Archive for January, 2017

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Savatage- Sirens

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-savatage_sirens_original_cover

UK Version

UK Version

“Sirens,” the debut album from one of my favourite bands of all time, is probably the only album released in 1983, which I actually own on CD. All the others, are either on vinyl or cassette. Plus, my copy is the 2011 remaster which has three really good bonus tracks. The reason for this is that they didn’t come to my attention until I saw them live in support of Ted Nugent in 1986. I was impressed with their music although I have to admit at the time, Jon Oliva’s vocals that evening didn’t totally bowl me over. However, that was enough to check out their album at the time, “The Power of the Rock” and I liked it. For some reason, I never inquired of any records before that and while I bought all the subsequent albums, I didn’t realize they had albums preexisting Power. Curse me for a fool but now I’ve fully rectified that.

Let’s pretend for a moment, I did things properly and bought “Sirens” when I should have. I would have still been totally impressed with this album and the band and would have loved them from that point. If I heard this and their other three albums before I had seen them live, I would have simply assumed that Jon was having a off night and enjoyed their show that much more. That is because “Sirens” has all the qualities which have made me a mad ‘Tage follower.

One problem I have discovered from listening to a CD in the car is that driving distracts you from properly listening to the album. I have always liked it when I listened while driving but I often missed the intricate little details that Savatage put in their songs and only now that I am listening it in the house, do I fully appreciate how good it is. Every song on the track radiates classic Savatage from the almost mysterious opener, “Sirens,” to the closer, “Out in the Streets.” Each song has it’s own identity while reminding you who’s singing and playing the song. If I have to pick favourites, it has to be “Scream Murder,” which barely beats out the closer.

For all my lack of impression of Jon’s vocals when I saw ‘Tage that evening in July, 1986, he sounds fine on “Sirens.” Even that shriek he is more famous for on “Hall of the Mountain King” is done very nicely on the title track here. He sound even more mental (in a good way) on “Rage.” Therefore, while even the hardest Savatage fan, if that’s not me, knows that Jon’s vocal ability is limited, he does very well with what he has here. As for brother Criss, his best guitar solos are on the last two tracks, probably why they’re my favourite, he does some really catchy hooks throughout the album. His solo on “I Believe” is quite good too. While the brothers Oliva show their stuff here, the rhythm section of Steve Wacholz on bass and Keith Collins on drums do their part in making this album so good. Hearing the album as I have the past few days, I think it knocks “Handful of Rain” off the number five spot on my list of favourite Savatage albums.

Track Listing:

  1. Sirens
  2. Holocaust
  3. I Believe
  4. Rage
  5. On the Run
  6. Twisted Little Sister
  7. Living for the Night
  8. Scream Murder
  9. Out on the Streets
Savatage I couldn't find a photo of this lineup online so I scanned the back cover of the CD

Savatage
I couldn’t find a photo of this lineup online so I scanned the back cover of the CD

Jon Oliva- shrieks of terror, vocals

Criss Oliva- metalaxe, guitars

Steve ‘Dr Kildrums’ Wacholz- barbaric canon, bass

Keith Collins- the bottom end, drums

Savatage’s debut album might have escaped my notice in 1983 but I did eventually get to listen to it. I slightly regret not getting “Sirens” then as it would have been the beginning of my loyal devotion to this band. However, no use fretting because even though it is such a great album, Savatage would go onto to bigger and better things. Still, what a great springboard to launch from.

Next post: Raven- All For One

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: Fastway

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-fastwaylp

Fastway first came to my attention in 1983, when I discovered they were supporting AC/DC on their “Flick of the Switch” tour. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to that concert, I was in between jobs at the time and had been to see the mighty Black Sabbath with Quiet Riot the week before, so I couldn’t afford to go. Shame because I would have to wait another two years before I saw AC/DC live and although, they had a great support act then, (Yngwie Malmsteen), it would have been nice to see Fastway as well. Besides, it’s not greedy wanting to see AC/DC twice in your lifetime.

Their debut album is one reason I wished I could have seen Fastway live. In a past post, I used the phrase rockabilly. No, Fastway aren’t that, instead I would upgrade their sound from this to metalabilly. There, I just invented a new word, I think. Their is a catchy country type vibe with some of the songs but that vibe is enhanced by some great hard crunching guitars. Then again, the guitarist is none other than Fast Eddie Clarke from Motorhead fame. The best example of this is on the track, “All I Need is Your Love.” It is definitely metalabilly, (I’m going to try to use that word as much as possible in this post), but Clarke does hammer out a good guitar solo.

