Archive for April, 2021

A Couple of Songs to Tie You Over

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2021 by 80smetalman

I’m afraid I’m going to have to delay my next post due to a family emergency. My youngest stepson, Teal, who goes to festivals with me, his father is suffering from pancreatic cancer and will probably go to join Jim Steinman by the time I post again. Therefore, Teal, Mrs 80smetalman and I are making the 200 mile journey so Teal can see his father before the end.

Before I leave, I thought I’d share two songs which I have been listening to lately. The other day, I was listening to a local artist named Sally Ironmonger. On her 2014 album, “The Company I Keep,” there is a track called “Desert Island Discs” and when Mike said that his Friday night Facebook spot was going to be about Desert Island Discs, this song immediately came to mind. So I thought I’d share it with you all.

I have been thinking about the second one for quite awhile. Since a lot of you who follow me are big KISS fans, I always think of one song whenever they are mentioned. The very first band I ever saw at Bloodstock way back in 2010 was the Black Spiders. I was very impressed with them but the song which has always stood out was “KISS Tried to Kill Me.” Not only is this a great metal tune, the lyrics are very amusing. So listen and enjoy.

Group photo: Joe, Gemma, Teal and me, Bloodstock, 2016

I hope you enjoyed the songs and will join with me in sending condolences to Teal in this very difficult time.

Great Rock Albums of 1987: Marillion- Clutching At Straws

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2021 by 80smetalman

In 1987, my friends of the band Torque Show cut a demo which they titled, “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.” While this post isn’t about their demo, I can’t help but thinking that Marillion applied the saying to their 1987 album, “Clutching At Straws.” They vary little from the formula of their previous three albums on this one and I think it’s the better for it. Back in 87, I thought it was a great that a great prog rock band could be so successful in a music world where synth pop was commercially popular.

“Clutching At Straws” is a concept album. It’s the story of a 29 year old man named Torch, supposedly a descendent of the Jester, who is out of work, a failed singer as well as having a failed marriage and being a deadbeat father. As a result, Torch finds comfort in alcohol. As he gets drunk, he contemplates his life and his failures. The songs set the scenes perfectly. “Hotel Hobbies” very accurately describe the goings on in a sleazy hotel and opens the scene for the rest of the concept very well. That’s probably why I stay at Premier Inns these days. The music helps too. It begins with a soft, keyboard intro with Fish’s voice almost lulling you before upping the tempo and a firecracker of a solo from Steve Rockery. Throughout the album, we get the fine musicianship from the band while the concept behind the lyrics never gets lost.

What I said about the opener could somewhat be applied to all of the other songs. Great music helps the songs tell the story of the album. It is little wonder that it produced three singles, “Warm Wet Circles,” “Incommunicado” and my personal favourite, “Sugar Mice.” However, all of these are great songs but what makes “Sugar Mice” stand out is the great guitar solo from Steve and the line from the song, “If you want my address, it’s number one at the end of the bar where I sit with the broken angels clutching at straws and nursing a scar.” Great stuff!

As I said in many a post, for me what makes the album are the hidden gems on it. There are two which really stand out for me here, “Just for the Record” and “White Russian.” Both tracks typify what I have always liked about Marillion, great lyrics, attention grabbing intros, cool guitar solos, the fact that Fish seems to put his heart and soul fully into the songs while he sings them, and I don’t sing the praises of keyboardist Mark Kelly nearly enough. He joins the likes of REO Speedwagon’s Neil Doughty, Claude Schnell of Dio and John Galvin of Molly Hatchet fame in my list of underrated keyboards players. I dare anyone to listen to any Marillion song and tell me that Mark doesn’t pack the goods. Okay, that’s a bit strong as everyone is entitled to their opinion but I just happen to think he’s that good!

Track Listing:

  1. Hotel Hobbies
  2. Warm Wet Circles
  3. That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
  4. Just for the Record
  5. White Russian
  6. Incommunicado
  7. Torch Song
  8. Slainte Mhath
  9. Sugar Mice
  10. The Last Straw
  11. Happy Ending

Fish- lead vocals

Steve Rockery- guitars

Mark Kelly- keyboards

Pete Trewavas- bass

Ian Mosley- drums

Additional Musicians:

Tessa Niles- backing vocals on tracks 3 and 9

Chris Kimsey- backing vocals on “Incomminicado”

John Cavanaugh- Dr. Finley voice on Torch Song

While the closing track might be “Happy Ending,” actually, it’s only eight seconds long where someone shouts “Help” and Fish laughs, the album didn’t provide one afterwards. Fish would leave the band and go solo. But that’s for another time because with “Clutching at Straws,” you could say that he left on a high.

