Archive for the Heavy Metal Category

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Van Morrison- A Sense of Wonder

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2018 by 80smetalman

Here’s another example of how I was so focused on heavy metal in early 1985 that I didn’t fully appreciate a good non-metal album. I have to admit, back then I didn’t have much experience of the legend that is Van Morrison. My most memorable experience of him was his performance in the film, “The Last Waltz” where he sang with The Band. Other than that, what I knew of him was virtually zero.

While by 1985, I had become totally fed up with commercial radio, I have to thank it for this one. The single from the 1985 album, “A Sense of Wonder,” “Tore Down a la Rimbaud” got a considerable amount of airplay in the early part of the year. It was only after a few listens that I got past my “it’s not metal” mentality and realized that “Hey, this song is pretty good.” However, for some reason, I never bought the album, which was a bit of a shame because I missed out on a good one.

Wikapedia puts Van’s “A Sense of Wonder” album in the category of Celtic Soul. Well the man is from Northern Ireland and he does put his soul into the album so it’s hard to disagree with that label. Back then, I would have put it into either or both of the categories of soft rock or mellow out rock. It covers both. While the deafening power chords I was so into in 1985 and still am today are absent, one can’t fault the quality of the musicianship on it. Here’s another myth I believed about Van which this album has obliterated. I thought that he only sang because that’s what he did in “The Last Waltz.” But he plays guitar and piano and rather well judging from the instrumentals “Evening Meditation” and “Boffyflow and Spike,” the latter sounding like true Irish folk music.

While the single remains my favourite song on the album, the rest of the album keeps up as well. In my opinion, “Ancient of Days” could have been released as a single too because it’s almost as good. After the first mentioned instrumental, he goes very almost gospel soul softer though I think the title track goes on a bit too long for me. The second instrumental does pick things up a pace after and “If You Only Knew” keeps that pace going with “A New Kind of Man” closing the album out with a good feeling.

Track Listing:

  1. Tore Down a la Rimbaud
  2. Ancient of Days
  3. Evening Meditation
  4. The Master’s Eyes
  5. What Would I Do
  6. A Sense of Wonder
  7. Boffyflow and Spike
  8. If You Only Knew
  9. Let the Slave (Incorporating the Price of Experience)
  10. A New Kind of Man

Van Morrison

Van Morrison- vocals, guitar and piano

John Allair- organ

Bob Doll- trumpet

Tom Donlinger- drums

Pee Wee Ellis- tenor saxophone

David Hayes- bass

Chris Michie- guitar

Pauline Lazano- backing vocals

Bianca Thornton- backing vocals

The group Moving Hearts performs on tracks 6 and 7

I’m now a believer. Again, it could be me mellowing a tiny bit with age but I now appreciate how good the “A Sense of Wonder” album from Van Morrison really is. Perhaps I should delve into his discography a little more.

Next post: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- Southern Accents

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Giuffira

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

A band that caught mine and many other people’s attention was Giuffria with their self titled debut album. The band was originally formed as a side project by keyboards player Greg Giuffria after he left his former band Angel. A band I had heard great things about back in the day but never got around to listening to. Back to Giuffria, their first single, “Call to the Heart” did get a lot of airplay and according to recorded history, number fifteen in the charts. It was one of those ballads that the ladies seemed to really like but it had some good progressive rock hooks as well as a guitar solo to grab the attention of men. If I’m honest, I liked the song but it really wasn’t heavy enough for me.

Everything that Giuffria was capable of doing can be found in the opening track of the album, “Do Me Right.” It starts with some classic 1970s sounding progressive rock via a great keyboard intro. Then the song carries on with some great vocals backed up by a more than capable rhythm section before guitarist Craig Goldy hammers out his best solo on the album. It’s definitely my favourite track.