For the most part, there isn’t much I can say about the debut album from Fastway that hasn’t probably been said before or I’ve said about other albums from other bands. All the elements of a good album are present here. “Easy Livin'” is a good attention grabbing opener, especially with the metalabilly sound coming through almost straight away. There are some more harder metal sounding tracks on the album in the form of “Another Day” but even on that one, Fastway put their mark on it. One track that is certainly different is “Heft.” That song is what some would call “way out there.” There is the hard bluesier hippy feel to the song. One that you would listen to in the same vein as you would listen to a Pink Floyd album, but Clarke’s hard crashing guitars on it remind you who is actually playing the song.

With “We Become One,” since it was released as a single, one might be inclined to think it would be some sort of metal anthem. That song doesn’t quite come up to anthem status but it’s still a cool song. There is a little left over from “Heft” in it and while it’s still a cool metal song, I can see why commercial radio would have ignored it. More fools them I say. If any song comes anywhere to being an anthem, it’s got to be the next track, “Give it All You Got.” I think that one would have fared better on radio and I like how the song ends. It leads perfectly to my favourite track on the album, “Say What You Will.” The best was to describe it is even more metal metalabilly, (there I used it again). I like the little lead guitar bits during the verses, which lead to another killer solo before all coming together for a great metal climax.  The penultimate track is okay but nothing to get over excited about. It keeps things ticking over nicely for the more memorable closer, “Give it Some Action.” That is unless you own the original vinyl or later CD pressings which include the bonus track, “Far Far From Home.” Having it on cassette, I didn’t get the bonus track but no matter, I enjoyed the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Easy Livin’
  2. Feel Me, Touch Me (Do Anything You Want)
  3. All I Need is Your Love
  4. Another Day
  5. Heft!
  6. We Become One
  7. Give it All You Got
  8. Say What You Will
  9. You Got Me Runnin’
  10. Give it Some Action
  11. Bonus track, not available on all releases: Far Far From Home
Fastway

Fastway

Dave King- vocals, harmonica

Fast Eddie Clarke- guitars

Jerry Shirley- drums

Mickey Feat- bass (uncredited)

While I’ve been singing the praises of Fast Eddie Clarke on the album and it’s deserved, I have been ignoring the other two members of Fastway and that’s unfair because both of them deserve their share of the credit on why their debut album is so good. King’s vocals are impressive, especially as I finally got around to listening to the missing bonus track. Had it been included on all copies of the album, it might have done better in the sales department. Jerry Shirley proves he’s a tidy drummer and deserves as much praise as well. With all three coming together, Fastway created a very cool first album.

Next post: Savatage- Sirens

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Trump’s Presidency Usher in a New Wave of Heavy Metal?

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by 80smetalman
Donald Trump

Donald Trump

I read a post on a blog, which my buddy 1537 reminded me of in his post last night, that the Presidency of the newly elected Donald Trump may usher in a new wave of heavy metal. With his ultra conservative politics, there will be a lot of angry musicians out there who will be inspired to write a lot of songs about Trump and the political/social climate that might generate from it. From that, a resurgence in heavy metal might just come about. Plus history can back it up.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Let’s begin by going back to the 198os when the US President was another ultra conservative, Ronald Reagan. During the decade, for which he was in office for most of, there was a heavy metal explosion. First there was the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), which filled the early part of that decade. Inspired by that, many American metal bands emerged, I don’t feel I have to name them all. Towards the end of Ronnie’s presidency, we had the onslaught of thrash, a custom blend of punk and heavy metal. Even the PMRC, who operated with Reagan’s behind the scenes positive nod, failed to stop the heavy metal onslaught. It could also be why the 80s was the golden age of heavy metal. It also gave me good amount of inspiration when I wrote “Rock and Roll Children.”

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Reagan’s successor, George HW Bush was a liberal Republican and that coincided with a downward trend in heavy metal. That continued well into the presidency of the more liberal Bill Clinton. We had the grunge period and a lot of great 80s metal acts kind of drifted into near obscurity during the 1990s. I say near but not total, I do remember some great metal from old and new acts but metal was definitely stuck in a rut during this decade. In fact, I heard former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra once say that many members of hardcore punk bands in the 80s, in the 90s, went back to California, got computer jobs and started driving BMW’s. Maybe, there wasn’t anything to be angry about during Clinton’s presidency.