Next post: The Hooters- One Way Home

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Rest In Peace: Jim Steinman

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2021 by 80smetalman
Jim Steinman

It is my sad duty to announce the death of Jim Steinman. Jim was most known for his collaborations with Meat Loaf, especially the “Bat Out of Hell Album,” however, reading his biography on Wikipedia, Jim had a very rich history of song writing and producing spanning more than three decades. I didn’t know until now that he wrote the song, “Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young,” which is from the soundtrack of the film, “Streets of Fire.” What I remember him most for, however, is his one solo album, “Bad for Good,” which came out in 1981. I posted about that album many many moons ago.

So, we have another great going to the great gig in the sky. Rest in Peace Jim.

Great Rock Albums of 1987: Billy Idol- Whiplash Smile

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2021 by 80smetalman

Another artist I accused of ‘selling out’ in the mid 1980s was Billy Idol. The word going around at the time was that he went for a more commercial sound because all of the royalties from his previous albums went up his nose. I can’t say that was the case for definite but I did hear a lot of stories going around at the time that Billy was battling cocaine addiction. Here’s the thing, it wasn’t the album “Whiplash Smile” which made me think he had sold out, it was the his live rendition of the Tommy James and the Shondells classic, “Mony Mony” that steered my mind that way and I know of several metalheads who thought the same as me. However, that song isn’t on this album so I can listen to and post about in without any outside influences.

After a couple of listens to “Whiplash Smile,” I can safely say that Billy Idol didn’t sell out in order to pay for his cocaine habit. What he did attempt was to walk the thin line between the hard rock which he was originally known for and achieving commercial success in a 1980s synth pop oriented music world. There is nothing more evident of this than the first two songs of the album. Opener “World’s Forgotten Boy” reminds a little of the classic “White Wedding.” Sure, it doesn’t have that famous guitar riff but there are hard guitars to be heard. The following track, “To Be a Lover,” was definitely recorded with top 40 hit in mind. It does have a more commercial sound which was suited to the time. It did get to number 22 in the UK charts and 6 in the US, so he must have done something right.

On the third track, “Soul Standing By,” Billy attempts to fuse both the hard rock and commercial synths into the song. Long story short, his attempt is rather successful, especially as I like the guitar solo. Next comes one of my favourite tracks on the album, “Sweet Sexteen.” On this one, he goes a little bit country. The acoustic guitar kicks it off and carry on behind the song. If he had used steel guitars where instead of synthesizers on the fills, it would have been definitely country.

Any argument stating that Billy Idol had lost his ability to rock out is crushed on the track, “Man For All Seasons.” This song just rocks from the hard rhythm of the guitars to the cool guitar solo. This one is definitely the track that stands out for me. It could also be down to him sounding like Jim Morrison on the song. But it’s no surprise that “Don’t Need a Gun” was also released as a single. Although I was never one for trendy discos, I have the feeling that this track would have been played a lot in such places and would have gotten people out on the floor, possibly even me. It does have a steady beat which even I could bop along to, though I would have been tempted to go air guitar on some parts.

“Beyond Belief” is a ballad from Billy. As far as rock ballads go, it’s pretty good and I like the piano on it. Then he rocks out totally on “Fatal Charm,” which has a cool bass intro. Afterwards, he goes back to more synth oriented music. Actually “All Summer Single” reminds me of Simple Minds but the song does have a cool guitar solo. However, it took me a couple of listens for me to fathom the closer, “One Night, One Chance.” It was the way the guitar and bass line hook up to give a chilling feel to the song and it turns out to be the best way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. World’s Forgotten Boy
  2. To Be a Lover
  3. Soul Standing By
  4. Sweet Sexteen
  5. Man For All Seasons
  6. Don’t Need a Gun
  7. Beyond Belief
  8. Fatal Charm
  9. All Summer Single
  10. One Night, One Chance
Billy Idol

Billy Idol- lead vocals, guitar, bass

Steven Stevens- guitar, bass, keyboards

Marcus Miller- bass

John Regan- bass

Phillip Ashley- keyboards

Harold Faltermeyer- keyboards

David Frank- keyboards

Richard Tee- keyboards

Thommy Price- drums, percussion

Jocelyn Brown- backing vocals

Connie Harvey- backing vocals

Janet Wright- backing vocals

Apologies to Billy Idol, he didn’t sell out to fund his coke habit. Instead he put out an album which I should have paid more attention to back in the day. But I was too busy with the metal.

