Archive for the 1980s Category

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Petra- Beat the System

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

In the summer of 1985, a friend of mine, who was a Born Again Christian, invited me to go see the Christian rock band Petra, in attempt to bring me back to the fold. Having nothing better to do, I went and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It didn’t matter that they were singing about religion nor was I in any way annoyed when they stopped halfway through their show to present a brief slide show on the missionary work they were doing in Africa. I thought Petra were good enough for me to give their album “Beat the System” a listen.

While I wasn’t disappointed with the album, I had to say that at the time, it wasn’t the hard rock I had heard them play live. “Beat the System” is more on the lines of progressive rock bands such as Survivor and Marillion and that’s not a bad thing at all. One song that backs up my assertion is the second track, “Computer Brains.” It is done in the 80s style of the time while not going as far as being synth pop. Saying that, I do wish the guitar solo had been a little louder on it because another memory I took from the concert was that Bob Hartman is pretty good on the six string. But you can’t fault the keyboard work on this and some of the other songs.

“Clean” is a more harder track, maybe the hardest one on the album. It would have been a blinder if they had turned up the guitars a bit more but it has a catchy vibe. Next comes the hidden gem, “It is Finished.” The song is about the crucifixion of Jesus but this song has all the tools, except one, to be a great prog-metal jam. It has some cool keyboard notes to intro and a great metal rhythm to bang your head to. Greg Volz’s vocals might be the best on the album here. Everything there almost, what holds it back from being a brilliant prog-metal tune is the absence of any guitar solo. That would have propelled it through the ionosphere. If I was a Sunday School teacher and wanted to teach about the crucifixion, I would have definitely used this song.

“Voice in the Wind” is an all right song but let’s skip to the big feature of “Beat the System.” In 1991, you might have heard a KISS song called “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” compliments of the movie, “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” Well Petra recorded this Russ Ballard written hit twice, the second time on this album. I don’t mean to anger KISS fans but I have to say that I prefer Petra’s version. KISS tried to make theirs sound to ballad-like and commercial. While Petra’s version seems more choppy, it works well. I’ll let everyone have a listen and decide for themselves.

The rest of the album is more of Jesus lyrics sung to some rather good progressive rock. The closer, “Adonai,” is a good an album closer as any. In the end, this is a good album and it proves that belief in a spiritual being has no bearing on how well anyone can sing or play music. “Beat the System” is simply good progressive rock.

Track Listing:

  1. Beat the System
  2. Computer Brain
  3. Clean
  4. It is Finished
  5. Voice in the Wind
  6. God Gave Rock and Roll to You
  7. Witch Hunt
  8. Hollow Eyes
  9. Speak to the Sky
  10. Adonai

Petra

Greg X Volz- lead vocals

Bob Hartman- guitars

Rhett Lawrence- synthesizers

John Lawry- synthesizers

Carl Marsh- keyboards, drums, bass

Did I come back to God as a result of Petra? No, but it wasn’t anything down to this cool band who have a great album and were cool to see live. What ended any desire to go back to the flock was the attitude of my friend and some of his “Christian” friends. Being a week after the great Live Aid, I had to hear these people put it down because the bands were all heathen rockers. One person said the bands should have given ten percent of their earnings to Africa. I wonder if this person gave that much of his. Damn hypocrite! That ended any idea of me burning my records and coming back to Jesus. Though, I feel I never really left him.

Next post: Kim MItchell- Akimbo Alogo

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537470169&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Weird Al Yankovic- Dare To Be Stupid

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2018 by 80smetalman

After the big success of his 1984 album, “In 3D,” it was only expected that the King of Parody, Weird Al Yankovic, release an album in 1985. Therefore, many people like me eagerly awaited and grabbed “Dare to be Stupid” as soon as it came out. Even though some critics said that the new album wasn’t as good as its predecessor, (what do they know?), I still really like this album.

First let us start with the parodies. Opening the album is what has been said one of his best songs, “Like a Surgeon,” which is a parody of the then Madonna classic, “Like a Virgin.” For all the things I might say about Madonna, I have to give her credit here. Not  only did she give Weird Al her blessing to make a take off on her song, she collaborated on “Like a Surgeon.” Reportedly, this was the only time that he used ideas from outside artists on any of his songs. Whatever the case,  the song is a hoot and so is the video for it.

