Archive for November, 2019

Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rush- Power Windows

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2019 by 80smetalman


Continuing on with the tour of 1986, I thought no better album to get back to the year than Rush’s “Power Windows” album. Here’s an example of how my weird mind works. “Power Windows” was released during what has been called Rush’s ‘synth period’ of the 1980s, which was started by their previous album, “Grace Under Pressure.” The funny thing is that I never considered this particular album to be so synthed out. If anything, the album reminds me very much of their classic “Moving Pictures” album, except with the very hard tracks like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” removed. If the band had included such hard rocking tracks on this album, than there might have been a rival to my all time favourite Rush album.

The first two tracks explain my point clearly. True, there are synthesizer heavy moments on both songs but I can still hear Alex Liefson’s guitar chords powering their way through on both songs and he delivers good guitar solos on both. Furthermore, the keyboards are done with true musicianship and not the stupid 80s chops way. (A label on pop music of the decade spawned by Frank Zappa.) Nevertheless, these first two tracks really cook and they’re the best ones on the album.

Back in 1986, I wasn’t sure about the best known two singles from “Power Windows,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon.” Like many metalheads, I was slightly disappointed that they weren’t as hard rocking as the two I mentioned from the “Moving Pictures” album. Saying that, Liefson and Lee do put together a pretty good guitar/bass combo on “Marathon.” Fortunately, even then, I wasn’t one to dismiss this great band on that account. Friends bought the album and I had several listens and I can fully appreciate how hard the Rush trio worked on every song. The musicianship on each and every song is first rate. But then again, what else would you expect from Rush?

Talking about synth pop, the opening drumbeat on “Territories” does sound very 1980s but that is soon taken over by some intricate guitar work and keyboards interplay. I do like what Alex does on this track with his guitar and even if the initial drum sound seems a bit 80s, Neil Peart does show his usual outstanding form on the track. The track is a further statement against the belief that Rush were totally synthed out in the 1980s. While not a metal tune, the guitar work is far better than what any 1980s synth pop band could have ever done.

This reminds me of something I said when I posted about “Grace Under Pressure” but I think it needs saying again. People seem to only see Geddy Lee as a singer and don’t fully appreciate his skills on the bass and synthesizers. He’s an ace on both of them. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that the bass lines on “Power Windows” are the best of any Rush album. Of course, Alex and Neil deserve all the credit due them on the album too.

Track Listing:

  1. Big Money
  2. Grand Designs
  3. Manhattan Project
  4. Marathon
  5. Territories
  6. Middletown Dreams
  7. Emotion Detector
  8. Mystic Rhythms


Geddy Lee- vocals, bass, synthesizers

Alex Liefson- guitar

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians

Andy Richards- additional keyboards

The Choir- additional vocals

This band didn’t need Steve Lukather for this album.

Rush is why I hate people using labels. For those who haven’t heard me rant about this previously, some idiot heard “Tom Sawyer” once and decided to call Rush a heavy metal band and other idiots picked up on the label. Rush were never a heavy metal band, their music is far to complex, though I am not saying metal is simple. Rush are a brilliant hard working band as “Power Windows” clearly shows.

Next post: Frank Zappa- Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Invention

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Mick Jagger- She’s the Boss

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2019 by 80smetalman


Well it was unanimous! When I asked if I should take a step back to 1985 to visit Mick Jagger’s solo album, “She’s the Boss,” two people said yes and nobody said no. So, even though it was 2-0, I can’t ignore the majority and so I’m posting about Mick’s first solo album. I assume that since no one else voted, that no one really cares that I do.

When the lead singer of a long established legendary band decides to make a solo album, the question asked is “How much is the album going to sound like the material they normally do with their band?” My simple answer isn’t so simple. Yes, there is a small departure from the traditional blues based sound of the Rolling Stones but in no way did Mick make an 80s synth pop album. The opening track, “Lonely at the Top” has a catchy vibe with some good guitar work on it. The same can be said for the second track, “1/2 a Loaf.” These are good tracks and both get me listening to the album. While you can hear some of the influence from his band, these two tracks are pure Mick.

