hearing the song played on radio. I remember the video quite well because not only “Bad Girls” was a decent song, but it also featured a guest appearance by Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame. Then again, Don Felder had already gotten my attention two years earlier with his phenomenal song, “Heavy Metal” from the soundtrack to the film of the same name. If I was to try to rank solo songs by all the members of the Eagles, “Heavy Metal” would definitely be number one.

hevmetmov

“Airborne” has no such powerful heavy metal anthems like the one I have mentioned from the above soundtrack. Saying that, the album tends to chart the waters of melodic hard rock and is very similar to some of the songs he co-wrote with his former band mates when he was in The Eagles. The first half of the album is pure evidence of this but all of the tracks are nicely done. While I cite the Eagles influence, I am not left thinking, “why don’t I just put on “Hotel California” when I listen to “Airborne.”

Track five, “Never Surrender” appeared on the soundtrack of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” If you remember when I covered the soundtrack, I thought it was a very good album but shame the movie sucked. But, I digress yet again. With the tracks following “Never Surrender,” he does get more adventurous. “Asphalt Jungle” and “Night Owl” are more in the blues fashion and in my view the two best tracks on the album. While Felder rips out some great guitar solos and bridges with every song, his best efforts are on these two tracks and the closer. He really just lets himself go on these and really shines.

Track Listing:

  1. Bad Girls
  2. Winners
  3. Haywire
  4. Who Tonight
  5. Never Surrender
  6. Asphalt Jungle
  7. Night Owls
  8. Still Alive
Don Felder

Don Felder

Don Felder- guitar, vocals, synthesizer, keyboards

George ‘Chocolate’ Perry,Greg Hawkins, Nathan East – bass

Jeff Lorber, Michael Murphy- keyboards

Joe Vitale- keyboards, flute, drums

Albhy Galuten, Anthony Marianelli- synthesizers

Carlos Vega, Ross Kunkel, Tris Imboden- drums

Paulino da Costa- percussion

James Pankow, Lee Loughnane- horns

Dave Mason, Kenny Loggins, Timothy B Schmidt- backing vocals

“Airborne” by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder is probably the best hidden gem from 1983. When I listen to it, I ask myself why this album didn’t make more of an impression on people. Maybe it was just the way things were back then because this is a very good album. Felder was just a good singer/song writer as the rest of his compatriots from the Eagles and he is one hell of a guitarist as well.

Next post: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet

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 1983: Quarterflash- Take Another Picture

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2016 by 80smetalman

Take_Another_Picture_(album)

Been filled with paranoia the past few days, worried that my credibility as a metalhead has been destroyed for posting the Bonnie Tyler album. Let’s just say that in 1983, while I had declared myself to be a total metalhead, there was enough non metal material around that I liked. Most of which, I have already posted about and though I didn’t miss anything from not buying Bonnie’s “Faster Than the Speed of Night” it wasn’t that bad. Besides, there are a ton of metal albums from this year waiting to be posted.

For those who have been following me for a while, you might remember that during my tour of 1981, I stated that the band Quarterflash were one hit wonders in said year for their enormous hit, “Harden My Heart.” Nothing else they ever recorded reached my attention nor do I remember hearing anything played on the radio. Note: Commercial radio didn’t completely suck in 1983. Like the last three albums I have visited, someone suggested I write about Quarterflash’s 1983 album, “Take Another Picture.” So, thanks to Youtube, I have given it a couple of listens and can post about it. Before I write anymore, given a choice, I would have bought this album before the Bonnie Tyler one.

