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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Stevie Ray Vaughan- Live Alive

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2019 by 80smetalman


If I hadn’t met a friend in Britain who was a huge Stevie Ray Vaughan fan, then his live album, “Live, Alive” would most likely have passed me by. Fortunately, it didn’t and I got to hear what Stevie was capable of live and then regretted not seeing the man in person.

Some critics at the time slated the album. A few said that Stevie’s playing was uneven down to his drug abuse issues at the time. Well, his playing all sounds pretty darn even to me. He just cooks every song. The other criticism was the fact that there are so many covers on the album. That maybe true but he was simply paying tribute to all of the great artists who influenced him. He pays tribute to Howlin’ Wolf, Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix as well as others and he does it with style. I’m sure that the artists whose songs he covers would be proud of the efforts he put into those songs.

Whether it be an original or a cover, Stevie makes each and every song his own. I enjoy his guitar solos on each and every one of them. So much so, that I’ve found it quite hard to pick a favourite. If I have to, it must be “Mary Had a Little Lamb” just because he made a nursery rhyme into a solid blues rock song and made it sound absolutely fantastic, especially with all the cool guitar soloing between the verses. “Willie the Wimp” comes a close second though.

Although Stevie Ray Vaughan deserves all the praise I’ve given him so far, one mustn’t forget the rest of his Double Trouble band. Reese Wynan’s piano solo on “Pride and Joy” is particularly noteworthy. Full marks must also be given to his rhythm section. They keep up with him throughout the entire album.

Track Listing:

  1. Say What!
  2. Ain’t Gone ‘n’ Give Up On Love
  3. Pride and Joy
  4. Mary Had a Little Lamb
  5. Superstition
  6. I’m Leaving You (Commit a Crime)
  7. Cold Shot
  8. Willie the Wimp
  9. Look at Little Sister
  10. Texas Flood
  11. Voodoo Child
  12. Love Struck Baby
  13. Change It
  14. Life Without You

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan- guitar and vocals

Tommy Shannon- bass

Chris ‘Whipper’ Layton- drums

Reese Wynans- keyboards

I’m glad this album didn’t pass me by in 1986. Otherwise, I would have missed some great blues guitar rock compliments of one Stevie Ray Vaughan. After all, this is a great album to chill out with a beer or three to.

Next post: Stevie Nicks- Rock a Little

It seems all online outlets state that Rock and Roll Children is currently out of stock as the free download site.


































































Great Rock Albums of 1986: Fabulous Thunderbirds- Tuff Enuff

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2019 by 80smetalman


Managed to get a break in the pre-Christmas action and get a post in. If there is any further proof needed that I listen to music through a different set of ears than what I did in 1986, it comes in the form of the album by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Tuff Enuff.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked this album but back then, I was so caught up in heavy metal, (not that I’m apologizing for it), that I didn’t give it a fair hearing back in the day. Now that I have, I can say that the album holds up very well.

One problem many people had with the Fabulous Thunderbirds was the fact that the guitarist, Jimmy Vaughan, is the brother of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. Many people expected Jimmy to sound so much like Stevie Ray, they were disappointed when he didn’t. Jimmy had his own style and it suited him very well. He doesn’t go into five minute long guitar solos on any of tracks on the album, something many people expected but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to play well, he certainly does. He does nail a cool solo “Look at That, Look at That” and an even better one on “Why Get Up.”


Stevie Ray Vaughan

Jimmy Vaughan is just one part of a great Texas boogie blues band. All the members of the band play well. The best way to describe the music is that it sounds like Buddy Holly rose from the grave to play with ZZ Top. That is definitely the case on the track, “Two Time My Lovin'” which sounds just like a 1950s style man gets hurt by woman sort of song. However, Kim Wilson’s vocals are all his own on this and all the other tracks and he plays a mean harmonica on the instrumental closer, “Down at Antones.”

“Amnesia” is a faster paced boogie vibe with Jimmy putting in some cool licks in the back ground while the rhythm section of Preston Hubbard and Fran Christina laying down a good strong beat. Probably my favourite track on the album. But while that might be my favourite track, the album is best know for it’s title track, which turned out to be the only top forty hit for the band. It is a good song, no doubt about it. “Wrap It Up” sounds similar to the title track and possibly should have been released as a single as well. Probably the reason why it wasn’t was because I thought it should have been. Buddy Holly or possibly Elvis’s ghost makes an appearance on “True Love.” That song definitely brings the 50s to the 1980s.