The closest tracks to 80s synth pop are “Running Out of Luck” and the album’s first single, “Just Another Night.” I admit that when I first heard the single on the radio, it put me off the album a little. Maybe that was the intention of said single. Fortunately, I already knew not to judge an album by one song and hearing some positive things from two college friends and despite both of these guys being big Stones fans,  I gave the album a go. You know what? I don’t regret it.

Even if I hadn’t given the album a go on the advice of those friends, the second single, “Lucky in Love” would have persuaded me to. This song has some pretty hard rocking bits to it, especially in the chorus, plus the fact that Atlantic City is mentioned in it where I worked at the time.

Again, the rest of the album is some good rock. I love the intro on “Turn the Girl Loose” and while I knew way back from “Angie” that Mick was capable of singing a ballad, he does an amazing job on “Hard Woman.” It also helps that there is a fantastic guitar solo on it compliments of one Jeff Beck. It’s always been tough picking an absolute favourite on “She’s the Boss” but now I’ve made up my mind, it’s “Hard Woman.”

Track Listing:

  1. Lonely at the Top
  2. 1/2 a Loaf
  3. Running Out of Luck
  4. Turn the Girl Loose
  5. Hard Woman
  6. Just Another Night
  7. Lucky in Love
  8. Secrets
  9. She’s the Boss


Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger- lead and backing vocals, harmonica

Jeff Beck- guitar

Wally Badarou- synthesizer on “Lucky in Love” and “She’s the Boss”

John Bundrick- synthesizer on “Just Another Night”

Ray Cooper- percussion on “Lucky in Love” and congas “She’s the Boss”

Aiyb Dieng- shaker on “Lucky in Love” water drums on “Just Another Night”

Sly Dunbar- drums on tracks 3,6,7&9

Bernard Edwards- bass on tracks 2,4&8

Steve Ferrone- drums on “1/2 a Loaf”

Anton Fier- electric drums on “Just Another Night,” percussion on “She’s the Boss”

Anton Figg- drums on “Turn the Girl Loose” and “Secrets”

Guy Fletcher- synthesizer on tracks 1,7&9

Bernard Fowler- backing vocals on tracks 1,7&9

Jan Hammer- piano on “Hard Woman”

Herbie Hancock- organ on track 1, synthesizer on tracks 3,4&7

Colin Hodgkinson- bass on “Hard Woman”

Bill Laswell- bass on “Just Another Night”

Chuck Leavell- organ on “Lucky in Love” and “She’s the Boss”

Ron Magness- synthesizer on “Just Another Night”

Eddie Martinez- lead guitar on tracks 1,3&9

Alfa Anderson- ladies rap on “Turn the Girl Loose”

Lenny Pickett- baritone sax on “Turn the Girl Loose”

Daniel Ponce- beta drum on “Running Out of Luck”

Nile Rogers- guitar on “1/2 a Loaf” and “Secrets”

Robert Sabino- piano, keyboards, synthesizer on “1/2 a Loaf” and “Secrets”

Robbie Shakespeare- bass on tracks 3,6,7&9

Michael Shrieve- drums on “Lonely at the Top”

G.E. Smith- lead guitar on “Secrets”

Tony Thompson- drums on “Hard Woman”

Fonzi Thornton- backing vocals on “1/2 a Loaf”

Pete Townshend- guitar on “Lonely at the Top” acoustic guitar on “Hard Woman”

A great lineup of musicians and not one of them was Steve Lukather!

Mick Jagger proved that he could make great music without the Rolling Stones although many people are glad he stayed with the band. However, the success of this album did indirectly lead him to record what “Family Guy” calls ‘ The gayest video ever’ with David Bowie. Still, this is a great album.

Next post: Back to 1986 with Rush- Power Windows

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2019 by 80smetalman


When I began re-familiarizing myself with the Rolling Stones’ 1986 album, “Dirty Work,” I suddenly realized that I might have committed a crime that I should be possibly hung for. During the tour of 1985, I had totally forgotten that Mick Jagger had released a solo album in that year and I remember it was pretty good. The question is now what to do about it.

Before I answer that question, I will now share my thoughts on “Dirty Work.” For me, the album had confirmed that the Rolling Stones had completely gone back to the sound that had made them the legends they were. I was finally able to put the disco albums of “Some Girls” and “Emotional Rescue” behind me and enjoy the music the band had been making since the 1981 “Tattoo You” album.