With “Take Another Picture,” Quarterflash don’t seem to veer very far from the formula that made them big with their self titled debut album. Quite a few of the songs remind me of “Harden My Heart” and that’s not a bad thing. Quoting an article I read about the band in 1982, there is a smoky jazz feel to many of the songs on the album and it fits in nicely to the rockier edge they have as well. The combination is nicely done and the best example is the track “Nowhere Left to Hide. “Take Me To Heart,” and the title track and follow the jazz/rock formula much more and I do get the feeling that I have heard those to songs somewhere before. On the other hand, “Shakin’ the Jinx” and “One More Round to Go” are good rock tunes with the latter song having a cool guitar solo. The rest of the tracks fall somewhere in line between those two points with “Make It Shine being the median. It could have easily be a rock single with its anthem feel. So why wasn’t it released as one?

When I posted about Quarterflash on the 1981 tour, I mentioned that back then, many people identified lead singer Rindy Ross as the next Pat Benatar. She looks a little like Pat and her voice sounds similar and she plays the saxophone as well. However, there is only one Pat Benatar so I chose to point out that Rindy was talented musician in her own right.

Track Listing:

  1. Take Me to Heart
  2. Take Another Picture
  3. Shane
  4. Eye to Eye
  5. It Don’t Move Me
  6. Shakin’ the Jinx
  7. Make It Shine
  8. One More Round to Go
  9. Nowhere Left to Hide
  10. It All Becomes Clear
Quarterflash

Quarterflash

Rindy Ross- vocals, saxophone

Marv Ross- guitars

Jack Charles- guitars

Rick DiGionallardo- keyboards

Rich Gooch- bass

Brain David Willis- drums, percussion

I’m surprised “Take Another Picture” by Quarterflash managed to escape my attention. Possibly because they were bigger in the Northwest than in the Northeast. I don’t know. What I do know is that while it is an enjoyable album, it’s not one I would have completely rocked out to. None of the tracks, with the possible exception of number 9, have me singing them long after they are finished. Maybe that was down to me turning into such a metalhead at the time.

Next post: Don Felder- Airborne

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 1983: Bonnie Tyler- Faster Than the Speed of Night

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2016 by 80smetalman

Bonnie_Tyler_-_Faster_than_the_Speed_of_Night

When I first heard the big single, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from Bonnie Tyler back in 1983, I thought it was okay. Nothing spectacular, just okay. On some occasions, back then when I was in a bar where a top 40 covers band was playing or just had the same on the juke box, it was a welcome break from all the Michael Jackson stuff. In any case, the song wasn’t enough to make me go out and buy her album, “Faster Than the Speed of Night.” Recently, however, someone suggested that I post about it, so being a fair minded person, I gave it a couple of listens and am ready to deliver my verdict.

To be very honest, I don’t think I missed much by not purchasing the album, still if I had, I wouldn’t have beaten myself up over making the same mistake as when I bought the Chris De Burgh album. The album starts out well enough with a decent cover of the CCR classic, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Again, I say it’s a decent cover but it doesn’t make me want to put my CCR albums away and never listen to them again. I do have the title track to the album on a rock compilation CD. It doesn’t stand out from the other songs on that album but it does on Bonnie’s album of the same name. I like it more than her most well known hit, which I’ve already named.

The rest of the album is nothing is nothing spectacular. Like Credence, I still prefer Bryan Adams’s version of “Straight From the Heart.” The one thing I did pick up on and liked is that there are some good guitar sounds on this album. It redeems run of the mill tracks like “Goin’ Through the Motions” and “Tears.” Naturally, I had to look and see who the guitarist was and to my surprise, it was none other than Rick Derringer. That explained it all. It is Rick who manages to save what would have been a lackluster album.

Track Lsting:

  1. Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
  2. Faster Than the Speed of Night
  3. Getting So Excited
  4. Total Eclipse of the Heart
  5. Its a Jungle Out There
  6. Goin’ Through the Motions
  7. Tears
  8. Take Me Back
  9. Straight From the Heart
Bonnie Tyler

Bonnie Tyler

So, there’s my verdict on Bonnie Tyler’s album “Faster Than the Speed of Night.” It’s not the first album I would pick up after listening to Anthrax and Slayer in conjunction in order to give a melodic balance to things. I never rated Bonnie Tyler as a brilliant singer. There are a few of her songs I liked but this album doesn’t convert me into a Tyler fan.