Other artists who gets the parody treatment are Huey Lewis and the News, the Kinks and Cyndi Lauper. The Huey Lewis song which gets it is “I Want a New Drug” in the form of “I Want a New Duck” and the song is actually about a duck. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll be rolling around in laughter but that’s what Weird Al does best. Back in 1985, some Star Wars fans took offense at his parody of the Kinks classic, “Lola” with “Yoda.” The song shows that at least he saw the film. No 80smetalman points for guessing which Cyndi Lauper song he would parody. Thinking about it, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was probably to golden of an opportunity for him and “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch” is a great send off. It sounds like he’s singing off key on the song but I think that’s just the weird in Weird Al.

Something which always gets overlooked in regards to Weird Al is the fact that he does have musical talent. All of his parodies sound like the original. “I Want a New Duck” and “Yoda” sound almost exactly as they could have been done by the original artists. It’s his seemingly non parodies where his talent can be seen more. I shouldn’t call some of these non-parodies because they are parodies in a different way. The style in which the title track is that of Devo and the very funny “One More Minute” sounds like an Elvis Presley ballad. However, the lyrics in that song will crack you up. Staying with that one, it sounds like a lamentation of a guy who has been dumped by his girl but in typical Weird Al style, he goes above and beyond. Sure, I’ve been dumped but I never considered burning down the malt shop we went to because it reminded me of her.

If his songs aren’t spoofing an artist’s song or musical style, they’re doing it to aspects of life. “This Is the Life” is a send off on rich people’s life style and “Slime Creatures From Outer Space” pays hilarious tribute to 1950s Sci-Fi films. However, my favourite in this category is “Cable TV” which by 1985 was becoming a nationwide household phenomenon. Nowadays, most Americans have hundreds of channels but often times still nothing to watch. There’s also a cover of the theme song to the cartoon “George of the Jungle,” I like it and like “In 3D” he puts popular contemporary at the time songs to polka music. ZZ Top and Twisted Sister along with many others get the polka treatment. Only this time, it closes the album and probably the most appropriate song to do so.

Track Listing:

  1. Like a Surgeon
  2. Dare to be Stupid
  3. I Want a New Duck
  4. One More Minute
  5. Yoda
  6. George of the Jungle
  7. Slime Creatures From Outer Space
  8. Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch
  9. This is the Life
  10. Cable TV
  11. Hooked on Polkas

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- lead vocals, accordion, keyboards

Rick Derringer- guitar, production

Steve Jay- bass, banjo, backing vocals

Jim West- guitar, backing vocals

John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums percussion

Ignore the critics, to me “Dare To Be Stupid” is just as zany and well done as any of Weird Al’s other albums. While songs will have you in stitches, try to appreciate just how musically talented he really is.

Next post: Petra- Beat the System

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537086656&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: George Thorogood- Maverick

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2018 by 80smetalman

By May of 1985, I had conceded that the anti-metal brigade had won as far as commercial radio and MTV was concerned. It was a rarity then to see or hear any metal played on mainstream media. The only time I would really listen to any radio was during my eight hour shift at a parking lot in Atlantic City. While I lamented the lack of metal, there was some good rock tunes on radio, many from recently visited albums of this year. Then sometime in May, while listening to radio on my shift, I was treated to the first single from George Thorogood, “I Drink Alone,” from his “Maverick” album and that made eight hours of commercial radio much more bearable.

“I Drink Alone” is my all time favourite George Thorogood song. While the more ignorant claimed that the song was more of his usual same sounding stuff, I begged to differ. Yes, his voice is trademark and the riffs might sound familiar but if so, who the hell cares? He plays a blinder on it and one can’t fault the guitar solo at all. What I like just as much is his innuendos towards famous alcoholic drinks. Since the song is about a guy who enjoys drinking alone, he mentions his drinking pals; his buddy Weiser, pals Jack Daniels and partner Jimmy Beam and friends Johnny Walker and his brothers Black and Red. Then there’s the only family member who will drink with him, his Old Grandad. All very clever and I wonder if George collected any advertising royalties for mentioning these products in his song.