The two hardest tracks on the album are “Don’t Tear Me Down” and “Dance” and it is probably a good thing that those two songs were back to back after the forementioned ballad. It proved to doubters that they could rock as much as anyone. Things go slightly softer and more melodic, bordering on commercial after that with the remainder of the songs, “Turn Me On” being the harder rocking exception. Goldy and Giuffria really cook with guitar and keyboard on that one. “The Awakening” is rather amusing, with the children’s choir and keyboards giving it that Saturday horror film feel. Saying that, the talent of this band pulls up the quality  of each song making them more enjoyable.

No matter what you think of the songs, you can’t deny that this was one talented band. David Glen Eisley had a voice that was as good as many lead singers in that day. The keyboard skills of Greg Giuffria show themselves in every song. Chuck Wright and Alan Krigger are very good rhythm section and as for the guitarist, Craig Goldy, his playing on the album leaves me to conclude that it was no wonder why he was head hunted to join Dio a year later.

Track Listing:

  1. Do Me Right
  2. Call to the Heart
  3. Don’t Tear Me Down
  4. Dance
  5. Lonely in Love
  6. Trouble Again
  7. Turn Me On
  8. Line of Fire
  9. The Awakening
  10. Out of the Blue

Giuffira

David Glen Eisley- lead vocals, keyboards, harmonica

Greg Giuffria- keyboards, backing vocals

Craig Goldy- guitar

Chuck Wright- bass, backing vocals

Alan Krigger- drums, percussion

While doing a bit of research for the post, I had one rumour from 1985 quashed. In said year, Giuffria went on tour supporting legends Deep Purple. The rumour was that Purple kicked them off the tour because Giuffria was blowing them away every night. I have always found that hard to believe, especially as I saw Deep Purple in this year and they were superb. From what I’ve read, Ritchie Blackmore was a bit of an a””hole towards the band. He cut their stage time from 45 minutes nearly in half to 25, forbade them to play any guitar solos and they had to play with the arena lights on. Therefore, they left the tour on their own accord and I don’t blame them. While I missed my chance to see them live, this album is a good fall back.

Next post: Don Henley- Building the Perfect Beast

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Fogerty- Centerfield

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

In March of 1985, I almost won a free copy of “Centerfield,” from former CCR lead singer and guitarist John Fogerty. The local radio station was giving away a free copy of the album to the second caller. I immediately rang the station and got through, unfortunately I was the first caller, damn! As a result, I had to cough up the money and buy the album but after hearing it, the expense was well worth it.

One big question on many people’s minds was how much would the album sound like Credence Clearwater Revival? The answer is rather complex. There is definitely the CCR influence on several of the songs, “Big Train (From Memphis) is a prime example. It reminds me of many of the songs on CCR’s album “Willy and the Poor Boys.” “I Saw it On TV” is another good example of the CCR influence. But and this is a big but, the lyrics of the song are about modern times and how we are supposed to take everything we see on television as the blind truth. I like to think it’s a dig at 80s Regan America, which is something I tried to do when writing “Rock and Roll Children.”

On the flip side, there are songs which I believe John put his own stamp on free from the influence of his former band, for the most part anyway. Two of those were released as singles, “Rock and Roll Girl” and my favourite track on the album which is also the title track. I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world, though I do play softball, the lyrics still move me and make me want to put take the bat and ball out and hit a few. Another I guess you could call a Fogerty Special, is “Mr Greed,” where he shows he can play lead guitar a little.

Of all the songs which are or not CCR influences, the one that incorporates both very well is the album opener and first single, “The Old Man Down the Road.” This is probably why it did so well in the charts. It reminds us old CCR fans that he hasn’t gone too far away from his roots but offers something new to the then younger crowd who might have branded John as some sort of ageing hippy. After all, Ronald Regan’s greatest success as president in the 1980s was to demonize the 1960s. Sorry, I digress but what John did was take what he had done before and mix it with something new and make a good soft rock album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Old Man Down the Road
  2. Rock And Roll Girl
  3. Big Train (From Memphis)
  4. I Saw It On TV
  5. Mr Greed
  6. Searchlight
  7. Centerfield
  8. I Can’t Help Myself
  9. Zanz Kant Danz

John Fogerty

John Fogerty- lead vocals, lead guitar

Rockin’ Sydney Simien- accordion

Willy T- saxophone

Kip Basque- rhythm guitar

Mark Miller- bass

Warren Storm- drums

John Fogerty established himself as a true solo artist in 1985 with his album “Centerfield.” What he did was take the country rock sound of his former band and threw in some tricks of his own. The combination made a great album.