When I hear the first two tracks on the album, “One Hit to the Body” and “Fight,” I am wondering if the band were going out looking for violence. I mean, the lyrics “I got to get into a fight” makes it kind of clear that they were. Of course, with all the PMRC bullshit that was going on at the time, maybe they were trying to wind people up. Violent lyrics or not, those two songs are pretty hard rocking and set the tone for the rest of the album.

Admittedly, when I heard the first single, “Harlem Shuffle” on radio and MTV, it took me a couple of listens to get into it. However, upon closer examination, the song simply highlights their blues influence and now I can totally appreciate that. An even harder track is “Hold Back” where it almost sounds as if the Stones were trying to go a little metal here. There is some good guitar work on the song from Richards and Wood. Then when you think you have the album pegged, they change things with the Richards lead vocal reggae sounding “Too Rude.” Keith does sing okay on it but what really stands out for me on the track is Wyman’s bass line.

Bill adds another cool bass line on the following track, “Winning Ugly” along with some more interesting guitar work. I don’t know which Stone plays the guitar solo on it, my guess it’s Ronnie, but it’s very nicely done. On the other hand, I don’t know quite what to make of “Back to Zero.” It’s a good track with a good funk vibe to it but I wonder whether or not it’s to be taken seriously or meant to be a tune you play to put life into at party. It could easily do that. The title cut reminds my of a previous Rolling Stones song, “Hang Fire.” Not that it’s a bad thing, I’ve always liked that song and this title track does cook but my ears can’t ignore the comparison between the two songs. It does have a cool guitar solo. They go more old school blues with “Had It With You” where Mick plays a mean harmonica before the album closes with the Richards sung ballad, “Sleep Tonight.” There is strong bayou blues feel on this song and it’s the perfect closer for the album. Unless you count the brief piano instrumental tagged on at the end.

Track Listing:

  1. One Hit (To the Body)
  2. Fight
  3. Harlem Shuffle
  4. Hold Out
  5. Too Rude
  6. Winning Ugly
  7. Back to Zero
  8. Dirty Work
  9. Had It With You
  10. Sleep Tonight
  11. Back to Zero

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger- lead vocals, harmonica

Keith Richards- guitar, piano, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Too Rude” and “Sleep Tonight”

Ronnie Wood- guitar, pedal steel guitar, tenor saxophone, drums on “Sleep Tonight”

Bill Wyman- bass, synthesizer

Charlie Watts- drums

Additional Personnel:

Chuck Leavell- keyboards

Ivan Neville- backing vocals, bass, organ, synthesizer

Jimmy Page- electric guitar on “One Hit to the Body”

Bobby Womack- backing vocals, electric guitar on “Back to Zero”

Phillipe Saisse- keyboards

Anton Figg- shakers

John Regan- bass on “Winning Ugly”

Dan Collette- trumpet

Ian Stewart- piano

Marku Ribas- percussion

What Steve Lukather not on the album?

Jimmy Cliff, Don Covay, Beverly D’Anglelo, Kirsty MacColl, Dolette McDonald, Janet Pendarvis, Patti Schialfa, Tom Waits- backing vocals

With the “Dirty Work” album, I was reassured that the Rolling Stones were now back to what made them great. Silly me to have ever doubted them.

Next post: It’s up to you the reader. Should I take a step back to 1985 and post Mick Jagger’s “She’s the Boss” album? Or should I continue with 1986 which the next post would be Rush- Power Windows. Please vote!

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Jackson Browne- Lives in the Balance

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2019 by 80smetalman


One tightrope that many rock artists from the 1970s had to walk in the 1980s was the one between what their traditional rock sound was and the new synth pop sounds of the new decade. If they were too rock, the top forty brigade would accuse the artist of becoming too heavy metal. Believe me, that happened! On the other hand, if the artist went more towards the trendy pop sound, the artist was in danger of being accused of selling out by his more loyal fans. However, there was one artist who walked that tightrope as if he was the Great Walenza himself, Jackson Browne. His 1986 album, “Lives in the Balance” is proof of that.