Looking at the rest of the “Maverick” album, it is business as usual from George Thorogood and the Destroyers. The first three songs are the best, the middle one the big single although the third track, “Willie and the Hand-jive” was also released as a single and it’s a great blues boogie song too. Saying that, I do prefer the opener, Gear Jammer.” The remainder of the album, while not as brilliant as the first three songs, doesn’t deteriorate the album in any way. “Long Gone” is more of what George and the Destroyers do best and the spotlight is on saxophonist Hank Carter who makes the mark. My vote for hidden gem on “Maverick” has to be “Woman With the Blues.” The song slows down a lot and while it gives the impression that George shouldn’t sing ballads, which it’s not, he still sounds okay. However, it’s his more famous guitar riffing on it that makes the track a hidden gem.

Apart from the boogie/blues, it can be said that there is a 1950s sound to some of the songs on the album. Yes, I can picture Ritchie Cunningham and friends dancing to “Dixie Fried” at Arnold’s but then again, there is another great Thorogood guitar solo on it but that’s not the point. My point here is that George records songs by some of the greats from that era, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, John Lee Hooker and Carl Perkins. He was criticized, (there will always be people who will), for not writing many of his songs. I won’t explore why this is the case, my guess is that he loved those songs so much that he wanted to record them. It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t write songs because the ones he does write are some of the best on the album. The opener, the big single and hidden gem all prove it. The ones he didn’t write are all performed well and I’m sure those who wrote them would have given him the thumbs up on each of them.

Track Listing:

  1. Gear Jammer
  2. I Drink Alone
  3. Willie and the Hand-Jive
  4. What a Price
  5. Long Gone
  6. Dixie Fried
  7. Crawlin’ King Snake
  8. Memphis/Little Marie
  9. Woman With the Blues
  10. Go Go Go
  11. The Ballad of Maverick

George Thorogood

George Thorogood- guitar, lead vocals

Hank Carter- saxophone, harmony vocals

Billy Blough- bass

Jeff Simon- drums, percussion

George Thorogood was an oasis in a land barren of good music, at least as far as mainstream media was concerned. Whether or not you think “Maverick” was his best album, it still demonstrated that he could play with the best of them.

Next post: Weird Al Yankovic- Dare to be Stupid

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536744478&sr=1-2&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Fiona

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2018 by 80smetalman

New Jersey has always been divided into North and South. The Southern part, where I’m from, has always been Philadelphia oriented while the Northern part has always been New York oriented. This has always been the case when supporting sports teams and it seems has been the case for music. It’s probably another reason why Beru Revue’s popularity never went beyond the Philadelphia- South Jersey area and it is also why more people living in South Jersey at the time were more into The Hooters than they were into Northern New Jersey singer Fiona.

Fiona (Flanagan)’s debut album appeared in early 1985 and from what I remember, her label, Atlantic, seemed to be doing everything they could to push the album and its single, “Talk to Me.” Unfortunately, the highest the single got was #64. Fortunately, the album did slightly better. Examining the album, I know there are some good to decent rock tunes. “Hang Your Heart on Me” is a decent opener for the album. It does the job in obtaining your interest and the mentioned single does have a cool sax solo on it. I think the problem with it was that it was too mainstream for metalheads and too rock for trendies. The best rocking track is the third one, “You’re No Angel,” which boasts Fiona’s best vocals and a really cool guitar solo. “James” is also a decent rocker although her vocals aren’t quite as good on it. For me, “Rescue You” sounds too 80s synth pop for me but her vocals are okay and there’s another good guitar solo on it. Then there’s the closer, “The Na Na Song.” I have to say that it is probably one of the best album closing tracks of all time. True, the second half on the song is mostly comprised of her singing, “Na na, na na na na na” but it, with the harder rocking does great to take the song and the album to it’s natural conclusion.

In spite of some good rock tunes and some great musicianship on the album, what let’s this album is Fiona herself. I won’t be as harsh as my sister who simply says Fiona can’t sing, I will say that she’s not a great vocalist. Take “James” for instance. When she’s singing the more power rock parts, her voice is okay but it’s when she tries to go more melodic, her voice lets the song down. The same can be said on “Over Now,” which is a shame in a way because that song has the best guitar solo on the album. Her vocal weakness comes through the most on the power ballad, “Love Makes You Blind.” Her voice isn’t up to it. I don’t want to be cruel to her so I’ll put forward this perspective. Instead of being made to sing more commercial ready, it would have been better for her if she had fronted a proper heavy metal band which her vocal ability is more suited for. That’s my verdict anyway.

