Archive for August, 2019

Great Metal Albums of 1985: Fastway- Waiting For the Roar

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2019 by 80smetalman


In the ongoing attempt to sell more records, one strategy many rock and metal bands tried to do in achieving this end, in the mid 1980s, was to incorporate synths in their music. Strangely enough, this was how I learned that Fastway had a new album out in 1985. They were trying to be more radio friendly. The weird thing is I’m not totally sure which track it was of two possible candidates. I think it was the second track, “Kill Me With Your Heart” but it could have been the third track, “Tired of Your Love.” However, after my mandatory three listens, it leads me to think it was the former.

By the end of 1985, I was already aware of this tactic employed by bands. Night Ranger had done it already, so I wasn’t surprised at the heavy keyboard influence when I heard the Fastway track on the radio. Fortunately, I was enough aware that once I heard the song on the radio, I wasn’t quick to say that Fastway sold out and was open minded enough to give the “Waiting for the Roar” album a go. This turned out to be a decision I would not regret.

While the opening riffs of “The World Waits for You” give evidence that Fastway haven’t totally forgotten their hard rocking roots, this opening track does go more synth as it progresses and at seven minutes, I think it’s too long to be an opening track. “Rock On” down at track seven would have made a far better opener because the song does what the title suggests.

It is after the first three more synthed out tracks that “Waiting for the Roar” really kicks into gear. “Change” leads this charge with it’s heavy blues based, Pink Floyd influenced vibe. While it sounds like it might be a ballad, there is some intricate guitar work on the song and the keyboards take a back seat. It’s also the first track where Fast Eddie Clarke is let off the leash to do what he does best with his guitar.

Things only get harder from there with the cover of the Janis Joplin classic, “Move Over.” I think Janis would have been proud of how the band covers this song. With the next few songs going down the same hard rock road, it could be conceivable as to why “Rock On” is where it is. If I put it as the opener, it wouldn’t have been a straight swap with the one that is the opener. It does keep the chain of heavy rock songs going. Eddie’s best solo in found on the “Girl” and by the time “Back Door Man” closes the album, you almost forget the synths in the first three tracks.

Track Listing:

  1. The World Waits for You
  2. Kill Me With Your Heart
  3. Tired of Your Love
  4. Change
  5. Move Over
  6. Little By Little
  7. Rock On
  8. Waiting For the Roar
  9. Girl
  10. Back Door Man

Bonus CD Track:

Doin’ Just Fine



This is the only photo I could find of this band. That’s why two members are missing in this picture

Dave King- lead vocals

Fast Eddie Clarke- lead guitar

Shane Carroll- rhythm guitar

Paul Reid- bass

Alan Connor- drums

Additional Instruments:

Terry Manning- synthesizers, backing vocals

In 1985, metalheads quickly learned not to judge the bands they knew on what they heard on the radio. Those songs were meant to be radio friendly. Instead, listen to the album and you’ll hear that the band hasn’t abandoned what you liked about them. This was certainly the case with Fastway and “Waiting for the Roar.”

Next Post: Y & T- Down for the Count

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to:










Great Metal Albums of 1985: Manowar- Sign of the Hammer

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2019 by 80smetalman


Manowar’s fourth album, “Sign of the Hammer,” escaped my notice for more than thirty years. Back in the mid 1980s, no one I knew spoke about the album. They all said how great Manowar’s first two albums were and how that the third album, “Hail to England” wasn’t as good as its predecessors but no mention of this one. It might have been because “Hail to England” wasn’t as good as the first two but I highly doubt that because while I agree with the earlier synopsis on the third album, in no way did I think it sucked. Even if I did, I would have written off the third album as a bad day and given the fourth album a chance. Still, it baffles me how “Sign of the Hammer” escaped my notice for so long because it’s such a good album.