George W Bush

George W Bush

That all changed with the election of George W Bush in 2000. A new wave of ultra conservative politics brought on a new wave of heavy metal. The fragmented factions of metal, whether it by nu metal, Viking metal, black metal etc, established themselves back on the world music stage. They seemed to put aside their differences and come together for the common metal good. Furthermore, gaining inspiration from their 1980s elders, many of the bands from the golden decade also made a comeback. Again, we see right wing politics ushering in a new surge in heavy metal.

Barrack Obama

Barrack Obama

Obama’s presidency did bring the heavy metal surge to a more calming trickle. Fortunately, the lessons of the 1990s were learned and heavy metal didn’t go underground. While no new ground has been gained during the more liberal years of Obama, none has been lost either. What may have happened is that metal had become insular with metalheads finding sanctuary with each other. Metal now rests upon a springboard, ready to jump into any direction. If the person, I voted for, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, had been elected, metal would have gone in a more artsy direction. Not much chance of that happening.

Now we have Trump, who many believe to be extremely right wing, racist, sexist and a few other ists as well. So the question to be asked is “Will Trump’s presidency lead to a new resurgence in heavy metal? The answer will soon be made known to us. Things are promising to heat up in the heavy metal world and I am very excited to see what will become of it.

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: Metallica- Kill’Em All

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-metallica_-_kill_em_all_cover

God, I’m thinking about the near fatal gaff I made back in the summer which would have caused me to write about this fantastic album in the wrong year. Never should have allowed myself to have been misled by Hit Parader. Then again, the article wasn’t about Motley Crue so they were bound to be misleading. Furthermore, I didn’t hear of Metallica until 1984 and experienced their second album before this one. Anyway, now that’s history, I can pontificate on what a great album, “Kill’Em All,” Metallica’s debut album really is.

It certainly is a great album. Back in 1983, Metallica were hungry and not weighted down by what they thought listeners wanted or dictated to by corporate record producers. That fact surely shines through on the entire album. Some have argued that this album came out when Metallica were good. Nah, I say they’re still good, it’s just back then, they just didn’t give a fuck. That attitude was what got this album and their next three into hearts of many a metalhead like me.

“Kill’Em All” might not sound as polished as other albums but that’s a good thing here. It opens with a thrash sounding “Hit the Lights,” which opens things up very nicely. If I had listened to it when I should have, I would have embraced thrash right then and there. Probably my favourite track on the album, “The Four Horsemen,” defines what Metallica both were and would be come. The song may be over seven minutes long but it’s not one that has you looking at your watch waiting for it to end. Especially with all the changes in it. “Motorbreath” has my favourite Kirk Hammet guitar solo from the album on it.

After “Jump in the Fire,” which is a good song, I just can’t explain why, comes the very intriguing bass instrumental compliments of the late, great Cliff Burton. It’s very interesting to say the least and it paves the way for some more really good thrash tunes. There’s a cool intro on “Whiplash” while “Phantom Lord” is straight ahead thrash and my second favourite here. Things only seem to improve on “Kill’Em All” after that. I love the intro to “No Remorse” with the lead guitar wailing away before the crunching rhythm sets in. A trademark that many thrash bands have copied ever since. Hearing it, I am of the mindset that Kirk owes some of his lead guitar greatness to the rhythm support provided by James Hetfield. Things don’t end there! The albums closes out with not one but two great songs, “Seek and Destroy” and “Metal Militia.” Both are great! It can be said that in 1983, Metallica thrust themselves and thrash upon America.

Track Listing:

  1. Hit the Lights
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Motorbreath
  4. Jump in the Fire
  5. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
  6. Whiplash
  7. Phantom Lord
  8. No Remorse
  9. Seek and Destroy
  10. Metal Militia
Metallica

Metallica

James Hetfield- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Kirk Hammet- lead guitar

Lars Ulrich- drums

Cliff Burton- bass

Whether or not the world was ready for it, Metallica brought something new and fresh with “Kill’Em All.” A raw, ferocious sound that would influence many thrash bands for years to come. I do regret not listening to the album in the year it came out but I’m glad I got it now.