Track Listing:

  1. Tuff Enuff
  2. Tell Me
  3. Look At That, Look At That
  4. Two Time My Lovin’
  5. Amnesia
  6. Wrap It Up
  7. True Love
  8. Why Get up
  9. I Don’t Care
  10. Down at Antones


Fabulous Thunderbirds

Kim Wilson- vocals, harmonica

Jimmy Vaughan- guitar, bass, steel guitar

Preston Hubbard- electric and acoustic bass

Fran Christina- drums

Additional musicians (no Steve Lukather)

Al Copley- keyboards

Chuck Leavell- keyboards on “Look At That, Look At That”

Geraint Watkins- piano, accordion on “Amnesia”

Caesar Rosas, David Hildago- vocals on “Two Time My Lovin'”

The Fabulous Thunderbirds proved that good blues rock could still find fresh ears in 1986. It was certainly different to the metal and synth pop that was on offer at the time and I could have easily let “Tuff Enuff” pass me by. Fortunately, I didn’t.

Next post: Stevie Ray Vaughan- Live Alive (I thought I’d keep it in the Vaughan family)

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It makes a nice Christmas gift for the metalhead in your family.















































Great Rock Albums of 1986: Honeymoon Suite- The Big Prize

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2019 by 80smetalman


“The Big Prize” was the second album by Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite. Reflecting back to when it came out in 1986, I wasn’t sure about it at first. The single from it, “Feel It Again” was the only Honeymoon Suite song to crack the US top forty charts but that made little difference to me. In my mind, it was a decent song but not nearly as spectacular as the song “New Girl Now” from their 1984 debut album. However, what won me over to “The Big Prize” was when I saw them live opening for legends ZZ Top. They were absolutely phenomenal that evening.

While the keyboards might feature heavily on the album, they don’t dominate like so many rock acts chose to let them do at the time. Saying that, the keys make a cool introduction on the track, “Lost and Found.” That is probably the most keyboard oriented track on the album but they are used in a 70s progressive rock sort of fashion. Ray Coburn deserves the praise for his efforts here and on “One by One” as well. On the other hand, like they are on all tracks, Derry Grehan’s guitar is always lurking in the background ready to come out when the time calls for it. The guitar solos on the album remind me why he’s in the 80smetalman’s Band of Underrated Musicians.

Normally, I don’t give to much notice to producers when I write about an album but I can’t help thinking about Bruce Fairbairn’s work on this album. Back when I posted about the band’s debut album, I stated that there were points where lead singer Johnnie Dee’s vocals sounded a bit strained, that he struggled to hit certain notes. So, I wonder if Bruce made sure that the songs were up to Johnnie’s range because his voice fits in all of the songs. A great example is the power ballad “What Does it Take.” His vocals sound really good here and I’m surprised, okay I’m not really, that as a single, it didn’t crack the US top forty charts because I prefer it to “Feel It Again.” Then again, my favourite track is “Wounded.” It is the rockiest song on the album, I mean dig that guitar intro and the lyrics were relevant for me at the time. So all in all, “The Big Prize” is a pretty decent album.

Track Listing:

  1. Bad Attitude
  2. Feel It Again
  3. Lost and Found
  4. What Does It Take
  5. One By One
  6. Wounded
  7. Words in the Wind
  8. All Along You Knew
  9. Once the Feeling
  10. Take My Hand

Honeymoon Suite

Johnnie Dee- lead vocals

Derry Grehan- guitar, vocals

Ray Coburn- keyboards

Gary Lalonde- bass

Dave Betts- drums

Ian Anderson- flute on “All Along You New”

I guess I can say that back in 1986, I got skeptical over nothing. I blame the great rock and some metal bands from the 1970s who went too synth in the 1980s. I thought that Honeymoon Suite might be going the same way but “The Big Prize” assured me they weren’t.

Next post: Fabulous Thunderbirds- Tuff Enuff

On a personal note, in the run up to Christmas, I’ll have a lot of worldly things to do so I can’t promise my usual two posts a week. I’ll have to play it by ear but I hope you’ll all understand.