Next post: Giuffria

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: The Firm

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2018 by 80smetalman

For a good number of people in 1985, The Firm were considered a disappointment. This was because many people, including yours truly, thought that a band with both Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page in it was going to be some sort of Led Zeppelin/Bad Company hybrid. The Firm’s debut album certainly wasn’t that. What Rodgers and Page did was make their own unique music with the help of a great rhythm section featuring Tony Franklin and Chris Slade.

The album’s first single, “Radioactive,” put many metalheads off exploring them more. This is a shame because I knew that there would be better things to come on the album and I was right. This is not to say that there isn’t anything wrong with “Radioactive,” it’s a good song in it’s own right. It was just the fact that many people were expecting the song to be the love child of “Stairway to Heaven” and “Bad Company” and “Radioactive” doesn’t come close. I still like the song.

Once one has thrown away their expectations of what they thought this album was going to sound like and listen to it with an open mind, one would find that it’s a damn good album. Okay, it’s definitely not heavy metal, more of a straight forward rock album and if you listen closely, you can still hear some Bad Company influence. Especially in the songs “Make or Break, which is the hidden gem and “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” Furthermore, while Jimmy Page doesn’t nail down the solos like in the old Zeppelin classics like “Stairway” or “Whole Lotta Love,” he still shows he can wail on the guitar. It’s just with The Firm, it’s not as pronounced like it was with his former band. “Money Can’t Buy” is a fine example.

Proof that Rodgers, Page, Franklin and Slade were determined to forge their own path in the rock world is their cover of the Righteous Brothers classic, “You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” The coolest part in the song is Jimmy’s guitar solo supported by Tony on the fretless bass, good stuff. Also, Paul’s vocals are as good as ever on every song on this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Closer
  2. Make or Break
  3. Someone to Love
  4. Together
  5. Radioactive
  6. You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
  7. Money Can’t Buy
  8. Satisfaction Guaranteed
  9. Midnight Moonlight

Paul Rodgers- lead vocals, guitars

Jimmy Page- lead guitar

Tony Franklin- bass, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals

Chris Slade- drums, percussion

Does anyone have a time machine I could borrow? If so, I would like to go back in time and say to all of those people who rejected The Firm back in 1985 because they didn’t sound like former bands, “Look, they’re not like Bad Company or Led Zeppelin, get over it!” Because their first album shows what they can do on their own.

Next post: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band- Tough All Over

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: David Lee Roth- Crazy From the Heat

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2018 by 80smetalman

Here’s a thought, I wonder if David Lee Roth had some sort of deal with MTV back in 1984 and 85. The first video shown on the channel in 1984 was  the debut video for Van Halen’s “Jump.” One year later, the first video shown in the new year for 1985 was from the video from David’s solo album, “Crazy From the Heat,” the Beach Boys’ classic, “California Girls.” This seems too much of a coincidence for me and I wonder if David did have some sort of deal with MTV.

The first noticeable thing about “California Girls” is that it sounds nothing like the Beach Boys nor Van Halen. David puts his own spin on the song and I think he does a very good job on it. That is if you cast aside the predictable girls in bikinis video for the song. He sings very well on not just this but all songs even if sometimes one can’t take him seriously. On the other three songs on this four song EP, he departs even further from what he did with Van Halen and heavy metal in general.

With two of the remaining three songs, David tries to be a 1940s era type big band singer. Always being more the showman as opposed to the singer, his personality does burst through more than his vocal ability but he does sing very well on it. Full credit, he’s a more versatile singer than what he was often given credit for back then or even today. As for the final song, “Coconut Grove” I have always had trouble getting into that one but the reason is not down to David. Three of the four songs are good for me and it doesn’t matter that the entire EP is less than fourteen minutes.