Next post: Quarterflash- Take Another Picture

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 1983: Loverboy- Keep It Up

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2016 by 80smetalman

KeepitupLB

Before I begin, let me thank a gentleman named Damien for coming in with the big save. While my memory of the 1980s is pretty good or at least I like to think so, there have been some big albums I have probably missed out. If it hadn’t been for Damien, I would have missed out on the live Pat Benatar album and the “Keep It Up” album from Loverboy.

The first two tracks from the album brought all of the memories flooding back to me. I remember “Hot Girls in Love” back in the day and thought it was a really cool song, it still is and I curse my memory for letting it slip. The same with “Strike Zone.” This is one of the harder songs on the album and takes me back to their first album. I do like the guitar work on this song, praise be to Paul Dean on it. Probably why it’s my favourite track on the album.

Many of the other songs on “Keep It Up” in my mind, attempt to straddle the line between 1970s progressive rock and 1980s synth pop. Take track three for instance. “It’s Never Easy” has a really cool progressive style keyboard intro and has me thinking, well done. Then the song goes into that pop sort of feel and this seems to be accented by the vocals. I don’t know if Mike Reno is trying to sing a ballad or a rock song here. Still the song is redeemed with another great Dean guitar solo and it ends with the progressive keyboards that match the beginning.

“Queen of the Broken Hearts” is another example. A good song but for me it’s a case of Meatloaf’s “I’ll Do Anything for Love” meets Loverboy’s own “Working for the Weekend” from the “Get Lucky” album.  It might sound like a strange combination here but somehow it works and works well. I think that’s the theme of “Keep It Up.” It is more keyboarded and not as hard rock as Loverboy’s previous two albums but it’s still enjoyable.

Track Listing:

  1. Hot Girls in Love
  2. Strike Zone
  3. It’s Never Easy
  4. Chance of a Lifetime
  5. Queen of the Broken Hearts
  6. Prime of Your Life
  7. Passion Pit
  8. One Sided Love Affair
  9. Meltdown
Loverboy

Loverboy

Mike Reno- vocals

Paul Dean- guitar, vocals

Doug Johnson- keyboards

Scott Smith- bass, vocals

Matt Frenette- drums

Loverboy’s third album is not quite as good as the first two but it’s still a good album nonetheless. While the attempt to straddle the line isn’t completely successful, it’s not a failure. If it wasn’t for the over saturation of keyboards, this would be a good hard rocking album. Still, at least I got to rekindle the memory of “Hot Girls in Love.”

Next post: Bonnie Tyler- Faster Than The Speed of Night

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 1983: Pat Benatar- Live From Earth

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2016 by 80smetalman

Live_from_Earth_(Pat_Benatar_album_-_cover_art)

For many artists, it is almost natural that after making four great studio albums that they put out a live album. That’s exactly what Pat Benatar did in 1983 with “Live From Earth.” All of the great classics from her previous albums are all on here and all are done with such intensity, it has left me regretting the fact that I have never seen her live. Listening to the album and viewing some of the concert footage on YouTube, I know Pat would have been amazing. If any of you at there have seen Pat Benatar in concert, I would love to read about your experiences.

“Live From Earth” was recorded in California and France during her sold out tour for the “Get Nervous” album and has the two tracks “I Want Out” and “Looking For a Stranger” and both sound fantastic live. The strange phenomena is the fact that the two best known tracks “Shadows of the Night” and “Anxiety” are absent on the record, although they both appear on the VHS version released two years later. Still, those tracks not being there doesn’t spoil the rest of the record. I mean how could it with such great Benatar classics like “Heartbreaker,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Fire and Ice,” need I go on?