Next post: Fastway

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: KISS- Lick It Up

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

Kiss_band

Coming out of the marines in 1983, I was a much different person than when I went in four years earlier. Not only had I changed but a lot of things in the world around had changed too. Around the four month mark after becoming a civilian, while watching the TV show, “Video Rock,” a song with a vaguely sounding voice began singing a song that to me sounded rather promising. Then the programme flashed up the artist and song title and it was at this point, I learned that KISS had come out of make up and that would forever be what I would most remember 1983 for in the musical sense.

I had already warmed to KISS after hearing their previous album, “Creatures of the Night” so the song played on the video, “Lick It Up” was no surprise and I quite liked it. Therefore, KISS continued their journey back into my acknowledgement. Before that and though I never really mentioned here but have done so in other blogs, I ignored KISS during the late 1970s. Some could argue that they didn’t put out anything worthy during that time but that wasn’t it for me. I ignored them because I was going through deep religious phase back then. One of my fellow Christians stated that KISS was an anagram for Knights In Satan’s Service and I believed it. So, I avoided them on the misguided belief they were Satan worshipers. I won’t go into details here but if you want to read more about it then here it is:  https://peacefulrampage.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/my-confusion-of-religion-and-music/

I’ve heard all the talk about the unmasked 80s KISS not being the best period in their history. I won’t enter into that debate. I would be the first to admit that “Lick It Up” doesn’t quite reach the heights of classics like “Destroyer” or even “Creatures of the Night” but for me, “Lick It Up” was the right album at the right time. Plus, say what you like, but it’s better than their attempts at sounding more commercial in the early 198os.

Something I have always loved about any album is when the ‘hit’ single is not the best track on it. Although there are plenty of albums I like that are exception to this. “Lick It Up” is not the best song on the album that bears its name. There are several tracks which are better. Let’s start with my personal favourite, “Young and Wasted.” Of course the song title brought me much amusement, especially that they applied to me quite a bit during that time. However, I like the more aggressive intro this and several other songs on the album I rate higher than the title track. For “Young and Wasted,” it just seems to be done the best. On “Not for the Innocent” and “Gimme More,” I can hear the Vinnie Vincent influence on the guitar. “Dance All Over Your Face” is a really cool tune and “And on the Eighth Day” closes the album out rather well. A great majority of the songs on “Lick It Up” just seem to be in your face cool rockers. Say what you will about this album, but I quite like it.

Track Listing:

  1. Exciter
  2. Not for the Innocent
  3. Lick It Up
  4. Young and Wasted
  5. Gimme More
  6. All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose
  7. A Million to One
  8. Fist Like a Glove
  9. Dance All Over Your Face
  10. And On the Eight Day
KISS

KISS

Paul Stanley- rhythm guitar, lead vocals

Gene Simmons- bass, lead vocals

Eric Carr- drums, backing vocals

Vinnie Vincent- lead guitar, backing vocals

Vinnie Vincent would leave KISS after this album. According to which camp you belong to, he was either fired or left on his own accord. He would go onto put out a solo record which I will definitely visit when I hit 1986. As for KISS, for me, “Lick It Up” was their way completely back into my attention and they would continue to be there for a long time.

Next post: Metallica- Kill’Em All

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: Tank- This Means War

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by 80smetalman

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Whenever a group of bands are identified with a certain area and style of music, there are those who stamp their names as standard bearers of that music but if you look down the list, there are many other bands in that group who typify that style but don’t get the recognition they probably deserve. For example, when Southern Rock was at its commercial hey day in the very early 1980s, bands like Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, 38 Special and Blackfoot were the bands people identified with that form of rock. Not many would be able to identify Doc Holliday, Johnny Van Zant Band or Mother’s Finest to name just a few and they were just as good as the ones previously mentioned.

The same applies to the new wave of British Heavy Metal, (NWOBHM), which came out right after. Living in the US at the time, I knew and adored Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, Def Leppard but bands like Diamond Head, I only knew because I had seen them live. As for Tank, they came to my attention because I just happened to see one of their albums in the import section of my local record store. It wasn’t the one I’m posting about now.

To be honest, I didn’t listen to “This Means War” until I actually came to Britain and that was late 1986. A new friend who we nicknamed ‘Trendy Bastard’ because he dressed a little too much like Bon Jovi, had an extensive collection of music and one night, treated us to the album. It definitely made an impression on me because although I never bought this album, it has stuck in my mind for all these years.

