Archive for March, 2017

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Go Go’s- Talk Show

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2017 by 80smetalman

Cause and effect here: From what I remember, the third album from The Go Go’s received hardly any radio airplay although the first single, “Head Over Heels” got a decent video play on MTV. That is the effect, the cause was because I think “Talk Show” is the best of their three albums in the early 1980s. They had matured as a band by this album and while the music is still in the pop-rock, new wave vein, their playing had really improved and why it’s my favourite Go Go’s album.

Of all five ladies who comprised the band, the one whose musicianship really struck me was that of lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey. I’ll be the first to admit that she doesn’t hold a candle to Girlschool’s Kelly Johnson in the female lead guitarist sweepstakes, she does some okay solos on the tracks. “Turn to You,” “Beneath the Blue Sky” and “You Thought.” She also plays keyboards and her best efforts if probably on “Head Over Heels.” Fair play, Caffey is a very underrated musician for sure. Speaking about underrated, I think that drummer Gina Schock is much better drummer than what she’s given credit for. All drummers reading this are welcome to comment here.

Actually, I think “Talk Show” is heavier than their previous albums, “Beauty and the Beat” and “Vacation.” The songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph are all fairly hard. Not metal but they are hard enough to be a step up, “Turn to You” especially. “I’m the Only One” is even harder though. It almost explodes onto you at the beginning and that is kept up throughout the song making it the hardest rock song on the album. Plus, it has Caffey’s best guitar solo. Okay, it’s my favourite track on the album. “Capture the Light” is pretty good as well and “Mercenary” is a cool closer that gives further support to my feelings in Gina Schock’s drumming.

Track Listing:

  1. Head Over Heels
  2. Turn to You
  3. You Thought
  4. Beneath the Blue Sky
  5. Forget That Day
  6. I’m the Only One
  7. Yes or No
  8. Capture the Light
  9. I’m With You
  10. Mercenary

The Go Go’s

Belinda Carlisle- lead vocals

Charlotte Caffey- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Jane Wiedlin- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Kathy Valentine- bass, backing vocals

Gina Schock- drums, percussion, backing vocals

It is possible that “Talk Show” being my favourite Go Go’s album was why they broke up after it. I hope it’s not the case but after 1984, the Go Go’s would be no more. Lead singer, Belinda Carlisle would have a successful solo career towards the end of the decade, (I’ll cover those albums in due time) and Jane Wiedlin would have a couple of hits but for me, she’ll always be Joan of Arc in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Still, the end of the road for a band that was just discovering how good they could be.

Next post: A Poll

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 1984: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Normally, I tend to go off artists who have too many commercial radio hits, especially if they altered their sound in order to gain that commercial airplay. Fortunately, I can’t say the same for The Pretenders with their album, “Learning to Crawl.” There are a good number of songs on this album which I remember getting a good amount of play on radio and more so on MTV. Some even breached the Top 40! Do you know what the best part is? The Pretenders made little or no change to their sound. They simply did what they did so well on their first two albums and in my not so humble opinion, they did it better on “Learning to Crawl.”

Let’s start with the songs we do know. “Middle of the Road” was the first single I remember hearing when the album was released in January, 1984. At this stage in my life, I was becoming very politically aware and found myself seeking out music with political overtones. While The Pretenders aren’t really a politically motivated band, the lyrics of “Middle of the Road” did get my attention. Also the fact that it’s a good straight forward rocker and very worthy to be the opener.

Although it was released as a single in 1982, (see my posts on one hit wonders of 1982), “Back on the Chain Gang” was included on the album. Even more reason for me to like it and what’s more, they didn’t change the song for the album. It’s still my all time favourite Pretenders song of all time. I was surprised to see that the ballad like, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” only reached 83 on the US charts. I did remember hearing it a lot at the time and it often gets used in romantic films.

