Archive for the 1980s Category

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Roger Waters- The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2017 by 80smetalman

Proof how sometimes initial impressions can be misguided. While Pink Floyd have continued on strong since Roger Waters departed the band and it’s been said that Roger’s career hasn’t exactly flourished, (that’s a matter for debate), things seemed a lot different in 1984. There was little or no mention of Pink Floyd in this year but Roger Waters delivered a killer solo album in the form of “The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.” Roger hadn’t left the band yet and it turns out that way back in the late 1970s, he brought the concept for this album to the band along with that for “The Wall.” He told them the band would make the one and the other concept he would do as a solo album. History can tell you which concept was chosen by the band leaving “The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” for Roger to do as a solo album.

The similarities between the two albums come through immediately. Like “The Wall” and even “Dark Side of the Moon” the songs sometimes blend together where you have to listen very carefully or at least have the album cover with you so you can pinpoint where one track ends and the next one begins. Then again, like many a Pink Floyd album, this album can be best appreciated whilst mellowed out in a room and smoking things. It joins a great line of albums to space out to. Also like Pink Floyd’s famous album, it tells a story. The concept is about the thoughts of a man who is driving through California and how he would like to commit adultery with the female hitchhiker he picks up. It’s an interesting theme set to the music.

One thing that I noticed the very first time I ever listened to the album was that the guitarist can really wail. Teach me to read the credits before putting an album on because that was an absolute no brainer. The guitarist was Eric Clapton and he does what he always does with the guitar. There are some really cool solos throughout the album, I really like the one he lays down on “Sexual Revolution” but his presence his felt very strongly all through the album. Roger definitely achieved a major coup by having Eric play on the album but he orchestrates other instruments very effectively too. The horns and the backing vocals are prime examples.

Since it was hearing the title track on the radio that alerted me to the album, that has always been my favourite track on it. Clapton plays a killer solo on it as well and all the other elements I’ve previously discussed are there too. Saying that, the way the album is laid out, it is easy for such a song to stand out although I do like the near seven minute “Go Fishing.” After listening to the “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” after so many years, I’m as excited about it now as I was then.

Track Listing:

  1. Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad
  2. Running Shoes
  3. Arabs With Knives and West German Skies
  4. For the First Time Today Part 2
  5. Sexual Revolution
  6. The Remains of Our Love
  7. Go Fishing
  8. For the First Time Today Part 1
  9. Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin
  10. The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking
  11. Every Stranger’s Eyes
  12. The Moment of Clarity

Roger Waters

Roger Waters- bass, lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Eric Clapton- lead guitar

Ray Cooper- percussion

Andy Newmark- drums, percussion

David Sanbourn- saxophone

Michael Kamen- piano

Andy Brown- organ, 12 string guitar

Madeline Bell, Katie Kissoon, Doreen Chanter- backing vocals

Raphael Ravenscroft, Kevin Flanagan, Vic Sullivan- horns

When Roger Waters did leave Pink Floyd in 1985, I wasn’t worried that we had seen the last of him. After all, he had put out a great solo album a year earlier. While not different from the material he did with the band, it’s still a great one to enjoy.

Next post: Duke Jupiter- White Knuckle Ride

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great(ish) Rock Albums of 1984: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Rod Stewart has always been a top forty artist in my book. He’s had a string of hits over the past four decades, some of them I actually liked, especially during the 1970s and 80s. I confessed to this fact when I visited his 1982 “Tonight I’m Yours” album some time ago. One of those singles I like happened to be the single, “Infatuation,” from the 1984 album, “Camouflage.” The song does venture  towards the new wave/hard rock borderland and even more so with the guitar solo by Jeff Beck. That brings me to the video for the song. Rod continues his string of cheesy videos that started with “Young Turks” where everyone is dancing on the hoods of cars and carries on with “Infatuation. In this video, Jeff Beck pops up in the hotel room from out of nowhere to play his solo. I understand that Mike LeBrain has had the same problem. Whenever he stays in a hotel room, Jeff Beck shows up. To quote a title from another song on “Camouflage,” some guys have all the luck.

After the opener, “Infatuation,” things go downhill pretty fast. While, I applaud Rod Stewart for a decent single at first, with the next track, I’m ready to place a bounty on his head for his act of sacrilege. He covers the Free classic “All Right Now” and it is a totally synthed out version. If he had kept to the script set down by Free, his voice would have carried the song but with all the synthesizers, I have to say, “No Rod!” But that’s not the only cover he has destroyed. On track four, he sings a cover of the Todd Rungren classic, “Can We Still Be Friends.” Like “All Right Now” there’s nothing wrong with his voice on the song but again, the synthesizers ruin it for me. While this sacrilege isn’t as bad, it’s still bad enough that even Jeff Beck’s guitar solo can’t save it.