Maybe Manowar also agreed that the third album wasn’t as good because they return more to their first two albums with the sound here. From the ‘You’re gonna listen to this’ feel of the opening track, “All Men Play on Ten” through the very progressive metal closer, “Guyana (Cult of the Damned), this album is one big metal party. You have the more straight-forward metal sounding “Animal” to the fantasy filled “Thor (the Powerhead), which is the best track on this album by the way. I love Eric Adams’s sometimes over the top vocals and the guitar work of Ross the Boss on the the track.

At the midpoint, we get another proggy metal song with “Mountains.” With the acoustic intro and the ballad sounding vocals, it starts off sounding it’s going to be such. Even if you were expecting a thundering guitar and bass with hammering drums to come into the song at any time, it’s still a bit of a surprise when it does. Once you get your head around that, it goes back to being ballad-like. The constant changes do make you listen to the song that much closer. Although, I’m not sure about the guitar solo.

“Sign of the Hammer” and “The Oath” are great metal tunes done in the Manowar style and they keep things progressing beautifully here. Ross takes total control on the penultimate track, “Thunderpick” with a guitar instrumental. I’ve always considered him a good guitarist and I’m a little bummed that I wasn’t able to go see him at Bloodstock this year but he does shine here. The closing track is about the mass suicide by the Jim Jones cult in Guyana but the progressive metal makes it cool and a great closer for this album.

Having listened to “Sign of the Hammer” several times now, I come to the conclusion that Manowar pulled out all stops to make sure that it was going to be a great album and to me, it is. You get the sometimes over the top vocals of Adams done with pure enthusiasm. The guitar work of Ross is present throughout with some cool intros on many of the songs all backed by a tighter than ever rhythm section of DeMaio and Columbus. All come together to make a great album.

Track Listing:

  1. All Men Play on 10
  2. Animal
  3. Thor (The Powerhead)
  4. Mountains
  5. Sign of the Hammer
  6. The Oath
  7. Thunderpick
  8. Guyana (Cult of the Damned)


Eric Adams- lead vocals

Ross the Boss- guitar, keyboards

Joey DeMaio- bass

Scott Columbus- drums

How come this great album passed me by? Why didn’t anyone tell me about how great “Sign of the Hammer” was? I can’t answer these questions but what I do know is that I’m glad I got to finally listen to it.

Next post: Fastway- Waiting for the Roar

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to:






















Great Metal Albums of 1985: Grim Reaper- Fear No Evil

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19, 2019 by 80smetalman


Keeping with my promise from my last post where I brought you heaven compliments of Stryper, this post I’m bringing you hell in the form of English heavy metal band, Grim Reaper and their second album, “Fear No Evil.” To be honest there is nothing really Satanic about any of the songs on the album. However, the band’s name along with their 1984 debut album, “See You in Hell” was enough for religious fanatics and the PMRC to brand them as such.

The closest to Satanism is the title track which proves to be a good way to open the album. Apart from that, there are no lyrics to make me sacrifice chickens, goats and teenage virgins to the Dark Lord. Take track two for example, “Never Coming Back” is a break up song and I think this particular break up is final because Steve Grimmett constantly sings he’s never coming back and leaving here for sure. In the case of other songs, “Rock and Roll Tonight” would be a logical choice for the band to use to open a live set. If I had ever seen them live, this track would have had me on my feet. The lyrics are rather cliche about rock and rolling all night but it is done to a strong metal vibe. I’m not sure about the lyrics of “Matter of Time” but it does feature a cool guitar solo. “Fight for the Last” seems to be an anti- war song and “Thunder Road” is definitely not Satanic though it is a great straight forward metal jam. Then, there’s the hidden gem, “Lay It On the Line.” It starts with some great power chords and then comes the clunking bass line and right in line with it, more power chords and Grimmett’s vocals. Top it off with another cool guitar solo from Nick Bowcott and you do get a great song.

There are some possible exceptions to the above. “Lord of Darkness” could be seen as a possible Satanic song and then the closer, “Final Scream.” This begins with a spoken segment about an apparent stubborn child refusing to go to bed but we quickly learn from the voice of the father that the child, Michael (not me), is actually 26 years old and has a child’s intellectual capacity. It does sound a bit spooky when you listen to it so the PMRC might have had a problem with it.