All of the elements of NWOBHM are present on “This Means War.” When I listen to it, I hear influences from Motorhead and Judas Priest. The songs are fast paced but not at a real break neck speed. Still, the power and rhythm combine to make them catchy. Algy Ward’s vocals sound closer to that of Rob Halford and done competently.  Guitars are also done well, prime example being “I Won’t Ever Let You Down,” though I’m not quite ready to add Peter Brabbs and Mick Tucker to my guitar list. The best examples of what I’m talking about are the tracks, “This Means War,” “If We Go, We Go Down Fighting,” “Just Like Something From Hell” and “Echoes of a Distant Battlefield.”

Track Listing:

  1. Just Like Something From Hell
  2. Hot Lead, Cold Steel
  3. This Means War
  4. Laughing in the Face of Death
  5. (If We Go) We Go Down Fighting]
  6. I Won’t Ever Let You Down
  7. Echoes of a Distant Battlefied
Tank

Tank

Algy Ward- bass, vocals

Peter Brabbs- guitar

Mick Tucker- guitar

Mark Brabbs- drums

Was it because so many British metal bands were gaining status in the US the reason why Tank got left out? While they might not have been as spectacular as the greats who did achieve, they were still a cool band and as “This Means War” proved to me, they deserve some recognition.

Next Post: KISS- Lick 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 Metal Albums of 1983: Mercyful Fate- Melissa

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by 80smetalman

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My first experience of  the 1983 “Melissa” album from Danish metal band Mercyful Fate didn’t come until early 1985 when I heard the best known song from the album, “Black Funeral” on a compilation album. During that time, I constantly heard the Jesus brigade going on about how the lyrics of rock songs all have hidden Satanic messages that mess with your subconscious. Well, it is safe to say that there are no such hidden subversive lyrics in the song, “Black Funeral.” No, instead lead singer King Diamond just comes out and sings “Hail Satan.” I’ve loved that song ever since.

“Black Funeral” isn’t the only song on the Melissa album that has straight forward messages from the Dark Lord. There are lyrics in most of the songs here that grab my attention and fill me with much amusement. Take the second track, “Curse of the Pharaohs.” Those lyrics, “Don’t touch, never ever steal unless you’re in for the kill or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs” Continue to make me smile. After that is “Into the Coven” with, “Come, come into my coven and become Lucifer’s Child.” The penultimate track, “Satan’s Fall” gives two different sets of lyrics to amuse. The first is “Bring me the blood of the unborn child.” The second greatly amused my roommate at University in London and upon hearing it repeated “Satan’s still alive.” With all of these, one my think that I have upside down crosses on my front lawn and an altar in my backyard where I sacrifice chickens, goats and virgins to Satan. I don’t because like so many millions of people, song lyrics don’t effect me like that.

Satanic lyrics is only one reason to like this album. The music on “Melissa” is of top quality. Most metalheads know the unmistakable voice of King Diamond and his ability to go from a deep, low growl to his high pitched harmonies. On this album, he is probably at his best. However, what has gone less noticed is the guitar work of both Michael Denner and Hank Shermann. Not only do they hammer out some cool solos throughout the album, there is some nice little guitar breaks in the songs as well. Two more to add to the list of under appreciated guitarists. Furthermore, this is the only album that I know where the first three tracks all have catchy riffs. The opening riffs in “Evil” definitely grab your attention and when the song ends, the opening riffs to “Curse of the Pharaohs” keeps things moving. That’s not all, the medieval sounding opening lead guitar intro to “Into the Coven” is done very nicely. So, all in all, this is an album to enjoy the music while being amused by the lyrics.

Track Listing:

  1. Evil
  2. Curse of the Pharaohs
  3. Into the Coven
  4. At the Sound of the Demon Bell
  5. Black Funeral
  6. Satan’s Fall
  7. Melissa
Mercyful Fate

Mercyful Fate

King Diamond- vocals

Hank Shermann- guitar

Michael Denner- guitar

Tim “Grabber” Hansen- bass

Kim Ruzz- drums

Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” album was my first true indoctrination into black metal and it had the effect of getting me hooked on it. For me, it was the right album at the right time.

Next post: Tank- This Means War

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