One song that I can identify with more and more theses days is “My City Was Gone.” On this song, Chissie Hynde laments how her home town of Akron, Ohio has changed beyond recognition. I can feel for her on this one. Since I’ve been living in the UK, every time I return to New Jersey for a visit, I see that it has changed. At first, it was just less woodland and like in the song, more shopping malls. However, the arrow through my heart happened in 2001 when I went to my childhood stomping ground of Wildwood. All my favourite amusements, especially the walk through pirate ship, were gone and replaced by go-cart tracks. It was then I realized my childhood had died. During the same visit, I discovered the woods I used to build forts in, (that’s dens for my UK readers), was bulldozed down for new housing. So Chrissie, I can feel for you on that song.

Now for the non hits. I say non hits but there is a definite, I heard this before feel whenever I listen to “Time the Avenger” and “Show Me.” I’m talking about those songs themselves, I can’t remember hearing either one anywhere else but the album but they give me the feeling otherwise. The band goes a little country with “Thumbelina.” I was used to frequent a bar that had live country music back then because it was staggering distance from my house and that song wouldn’t have been out of place if had been played there. “I Hurt You” is a solid song and the closer, “2000 Miles,” does get some airplay around Christmas time.

Track Listing:

  1. Middle of the Road
  2. Back on the Chain Gang
  3. Time the Avenger
  4. Watching the Clothes
  5. Show Me
  6. Thumbelina
  7. My City Was Gone
  8. Thin Line Between Love and Hate
  9. I Hurt You
  10. 2000 Miles

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica

Robbie McIntosh- lead guitar, backing vocals

Malcolm Foster- bass, backing vocals

Martin Chambers- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Billy Bremner- lead guitar on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City was Gone,” rhythm guitar on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Tony Butler- bass on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone

  • Andrew Bodnar- bass on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Paul Carrack- piano, backing vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Three weeks into 1984 and things were starting off very well musically for this year. The “Learning to Crawl” album from The Pretenders was part of that.

Next post: The Go Gos- Talk Show

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 1984: The Alarm- Declaration

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by 80smetalman

In very early months of 1984, when MTV was still playing lots of good music, one song definitely caught my attention. It wasn’t metal, not even hard rock. If I were to categorize it, something I don’t like doing, I would say it was post punk or new wave. Categories and labels a side, what I knew for sure was that I really liked the song “Sixty Eight Guns” by the Alarm. This song was a true anthem for me at the time and I still find myself singing it after all these years. The guitars were hard enough for my tastes but the way the chorus was belted out totally blew me away.

“Sixty Eight guns will never die

Sixty Eight guns our battle cry.”

As I’ve said many times, I will not buy an album on account of one song so you have to know that the rest of the album kicks just as much ass as the feature song. Most of the first half of “The Declaration” are straight ahead new wave rockers and really cook. I do detect a little Irish folk influence in the track “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke.” Then again, when doing further research on the band, I discovered they were Welsh, so I’m not surprised at this. “We Are the Light” is an acoustic track but even that doesn’t limit the powerful vocals of lead singer Mike Peters. For years, I have underestimated his vocal ability, I’ll never do that again.

“Shout to the Devil” is not a Motley Crue cover but very intelligently combines the acoustic flavour of the previous track and the more powerful sounds of the previous songs. Again, it’s very catchy. “Blaze of Glory” is also a good anthem like “Sixty Eight Guns” and like that song, I found myself wanting to sing along to the chorus. Only the lyrics aren’t quite as straight forward as “68 Guns.” I can at least sing the first part over and over, “Going out in a blaze of glory.” I do like how they use the horns on it. “The Deceiver” has an eerie introduction before going into a fast acoustic track with some good harmonica played on it. In fact the second side, isn’t quite as hard rock as the first but that doesn’t diminish the quality of “The Declaration” in the slightest.