Jeff does improve things with a solo on the track after, “Bad For You.” This one is more in line with the opener and sounds quite good. “Heart is On the Line” is one of those pop sounding songs that isn’t bad but it’s not one I want to listen to over and over. “The title track is much more sharper. Rod’s voice takes control of it and therefore the synths that appear on it are only in the background. Plus there’s a good use of horns adding a bit of diversity. Had Jeff belted out a solo on it, it might have been my favourite track. The closer, “Trouble” typifies how unbalanced “Camouflage” is. The keyboard intro makes you feel it’s going to be a cool prog rock song only to fade away into a ballad. Now, Rod has always been able to sing a good ballad and does so here but the intro leaves me disappointed with the rest of the song.

Track Listing:

  1. Infatuation
  2. All Right Now
  3. Some Guys Have All the Luck
  4. Can We Still Be Friends
  5. Bad For You
  6. Heart is On the Line
  7. Camouflage
  8. Trouble

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart- vocals

Jeff Beck- guitar

Jim Cregan- guitar

Robin LeMesurier- guitar

Michael Landau- guitar

Jay Davis- bass

Tony Brock- drums

Kevin Savigar- keyboards

Michael Omartian- keyboards, percussion, backing vocals

Jimmy Zavala- harmonica

Gary Herbig- saxophone

Jerry Hey, Chuck Finley, Kim Hutchcroft, Charlie Loper, Gary Grant- horns

Was “Camouflage” great? I tend not to think so, however, it could have been so if there weren’t so many synth versions of classic rock songs. The songs that are good are but others let the album down. It seems here, he was comfortable being a top forty singer.

Next post: Roger Waters- The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by 80smetalman

Nearly everyone and their sibling says that the “Grace Under Pressure” album was the beginning of Rush’s synthesizer period. In reality, the band had started to go in that direction with their previous album, “Signals.” What was popularly believed at the time was that as a result of my favourite Rush album, “Moving Pictures,” some misguided persons heard songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” and called Rush a heavy metal band. Therefore, in reaction to that, they went for the more synthesizer sound to squash the stereotype. At first I believed it but now in my old age, I don’t really care if it was true at the time or not. I just like the album.

While Rush are not heavy metal, it doesn’t stop many metalheads like myself from liking them, a lot. In the opening pages of “Rock And Roll Children,” the main characters play “Grace Under Pressure” to mellow out a bit after an evening of heavy metal records. I have to admit, when I heard the first single, “Distant Early Warning,” I wasn’t too sure about them. Maybe they had sold out and gone commercial. I guess in my naivety, I expected them to continue in the same vein as my favourite Rush album. But believe me, “Grace Under Pressure” was no sell out and it was many levels above some of the other synthesizer music that was manifesting at the time.

What Rush did with “Grace Under Pressure” was take the emerging synth sound and made it into something of their own. I’ve said a number of times that all three members are talented musicians and together, they can create some fantastic music which all will enjoy no matter what camp you’re in. For me, sure I was slightly disappointed at first that the guitar takes a back seat on the album, but it doesn’t go away completely. You can clearly hear Liefson’s licks laying down the foundation along with Peart’s beat in support of Lee’s keyboard skills and vocals. I have always stated that Lee has been underrated as a keyboards player. As for Alex, he does nail solos on “The Body Electric”  and the closer, “Between the Wheels,” and I do like his intro on “The Enemy Within.” That has to be my favourite track on the album. Now, I won’t break down the album into individual songs because they all are good on their own and all compliment each other and that makes a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Distant Early Warning
  2. Afterimage
  3. Red Sector A
  4. The Enemy Within
  5. The Body Electric
  6. Kid Gloves
  7. Red Lenses
  8. Between the Wheels

Rush

Geddy Lee- vocals, synthesizers, bass

Alex Liefson- guitars

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

I think that “Grace Under Pressure” achieves what Rick, Frankie, Jeff and Bob were going for in “Rock and Roll Children.” They were looking something to just kick back and listen to. The album allows you to do that because that’s when you begin to hear and appreciate all the small intricacies contained there in and that’s when you know how good it is.

Next post: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Peter Wolf- Lights Out

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by 80smetalman

It’s funny how sometimes when a singer leaves a band, both that singer and the band, with their new singer, put out an album around the same time. Is it coincidence? Rivalry? Answers on a post card please. I guess we’ll never know. All I know is that in 1984, after singer Peter Wolf left the J Geils band, the band released the album I visited in the last post and Peter Wolf came out with his debut solo album, “Lights Out,” at the same time.

Listening to the opener, title cut and biggest single from the album, I am reminded why I probably stayed away from the album. The video for “Lights Out” got a fair amount of play on MTV at the time but it also got played a lot in dance clubs although that song was better than most of the stuff played in such places. That song never did anything for me and it still doesn’t.

Fortunately, there are far better songs on “Lights Out.” The very next track, “I Need You Tonight” has a more traditional J Geils Band sound and the succeeding track is a little of the same. Then there is the rather spooky sounding ballad, “Gloomy Sunday,” which has a 1940s feel to it. It does show that Peter’s voice has some versatility to it. A better single for me would have been “Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go.” This has a more catchy commercial vibe to it and I bet you could dance to it if you’re into such things.

One big question that arises from the album is: Was Peter Wolf in a competition with Randy Newman as to who could get the most big names to accompany on their album? You only need to see the list of people on this album to discover what I mean. Heck, he even gets Mick Jagger to duet with him on the track “Crazy” and it sounds good. Possibly my favourite track on the album. I don’t know who of the many guitarists on the album does the guitar solo but it’s well done. My guess is that it’s Adrian Belew but don’t quote me on that. It could be The Cars guitarist Elliot Easton but to me, it doesn’t sound like his style, I could be wrong and usually am.

Track Listing:

  1. Lights Out
  2. I Need You Tonight
  3. Oo Ee Diddley Bop
  4. Gloomy Sunday
  5. Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go
  6. Crazy
  7. Poor Girls Heart
  8. Here Comes That Hurt Again
  9. Pretty Lady
  10. Mars Needs Women
  11. Billy Bigtime

Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf- conga, vocals

Robin Beck- vocals

Mick Jagger- vocals

Adrian Belew- guitar

Peter Bliss- guitar, backing vocals

Tony ‘Rocks’ Cowan- guitar

Alan Dawson- percussion

Elliot Easton- guitar

Eddie Gorodetsky- vocals, narration

Yogi Horton- percussion

Michael Jozun- bass, flute, guitar, percussion, horns, keyboards, backing vocals

Will Lee- bass, vocals

Leon Mobley- conga, conductor

P-Funk Horns- horn section

Rick Peppers- guitar

Randy Ross- guitar

G E Smith- guitar

Maurice Starr- bass, guitar, vocals

Ed Stasium- guitar, percussion

Rusty the Toejammer- scratches

Gordon Worthy- bass, conga, keyboards, vocals

I think that the theme of Peter Wolf’s “Lights Out” album is versatility. No two songs are the same yet at the same time, the album seems to flow. Whether its the more commercial sound of “Poor Girls Heart” to the humourous “Mars Needs Women” to the more blues funk closer “Billy Bigtime” there’s something here that everyone will like.

Next post: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: J Geils Band- You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd

Posted in 1980s, Death, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by 80smetalman

Back when I posted about the J Geils Band’s “Freeze Frame” album, I mentioned that in the UK, the band have always been considered one hit wonders in the UK, “Centerfold” being that one hit. I still find that hard to fathom. Anyway, the video for said hit featured on a UK music station during a segment called “One Hit Wonders Weekend.” While showing the video, someone thought it would be clever to have an arrow pointing out lead singer, Peter Wolf, with the caption, “This is not J Geils.” A few seconds later, the same arrow pointed to the guitar player with the caption, “This is J Geils.” It’s funny how the death of someone can make you remember things like that about them. What it also did was help me remember that the band put out an album in 1984, otherwise it would have passed me by.

Why I never bought “You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd” is a mystery even to me. Could it be the fact that the album never produced a major hit? The only single, “Concealed Weapons,” only made it to 63 in the charts. No, that never stopped me nor the fact that Peter Wolf had left the band before its release. Now that I remember, I think he had a solo album in this year. Was it because I had become fully absorbed in metal by then? No, because I have always kept an ear out for all music I might like. So, I’m afraid I can’t answer the question.

Thanks to Youtube, I have been able to listen to the album and ask myself again why I didn’t buy it. It’s a pretty good album, different from what the J Geils band had put out in the past and certainly not heavy metal. I did keep my promise to check out some of the band’s pre “Love Stinks” material. “You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd” is a fusion of jazz and new wave. There is a heavy use of horns on the album and while I’m usually wary of horns in rock, it works very well on the album. However, there is some very interesting sounds with the keyboards that make it sound new wave. I call as evidence, the track “Wasted Youth” and the cool intro to “Heavy Petting.” Yet even there, the horns come in making the marriage of the two genres a sweet one. “Heavy Petting” is one of the stand out tracks for me but the one which stands out the most is “Californicatin.'” They should have released that one as the single, it might have done better in the charts. Then again, “Concealed Weapons” does remind me a little of the Dead Kennedys. I like the faster pace with the song with the short sharp horns and background vocals. The only J Geils guitar solo appears on “The Bite From Inside” which saves a lackluster song.

Track Listing:

  1. Concealed Weapons
  2. Heavy Petting
  3. Wasted Youth
  4. Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe
  5. Tell’ Em Jonesy
  6. You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd
  7. The Bite From Inside
  8. Californicatin’
  9. I Will Carry You Home

The J Geils Band

Note: I couldn’t find a picture of the band without Peter Wolf in it so I used this one

Seth Justman- keyboards, vocals

J Geils- guitar

Magic Dick- harmonica

Danny Klein- bass

Stephen Bladd- drums

“You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd” was the last album from the J Geils Band. Maybe the departure from their traditional sound was too different for the average listener or that Seth Justman lacked the charisma of Peter Wolf. It’s hard to say but I’ve heard a lot of last albums from bands that weren’t as good as this one.

Next post: Peter Wolf- Lights Out (It seems he did have an album out in 1984)

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Cars- Heartbeat City

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by 80smetalman

Way back in the early days, when I posted about The Cars’ 1978 self titled debut album, Stone from Metalodyssey commented that The Cars were ahead of their time. I totally agree with this and will add to it by stating that they continued to be ahead of their time with their albums from the early 1980s. However, by 1984 time had caught up with them and what they were doing wasn’t so advanced. It seemed that many bands were influenced by them and were copying what they were doing. But no matter what other bands were trying to do, there will only be one band called The Cars and to paraphrase a quote at the time by former WWE manager, Lou Albano, they were “often imitated but never duplicated.” Proof in the pudding is their 1984 album, “Heartbeat City.”

‘Captain’ Lou Albano

What is so great about this album is while others may have been trying to copy The Cars, they didn’t do anything different from what they had done before. Yet, “Heartbeat City” still manages to sound fresh. Some will point to the biggest hit from the album, “Drive” and say that they did change. A few misguided individuals, who know not this band, have labelled them one hit wonders, WTF? My rebuttal comes with my favourite track on the album, “You Might Think” which was also a top ten hit for the band. For me to like a song that makes it into the top ten singles chart is saying something.

“Heartbeat City” is another successful marriage of hard rock and more synthesizer oriented sounds of the early 1980s performed by the band. A great example is the hidden gem that is “Stranger Eyes.” That is a song which is a foundation for the union I have just described. Then there are other tracks, some of them were even released as singles like “Magic” and “It’s Not the Night.” I do love Greg Hawkes keyboard work on the latter of the two although the I like the more hard rock on the former. Am I being wishy washy? Most probably but when an album can be so diversified and still catch and hold my attention, then it must be said that The Cars did something very right on this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Hello Again
  2. It’s Not the Night
  3. Magic
  4. Drive
  5. Stranger Eyes
  6. You Might Think
  7. I’s Not the Night
  8. Why Can’t I Have You
  9. I Refuse
  10. Heartbeat City

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals

Ben Orr- bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on tracks 4, 5 and 7

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

Time might have caught up with The Cars but that didn’t stop them from doing what they did best and putting out a great album in “Heartbeat City.” Some have said that this was their best album, though I’ve always been partial to their first. However, I wouldn’t enter into any debate about it.

Next post: J Geils Band- You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. J Geils

Posted in 1980s, Death, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by 80smetalman

J Geils

2017 continues to suck as much as 2016 as another rock icon goes to the great gig in the sky. J Geils who’s band bears his name passed away today, aged 71, from what is believed to be natural causes. While the world best knows his band for the great hit, “Centerfold,” the J Geils band had a series of cool blues rock albums throughout the 1970s. The bands commercial breakthrough came in 1980 with the album that bears the title of my all time favourite J Geils band song, “Love Stinks.”

The J Geils Band

Another sad day for rock, all we can say is rest in peace, J Geils. I have always wanted to delve more into their earlier stuff, so that’s what I’ll do to pay my respects.