Track Listing:

  1. Fear No Evil
  2. Never Coming Back
  3. Lord of Darkness (Your Living Hell)
  4. Matter of Time
  5. Rock and Roll Tonight
  6. Thunder Road
  7. Lay It On the Line
  8. Fight For the Last
  9. Final Scream

Grim Reaper

Steve Grimmett- vocals

Nick Bowcot- guitar

Dave Wanklin- bass

Marc Simon- drums

Question for the day: Was Grim Reaper the British version of Anvil? They played in the same circles as the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon and Venom but for some reason, never really made it like the others in the metal world. Their debut album alone showed their potential and while “Fear No Evil” isn’t quite as good as that one, it’s still a very enjoyable metal album.

Next post: Manowar- Sign of the Hammer

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to:












Great Metal Albums of 1985: Styper- Soldiers Under Command

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2019 by 80smetalman


Having had previous experience in Christian Rock in 1984, I knew exactly what to expect when “Soldiers Under Command” from Christian metal band Stryper made its appearance. I had loved their previous EP, “Yellow and Black Attack” so I was a little excited to hear they had a full length album coming out. What I didn’t expect was the commercial success it would go on to enjoy. I even remember seeing the video for the title track on MTV. “Soldiers Under Command” was the first Christian Rock album to go gold.

Stryper disproved the myth some of misguided individuals that Christian rock bands were second rate musicians who turned to making religious music to gain some sort of audience. Obviously, these people had never heard of Kerry Livgren from Kansas fame but I digress. Michael Sweet is one of the best vocalists in music, period. He can hit the high notes and the low ones with considerable ease. His brother Robert and Tim Gaines make a good rhythm section as any. As for guitarist Oz Fox, he can bend the six string along with the best of them. To quote lyrics from one of their songs, “Jesus makes me want to sing.” If that’s the case, then Jesus definitely makes them sing and play well so full marks to the Son of God.

Whether it be one of the seven metal blasters or the three ballads, Styper prove they have the goods. While the title track has always been my all time favourite Stryper tune, the rest of the album is very good. Unlike some, I have never been put off by the Jesus lyrics, it’s what made them unique. For me though, the hidden gem on the album has always been the track, “Surrender” with “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” a close second. These tracks prove that you can sing about God in heavy metal and it will sound good. “Surrender” boasts Fox’s best guitar solo on the album.  Stryper does surprise you with a total out of the blue cover of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It’s done as a ballad but the way it’s done ends the album on a definite high.

Track Listing

  1. Soldiers Under Command
  2. Makes Me Want to Sing
  3. Together Forever
  4. First Love
  5. The Rock That Makes Me Roll
  6. Reach Out
  7. (Waiting For) A Love That’s Real
  8. Together as One
  9. Surrender
  10. The Battle Hymn of the Republic


Michael Sweet- lead vocals

Robert Sweet- drums

Oz Fox- guitar, backing vocals

Tim Gaines- bass, keyboards, backing vocals, piano

Whatever you feel about their religious beliefs, one can’t deny that Stryper definitely pack the heavy metal goods. “Soldiers Under Command” proves that one can even headbang for Jesus.

Back in 1985, I used to listen to this album along with Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” album calling it my ‘Heaven and Hell’ moments. Since I have already visited Mercyful Fate’s classic album and I’m feeling a heaven and hell moment:

Next post: Grim Reaper- Fear No Evil

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Rough Cutt

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2019 by 80smetalman


Rough Cutt gained attention in 1985 when they supported Dio in the US on Dio’s “Sacred Heart” tour. The band was managed by Wendy Dio so looking back, it was only natural they went along on tour with her husband’s great band. But did they produce the goods on tour? My personal verdict was that while they didn’t suck, they didn’t have me wanting to run out and buy their debut album either. They were very ordinary.

