Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Great Rock Albums of 1986: Survivor- When Seconds Count

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2020 by 80smetalman

220px-Survivorseconds

Listening to Survivor’s 1986 album, “When Seconds Count,” has made me realize the difference between British progressive rock bands and American melodic hard rock bands. Nowadays, some people very lazily group all of these bands together and this is not the case. British prog rock bands like Emerson, Lake and Powell or Palmer (both drummers work here), Yes, early Genesis and GTR rely more on keyboard wizardry and the guitar solos work as a cool accompaniment to it and it works extremely well. On the other hand, some of the American greats like Kansas, Styx, Toto and Survivor use the power chords on the guitar a little more. They tend to go a little more on the hard rock side. Now, most of you are thinking, “Who gives a crap?” Well, that’s just how my weird mind works. After listening to GTR and ELP and now Survivor, over the past couple of weeks, that difference is plain to me, even if I enjoy listening to all of these.

Now onto “When Seconds Count.” When I posted about their 1984 “Vital Signs” album, I stated that that particular album proved that Survivor could survive without the “Rocky” films. While “Vital Signs” proved that theory, “When Seconds Count” cements that proof even further. This is an excellent showing from the band and it impressed me despite the fact I was going a bit more keyboard shy in 1986 as a result of my search for more power chords.

One point the album hammers home is that Jim Peterik doesn’t seem to get the respect he deserves as a keyboards player. His efforts on the entire album is completely noteworthy and that’s the case on every song. While, not my number one song on the album, Jim’s best work appears on the ballad “Man Against the World.” His piano skills are particularly fantastic here, although credit where due, Jimi Jamison’s vocals are also probably the best on this track. Another point about Peterik, is that he resists the temptation to play that choppy style which many synth pop bands did back in the 80s.

Now you are probably wondering my choice for hidden gem. “Rebel Son” is the hardest rocking track on the album. While I might have liked this album, my thirst for loud power chords was still there and this song comes closest to satisfying that thirst. Guitarist Frankie Sullivan really shines on this song although saying that, he does nail a cool guitar solo on “Is This Love.” However, his best solo is on the closer, “Can’t Let You Go.”  “Oceans” is a decent rocking track and probably the one which best showcases all the bands talents. Great keyboards work, a cool guitar solo, sturdy vocals and a very reliable rhythm section. Then, bassist Stephan Ellis and drummer Mark Droubay prove reliable throughout the entire album. But the true hidden gem for me is the title track. It takes everything I have said about the band and the other tracks and just does it better.

Track Listing:

  1. How Much Love
  2. Keep It Right
  3. Is This Love
  4. Man Against the World
  5. Rebel Son
  6. Oceans
  7. When Seconds Count
  8. Backstreet Love Affair
  9. In Good Faith
  10. Can’t Let You Go
suvivor

Survivor

Jimi Jamison- lead and backing vocals

Frankie Sullivan- guitar, backing vocals

Jim Peterik- keyboards, backing vocals

Stephan Ellis- bass

Mark Droubay- drums

In a nutshell, “When Seconds Count” is a great melodic hard rock album. Survivor were at their best when they recorded this one. Too bad, attitudes of the 1980s prevented this album from being more successful.

Next post: Tina Turner- Break Every Rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Is Really Beginning to Suck: Rest in Peace Sean Reinhert and Joe Payne

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2020 by 80smetalman

Sadly it appears that the passing of Neil Peart was only the tip of the iceberg. Just two weeks later, I have learned of the recent passing of two more metal stars, one of them another drummer, Sean Reinhert and Joe Payne.

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Sean Reinhert

Sean Reinhert was the former drummer in the bands Death and Cynic. Back in 1991, Death’s album, “Human,” has been hailed as one of the earliest examples of technical death metal and it was said that Cynic took tech-death metal even further. Sean was found unresponsive at his home in California. He was 48.