Track Listing:

  1. Declaration
  2. Marching On
  3. Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke
  4. Third Light
  5. Sixty Eight Guns
  6. We Are the Light
  7. Shout to the Devil
  8. Blaze of Glory
  9. Tell Me
  10. The Deceiver
  11. The Stand
  12. Howling Wind

The Alarm

Mike Peters- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica

Dave Sharp- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Eddie MacDonald- bass, guitar, backing vocals

Twist- drums, percussion, backing vocals

When I listen to “The Declaration” I wonder why The Alarm didn’t get more commercial success. Some misguided people did say that they were too much like U2 but I never thought so. They were unique enough to avoid that. So, I wonder if it’s down to the discovery I made about them in the early summer of 1984, they were born again Christians. True, Christian rock was getting more attention at this time, something I’ll talk about in a future post, but I don’t hear any obvious Jesus lyrics in any of the songs that would frighten off listeners. For me, The Alarm’s “The Declaration” defined the direction I was heading in 1984 and it’s still a great album.

Next post: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

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

 

 

 

 

 

Announcements and News

Posted in Concerts, Death, Heavy Metal, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2017 by 80smetalman

Famous deaths in 2016 weren’t just limited to rock stars, (looks like 2017 is heading in the same direction). I was also saddened to learn last night that my childhood hero who wasn’t a rock star also passed away in 2016. Ice hockey legend, (if you’re a fanatical Philadelphia Flyers fan like myself), Rick MacLeish passed away on May 30 last year from multiple complications, he was 66. Born in Lindsay, Canada in 1950, Rick was the first Flyer to score 50 goals in a season and scored the winning goal in Philadelphia’s first Stanley Cup victory. Even hearing about it ten months on, I am saddened to hear of his passing.

R.I.P Rick MacLeish

On a much happier but surprising note, I have to announce that I won’t be attending the Bloodstock Festival this summer. Other commitments have gotten in the way plus this year, I think the Download Festival in June has a line up more to my liking. I understand that for hardcore metal fans that this is an act of treason but I will definitely share my experiences from the Festival on here.

 

 

 

Great Pop Albums of 1984: Julian Lennon- Valotte

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2017 by 80smetalman

I’m taking a lead from a post from Rich and posting about one of my not guilty pleasures. By 1984, I was in full heavy metal mode and it might surprise some that I would even entertain a pop sounding album. My counter is that having been (and still am) a big fan of The Beatles, I thought an album by the son of the great John Lennon, whose life had been so tragically snuffed out just over three years prior, was worth a listen. To be frank, I do like Julian Lennon’s debut album, “Valotte.” While it’s called pop on Wikapedia, I have always and will continue to call it mellow out rock because that’s what it exactly is.

Julian’s old man’s influence can be heard straight away on the opening title track of the album and its head rises now and again throughout the album. My first reaction to the opening track was that he was trying to sound like his father and while there isn’t anything wrong with that, I was wondering on my first listen way back then that would there be any originality from the son. I can say there is. On the track, “On the Phone,” there is a venture near the waters of progressive rock and I do like the intro. The next track “Space” is an appropriate title for that song, It does sound rather spacey and goes even further into the prog rock zone.

“Well I Don’t Know” is for sure a pop tune but it does have the only true guitar solo I can discern on the album. (There is some lead guitar bridges in other songs but that’s all.) Unfortunately, as I am no longer in possession of the album and Wikapedia doesn’t say which guitarist plays the solo, we’ll never know. The next pop song is the big single from “Valotte” called “Too Late for Goodbyes,” which got a lot of play on radio and MTV at the time. Listening to it again after so many years, I do notice that he does walk the tightrope between sounding commercial pop and his father’s influences rather well. It is probably the best tune for a radio hit. But I much like better, songs like “Lonely” with the cool sax solo which is the highlight of this mellow tune. “Say You’re Wrong” goes more into 80s synth pop and while not terrible, is unspectacular. “Jesse” is the hardest track on “Valotte.” It’s not heavy, not even close, but there is an upbeat tempo and some cool guitar bridges on it. The closer, “Let Me Be” is interesting. It’s a kind of ragtime piano tune that’s only just over two minutes but it is the best way to close the album out. I think Julian might have been going for a non serious exit here.

Track Listing:

  1. Valotte
  2. O.K. for You
  3. On the Phone
  4. Space
  5. Well I Don’t Know
  6. Too Late for Goodbyes
  7. Lonely
  8. Say You’re Wrong
  9. Jesse
  10. Let Me Be

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon- lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards, drums

Justin Clayton- guitar

Carlton Morales- guitar

Barry Beckett- keyboards

David Lebolt- keyboards

Peter Wood- keyboards

Roger Hawkins- drums

Steve Holley- drums, percussion

David Hood- bass

Marcus Miller- bass

Carmine Rojas- bass

Robert Mac Donald- percussion

Rory Dodd- backing vocals

Eric Taylor- backing vocals

Jon Faddis- trumpet

Joe Shepley- trumpet

Michael Brecker- saxophone

George Young- saxophone

Lawrence Feldman- saxophone

Ron Cuber- saxophone

Guest Musicians

Jean ‘Toots’ Theilmans- harmonica on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Martin Briley- guitar on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Dennis Herring- guitar on “Jesse”

In one respect, Julian Lennon couldn’t win with the critics on “Valotte.” The either said he was trying to be too much like his father or not enough. While his father’s influence is there, he does have his own stamp on the album, even if it is a very mellow album. While I wouldn’t listen to it travelling to or from Bloodstock, if I was younger, I would use it in the same ways teenage boys used “Beth” by KISS in the 1970s or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in the late 80s. The album is all right.

Next post: The Alarm- Declaration

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 1984: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

Posted in Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2017 by 80smetalman

Maybe U2 were trying to follow in the lead of Blackfoot in the sense that after three albums, release a live album. The difference here is that the three Blackfoot albums are all considered classics while the same can’t be said for the three U2 albums. Now don’t get me wrong, I like all three of these albums, “Boy,” “October” and “War.” However, the first two didn’t propel them to stardom the way “War” did. “Boy” turned my head in their direction but when I mentioned U2 to others, I mostly got blank stares. “October,” on the other hand, is U2’s best kept secret. Not a lot of people seem to know too much about the album but I’ve always liked it. “War” goes without saying, it made the band a worldwide name. It is on the back of “War” that the live “Under a Blood Red Sky” album was released.

When most people think of this live album, they automatically assume it’s from the filmed concert “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky,” it’s not. The songs are live but recorded separately from concerts in Colorado, Boston and Germany. Furthermore, the filmed concert is nearly and hour and a half long while the album consists of just eight songs and is just over thirty-five minutes.

Ironically, the album starts with the best known song from the “October” album, “Gloria.” Probably a good opener as any for U2 at this stage of their career. What’s more, the next two songs are off the “Boy” album but then, “I Will Follow” is my all time favourite U2 song and it’s played very well. The crowd really get into it and if I had been there, I would have too. The fourth song, “Party Girl,” doesn’t appear on any of the albums but it’s still okay. Remember, back in 1983, U2 were still hungry and making their mark on the music world and all of the songs reflect that on the album.

It’s not until song five we get anything from the “War” album and that is the phenomenal “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” My second favourite U2 song and the way it’s played here is pure magic. Next is another good song from the debut album in the form of “The Electric Co.” For me, it’s played just as well live as when I hear it on the “Boy” album. Were there studio fixes here?  I can’t say. The last two songs from “War” take the album out brilliantly. First is the fantastic “New Year’s Day” and there is no better song for them to close a concert with than “40.” When I saw them in 1985, they would close the show with that song and it was mind blowing. I have to say that “Under a Blood Red Sky” takes me back to another time and almost seemingly another U2 because they were actually good but it hadn’t gone to their heads yet.

Track Listing:

  1. Gloria
  2. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  3. I Will Follow
  4. Party Girl
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  6. The Electric Co
  7. New Year’s Day
  8. 40

U2

Bono- lead vocals, guitar

The Edge- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, bass on “40”

Adam Clayton- bass, guitar on “40”

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

“Under a Blood Red Sky” may not go down as one of the greatest live albums in history but it’s still a good album. Especially if you like U2 when they were more hungry and less with the ego.

Next post: Julian Lennon- Valotte

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 1984: Van Halen- 1984

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

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