Having experienced a band who didn’t impress me when I saw them live, (I’m talking about when I saw Onslaught at Bloodstock last year), but giving their recorded material a listen on Youtube and liked it, I thought I’d give Rough Cutt the same chance. Did it produce the same result? Let me answer that with a story. In the very early years of this century, I found myself back in the dating game in between my two marriages. During that time, I dated one woman a couple of times where all the ingredients of a potential relationship was there. We got on well and had lots in common and stuff like that. However, despite it all being there, there was no spark. The ingredients didn’t light the fire. However, we did become friends. This comes into to play with Rough Cutt’s first album. This band had all the goods to make some great metal. However, in the case of this album, there was no spark.

I have been racking my brain as to why this album lacks such spark. All five members of the band do their jobs well, one can’t fault the musicianship. There are some good little hooks on it, like on the opener, “Take Her” and “Dreaming Again” and “You Keep Breaking My Heart” both have everything I find good in a great power ballad. The Dio era Black Sabbath influence can be heard in “Cut Your Heart Out” and is a fast paced rocker. “Dressed to Kill” is a potential commercial metal single but I never heard it on the radio. “Black Widow” is a slower more progressive song containing some great chords and vocals. With all of this on the album, I should be headbanging away to this album until I get a stiff neck but for some reason, I don’t.

The two best tracks are the two covers. “Never Gonna Die” was a cover of a minor hit by The Choirboys in 1983. It’s the second best song on the album but the best track by far is the cover of the song made famous by Janis Joplin, (she didn’t write it), “Piece of My Heart.” Rough Cutt took this song and totally metalized it. For me, it proves that this band had what it took to be great. One could conclude that the band just weren’t good song writers. I can’t hear any evidence of that either, especially when Ronnie and Wendy Dio both contribute to writing some of the songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Take Her
  2. Piece of My Heart
  3. Never Gonna Die
  4. Dreaming Again
  5. Cut Your Heart Out
  6. Black Widow
  7. You Keep Breaking My Heart
  8. Kids Will Rock
  9. Dressed to Kill
  10. She’s Too Hot


Rough Cutt

Paul Shortino- vocals

Amir Derakh- guitar

Chris Hager- guitar

Matt Thor- bass

Dave Alford- drums, backing vocals

Having had a logical think about Rough Cutt, my theory as to the lack of spark of their debut album is that perhaps they tried to be all things to everyone metal. In a decade where people wanted to pigeonhole music, this album doesn’t do that. That might be why they slipped into oblivion and while I am one not to categorize and appreciate music for what is good, it still doesn’t do much for me. I think it’s because everything Rough Cutt does on this album has been done before.

Next Post: Styper- Soldiers Under Command

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Dio- Sacred Heart

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2019 by 80smetalman


For far too long I have heard people complain how Dio’s third album, “Sacred Heart” wasn’t as good as their first two albums, “Holy Diver” and “The Last in Line.” Okay, I agree with that train of thought, this album doesn’t quite reach the mark set by those other two killer albums but in no way fathomable way does it suck either. It doesn’t even come close to sucking!

One could accuse me of being slightly biased because in 1985, I had become a die hard Dio fan and may have thought that Ronnie James was God. When “Sacred Heart” hit the shelves of my local record store, my friend, who was also named Mike and whom I based the Mario character on in “Rock and Roll Children,” and I were there to buy it. He bought it on cassette while I chose vinyl. The cassette was put onto the tape deck of my car so I got to listen to a couple of tracks on the short drive home and we were both impressed.

My theory as to why Dio opened the album with a live sounding track is because they did put on a kick ass live show back then and wanted to treat their listeners to those memories. “King of Rock and Roll”does deliver. Following on is the title track and my favourite one on the album. It definitely gets my vote for hidden gem and I thought it fitting that when they played it live on the “Sacred Heart” tour, it was during this song when the mechanical dragon made it’s appearance on stage. That spectacular memory still gives me shivers.

Although not filler, “Another Lie” bridges the gap between the title track and the one song which can be identified as the biggest song which inspired me to write “Rock and Roll Children.” Need I state the title of the track here? Dio helped capture the true feeling of how metalheads were discriminated against and sometimes victimized for their musical and lifestyle choices. He puts those feelings into music so eloquently.