In spite of “Live From Earth” being a great hard rocking live album, some have pointed to it as the turning point for her move away from the heavy rock albums that made her the queen of rock from 1980-2. I’m talking about the single “Love is a Battlefield.” To be honest, I’ve never hated this song but is completely different from what I had heard from her in the past. It is definitely a typical 1980s synthesizer pop song in some respects but with Pat’s voice, I found it impossible to dislike.

Track Listing:

  1. Fire and Ice
  2. Looking For a Stranger
  3. I Want Out
  4. We Live For Love
  5. Hell is for Children
  6. Hit Me With Your Best Shot
  7. Promises in the Dark
  8. Heartbreaker
  9. Love is a Battlefield
  10. Lipstick Lies
Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- lead vocals

Neil Giraldo- guitar, backing vocals

Charlie Giordano- keyboards

Roger Capps- bass, backing vocals

Myron Grombacher- drums

The question remains: Did “Live From Earth” mark the turning point for Pat Benatar from being a feisty hard rocking rock queen to a trendy top 40 performer? Possibly but after listening to this incredible live album, I don’t really care. I just prefer to sit back and hear all the great Benatar rock classics played so well live and have a small regret of never having been to one of these concerts.

Next post: Loverboy- Keep It Up

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 1983: Heart- Passionworks

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2016 by 80smetalman

Passionworks

One of the great things I remember musically about 1983 was that Heart was back! For many, including myself, their 1980 album “Bebe Le Strange,” as good as it was, signaled the end of Heart as we knew it. Their 1982 album “Private Audition” failed to make an impact on anyone, me included there as well, which was why it got left out of the albums of that year. In the Autumn of 1983, the first single, “How Can I Refuse,” came to my attention thanks to the late night TV programme, “Video Rock.” When I heard it, I loved it. True, that song hasn’t the rocking power of classics like “Barracuda,” “Crazy On You” and “Magic Man,” but it still rocks for me. In fact, it’s number four on my favourite Heart songs list behind the three giants I have mentioned.

“How Can I Refuse” isn’t the only cool rocker on the “Passionworks” album, there are quite a few other good ones. “Blue Guitar,” “Beat By Jelousy,” “Sleep Alone” and “Heavy Heart are all great rock outs and the standouts for me on the album. “Sleep Alone” is definitely a trip back to Heart’s heavy days of the 1970s and “Beat By Jealousy has some really cool guitar hooks. True, there are more synthesizers used here as was the 80s trend but that doesn’t detract from the quality one iota. Ann Wilson’s voice is as great as it had ever been and would continue to be years after. As for Nancy, I feel a bit sexist for not including her among my list of great rhythm guitarists. She definitely belongs there!

Apart from all the great rocking to there are also three ballads and as any Heart fan can tell you, Ann’s voice can sing anything very well. “Johnny Moon” and “Language of Love” bear tribute to the fact. However, there is one ballad here that stands above everything. I even put it above the great power ballad, “Just Between You and Me” by April Wine. What’s more, there isn’t even a guitar solo in the song, so it must be that good for me to like it. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about “Allies.” Play that song, and I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and I mean whatever and just rock out to it. It is the ballad of ballads in my view. The ballads with the rock, plus the song “Together Now” bridging them together, make “Passionworks” a brilliant album.

Track Listing:

  1. How Can I Refuse
  2. Blue Guitar
  3. Johnny Moon
  4. Sleep Alone
  5. Together Now
  6. Allies
  7. (Beat by) Jealousy
  8. Heavy Heart
  9. Love Mistake
  10. Language of Love
  11. Ambush
Heart

Heart

Ann Wilson- vocals

Nancy Wilson- guitar, vocals (lead vocal on track 9)

Howard Leese- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Mark Andes- bass, backing vocals

Danny Carmassi- drums

“Passionworks” paved the way for Heart to comeback in 1983. This album put their hard rock sound into a more marketable 1980s style without old fans like me saying they sold out. Often unremembered, this album is far better than what it has been given credit for.

Next post: Pat Benetar- Live From Earth

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