Next post: Marillion- Clutching at Straws

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Great Rock Albums of 1987: U2- The Joshua Tree

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2021 by 80smetalman

Naturally, I was quite excited when I heard that U2 had a new album out in early 1987, so were a lot of people around the world. Like I said when I wrote about their debut album, “Boy,” way back when, U2 was one band which Duranies and Metalheads could both listen to and not be accused of betraying their beliefs. This was even more the case when their fifth album, “The Joshua Tree,” was released.

Speaking of the debut album, what I like most about “The Joshua Tree” is that it seems to go back to those early times. While, the band experimented more on the previous album, “The Unforgettable Fire,” here they go back to basics. This is not to say that the band didn’t evolve further with the album, it certainly did. When Bono wrote the lyrics to the songs, he was deeply influenced by the events which were happening around at the time. “Red Mining Town” was about the 1984-5 miner’s strike in the UK, only it was written from the viewpoint of a family effected by the strike. “Bullet the Blue Sky” was written in response to Bono’s trip to Central America in 1986 and the effects that then president Ronald Reagan’s sponsored wars had on the region and the people there. Although some people balked at the increasing political lyrics on some of the tracks, it didn’t matter to most because the songs are that good.

It wasn’t just the political lyrics a few naysayers had a problem with. Three of the four members of U2 are born again Christians and some non believers complained about it seeping into their music. Having listened to Stryper quite a lot, I can say that if there is religious connotation, then it’s very subtle. One song and it’s my favourite on the album, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono does appear to be questioning his faith because while he still believes, he hasn’t found that thing to cement those beliefs but all I know is that I like the song. “Where the Streets Have No Name” is another example. Bono sings about how in Belfast, where one lives is defined by their religion. As I said before, they could write songs about doing terrible things to dogs with a fork but if the music’s good, the lyrics won’t effect me.

Bono’s songwriting is a minor reason why “The Joshua Tree” is such a good album. After all, it is U2’s best selling album ever. My reason for liking the album so much is what the other three members bring to the table. The Edge does more little tricks with his guitar and does it even better. Furthermore, for me, this album is Adam Clayton’s best performance on the bass and drummer Larry Mullins Jr., a very underrated drummer, shows that fact here. Also, I can’t fault Bono’s vocals, he has always been a good singer and he sings well on this album, especially on “Red Mining Town” which is why it eeks out the other tracks to be the hidden gem. Though the intro to “In God’s Country” gives a good account of itself and also reminds me of what I have always liked about U2. In short, while many other bands were trying too hard to sound ‘commercial.’ U2 continued to do what made them stars and this album is all the better for it.

Track Listing:

  1. Where the Streets Have No Name
  2. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  3. With or Without You
  4. Bullet the Blue Sky
  5. Running to Stand Still
  6. Red Mining Town
  7. In God’s Country
  8. Trip Through Your Wires
  9. One Tree Hill
  10. Exit
  11. Mothers of the Disappeared

Bono- lead vocals, harmonica, guitar

The Edge- guitar, backing vocals, piano

Adam Clayton- bass

Larry Mullins Jr.- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:

Brian Eno- keyboards, backing vocals

Daniel Lanois- tambourine, omnichord, guitar on tracks 2 and 5, backing vocals

The Armin Family- strings (One Tree Hill)

The Arklow Silver Band- brass (Red Mining Town)

When music seemed to be chopping and changing in the late 1980s, it’s great to see one band stick to what it did best. It’s no wonder “The Joshua Tree” is U2’s most successful album. On another note, if U2 and Stryper were to play a show together, even if it was to spread the word of God, I’d definitely go.

Next post: Billy Idol- Whiplash Smile

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Great Rock Albums of 1987: Crowded House

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2021 by 80smetalman

Does anyone have a time machine? If so, I need to use it so I can go back in time to 1987 and slap shit out of myself for ignoring Crowded House. True, the me in 1987 would have responded that they weren’t metal and that was my excuse at the time. Having been in the UK for around six months at the time, I had heard of the band but because they were on “Top of the Pops.” Therefore, I immediately dismissed them as another synth pop band. I realize now that I couldn’t have been more wrong, okay if they had been a metal band I would have been more wrong but Crowded House definitely weren’t synth pop.

One factor which might have had me in the synth pop mindset about them was their best known single, “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Even now, it doesn’t really do much for me but at least it wasn’t synth pop. Now that I finally listened to the album, I can say that practically all of the other tracks are better than the single in my humble opinion. For me, the standout tracks are “Now We’re Getting Somewhere” and “Something So Strong.” The former has a very catchy vibe and you can easily bob your head along with it as you go about your daily task or if you just want to chill with a cup of something. While guitarist and lead singer Neil Finn is no (insert favourite metal guitarist here), he does have some intricate licks that if you listen closely, sound cool. It’s just it stands out on “Now We’re Getting Somewhere,” but they are on many of the songs here, even the single. Actually, as I listen to that single, it’s not as bad as I thought. I confess that I more than likely tuned it out in my mind because it wasn’t metal.

Another notable track is “Love You Til the Day I Die” which sounds quite a bit like INXS, not a bad thing at all. Finn does play some cool in the background licks and there is a good use of horns on the song. The other standout track I mentioned, “Something So Strong,” has a an interesting intro and a keyboard accompaniment which might sound 80s these days, still works for me. Finn does play a guitar solo and while I don’t want to shoot the horns in the air, is still sufficient for the song.

So far, I’ve been going on about Neil Finn but I can’t leave out the rhythm section of Nick Seymour and Paul Hester. Together, they provide a solid foundation for the songs to be built on. The track where this stands out for me the most is “Hole in the River” but they also show up on all the other tracks. Going back to singles, I think “Can’t Carry On” would have been a better single, at least as far as London’s trendy night club scene was concerned. I think it might have even been played at a student union disco at the time. Anyway, it along with the rest of the album, and I must add “Tombstone,” provide a good easy listening rock album.

Track Listing:

  1. Mean to Me
  2. World Where You Live
  3. Now We’re Getting Somewhere
  4. Don’t Dream It’s Over
  5. Love You Til the Day I Die
  6. Something So Strong
  7. Hole in the River
  8. Can’t Carry On
  9. I Walk Away
  10. Tombstone
  11. That’s What I Call Love
Crowded House

Neil Finn- lead vocals, guitar, piano

Nick Seymour- bass

Paul Hester- drums, backing vocals

Additional Musicians:

Tim Pierce- guitar

Mitchell Froom- keyboards

Jerry Scheff- bass (track 3)

Jim Keltner- drums (track 3)

So, if any of you have a time machine, let me know. God, I can’t believe how narrow minded I was back in 1987 or maybe it’s me mellowing with old age. Can’t be that, I was listening to Sepultura’s Greatest Hits yesterday. Anyway, Crowded House wasn’t the synth pop band I had so wrongly branded them back then.

Next post: U2- The Joshua Tree

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Great Rock Albums of 1987: Suzanne Vega- Solitude Standing

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2021 by 80smetalman

Here’s further proof of the contradiction that is me. While I was a total metalhead by 1987, there was still some non-metal music which appealed to me. And you couldn’t get much further from metal than this mellow rock album from Suzanne Vega. However, as I reflect back to that time, I was starting to get into singers on an acoustic guitar singing songs with lyrics which had a lot of meaning, especially politically charged ones. While I don’t hear anything political in the lyrics on the tracks of her “Solitude Standing” album, there is a lot of meaning in the lyrics of her songs.

There is a simple stroke of genius in her opening and closing songs, both titled “Tom’s Diner.” The opener is an a cappella version that tells a story of what could be a typical day at any American diner, short and to the point. The closer is an instrumental version and if Suzanne wanted to, she could have easily put the melody of the closer to the lyrics of the opener, it would have fit perfectly. However, it’s the second song which really sends shivers down my spine. “Luka” is about a battered partner who is in denial about what is going on. Like many battered partners, Luka blames herself for being clumsy and that deep inside, her batterer truly loves her. It’s some very intense stuff!

If “Luka” wasn’t dark enough, then “In the Eye” is even darker. From what I hear, it’s about someone who would face down their killer and look them in the eye. One might conclude that Suzanne had some serious issues here. On the other hand, “Night Vision” seems to be more positive. The lyrics are a metaphor for getting through when it appears to be dark, using your ‘night vision.’ I heard that term a lot when I was in the service. What sticks out more about the track is the haunting acoustic guitar in the background.

That’s the great thing about “Solitude Standing.” The interesting lyrics are one thing, I’m not looking for meaning on every song but every song is supported by a soft acoustic guitar, light rock sound which I find captivating. Maybe that’s just me mellowing with age a bit. After all, there is only one guitar solo on the album and that appears on the title track. There is some sort of uniqueness in each track though. Take “Language” for example. On this track, she does her own backing vocals and the two voices together blend to whet your curiosity to the rest of the song. “Wooden Horse” is also a very eerie sounding track and would have made a good closer too.