I had prior experience of “Hungry for Heaven” thanks to the “Visionquest” soundtrack but I am glad it was included on the album. Better here than on a soundtrack with Madonna on it. Now, some say that the rest of the album is strictly filler, again, I don’t agree. The only track that might fit is the penultimate “Fallen Angel” but even that has some good moments on it. On “Like the Beat of a Heart” I have always loved the Ronnie’s opening lyrics, “Tonight we run, we can hide in the night with light of the dying sun.” The song reminds me of “Straight Through the Heart” and “Invisible” from the “Holy Diver” album. Maybe it’s a combo of the two. In addition, I have always found the closing track, “Shoot Shoot” very entertaining. Played well with some amusing lyrics. However, I don’t know that if someone actually ever pointed a gun at me, I would say those words. It does end the album very well, even with the twee gunshots and confirms my belief as to how good this album actually is.

As a result of the album’s lack of commercial success, Ronnie James Dio would blame much of it on guitar player Vivian Campbell, who he fired midway through the tour. Ronnie went on to claim that it was like Vivian wasn’t there for the recording of the album. I can’t help think that Ronnie was being a bit too harsh here. There are some good solos from Vivian on the album so it wasn’t that. I think the main reason for its lack of success was the fact that metal had served its purpose as far as mainstream music was concerned and radio or record companies weren’t too bothered with promoting it. Just my thought anyway.

Track Listing:

  1. King of Rock and Roll
  2. Sacred Heart
  3. Another Lie
  4. Rock and Roll Children
  5. Hungry for Heaven
  6. Like the Beat of a Heart
  7. Another Day
  8. Fallen Angels
  9. Shoot Shoot


Ronnie Jame Dio- vocals

Vivian Campbell- guitar

Jimmy Bain- bass

Claude Schnell- keyboards

Vinnie Appice- drums

Despite what the doom merchants have said about “Sacred Heart,” I still love this album. Sure it’s not their best but following two great albums such as “Holy Diver” and “The Last in Line” would be a daunting task for any band. Dio comes close with this one.

Next post: Rough Cutt

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Great Metal EP’s of 1985: King Diamond- No Presents For Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2019 by 80smetalman


I had only just discovered Mercyful Fate in 1985, so I was a little saddened to hear that they had broken up that year. Months later, sadness turned to joy when I was looking at a catalog for metal albums and saw that former lead singer, King Diamond, had what I thought was a new album out. It turned out that “No Presents For Christmas” was not an album at all but only a single with a b-side. That didn’t keep me from getting it.

These days, the intro of the main song, “No Presents For Christmas,” would be seen as predictable. It starts with cheery Christmas music, including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and then suddenly changes to the power riffs I had identified with Mercyful Fate, guitar solo included. Then come the unmistakable vocals of King Diamond singing about how there will be no presents this Christmas. I do like the line, “Tom and Jerry drinking sherry.” Midway through the song, a blinding guitar solo is played and midway through that, a few notes of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” played on the guitar before the solo continues and finishes. Near the end of the song, we are treated to a bit of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” before the final line, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” before the explosive ending.

The b-side, “Charon” is a classic Mercyful Fate sounding tune which is about the mythological boatman on the River Styx. Again, King Diamond’s vocals are in top form as he sings, “Take you across the river.” Of course, there are some good guitar riffs and a classical guitar solo to be had on the song. King Diamond certainly got some good musicians to play with him for these two songs.

Track Listing:

  1. No Presents for Christmas
  2. Charon


King Diamond

King Diamond- lead vocals

Michael Denner- guitar

Andy La Rocque- guitar

Timi Hansen- bass

Mikkey Dee- drums

“No Presents For Christmas” would be King Diamond’s introduction as a solo artists to the metal world. It might only have been a single but it got my attention and had me ready to listen to what he would put out in the years to come.

Next post: Dio- Sacred Heart

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