Track Listing:

  1. Hang Your Heart On Me
  2. Talk to Me
  3. You’re No Angel
  4. Rescue You
  5. James
  6. Love Makes You Blind
  7. Over Now
  8. The Na Na Song

Fiona

Fiona- lead vocals

Bobby Messano- guitar

Gregory Tebbitt- guitar

Benjy King- keyboard

Alan Hurwitz- keyboard

Peter Zale- keyboard

Joe Franco- drums, percussion

Donnie Kisselbach- bass

Schuyler Deale- bass

Rick Bell- saxophone

Elena Aazan- backing vocals

Tom Flanagan- backing vocals

Peppi Marchello- backing vocals

Louie Merlino- backing vocals

‘The Mob’- backing vocals

Tara O’Boyle- backing vocals

Jimmy Wilcox- backing vocals

Fiona wasn’t the big commercial success Atlantic Records was hoping for in 1985 and I’ve given clues as to why. In spite of that, her debut album is still pretty good and worth a listen.

BTW, I hope people out there aren’t taking this to mean that heavy metal singers aren’t as good as those who aren’t. Many mainstream vocalists can’t sing metal.

Next post: George Thorogood- Maverick

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536483187&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: The Hooters- Nervous Night

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2018 by 80smetalman

Thanks to everyone who wished me well on my holiday. It was just a long weekend at the Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Skegness and then a couple of days at Cleethorpes but it was nice. Now, I’m back and it’s back to the tour of the 1980s through my eyes.

Skegness Fair and park

Probably no one remembers when I posted about a band called Beru Revue a few months back. So, to refresh everyone’s memory, Beru Revue were a local band out of Philadelphia who were very popular in their native area but never broke out and made it elsewhere. At the end of that post, I mentioned that another band from Philadelphia would break out and rise to national attention in 1985. That band was The Hooters and they did so with their second album, “Nervous Night.”

It might not be well known but before this album came out, The Hooters had some previous commercial success when they co-wrote Cyndi Lauper’s second big hit single, “Time After Time.” Trust me, The Hooters’ version of the song totally blows Lauper’s out of the water. At least I think so. Looking back into history, one shouldn’t have been surprised when they did make the big time. I remember their first single and one of my favourite tracks on the album, “All You Zombies” getting played quite a bit on the radio. Then to my surprise, on a visit to Rhode Island, I saw the video to said song played on a local music channel. That confirmed that The Hooters had actually made it.

My theory behind the the success of “Nervous Night” was it down to the music being a bit different. Some called it new wave or punk because that was the label given to any music that didn’t fit any mold in 1985. I always think it’s great when you can’t pigeonhole music that’s good. The closest track that may fit into the mold others try to impose on it would be the fourth one, “Don’t Take My Car Out Tonight.” There is a synth sound supporting a hard rock sounding guitar along with some of the other unique instruments the band plays like a melodica. Saying that, it’s all done well. “Hanging on a Heartbeat” can also fit this mold and it does have a good guitar solo.

The two more successful singles “And We Danced” and “Day by Day” are also unique but still very commercial radio friendly. It’s probably why both either hovered around or cracked the top 20 in the singles charts. However, there are two possible hidden gems. While, “Where Do the Children Go,” which Patty Smyth makes a guest appearance on, did get some airplay on radio and MTV, it didn’t chart as well as the other two singles and most people have forgotten it. I haven’t. This is a brilliant song, especially the way the mandolin is played on it. The other hidden gem is “Blood From a Stone” which rocks a little more. The song is about working people struggling to keep their heads above water during a time when wages were being cut and people were only given part time jobs to make the unemployment figures look good. Even now, these lyrics ring true:

“I work hard to pay the rent and support my government

The highways and the railroad tracks

I’m not giving it up till they give it all back

You can laugh and but it’s no joke 

You got to fix the thing that’s broke

There’s no meat only bone, but you can’t get blood from a stone.”

“South Ferry Road” is a pretty good rocker as well and “She Comes in Colors” has a sound reminiscent of The Cars.

