Archive for the Rock 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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Peace Matt Holt

Posted in Death, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

matt-holt

Another week, another passing in music. This time it is former Nothingface lead singer Matt Holt, who passed away at the age of 39. I have to confess that I know nothing of Nothingface or Matt Holt but from the song on the blog I have just read, I could easily get into them. I post this link for all of you.

http://www.metalsucks.net/2017/04/19/former-nothingface-vocalist-matt-holt-passes-away-at-age-39/

R.I.P. Matt Holt

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2017 by 80smetalman

Forget Toy Story, forget his controversial 1977 hit, “Short People,” my favourite Randy Newman song has always been “I Love LA,” which is the opening track on his album “Trouble in Paradise.” Released in 1983, this album didn’t come to my attention til the following year, courtesy of MTV, which is why I’m posting it here.

Alert, “Trouble in Paradise” is not an album for hardcore metalheads. Randy has always been a piano player and a very good one to say the least. His chops can be heard all throughout the album. However, there is one guitar solo on it. It appears on the track, “The Blues,” and is played by Steve Lukather of Toto fame. An additional bonus to this song is that he duets with Paul Simon on it and both do a fine job.

Many of Randy Newman’s songs have an air of humour about them. With this album, “Same Girl” and “My Life is Good” are good, funny tracks and I have always been tickled by some of the lyrics in “Miami.” “Miami, Blue day, best dope in the world and it’s free.” However, he has a serious side. To my knowledge, the track “Christmas in Capetown” was the first song to talk about the Apartheid in South Africa. He deserves full kudos for that. “Real Emotional Girl” is more of a serious ballad as well.

Many guest artists appear on “Trouble in Paradise” including the two who appear on the track, “The Blues.” Of all the tracks, I do love the backing  vocals from Jennifer Warnes, Wendy Waldman and Linda Ronstadt on “I’m Different.” For me, while Randy is his normal self on the song, it’s the backing vocals from these three ladies who really make this song shine for me. Definitely the second best track on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. I Love LA
  2. Christmas in Capetown
  3. The Blues
  4. Same Girl
  5. Mikey’s
  6. My Life is Good
  7. Miami
  8. Real Emotional Girl
  9. Take Me Back
  10. There’s a Party at My House
  11. I’m Different
  12. Song for the Dead

Randy Newman

Randy Newman- vocals, piano

Steve Lukather- guitar

Jennifer Warnes- vocals

Don Henley- vocals

Larry Williams- horns

Steve Madalo- horns

Jon Smith- horns

Ralph Grierson- piano

Neil Larson- piano

David Paich- keyboards

Michael Boddicker- keyboards

Nathan East- bass

Jeff Porcaro- drums

Larry Castro- percussion

Paulinho Da Costa- percussion

Christine McVie- backing vocals

Wendy Waldman- backing vocals

Lindsey Buckingham- backing vocals

Bob Seger- backing vocals

Linda Rondstadt- backing vocals

Rickie Lee Jones- backing vocals

Paul Simon- vocals on “The Blues”

Waddy Watchell- guitar

I won’t say that “Trouble in Paradise” is a great album to mellow out to but it does have its moments there. While Randy Newman is not as zany as Weird Al Yankovic, there is a good deal of humour if you listen for it. It’s a good album just to sit back and enjoy.

Next post; The Cars- Heartbeat City

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