The very first track of “Lives in the Balance” gives all the clues needed that Jackson Browne was continuing to do what he had done so successfully for over a decade prior. “For America” opens with a great guitar solo intro and holds the interest with some good guitar hooks, similar to his previous album, “Lawyers in Love.” For me, it’s the best track on the album. “Soldier of Plenty” follows on with some intricate guitar playing while “In the Shape of Your Heart” is a bit more tender but the Jackson Browne stamp is definitely on the song. This song suits me more in my more melodic older age and the bass line is pretty good as well as the decent guitar solo and keyboard interlude. If I wasn’t so obsessed with power chords back in 1986, I would have appreciated this track more.

“Candy” is probably the most 1980s track on the album because of the synth hook on it but the guitar hooks works well with it too. It’s a cool combination. In contrast, “Lawless Avenues” is the biggest straight ahead rocker on the album. Not hard enough to head bang but definitely one you can bob your head along to.

Then we come to the title cut. It is this song where Jackson criticized for his naive political lyrics. As I was becoming more politically aware then, these lyrics weren’t naive for me. They were warning about possible US war in Central America, which was something I was opposed to. Therefore, they spoke to me on a personal level and they were sung to a pretty good tune. Penultimate track, “Till I Go Down,” is done in a reggae type vibe but Jackson makes it sound good. Then things finish on a good traditional Jackson Browne sounding closer in “Black and White.”

Track Listing:

  1. For America
  2. Soldier of Plenty
  3. In the Shape of Your Heart
  4. Candy
  5. Lawless Avenues
  6. Lives in the Balance
  7. Till I Go Down
  8. Black and White

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne- lead and harmony vocals, guitar, piano

Jorge Calderon- bass, harmony vocals (track 5)

Phil Chen- bass (track 7)

Jennifer Condos- bass (track 1)

Enrique ‘Quique’ Cruz- zampona (track 6)

Debra Dobkin- harmony vocals (track 6)

Craig Doerge- synthesizer (track 3)

Kevin Dukes- guitar (track 8)

Bob Glaub- bass (tracks 2,3,4,6,8)

Doug Haywood- harmony vocals (tracks 3,4,7,8)

Jim Keltner- drums (track 5)

Phil Kenzie- alto saxophone (track 1)

Danny Kortchmar- guitar (track 5)

Ross Kunkel- drums (tracks 2,4,6,8)

Bernie Larsen- guitar, clavinet (track 7)

David Lindley- guitar (tracks 5,7)

Steve Lukather- guitar (tracks 2,4,8)

Stan Lynch- drums (track 3)

Kevin McCormick- guitar, harmony vocals (track 7)

Ian McLagan- organ (track 7)

Gary Myrick- guitar (track 1)

Bill Paine- synthesizer (tracks 2,4,6) piano (track 8)

Hugh Pedroza- charango, tipple (track 6)

Bonnie Raitt- harmony vocals (track 4)

Walfredo Reyes Junior- congas (track 5)

Mindy Sterling- harmony vocals (track 6)

Jorge Strunz- acoustic guitar (track 6)

Rick Vito- guitar (track 3)

Ian Wallace- drums (track 1,7)

Waddy Watchel- guitar (track 5)

Jai Winding- synthesizer (tracks 1,4,5,6,8) piano (tracks 1,5)


If I wasn’t so caught up in metal in 1986, (I don’t regret that), I would have appreciated “Lives in the Balance” more. It’s a good album from Jackson Browne, who knows how to use the hooks well.

Next post: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Clarence Clemons- Hero

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2019 by 80smetalman


In spite of my adamant stance of being a metalhead in 1986, there were still a few non-metal albums which caught my attention in the right way. One of these albums was the solo album, “Hero,” from Bruce Springsteen’s famous saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. Here’s my controversial statement for the week: While Bruce deserves all the honours he has received for more than the past four decades, his E Street Band hasn’t gotten so much of the honour they deserve for making him sound so great for so long. Of course, everyone who knows Bruce knows Clarence and what he could do with the sax. That alone made me want to check out this album.


Let me dispel one myth some people had about Clarence’s solo album. That myth was that it would be nothing but saxophone instrumentals. True, there is one such song, “Liberation Fire,” and it proved that a saxophone could make an 80s synth pop song sound good, but the big man does sing on all the other tracks and he has a good voice. On the second track, “Temptation,” he combines his vocal and saxophone talents very well.

“Hero” did produce a couple of singles for the top forty crowd. MTV gave “Your a Friend of Mine” quite a lot of airplay back in the day. What made this song single-worthy was that Jackson Browne produced it and sings on it as does film star Daryl Hannah. Actually, her vocals are pretty good. “I Wanna Be Your Hero” was also released as a single. This tune sounds a little more like Bruce Springsteen although, I’m convinced that Clarence wanted to make his own sound with this album. Although the start of the song eerily reminds me of “Mickey” by Toni Basil.

The remainder of the tracks follow the 1980s pop/rock formula. No song more so than “It’s Alright With Me Girl.” Not a bad song but it could be called ‘dated’ these days. Although Clarence does his magic with the sax making it a little better than the average pop song. However, being my contradictory self, the cover of the Walker Brothers hit, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” is performed well by Clarence and his band. I’d like to know which lady accompanies him on the vocals. The jazzy blues sounding “Cross the Line” is also another great combination of Clarence’s sax playing and vocals and “Kissin’ On You” has a great funky vibe. I think Clarence has a lot of fun on this one.

Track Listing:

  1. You’re a Friend of Mine
  2. Temptation
  3. It’s Alright With Me Girl
  4. Liberation Fire
  5. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore
  6. I Wanna Be Your Hero
  7. Cross the Line
  8. Kissin’ On You
  9. Christina


Clarence Clemons

Clarence Clemons- vocals, saxophone, percussion

Jackson Browne, Daryl Hannah- vocals on “You’re a Friend of Mine”

Kitty Beethoven- vocals

Princess Loria- vocals

Jennifer Hall- vocals

Liz Jackson- vocals

Sundari- vocals

Brenda Joy Nelson- vocals

Tina B.- vocals

Richard Walsh- vocals

Craig Thomas- vocals, saxophone

Lotti Golden- vocals

Darlene Love- vocals

 Norman Mershon- vocals

Tony ‘Rocks’ Cowans- guitar

Carlos Pepper- guitar

Lewis West- guitar

Billy Loosigian- guitar

Corrado Rustici- guitar

Vernon ‘Ice’ Black- guitar

Stuart Kimball- guitar

Bob Messano- guitar

Maurice Starr- bass

John Siegler- bass

Doug Wimbish- bass, drums

Preston Glass- acoustic guitar, keyboards, vibraphone

Booker T Jones- keyboards, organ

Walter Afanaseiff- keyboards, sound effects

Frank Martin- keyboards

David Sancious- keyboards

David Scher- keyboards

William Beard- drums

Anton Figg- drums

Premik McFly- saxophone, baritone sax

Greg ‘Gigi’ Gonaway- glockenspiel, percussion

Bill Sebastian- glockenspiel, percussion

Randy Jackson- bass, drums, percussion

Michael Rado- harp

Back in 1986, Clarence Clemon’s “Hero” album wouldn’t normally have been my cup of tea but there’s just something about it. It’s an easy listening, enjoyable album whether you’re a Springsteen fan or not.

Next post: Jackson Browne- Lives in the Balance

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Firm- Mean Business

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10, 2019 by 80smetalman


Before I start, I would like to bring up one amusing point I forgot to mention when I wrote about Van Halen’s “5150” album. It wasn’t about the band nor the album but about Eddie Van Halen’s marriage to Valerie Bertinelli. If you read People Magazine back then, it seemed that every other week, there was some comment in the mag that their marriage was ending. There were also stories in People stating that Val was going through a personal hell for not having had a child yet. These stories got so frequent to the point of being tedious. Besides, history proved People wrong because Eddie and Val did have a child and their marriage lasted for another 20 years or so.

Now onto the second album from The Firm, “Mean Business.” Unfortunately, this album was commercially doomed from the start. That was on account of the first album where many metalheads rejected it because it wasn’t the Led Zeppelin/Bad Company hybrid they were expecting. As a result and in spite of the debut being a great album, many weren’t prepared to give the second album a chance. I was one of those at the time, partly because the first album didn’t match up to my expectations, partly because the single from “Mean Business,” “All the Kings Horses,” didn’t move me and partly because a friend of mine bought the album and said he wasn’t impressed.