Track Listing:

  1. Tom’s Diner
  2. Luka
  3. Ironbound/Fancy Poultry
  4. In the Eye
  5. Night Vision
  6. Solitude Standing
  7. Calypso
  8. Language
  9. Gypsy
  10. Wooden Horse
  11. Tom’s Diner (Reprise)
Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega- vocals, acoustic guitar

Marc Shulman- electric guitars

Anton Sanko- synthesizers, classical guitar (track 5)

Michael Vasceglia- bass, synthesizer (track 11)

Stephen Ferrera- drums, percussion

History seems to show that Suzanne Vega spearheaded a small invasion of female folk singers which would come about in 1988. I’ll be visiting a lot of those. Anyway, for a metalhead like me at the time, “Solitude Standing” was a great way to mellow on and fully appreciate the messages Suzanne conveyed.

Next post: Crowded House

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at:

Great Rock Albums of 1987: REO Speedwagon- Life As We Know It

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2021 by 80smetalman

When I got to England, I found I had the same problem in discovering new music I had when I was in the USA, only the problem was that it went in the opposite direction. Now when new releases came out in America, they would take a couple of months before they reached the UK. There was no internet in 1987, which is a huge advantage people have today. This was the case in regards to the 1987 “Life As We Know It” from REO Speedwagon. I only found out they had a new record out in early 1987 when I happened to hear the US top ten on British radio.

In the early 1980s, I would have been chomping at the bit at the thought of a new REO album as I was a big fan of their in the early part of the decade. But that was before the 1984 “Wheels Are Turnin'” album where if you read my post on that album, I had accused them of ‘selling out.’ Then again, as a metalhead back in the day, I accused quite a few artists of doing that. 38 Special and Van Halen both fell victim to my branding in 1986 but that’s another story. However, I’m all for giving people a second chance so that is what I did with the “Life As We Know It” album.

Getting right to the point, I don’t think this album is a big sell out like I did with the previous album. Then again, my older self didn’t think that album was the big sell out that my 23 year old self thought back in 1984. I do think though that “Life As We Know It” was a more determined attempt to return to their mighty successful “Hi Infidelity” album from 1981. Let’s take the hit single from the album, “In My Dreams.” It is a ballad but it is much better than the bigger selling one from the previous album. It’s a good song.

What I also like on this album was that the band went out a bit more. The album’s opener, “New Way to Love” reminds me of Jerry Lee Lewis, especially the piano parts. I said this when I wrote about past REO Speedwagon albums and I’ll say it again here. Neil Doughty deserves more recognition as a keyboards player, he is definitely underrated! It’s not just his piano, his organ playing on some of the other tracks too. The intro on “That Ain’t Love” might sound like it could have been done my Mr. Mister but Neil makes it sound amazing. His best effort and the band’s as well comes on the track, “Variety Tonight.” Neil’s intro kicks it off but then then Gary Richrath lays down some good guitar jams and probably plays his best guitar solo on the album. The female backing singers add a unique touch too and as much as I went on about Neil, I can hear from this song and on “That Ain’t Love” that Bruce Hall doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as a bass player. Furthermore, he sings lead on “Accidents Can Happen” and sounds all right.

What first got me listening to REO Speedwagon in 1980 was the hard rock sound of their 1979 “Nine Lives” album. While “Life As We Know It” doesn’t go back to that sound, it does have its hard rocking moments. “One Too Many Girlfriends” is on song that rocks and I have recently discovered that the song was actually highlighting the growing tensions between band members Kevin Cronin and Gary Richrath. This would be the last album with Gary and Alan Gratzer. Anyway, “Screams and Whispers” and “Over the Edge” also rock out pretty well and if I could have selected a track to be a single, it would have been “Can’t Get You Out of My Heart.” This song is well suited to the 1980s in the sense that there is some good synth work with a hard rocking guitar driven rhythm to it and the lyrics lament a love lost. So, my question is: while wasn’t this song released as a single? Feel free to answer.

Track Listing:

  1. New Way to Love
  2. That Ain’t Love
  3. In My Dreams
  4. One Too Many Girlfriends
  5. Variety Tonight
  6. Screams and Whispers
  7. Can’t Get You Out of My Heart
  8. Over the Edge
  9. Accidents Can Happen
  10. Tired of Getting Nowhere
REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Gary Richrath- lead guitar

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass

Alan Gratzer- drums

I won’t go as far as to say that “Life As We Know It” started off my 1987 in style. After all, I didn’t hear it until March and neither the album nor any of the singles got any airplay in the UK. Still, it’s a decent album and showed me that they were still more than the top forty band I had accused them of becoming on their previous album.

Next post: Suzanne Vega- Solitude Standing

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