Track Listing:

  1. Easy Street
  2. Medley: Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody
  3. California Girls
  4. Coconut Grove

David Lee Roth

David Lee Roth- vocals

Dean Parks- guitar on “Coconut Grove”

Eddie Martinez, Sid McGinnis- guitars

Willie Weeks- bass

John Robinson- drums

Sammy Figueroa- percussion

James Newton Howard- keyboards on “Coconut Grove”

Edgar Winter- keyboards, saxophone, backing vocals on tracks 1&2

Brian Mann- keyboards

Carl Wilson, Christopher Cross- backing vocals on “California Girls”

David Lee Roth’s debut solo album sparked a lot of rumours in regards to his relationship with Van Halen. It has been said that the success of “Crazy From the Heat” inspired him to go solo. Maybe it did. All I know that this is a cool little album.

Next post: The Firm

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Yngwie Malmsteen- Rising Force

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2018 by 80smetalman

The last of the 1984 albums that didn’t come to my attention until 1985 and it wasn’t until May of said year that I was treated to this one. I remember it well, fairly well anyway. I was sitting in the cafeteria of my local glorified high school, (community college), when a friend offered me a listen on his walkman saying, “I think you’ll like this.” He was right, I did like it. It was the opening track to the “Rising Force” album by Swedish guitar god, Yngwie J Malmsteen. It was said that the J is there so we won’t confuse him with all the other Yngwie Malmsteens in the world.

“Black Star” the opening track I mentioned changed my entire outlook on guitar instrumentals, which was a hard thing to do because I have always had great admiration for masters of the axe. It was just the way that then 21 year old Yngwie made the guitar scream and bend to his will as he played that had me totally hypnotized. “Black Star” was simply the perfect introduction for me and apparently, he still plays it live.

One criticism aimed at guitar albums is that all of the tracks sound the same. Yes, I know, complete hogwash but if anyone says it to you, then you can point them to this album. All of the tracks are original and unique as Yngwie strains his guitars to fit the sound of each song. Whether it’s the faster paced “Far Beyond the Sun,” it is rumoured he still plays that one live too or the classical sounding “Icarus’s Dream Sweet Opus 4,” Yngwie delivers a unique sound every time.

While the guitarist is the main attraction here, you must give credit to the supporting cast. Jens Johansson premieres his keyboard skills on the album and shows he is very good at what he does. One must also give credit to drummer Barriemore Barlow. He has to keep up with a guitarist who can change direction at any time and often does so. And while there are only two vocal tracks on the album, it was here where I got my first experience of Jeff Scott Soto. Even with very little vocal opportunity, he shows he’s got the pipes. Fortunately, he would be given more opportunity on future albums as “As Above, So Below” is proof that Jeff and Yngwie made a very good combination. See, if it hadn’t been for Danny Vaughn, Jeff would have been my vocalist of choice for the 80sMetalman Band of Underrated Musicians.

Track Listing:

  1. Black Star
  2. Far Beyond the Sun
  3. Now Your Ships Are Burned
  4. Evil Eye
  5. Icarus’s Dream, Sweet Opus 4
  6. As Above, So Below
  7. Little Savage
  8. Farewell

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen- guitars, bass, Moog Taurus

Jens Johansson- keyboards

Jeff Scott Soto- vocals

Barriemore Barlow- drums

In the later years, I would learn all about Yngwie’s over inflated ego and how he doesn’t play nice with others but that’s in the future. What I knew in May 1985 was that he could rip a guitar, which he does extremely well on his debut album.

Next post: David Lee Roth- Crazy From the Heat

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R.I.P Vinnie Paul

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2018 by 80smetalman

Vinnie Paul

I am saddened to announce the passing of former Pantera and current Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul. Once again, we lose another great one in 2018. To read further details about Vinnie and his passing, go to: http://www.metalsucks.net/2018/06/23/vinnie-paul-dead-at-54/

Boy do these last three years really suck!