Fortunately, as you all know by now, the post millennium 80smetalman is more open minded and culturally aware than the one from 1986. Let me begin by stating that there is some Led Zeppelin influence on this album, definitely on the first  two tracks, “Fortune Hunter” and “Cadillac.” The guitar solo on the opener screams Jimmy Page all over it and the second track has Led Zeppelin all over it. In fact, “Cadillac” is my favourite track on the album.

On the other hand, Paul Rogers brings his Bad Company influence on the fourth track, “Live in Peace.” He had previously recorded it on his 1983 solo album but I am completely impressed by what The Firm did to it here. Especially another killer guitar solo a la Page. Chris Slade’s drumming is pretty intense on the song too. But if you want a song which highlights the efforts of the entire band, then the winner is “Tear Down the Walls.” The album has some cool Page licks, a quirky but solid bass line from Tony Franklin and the same solid drumming from Slade and do I need to mention Paul’s vocals? I don’t think I need to, they’re great as always.

While I mentioned that “All the King’s Horses” didn’t bowl me over back in 1986, in no way is it a bad song. Probably a good choice for a single but unfortunately, in 1986, metal and mainstream music were becoming two separate entities. A better choice for a single would have been the Franklin penned, “Dreaming.” It’s sort of a ballad which opens with a cool Page guitar solo and there’s more of those to be had in the song. On the downside, the song is six minutes long which would have made it too radio unfriendly. Anyway, “Spirit of Love” is a very good closer indeed.

Track Listing:

  1. Fortune Hunter
  2. Cadillac
  3. All the King’s Horses
  4. Live in Peace
  5. Tear Down the Walls
  6. Dreaming
  7. Free to Live
  8. Spirit of Love


Paul Rogers- vocals, guitars, piano

Jimmy Page- lead guitar

Tony Franklin- bass/keyboards

Chris Slade- drums

The Firm is the prime example of how a band was demolished by misplaced expectations. People, and I was partially guilty of this, pooh-poohed them because they didn’t sound much like the bands they came from. In fact, The Firm disbanded a few months after this album was released. With the benefit of hindsight, I think this was a tragedy because who knows what they could have been if given a fair chance.

Next post: Clarence Clemons- Hero

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Van Halen- 5150

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7, 2019 by 80smetalman


A couple of weeks ago, when I posted about 38 Special’s “Strength in Numbers” album, I mentioned that I accused the band of ‘selling out’ back in 1986. I also stated that the term ‘sell out’ was brandished about quite liberally back then, especially by me. However, one band in 1986 which was accused of selling out by many metalheads around the world was Van Halen when they released the album “5150.” Gone were many of the power metal riffs from Eddie Van Halen and replaced by synthesizers. While synths were seen as the commercial friendly thing to do, it alienated a lot of metalheads who remember the glory days of Van Halen’s earlier metal albums.

80smetalman opinion: Many people blamed the ‘sell out’ on singer David Lee Roth leaving the band and being replaced by red rocker Sammy Hagar. I reject this claim. I’ve heard several of Sammy’s solo albums before his joining VH and saw his kick ass live show in 1984. Therefore, I was quite excited at the fact he was replacing Diamond Dave in the band. While I was disappointed the first time I heard “Why Can’t This Be Love” on the radio, I never attributed the synth sound to Sammy. Even before he joined, evidenced in Van Halen’s previous album, “1984,” Eddie Van Halen was already incorporating keyboards in the band’s sound. Maybe he was trying to experiment but let me bring in another piece of evidence. Even before “1984,” Eddie’s then wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, had gotten him to play on Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It.” My thought and I have stated this in other blogs, was that Eddie had become so henpecked by Val, that it was getting into his music and that could be why he went more into softer synth pop. I know that sounds very sexist but at the time, I knew quite a few ladies who thought the same thing.

Regardless of the cause, “5150” is definitely a departure from what Van Halen sounded like in previous albums and if I had based the entire album on “Why Can’t This Be Love,” than I never would have listened to it. I mean there isn’t even a cool Eddie guitar solo on that song. Contrast this with the second single, “Dreams.” It too is synthed out way too much but at least there’s a good Eddie guitar solo on that song. The same can be said for “Love Walks In.” This one is more of a ballad but I must admit that there’s a cool Eddie guitar solo on it.

Fortunately, not every song is a synth oriented pop sounding song. My favourite track on the album, “Hot Summer Nights” is definitely a throw back to the Van Halen of old. Everything you remember and loved about them is all there in the song. Great guitar riffs, the ever so strong rhythm section of brother Alex and Michael Anthony and a killer of a guitar solo from Eddie. In addition, Sammy’s vocals on the track only makes it sound that much better. Coming second on my favourite track list is the following one, “Best of Both Worlds.” This too is another throwback to classic times and is just a pure rocker. Every time I listen to this album, I ask myself, “Why can’t the entire album sound like these two songs?” Then again, “Get Up” is pretty good too so make it three songs, possibly four with the title track.

Track Listing:

  1. Good Enough
  2. Why Can’t This Be Love
  3. Get Up
  4. Dreams
  5. Hot Summer Nights
  6. Best of Both Worlds
  7. Love Walks In
  8. 5150
  9. Inside


Van Halen

Sammy Hagar- lead and backing vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, percussion

In all fairness, I have come to the conclusion that Van Halen’s “5150” album is half a hard rocking album. Four, possibly five if you count the opener, are good rocking tunes. The other four give lots of weight to the notion that this album was a sell out album for the band. Whatever side you’re on, the album really isn’t that bad.

Next post: The Firm- Mean Business

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Robert Palmer- Riptide

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2019 by 80smetalman


One of the most memorable images of early 1986, compliments of MTV, was Robert Palmer’s video for one of his most successful singles of all time, “Addicted to Love,” from the album “Riptide.” It wasn’t Rob, it was the five lovely ladies in the video who made up his ‘band.’ That video was very heavily requested back then and I suspect most of those calls came from young men. However, even if the video was never made and we didn’t get to see those ladies, “Addicted to Love” is the best single on the album. While the guitar riff was toned down to meet the synth pop requirements of 1980s, it still is prominent in the song and it was enough to satisfy a metalhead in search of heavier power chords.

Even though my search for power chords was satisfied over three decades ago and I listen to “Riptide” with a more open mind, I still think the rest of the album is too synth pop for my liking. The proof in the pudding is the second track, “Hyperactive,” a total pop tune. I even prefer the night club act sounding opening title track to this one.

Further evidence that popular music and I were heading in different directions is presented in Robert’s second and to my surprise, more successful in the singles charts, single “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.” It might have been a success back then but it had no influence on me to the point I had forgotten about it. Give me “Addicted to Love” any day.

Being the split personality Gemini that I am, (note: I don’t go for that zodiac nonsense), there are some decent non synth pop tracks on here. Robert returns to his blues influences on “Get It Through Your Heart.” Not a great tune but better than the synth pop. There is one hidden gem on “Riptide,” which comes in the form of “Trick Bag.” It’s a cover of a song from jazz artist, Earl King, who Palmer sites as one of his influences. But even that’s not enough to make up for the synth pop on the rest of the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Riptide
  2. Hyperactive
  3. Addicted to Love
  4. Get It Through Your Heart
  5. Trick Bag
  6. I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On
  7. Flesh Wound
  8. Discipline of Love
  9. Riptide- reprise


Robert Palmer and his famous MTV band

Robert Palmer- vocals

Tony Thompson- drums, except tracks 5 & 8

Dony Wind- drums, tracks 5 & 8

Bernard Edwards- bass, except for track 8

Guy Pratt- bass, track 8

Eddie Martinez- guitar

Andy Taylor- guitar, track 3

Wally Badarou, Jeff Bova, Jack Waldman- keyboards

Lenny Pickett- saxophone

Benny Diggs, Fonzi Thornton- backing vocals, tracks 3 & 8

Chaka Khan- vocal arrangement, track 3

In spite of what I’ve said about “Riptide,” it doesn’t take away from the fact that Robert Palmer is an excellent singer. Even on the synth pop tracks, his vocals show his talent and that too contributed to the album’s commercial success. Still, it wasn’t an album for most metalheads.

Next Post: Van Halen- 5150

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Divinyls- What a Life

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2019 by 80smetalman


Like with previous years, there are albums which came out the year before which didn’t come to my attention until early the following year. Such is the case with Australia’s Divinyls and their album “What a Life.” This was also another lesson on not to judge a band on account of one song. When the video for the first single, “Pleasure and Pain” came to MTV, I have to admit that I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. It didn’t suck but I thought it was just another fly by night 80s pop band. Then, not too far later on, I discovered that the Divinyls were on tour supporting the mighty Aerosmith. I came to the conclusion that any band worthy of supporting the mighty ‘Smith.’ was not a pop outfit and deserved a fair listen.

Having given “What a Life” the fair listen it deserved, I can say that it is not an 80s pop album. While it’s not a great heavy rocker, I can see why Aerosmith would have taken the Divinyls on tour with them. After the single opens the first track, the second, “Don’t  You Go Walking” is a nice little light rocker. The guitars are heavier, in fact, guitarists, Mark McEntee and Bjarne Ohlin, do shred a little on the song thus making it my favourite song on the album. Things don’t let up on the next track, “Good Die Young,” either. What separates the two is that on “Good Die Young,” there are parts on the track where the band tries to sound too much like Berlin. Still, it’s a pretty decent song.

A cool intro begins “Sleeping Beauty” before the song goes rather new wave. While back in 1986, keyboards made this metalhead a little nervous, they are used very effectively here. Cool intros continue with “Motion.” On this song, McEntee and Ohlin might be trying to copy East Bay Ray because there is a Dead Kennedys sound to the guitars on this one. Quickly following on is my second favourite track, “In My Life.” This is the hardest rocker on the album and the only reason why it didn’t take number one is that the guitar solo on “Don’t Go Walking” is better. “Casual Encounter” and “Heart Telegraph” both have a new wave sounding edge to them but “Guillotine Day” rocks. I can almost headbang to it and that leads perfectly to the ballad like closer, “Dear Diary.” This a very eerie song to say the least, especially with the carnival sounds in the background. I’ll have to check but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it appeared on some horror film soundtrack.

Anyone who remembers the Divinyls from back in the day might have already noticed that I’ve made no mention of their lead singer, Christina Amphlett. The reason why is that her vocals are pretty consistent through all of the songs, so there was no need to comment on them on individual ones. True, she does contribute to the Berlin sound on “Good Die Young,” but her vocals are sound on every track. Whether it be the fun rocker In My Life” or the new wave infected “Casual Encounter” to the ballad closer, “Dear Diary,” she produces the goods on each and shows that she has a variety of singing styles to use to fit any song. I’ll even venture the thought that Christina is possibly the most underrated female singer from the 1980s.

There were two versions of “What a Life” released, a US one and an Australian version. The four different tracks on the Australian release, “Talk Like the Rain,” “Old Radios,” “Para Dice” and “What a Life” have a more 80s new wave synth sound to them but are okay as far as the album goes.

Track Listing (US)

  1. Pleasure and Pain
  2. Don’t You Go Walking
  3. Good Die young
  4. Sleeping Beauty
  5. Motion
  6. In My Life
  7. Casual Encounter
  8. Heart Telegraph
  9. Guillotine Day
  10. Dear Diary

Track Listing (Australia)

  1. Pleasure and Pain
  2. Sleeping Beauty
  3. Good Die Young
  4. Guillotine Day
  5. Talk Like the Rain
  6. Heart Telegraph
  7. Old Radios
  8. In My Life
  9. Para Dice
  10. What a Life
  11. Dear Diary



Christina Amphlett- lead vocals

Mark McEntee- guitar, vocals keyboards

Richard Harvey- drums

Bjarne Ohlin- guitar, keyboards, vocals

Rick Grossman- bass

By the time Aerosmith’s tour had come to Philadelphia, the Divinyls were no longer touring with them. At the time, I didn’t mind because of who the opening act was that night. Not long after, a friend of mine saw the Divinyls on a co-headlining tour with The Cult. From what I remember, my friend said they were all right. Thinking back, it might have been cool to have actually seen them live but this album does give me good memories.

Next post: Robert Palmer- Riptide

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