Track Listing:

  1. And We Danced
  2. Day By Day
  3. All you Zombies
  4. Don’t Take My Car Tonight
  5. Nervous Night
  6. Hanging on a Heartbreak
  7. Where Do the Children Go
  8. South Ferry Road
  9. She Comes in Colors
  10. Blood From a Stone

The Hooters

Eric Bazilian- lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, saxophone

Rob Hyman- lead vocals, keyboards, melodica

Arthur King- bass, vocals

John Liley- guitar

David Uoskkinen- drums

I’ll let you decide if The Hooters version is better than Cyndi Lauper’s

I think most people believe it’s great when a local artist makes the big time and for most people in the Delaware Valley, it was The Hooters in 1985. This would be their year as “Nervous Night” would win several awards and the band would open the Live Aid Concert. Yes great things and two years later, The Hooters would be one hit wonders in the UK but that’s a story for another day.

Next post: Fiona

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536266503&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Los Lobos- How Will the Wolf Survive

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2018 by 80smetalman

I think this is another case of my Swiss cheese memory. I could have sworn that my first encounter with Los Lobos was in 1985 but Wikipedia claims their first full album came out in 1984. It probably did and I didn’t actually hear of it until early 85. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. It doesn’t matter either way because Los Lobos was my first encounter with a style of rock some people called Tex-Mex. This is a infusion of country music from Texas and Mexican music. All I thought at the time was this is a nice piece of rock and roll.

My belief it’s rock and roll comes from the opening track, “Don’t Worry Baby.” This track sound very 1950s and I envision kids dancing around to it in Happy Days fashion. Still, it’s a good way to open the album. The second track, “A Matter of Time” is certainly more soft rock although I wouldn’t say it’s a ballad but it keeps things ticking over nicely. Los Lobos’s Mexican influence definitely shines through on the third track, “Corrido #1.” Again, it is very catchy and though I’ve never done it, it is an amusing song to play at parties. One could definitely dance along and shout “Ole!” with this one.

While the third track brought the Mex, the very next track brings forth the Tex. “Our Last Night” sounds classic country  and visions of people four-stepping and shouting “Yee-ha!” fill my mind here. The lead guitar sounds very country western. Things swing back to the Mex with “The Breakdown” but the 50s sound from the opening track is present too. The combination works and smoothly takes you to the drinking track on the album, “I Got Loaded.” Singing about getting drunk to a catchy 50s melody makes me want to bob along while taking swigs from a bottle. Can’t do it this time, I’m still on the wagon from Bloodstock. I love the sax solo at the end.

Mexico can certainly be felt with “Serenata Norteno.” This sounds like a fiesta and it is sung in Spanish but it’s a nice catchy little tune. A cool 50s sounding guitar solo opens the next track, “Evangeline” and sets the tone for the rest of it. The track cooks all the way through with another cool guitar solo in the middle. “I Got to Let You Know” is in the same 50s vibe but faster. Once I joked that the song was 50s thrash, though not quite that fast and the vocals are cleaner. Plus there’s a sax solo in the middle so you really can’t call it thrash. After the short instrumental, “Lil’ King of Everything,” Los Lobos save the best for last. Closing the album is the title track and first single. While all the mentioned influences are compacted into the song, it totally rocks! It has always been my all time favourite Los Lobos song. Like I said, it’s a great way to end an album.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Worry Baby
  2. A Matter of Time
  3. Corrido#1
  4. Our Last Night
  5. The Breakdown
  6. I Got Loaded
  7. Serenata Norteno
  8. Evangeline
  9. I Got to Let You Know
  10. Lil’ King of Everything
  11. How Will the Wolf Survive

Los Lobos

Steve Berlin- saxophones, percussion

David Hildalgo- lead vocals, guitar, steel trap, accordion, percussion

Conrad Lozano- bass, backing vocals, guitarron

Louie Perez- drums, backing vocals, bajo quinto

Caesar Rosas- lead vocals, guitar, mandolin, bajo sexto

Thirty-three and a half years ago, I very much enjoyed my introduction into Tex-Mex. Los Lobos put out a grand debut album.

Next post: The Hooters- Nervous Night

Note: I’m going away for five days on a much needed vacation so the post won’t be for about a week.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535658688&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre