Archive for the Heavy Metal and the 1980s Category

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 Metal Albums of 1984: Van Halen- 1984

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1984: The Golden Year of the Golden Decade

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2017 by 80smetalman

The 1980s was the golden decade of heavy metal but if there was any one year that stood out above all others in that decade, it was 1984. Why did this particular year stand out? Well let me answer this by quoting Dee Snider when I saw Twisted Sister in concert in the August of this year. “They’re even playing heavy metal on the radio.” I’m not sure if Dee used an expletive when he said it. He was known for using them quite liberally when he was on stage but I don’t recall him using it when he said that. I digress but he was right. Heavy metal did get played on the radio quite a lot in 1984 and even more so on MTV. That alone makes 1984 the golden year of heavy metal.

Twisted Sister come out and play, taken at Bloodstock 2016

Obviously not every metal band got airplay on radio or MTV but you might be surprised at some of the ones who did. They didn’t play any Slayer. That didn’t stop these bands from unleashing some kick ass albums onto our delicate ears. This is also the reason why I begin “Rock And Roll Children” in this same year. Warning, I will make even more references to the book in future posts. However, one can’t avoid the fact that there was so much great metal and some cool rock as well and I hope that my journey through the golden year will do the albums justice.

Next post: Van Halen- 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 Albums That Were Lost in the Cassette Player

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

For those who have been following me for awhile, you will know that back in the early 198os, I owned a lot of cassettes due to my very limited living space when I was in the marines. Even after I got out, while I began buying vinyl again, I still bought a good amount of cassettes. My logic at the time was you couldn’t play records in the car and I need my travelling music. While cassettes had the advantage of being very compact, you could fit one in your shirt pocket, they had the disadvantage of being susceptible of destructing. They could easily get mangled in the player and often times brake. I found this extremely frustrating. While the percentage of cassettes lost was small compared to the number I owned, it still upset me when I lost one to the machine. So, as an in between the years post, I will play homage to all the great albums that were mangled by a tape player.

The famous ammo cans . I thought this would be a good excuse to put this picture in the post.

Others that succumbed but I don’t have pictures for

Slayer- South of Heaven

The Dreggs- Unsung Heroes

The Who- recorded from the radio

Copperhead

There could be more but these are the ones I definitely remember. However, other cassettes weren’t mangled in the machine but wore out another way. When played they began to have a hiss sound on them. Eventually, this hiss got louder and present on more of the tape until it was unplayable. There was the odd tape where that started but it stopped and played normal again. Unfortunately, others didn’t so here is a tribute to those cassettes that were lost in this manner.

As you can see, many a great album fell victim to the dreaded tape player one way or the other. Thank God for CDs and more modern means of listening to music as I don’t have that problem anymore.

Next post: 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 Metal Albums of 1983: Ozzy Osbourne- Bark at the Moon

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-bark_at_the_moon

Way back in the beginning, when I first began posting about 1983, I stated that it was the year that the dam well and truly burst and that heavy metal flooded the valleys. With all the great albums from metal artists in this year, one would be forgiven if they believed that an album from one of the legends of metal, Ozzy Osbourne, wouldn’t have made much difference. Besides, he did put out a live album in the form of “Speak of the Devil” earlier in the year. However, Ozzy did come out with an album anyway, and while I wouldn’t debate anyone who said that it wasn’t quite as good as his first two solo albums, I still think it’s a fine album nonetheless.

The title track of “Bark at the Moon” just happens to be one of my all time favourite Ozzy singles. It’s definitely in the top five. When I saw him live, he opened the show with it and that set the tone for what was going to be an historic night. I do commit it to pen in “Rock and Roll Children.” There are other tracks on the album that are pure blinders as well. “Now You See It (Now You Don’t) and “Rock and Roll Rebel” are two perfect examples and “Center of Eternity” is a real cool song. I do like the keyboard intro. In fact, “Bark at the Moon” seems to use more keyboards than the previous Ozzy albums. This is especially the case in the closer, “Waiting for the Darkness” and on “Slow Down.” Another feature with the album is that there are two ballads on it, “You’re No Different” and “So Tired” which was released as a single and I remember it getting a fair amount of radio play back then.

The big question that was asked when “Bark at the Moon” came out was if Ozzy’s new guitarist Jake E Lee would fill the void left behind by the death of Randy Rhoads. The short answer is that nobody can replace Randy, he had a style all to his own. However, Jake E Lee’s talents with the six string can never be ignored, especially on this album and when he played live. His playing goes a long way in making the album as good as it is.

Jake E Lee

Jake E Lee

Track Listing:

  1. Bark at the Moon
  2. You’re No Different
  3. Now You See It (Now You Don’t)
  4. Rock And Roll Rebel
  5. Center of Eternit
  6. So Tired
  7. Slow Down
  8. Waiting for the Darkness
Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne- lead vocals

Jake E Lee- guitar, backing vocals

Bob Daisley- bass, backing vocals

Don Airey- keyboards

Tommy Aldridge- drums

Ozzy Osbourne joined the flood of heavy metal in 1983 with the album “Bark at the Moon.” Ozzy’s drinking problems would manifest themselves in the months following and he would eventually have to go and dry out. He wouldn’t release a studio album for nearly three years after but he did leave us a good one to bide the time.

Next post: Billy Idol- Rebel Yell

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

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

heaven_waftt

When my household finally got MTV in the final month of 1983, one video I remember seeing getting a good amount of airplay was the one for the song, “Rock School” by Australian rockers, Heaven. The song itself was okay although at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the horns in it. What I did enjoy was the actual video. It cast the band as your typical high school hoods causing havoc at their school. My favourite part was when they whip the high school football team in a rumble. I think that was the highlight for many metalheads at the time.

Now, I am not anti- American football or school sports. After all, I officiate the game here in the UK and when I went to the states two and a half years ago, had the opportunity to officiate a high school junior varsity game. What I am opposed to is the mentality in schools that a boy isn’t anything unless he plays football and that football prepares a young man for life. It was around this time in the US that schools began pushing sports over learning and treating the jocks as mollycoddled gods. There is an instance in “Rock and Roll Children” about this when two football players try to pick on one of the character’s friends and a fight starts. When the smoke clears, the teachers, the PE teacher especially, seem to be more sympathetic to the football players’ side of the story. The PE teacher simply wants to dismiss the metalheads’ story and only a more fair minded teacher stops him. Trust me, things like this happened in school back then and probably still do so now. So, it would have amused many a metalhead in 83 to see one of their bands duffing up some football players.

Scenes from the video for "Rock School."

Scenes from the video for “Rock School.”

As for the rest of the album, “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” let me say that it is pretty much a good rocking album. The single, “Rock School” blends in well with the rest of the album. The opener and title track is quite good and the second track, “Love Child” pretty much goes hand in hand with the same hard, feel good vibe. Without a doubt though, my favourite track on the album has to be “Hard Life.” This is just a great standard rocker! Heaven just goes all out on it and it has the best guitar solo on it so double bonus points there. The closer, “Sleeping Dogs,” is a powerful rocker too and I don’t think it should be the closer. Maybe one of the two before it would have been better but who’s to say. “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is damn fine album.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Angels Fear to Tread
  2. Love Child
  3. Scream for Me
  4. Don’t Mean Nothing
  5. Rock School
  6. Madness
  7. Hard Life
  8. She Stole My Heart
  9. You
  10. Sleeping Dogs

heaven_b

Allan ‘Eddie’ Fryer- vocals

Kelly- lead guitar

Laurie Marlow- bass

Mick Cocks- rhythm guitar

Joe Turtur- drums

I wonder how many people who were living in 1983 actually remember seeing the “Rock School” video on MTV. Believe me, it was on quite a lot then and some people probably have Heaven down for one hit wonders. The “Where Angels Fear to Tread” album makes them much more than that.

Next post: Ozzy Osbourne- Bark at the Moon

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Dokken- Breaking the Chains

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

dokken_-_breaking_the_chains

Before I get lynched for stating that the 1983, “Breaking the Chains” album was Dokken’s debut album, I will be the first to point out that this album was released in Europe two years earlier. I didn’t discover this fact until 1986 when I went over to the Continent. Therefore, like many Americans, I assumed that the 1983 effort was their debut. However, for parity, I will make it a point to listen to the earlier version and take notes on any differences.

Even when this album did come to my attention, I didn’t go out and buy it straight away. Reason being was that my friend and heavy metal officianado, Frank Formica, had seen them live supporting Aldo Nova and Blue Oyster Cult and fed back that he wasn’t impressed. He stated that it was like watching a puppet show in regards to how they moved on stage and that only about thirty people were getting into them. This meant that I gave “Breaking a Chains” a miss and didn’t actually listen to it until after their third album.

Now I would like to say that the debut album was a blinder of an album and I was a fool for not picking it up in 1983. I’m afraid I am cemented in the belief that their next two albums after were strides better. However, you have to start somewhere and “Breaking the Chains” was a good a springboard as any. There are some decent songs on here, my favourite being the title cut, which would still be a strong track if it had appeared on one of the later albums. Other stand out tracks for me are “Felony,” “Live to Rock, (Rock to Live),” “Nightrider” and “Stick to Your Guns.” In addition, “In the Middle” has been growing on me recently. But one thing I can say about most of the tracks here is that guitarist George Lynch is already showing his magic on the six string and this, like the later albums, would continue to improve with age.

Track Listing:

  1. Breaking the Chains
  2. In the Middle
  3. Felony
  4. I Can’t See You
  5. Live to Rock, (Rock to Live)
  6. Nightrider
  7. Seven Thunders
  8. Young Girls
  9. Stick to Your Guns
  10. Paris is Burning
Dokken

Dokken

I couldn't find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I've included a solo shot.

I couldn’t find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I’ve included a solo shot.

Don Dokken- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

George Lynch- lead guitar

Juan Crocier- bass, backing vocals

Wild Mick Brown- drums

As any metal historian worth his salt can tell you, Juan Crocier would leave the band and go to newer pastures. No prizes for guessing which band he would end up with. While I like the album, the lack of commercial success of “Breaking the Chains” had the band Elektra label considering dropping them. While history would go on to prove that the decision to give them another chance was the right one, we nearly lost them after one album and we would have been denied the better ones.

Next post: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

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