Archive for January, 2018

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1984: Billy Squier- Signs of Life

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2018 by 80smetalman

With all the great metal artists, old and new, releasing stellar albums in 1984, it was only natural that the best American artist not to have cracked the UK put an album out as well. Billy Squier’s “Signs of Life” album came out in the summer of that year and would go platinum. However, I have always been reluctant to call “Signs of Life” a metal album because Billy tries to mesh his hard rock style with what was the current techno sound of the time. He uses a lot more synthesizers on the album and though they don’t make the album suck, I still like it a lot, I do prefer “Emotions in Motion” and “Don’t Say No” to this one.

Everybody identifies “Signs of Life” with Squier’s best selling single, “Rock Me Tonight,” which is on it. Before I got into that, I would like to mention the other tracks that appear here. On the opening riffs of the first track, “All Night Long,” you are led to believe that this is going to be a total Squier metal fest. It is one of the harder tracks on the album and has a pretty cool guitar solo. “Eyes on You” which follows the hit single, goes more into the vein I was talking about. The synths are there but you the hard rock roots which brought Billy Squier to the top still are present. Less keyboards appear on “Take a Look Behind Ya” and the guitars dominate. I do think it would have sounded better if the guitars were turned up a little more. Then it would have been an even cooler rocker, especially the way it ends on a guitar solo.

When I wrote about the Billy Squier concert in “Rock and Roll Children,” I had to pick my sister’s brains as she saw it and I didn’t. During the playing of “Reach For the Sky” she said he used lights that flipped up. Listening to the song, I can imagine that this combination would have been amazing to see and hear. He couldn’t have picked a better song to do this to. However, playing  live, he wouldn’t have had Brian May on stage with him to do the guitar solo on “(Another) 1984” and Mr May does work his magic here. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

On “Fall for Love,” the keyboards are done very well to mix with the music. This is a more mellower song and the keyboards as well as the guitar suit it nicely. On the other hand, “Can’t Get Next to You” is one of the best rockers on the album. The keys are used to compliment the music and are done so sparingly. Again, I think they should have turned up the guitars a little more but that’s me. I think producer Jim Steinman must have had other ideas. Except for Brian’s efforts on “(Another) 1984,” this song has the best guitar solo on it and I sometimes think that this would have made a better closer than “Sweet Release.” I stress, sometimes!

Now onto the single, “Rock Me Tonight.” To be right to the point, I have always liked this song. It’s my fourth favourite Squier song behind “In the Dark,” “Everybody Wants You” and “The Stroke.” See, Billy was great at putting out singles I liked. Back in 1984, I didn’t really clock the effeminate nature behind the video to it. I was too busy rocking out to the song. However, this video is believed to have destroyed his career as a singles artist. It is said to have alienated him from hard rocking males and made him appear ‘gay.’ Unfortunately, this was more down to the narrow minded attitudes of people in 80’s Reagan America than anything else. For me, video or not, I will always like “Rock Me Tonight.”

Track Listing:

  1. All Night Long
  2. Rock Me Tonight
  3. Eyes On You
  4. Take a Look Behind Ya
  5. Reach for the Sky
  6. (Another) 1984
  7. Fall For Love
  8. Can’t Get Next to You
  9. Hand Me Downs
  10. Sweet Release

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers

Jeff Goulb- guitar, slide guitar

Alan St John-keyboards, synthesizers

Doug Lubahn- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Chouinard- drums

Brian May- guitar solo on (Another) 1984

I’ll let you watch the video for “Rock Me Tonight” and make up your own mind.

When I wrote “Rock And Roll Children,” I did so with the intention of showing how narrow minded and intolerant people were back in 80s Reagan America, especially towards metal and metalheads. The fact that everyone stopped taking Billy Squier seriously on account of one video proves my point. People seem to forget that he made three great albums and “Signs of Life” just happened to be one of them.

Next post: Iron Maiden- Powerslave

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Metal Church

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2018 by 80smetalman

Constant vigilance in perusing the heavy metal and imports sections at the local record shops as well as word of mouth from like minded friends played a major role in severing my reliance on commercial radio and MTV for all of my musical needs. Besides, by my calculations, it was in the Autumn of 1984 that both started down that slippery slope into totally sucking. If I had totally relied on that, I might not have ever discovered the debut album from Metal Church. Fortunately, I had a friend, the late ‘Wild Swinging’ Stacy Kroger, (may she rest in peace), who introduced me to the album.

For a young metalhead in the 1980s, Metal Church is a brilliant album to listen to. This is a pure metal album to say the least. In fact, I think there are some features that would influence other metal artists, some of whom would be more successful than Metal Church. King Diamond, you’re one of the ones I’m looking at here. Take the opening track, “Beyond the Black.” It starts with a soft intro where a hoarse whispering introduces things. You know, after all these times, I still can’t fully grasp what the voice is saying. However, you can’t contemplate it more because before you know it, some great guitar work comes in and the song then proceeds to pulverize the crap out of you. Just when you think, you’ve got it under control, there comes a tempo change or two. The fact that the song is over six minutes long has one wondering if it’s the same song, but it is.

Things evolve nicely into the title track which is another metalhead’s dream song. Then comes an instrumental where guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof gets to show off what he can do with a guitar and it’s quite good. However, he’s even more impressive on “Gods of Wrath,” which is in similar style to the opener. A slow start before going into a mad frenzy.  Only this time, he shares the spotlight with the versatile vocals of David Wayne. On this album, Wayne can do it all. Sing almost ballad like and then screams the house down without straining his voice.

The second half of the album carries things over very well while at the same time, surprising you a little. All of the next four songs are why some future fans would call Metal Church thrash or speed metal. They are all very fast songs but the band shows they’re truly up to the task. Then, keeping with unpredictability, the albums ends with a cover of the Deep Purple classic, “Highway Star,” which is done very well at a blistering speed metal pace, or so I thought back in 1984.

Track Listing:

  1. Beyond the Black
  2. Metal Church
  3. Merciless Onslaught
  4. Gods of Wrath
  5. Hitman
  6. In the Blood
  7. (My Favourite) Nightmare
  8. Battalions
  9. Highway Star

Metal Church

David Wayne- vocals

Kurdt Vanderhoof- guitar

Craig Wells- guitar

Duke Erickson- bass

Kirk Arrington- drums

With the success of this debut album from Metal Church, they would be signed by the larger Electra Records and the rest would be history. Still, if you want to hear a band when they were at there lean, mean and hungriest, then I recommend this one.

Next post: Billy Squier- Signs of Life

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

Rest in Peace: Dave Holland

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2018 by 80smetalman

Dave Holland

Well it seems that it’s going to be another sucky year where all the great musicians we all listened to and loved are departing this world. I’m sad to say that former Judas Priest drummer, Dave Holland, who was with the band from 1979- 89 passed away last week, cause of death is still to be revealed.  During his time with Priest, he played on some of their most classic albums like “British Steel,” “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Defenders of the Faith.” FFI go to: https://www.udiscovermusic.com/news/judas-priest-dave-holland-dies/

Rest in Peace Dave!

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Motorhead- No Remorse

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by 80smetalman

 Originally, the 1984 compilation album, “No Remorse” from Motorhead was on the list to be visited a little further down the line. However, with the recent passing of Fast Eddie Clarke, it would only be right and a proper tribute to not only Eddie but all three of the original members of Motorhead who are blowing the eardrums of the angels in that better place, to visit it now.

With all of the heavy metal floating around in 1984, I was certainly motivated into listening to as many heavy metal bands as humanly possible. Motorhead was one of them. I had heard a lot about them by then and wanted to listen for myself. Cue, the compilation album, “No Remorse,” which came out in that year. What an album for anyone unfamiliar with to cut their teeth on! If someone who knew absolutely nothing about Motorhead asked which album they should experience first, I would definitely recommend this one.

“No Remorse” is much much more than some greatest hits album. Sure all the great Motorhead songs up til then are on the album. Hell, it wouldn’t have been right if “Ace of Spades” wasn’t the opener on it. In fact, it would be sacrilege! Then, there all the other great ditties like “Iron Fist,” “Motorhead,” “Jailbait,” “Bomber” and “Overkill.” Most would be content with thrilling the fans with all of those great songs and a few more. No, not Motorhead, with “No Remorse,” there’s twenty four songs. Some are great Motorhead songs, others are recorded live and there’s the bonus of four previously unreleased tracks! So what you get here is a Motorhead party!

It was one of these new songs that would become my all time favourite Motorhead song. That song just happens to be “Killed By Death.” Man, I just love that song. Probably because of the way that guitarists Michael Burston and Phil Campbell just solo all over the song and of course Lemmy’s unmistakable vocals. While some may think it’s a bit more melodic than traditional Motorhead songs, there’s enough raw power in the song to let you know that it is indeed Motorhead playing it. Another great new song from the album is “Snaggletooth.” That was is definitely worth a listen as well.

Track Listing:

Disc One

  1. Ace of Spades
  2. Motorhead
  3. Jailbait
  4. Stay Clean
  5. Too Late, Too Late
  6. Killed By Death
  7. Bomber
  8. Iron Fist
  9. Shrine
  10. Dancing On Your Grave
  11. Metropolis
  12. Snaggletooth

Disc Two

  1. Overkill
  2. Please Don’t Touch
  3. Stone Dead Forever
  4. Like a Nightmare
  5. Emergency
  6. Steal Your Face
  7. Louie Louie
  8. No Class
  9. Iron Horse/Born to Lose
  10. (We Are) The Road Crew
  11. Leaving Here
  12. Locomotive

Motorhead (original line up) 

Lemmy- bass, lead vocals except on “Emergency”

Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor- drums on Disc 1 tracks 1-5 and 7-11; Disc 2 1-5 and 7-11

Fast Eddie Clarke- guitar on Disc 1 tracks 1-5 and 7, 8 and 11; Disc 2 tracks 1-5 and 7-11, lead vocal on “Emergency”

Brian ‘Robbo’ Robertson- guitar on Disc 1 tracks 9 & 10

Michel ‘Wurzel’ Burston- guitar on Disc 1 tracks 6 & 12; Disc 2 tracks 6 & 12

Phil Campbell- guitar on Disc 1 tracks 6 & 12; Disc 2 tracks 6 & 12

Pete Gill- drums on Disc 1 tracks 6 & 12; Disc 2 tracks 6 & 12

Motorhead was going through a lineup overhaul when “No Remorse” was released. Phil Taylor and Brian Robertson had left the band and guitarists Phil Campbell and Michael Burston and drummer Pete Gill would eventually join. Whatever the trouble that was going on in the Motorhead camp at the time, the sheer greatness of “No Remorse” cannot be denied.

Next post: Metal Church

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Saxon- Crusader

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by 80smetalman

My trip through all the great albums of 1984 has led me to make many conclusions about the year, the music and certain bands. Here’s another one. It is my belief that Saxon were the best band from the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), age not to have made a major impact in America. Sure, I had heard of them and even heard a couple of their songs back when I was in the marines stationed on Okinawa and liked them, but I never got around to listening to them properly until early 1985 when I heard their classic “Princess of the Night” from the outstanding “Denim and Leather” album on a metal compilation album. While I did make up for that mistake afterwards, I still think that Saxon never really got the recognition in America they truly deserved.

Onto Saxon’s 1984 album “Crusader.” The problem is that when any band puts out the album one calls their favourite by that band, all other albums are held in comparison to that one. In my case, all Saxon albums are held up to the light shone from “Denim and Leather” and that’s not particularly fair to “Crusader.” What Saxon did on this album is to take all the great things from the one album and recreate it on this album while at the same time not making it a total clone of the former. I think the objective was achieved on “Crusader.”

I love the way “Crusader” opens. It starts with medieval fanfare with galloping horses and all before going into the big title track. For me, it’s history coming to life through music as the story of crusaders is told in the song. It also helps that that period of history is one of my favourite eras. You know, knights on horses hacking down their enemies with swords, damsels in distress and catapults reducing castles to rubble, I love all that. I do think that if teachers play this song while teaching about it in school, more metalheads would wake up and pay attention and learn about all about the Crusades.

Tired cliche alert: One song doesn’t make or break an entire album. The rest of “Crusader” holds up very well and I do hear all the good things done on “Denim and Leather” on it. It’s just that one track, “Just Let Me Rock” seems to take all of those good things and incorporate them all into one song, although the title track of “Denim and Leather” seems to be the biggest influence here and that’s not a bad thing because Saxon definitely did not simply clone that song. On that thought, “Bad Boys Like to Rock and Roll” sounds like a fusion of the “Denim and Leather” tracks “Rough and Ready” and “Midnight Rider” and again, it’s done very uniquely and played outstandingly. The one song where there is no influence from my favourite Saxon album is the power ballad, “Do It All For You.” Power is the key word in the song and it does belt your eardrums even though it’s a ballad. However, the big clincher on the track is the Biff’s vocals. His best effort definitely shines through here.

I usually view covers of songs with a hint of cynicism and I did so with the cover of The Sweet classic, “Set Me Free.” Another cliche alert: Saxon put their own stamp on it and make the song their own, believe me they do. It’s not often that I like a cover as much, possibly more than the original, but I can’t fault Saxon’s efforts here. The answer, I think to why I like this song and all the other songs so much, is the guitar work of Oliver and Quinn. Both guitarists are simply exemplary on the album.

Track Listing:

  1.  The Crusader Prelude
  2. Crusader
  3. A Little Bit of What You Fancy
  4. Sailing to America
  5. Set Me Free
  6. Just Let Me Rock
  7. (Bad Boys) Like to Rock and Roll
  8. Do It All For You
  9. Rock City
  10. Run For Your Loves

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson- bass

Nigel Glockler- drums

While I might have only highlighted a few songs on “Crusader,” let me just say that all the songs make this album great.

Next post: Motorhead- No Remorse

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. Fast Eddie Clarke

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2018 by 80smetalman

Fast Eddie Clarke wailing away

I was hoping, I was nearly praying that in 2018, we would get a reprieve on rockers great and small departing this Earth. It seems it’s not going to be the case this year either. First, there was legendary record producer Rick Hall and I’ve just found out that Baby Metal guitarist Mikio Fujioka died on Jan 5 by falling off a balcony while stargazing. Now we lose Motorhead’s great guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke who died of pneumonia.

It would only be repeating others if I went on about what a great guitarist Fast Eddie was. He made up one third of the great Motorhead and contributed greatly to their early success. Eddie’s death now means that we have an entire band passing on in the last two and a half years. Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor and the great Lemmy himself both died in 2015.

Motorhead- all now wreaking pandemonium in a better place

All that there is left to say is R.I.P. Fast Eddie Clarke and put on a song in his memory.

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Hellion

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2018 by 80smetalman

Upon further reflection back to 1984, I have come to the conclusion that I seemed to be in the right place at the right time when a particular metal band’s song got played on MTV or their album just happened to be on display when I walked past the record store. In the case of this six song EP from American metal artists, Hellion, I don’t exactly remember which one of those scenarios apply. For some reason, however, their name has stuck in my mind for over thirty-three years. In fact, I went through a period wondering if I was confusing Hellion with Helix but thankfully, I wasn’t.

The debut album from Hellion is another cool stereotypical 80s metal album, plain and simple. Things open with the high energy “Break the Spell” and does its job in getting the metal juices flowing. There is a cool opening riff to the song which helps grab your attention before the fast paced action begins. Lead singer Ann Boleyn stamps her vocal authority on things and it all points to a good time had by all. Any doubts otherwise are cast quickly aside by my vote for best track, “Don’t Take No.” This is a slightly less faced paced ditty but the power behind the melody is attention grabbing. So is the little drum solo at the beginning. Again, Boleyn’s vocals shine and there’s also of course, the obligatory killer guitar solo and that’s why this song gets my vote.

“Backstabber” takes things up a notch with its speedier riffs. On this song, Ann proves she has a very good voice provided she doesn’t try to scream so much. On this track, her voice fits the music very well and a decent guitar solo is heard. Furthermore, the band do a good job in the backing vocals department on it. Another cool intro gets, “Looking for a Good Time” going in the right direction and that leads to a good steady metal tune with all the fore-mentioned elements present. That, in turn, leads to the next track, “Driving Hard,” where the change of tempo does wonders for the song and if the guitar solo was a little longer, it would have been the best one on the album. “Up From the Depths” closes the party with it’s theatrical intro/cool guitar solo intro before it belts out mayhem. Definitely the best song to close the album, the guitar solo makes that clear. If I’ve discovered anything about this album, the songs are definitely arranged in the correct order.

Track Listing:

  1. Break the Spell
  2. Don’t Take No
  3. Backstabber
  4. Looking for a Good Time
  5. Driving Hard
  6. Up From the Depths

Hellion

Ann Boleyn- throat

Alan Barlem- guitar

Ray Schenk- guitar

Sean Kelly- drums

Bill Sweet- bass

After this debut EP, Hellion would disappear for a few years. Wendy Dio would eventually take the band under her wing but that’s for another time. So is the mistake to fire Ann Boleyn and bring in a male vocalist. So, there won’t be any more Hellion posts until I get to 1987 so have a listen to this debut and enjoy.

Next post: Saxon- Crusader

To get Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html