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Joe Payne

Joe Payne was a former bassist in the bands Nile and Divine Heresy. He was only 35 and the cause of death is not yet known at this time. Former band mates have been paying their respects and saying what a great musician Joe was.

Naturally, I hope you will all join me in my condolences to these two musicians. It seems two more tragic losses to metal in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1986: Emerson, Lake and Powell

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2020 by 80smetalman

220px-Emerson,_Lake_&_Powell_-_Emerson,_Lake_&_Powell_(1986)_Front_Cover

GTR was only one band who sought to bring back good old 1970s style progressive rock in 1986, the other band was Emerson, Lake and Powell or ELP  for short. The band was two-thirds a reformation of the previous decade’s prog rock legends Emerson, Lake and Palmer or called by some the original ELP. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake wanted to re-form the original band but drummer Carl Palmer was unavailable due to his commitments with Asia. So, after a short search, they approached rock drummer Cozy Powell who played with greats such as Rainbow, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath to name just a few. Thus Emerson, Lake and Powell was born.

From the very first notes of the opening track, “The Score,” it was plain for all to hear that ELP was determined to carry on from where the earlier incarnation had left off. I mean this track reminds me so much of the famous “Fanfare for the Common Man” it’s almost frightening. I say almost! Nevertheless, this and all the other tracks on the album were played so well, it’s mind blowing. Back in 1986, I was so fed up with keyboards that seemed to play short and choppy notes on most 80s synth pop that Emerson’s keyboards skills on the album were almost a God-send. He just lets himself go on every track on the album. But it’s not just Keith, Greg Lake contributes very well with the guitar, bass and vocals as Cozy Powell shows that he is more of a versatile drummer than what some top 40 enthusiasts thought at the time. These ignorant persons simply labelled him a heavy metal drummer but Powell was much more than that and it shows here.

At first listen, I found it hard to pick a favourite track as all of them were good enough for the honour, hidden gem at the very least. I remember the single, “Touch and Go” being played on radio and it stood head and shoulders above most of the crap commercial radio was giving us back then. Especially since very little metal was now being played on it. However, it’s the “The Miracle,” that gets my vote. Of all Keith’s keyboard wizardry on the album, this track is where it makes the biggest impression on me. Most of the remaining songs are in this vein except for “Step Aside.” This track is definitely different. It sounds like it was straight out of a jazz club from the 1930s. Very gutsy of ELP to do this in the 1980s but I really like it. Then there’s the closer, “Mars, Bringer of War.” This track is so way out there that it could have been recorded on Mars or maybe even Jupiter or Saturn but it’s a fantastic way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Score
  2. Learning to Fly
  3. The Miracle
  4. Touch and Go
  5. Love Blind
  6. Step Aside
  7. Lay Down Your Guns
  8. Mars, Bringer of War

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Emerson. Lake and Powell

Keith Emerson- keyboards

Greg Lake- vocals, guitar, bass

Cozy Powell- drums, percussion

Unfortunately, like GTR, ELP were also one album wonders. While this metalhead was impressed with both of these bands, the trendy top 40 loving public in the 1980s wasn’t as keen. I say, “Screw them!” because I found this album really good. Back in the day, if I wanted an alternative to all the metal power chords I was headbanging away to, this was the album I would go for.

Next post: Survivor- When Seconds Count

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1986: GTR

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2020 by 80smetalman

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Who would have thought that in 1986, good 1970s sounding progressive rock could still be appreciated? One of the answers came in the form of the band GTR. Founded by ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and ex- Yes/Asia guitarist Steve Howe, they combined with others to produce a really cool album which made my summer listening that much more pleasant in this year.

The best known song on the album is the single, “When the Heart Rules the Mind.” This song definitely turned my attention to the album and the two guitar powerhouses in the band might have helped as well. What I like about this track is how it starts with a great early Genesis or Yes type vibe before a cool guitar solo kicks in. It is plain from this song that GTR were committed to making some good music.

While the two Steves were the focus of the band, the one member who should get his full dues is lead singer, Max Bacon. I hadn’t heard of him until this album and I must say that his vocal talents were noteworthy. Reading a little bio about the man, I’m rather surprised and disappointed that he didn’t go further in the music world. He did sing in other bands such as Burning Sky, Moby Dick, Bronz and Nightwing and if his vocals were as good as they were on this album, then it’s a shame he didn’t go farther.

Obviously, there rest of the album  is just as good. In fact, I think the reason why “When the Heart Rules the Mind” was released as a single was down to being the least hardest song on the album. Except for possibly the instrumental, “Sketches in the Sun,” which to my mind was the best use of guitar synthesizers to date. Many of the other songs have a lot of progressive melody in them but are backed up by more power chords and Yes sounding backing vocals. Even though there are hints of 80s synth in the track, “Jekyll and Hyde,” it is overshadowed by power chords and some interesting guitar work and probably the best base line on the album compliments of Phil Spalding. The guitar solos on the song rock too. Okay, it gets my vote for hidden gem.

“You Can Still Get Through” and “Reach Out (Never Say No)” remind me of what I liked about both early Genesis and Yes a decade earlier. Both songs would not have been out of place back then. One song I have always had a small problem with was “Toe the Line.” The music in the song is top notch but I can’t help thinking that the lyrics are all about conforming and anti-rebellion. Being the rebel I was in the mid-1980s, those lyrics did give me that impression and still do today. Saying that, it has a cool acoustic guitar intro and musically, it’s a rather cool power ballad. The album does end very well with another instrumental, “Hackett to Bits,” which is an interesting listen and the closer, “Imagining.”

Track Listing:

  1. When the Heart Rules the Mind
  2. The Hunter
  3. Here I Wait
  4. Sketches in the Sun
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. You Can Still Get Through
  7. Reach Out (Never Say No)
  8. Toe the Line
  9. Hackett to Bits
  10. Imagining

GTR_promo

GTR

Steve Hackett- guitar, guitar synthesizer, backing vocals

Steve Howe- guitar, guitar synthesizer, backing vocals

Max Bacon- bass, backing vocals

Jonathan Mover- drums, percussion

 

Unfortunately for the music world, GTR would be one album wonders. They discovered that guitar synthesizers sound great in the studio but didn’t sound so good live. Furthermore, disagreements developed between the two Steves and it was only a matter of time as to which Steve would leave first. It was Hackett who would call time on the group. So, they might have been one album wonders but what a great album it was!

Next post: Emerson, Lake and Powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Peace Rocky Johnson

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2020 by 80smetalman

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‘Soul Man’ Rocky Johnson

Well, my fears are turning out to be right. 2020 is going to be a continuation of losing all the great people so admired in the 80s and beyond. A few days ago, it was Neil Peart and though the world hasn’t recovered from that tragic loss, I am sad to say that former WWE wrestler, ‘Soul Man’ Rocky Johnson has passed away aged 75. Many of my younger readers may not have heard of Rocky but everyone will know his famous son, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

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The Rock and Rocky

While I was a big music fan back in the 1980s, I still am, I was also a big wrestling fan. I remember when Rocky and his tag-team partner, Tony ‘Mr USA’ Atlas defeated the Samoans to become the first ever African American tag-team champions in 1983. A couple months later, I had the privilege of watching him wrestle in 8 man tag action. He and Atlas was joined by Andre the Giant and ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka. It was a wild match with Rocky’s team winning three falls to one. Anyway, Rocky will be sorely missed and I’m sure the wrestling world will pay him the tributes he’s due.

Rest in peace Rocky Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1986: Big Country- The Seer

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2020 by 80smetalman

220px-Big_Country_-_The_Seer

While I will never regret my zeal for metal in 1986, one not so good side effect of it was that it caused me to overlook Big Country. A reason for that and I know it’s not a good one, was that the year before, they supported Hall and Oates on tour. Therefore, I wrote them off as a top forty band. I remember the single from their 1986 album, “The Seer,” “Look Away,” and I remember it being an okay song. But that’s were any interest in Big Country from me ended. Now before, anyone starts branding me a fool, I did correct this oversight in the early 1990s.

One point the so-called critics have said about this album was that it was a return to Big Country’s more Gaelic roots. True, there is a definite Gaelic sound on many of the songs on the album, especially my favorite and title track on the album. However, what I like about this particular track is that Kate Bush provides accompanying vocals on the song and there is some good guitar work on the song. I’ll go out on a small limb and say that the title track is almost a case of Gaelic meets heavy metal. Then again, things like this probably prove my insanity.

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Kate Bush

The hard rock doesn’t stop with the title track. If you weren’t listening closely, you might think that the next track, “The Teacher,” is simply the title track extended. It seems to simply carry on from where the previous track left off, but after a few seconds in, you know it’s a different song and a good one as well. On the other hand, there’s a more Gaelic feel to “I Walk the Hill.” Unfortunately, I’m not in possession of the album because I would like to know which guitarist plays the solo on the track because it’s nicely done.

A rather interesting track is “Eiledon.” It stretches out more into a progressive mode in a Clannad sort of way. It is one you have to give a close listen to in order to fully appreciate it but it’s worth it. The succeeding track and second single, “One Great Thing,” is a contrast to “Eiledon.” It goes more in a harder direction with the guitars stamping their authority on the song, with the catchy lead guitar that seems to show up on most of the tracks. Then things switch again with “Hold the Heart” being more of a melodic near ballad like song. Then another switch as “Remembrance Day” reminds me a little of their 1983 hit, “In a Big Country,” though I like this one better, better power chords. Speaking of power chords, if they had been a little louder on “Red Fox,” then it would have made a cool metal jam. The album closes with “Sailor,” which starts out  a little on the mellow side but goes much harder and the power chords and melody combining to make it the choice for album closer.

Track Listing:

  1. Look Away
  2. The Seer
  3. The Teacher
  4. I Walk the Hill
  5. Eiledon
  6. One Great Thing
  7. Hold the Heart
  8. Remembrance Day
  9. Red Fox
  10. Sailor
220px-Big_Country_promo_shot_BW001

Big Country

Stuart Adamson- guitar, vocals

Mark Brzezicki- drums, percussion, vocals

Tony Butler- bass, steel guitar, vocals

Bruce Watson- guitar, mandolin, sitar

So yes, I should have appreciated this album more in 1986. In my defense, I did come to my senses a few years later and got to fully appreciate “The Seer” and know that Big Country was far better than what I had originally thought. I’ll just blame the stupid promoter who put them on tour with Hall and Oates.

Next post: GTR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Terrible Start to the New Decade

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2020 by 80smetalman

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Rest in Peace Neil Peart

I had to take a double take when I first saw this on Facebook. Rush drummer Neil Peart has died.

Neil Peart, the drummer of iconic Canadian band Rush, has died at age 67.

The influential musician and lyricist died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, according to a statement issued Friday by family spokesperson Elliot Mintz.

His death was confirmed by Meg Symsyk, a media spokesperson for the progressive rock trio comprising Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

Along with penning impressive lyrics, Peart was renowned for his proficiency on drums (he famously employed a complex drum kit that completely surrounded him) and expertly weaving together techniques from different musical genres, blending jazz and big band with hard rock.

After the Hamilton, Ont.-born, St. Catharines, Ont.-raised Peart joined bandmates Lee and Lifeson in 1974, his virtuoso drumming helped lift Rush to new musical heights. The band attracted a loyal, worldwide fanbase, sold millions of records and influenced a multitude of rock musicians with its complex, literary music.

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Rush

It looks like this decade is going to pick up from where the last one left off. Rest in Peace Neil Peart.