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2019 by 80smetalman


Never forget your roots or so I’m told. This applies to Frank Zappa’s “Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention” album. While I was totally committed to heavy metal in 1986, this album reminded me of how much of a Zappa fan I was, still am and always will be. In fact, I still think listening to Frank was a requirement to attend my high school in the mid to late 1970s.

The album, as evidenced by the title, was made in reaction to the PMRC hearings in late 1985. On the album’s inner sleeve, Frank states that the lyrics in the songs are guaranteed not “cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business.” He also stated that the album contained content that a free society would not fear or suppress by those who wish to alter the First Amendment for their own end. All of this is summed up on the track “Porn Wars.” The track has quotes from those who participated in the PMRC Congressional hearings, including Frank’s, set to music. If anything, this track alone is reason for listening to the album.

Now before people start calling me ‘hypocrite’ because of all my ramblings in the past about one song not making an album, let me simply say that the entire album is totally cool, totally Zappa at his best. Like I said when I posted about his 1983, “Man From Utopia” album, Frank not only got the best musicians, he knew how to get the best out of them. There are four really great instrumentals on here in the form of “Alien Orifice,” “Little Beige Sambo,” “Aerobics in Bondage” and my personal favourite, “What’s New in Baltimore?” He shows that not only he was capable of writing weird, humourous music but he could wail on the guitar as well. If you want the zany lyrics found in Zappa songs, look no further than the opener, “We’re Turning Again.” I’m not sure here but I think this song is a dig at the hippies from the 1960s who became executive types in the 1980s. It is a funny song. The same can be said for “Yo Cats” for being an amusing song.

Track Listing:

  1. We’re Turning Again
  2. Alien Orifice
  3. Yo Cats
  4. What’s New in Baltimore?
  5. Little Beige Sambo
  6. Porn Wars
  7. Aerobics in Bondage

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- vocals, guitar, synthesizer

Ike Willis- guitar, vocals

Ray White- guitar, vocals

Bobby Martin- keyboards, vocals

Steve Vai- guitar

Tommy Mars- keyboards

Scott Thunes- bass

Chris Wackerman- drums

Ed Mann- percussion

Moon Zappa- vocals

Dwezil Zappa- vocals

Voice Excerpts on “Porn Wars”

John Danforth

Ernest Hollings

Paul S. Tribe Jr.

Paula Hawkins

J. James Exon

Al Gore

Tipper Gore

But no Steve Lukather!

“Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention” shows that even a fully confirmed metalhead like myself could enjoy some great non-metal music. While written as a reaction to all the PMRC bullshit, it’s still a fantastic album.

Next post: Honeymoon Suite- The Big Prize

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rush- Power Windows

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2019 by 80smetalman


Continuing on with the tour of 1986, I thought no better album to get back to the year than Rush’s “Power Windows” album. Here’s an example of how my weird mind works. “Power Windows” was released during what has been called Rush’s ‘synth period’ of the 1980s, which was started by their previous album, “Grace Under Pressure.” The funny thing is that I never considered this particular album to be so synthed out. If anything, the album reminds me very much of their classic “Moving Pictures” album, except with the very hard tracks like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” removed. If the band had included such hard rocking tracks on this album, than there might have been a rival to my all time favourite Rush album.

The first two tracks explain my point clearly. True, there are synthesizer heavy moments on both songs but I can still hear Alex Liefson’s guitar chords powering their way through on both songs and he delivers good guitar solos on both. Furthermore, the keyboards are done with true musicianship and not the stupid 80s chops way. (A label on pop music of the decade spawned by Frank Zappa.) Nevertheless, these first two tracks really cook and they’re the best ones on the album.

Back in 1986, I wasn’t sure about the best known two singles from “Power Windows,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon.” Like many metalheads, I was slightly disappointed that they weren’t as hard rocking as the two I mentioned from the “Moving Pictures” album. Saying that, Liefson and Lee do put together a pretty good guitar/bass combo on “Marathon.” Fortunately, even then, I wasn’t one to dismiss this great band on that account. Friends bought the album and I had several listens and I can fully appreciate how hard the Rush trio worked on every song. The musicianship on each and every song is first rate. But then again, what else would you expect from Rush?

Talking about synth pop, the opening drumbeat on “Territories” does sound very 1980s but that is soon taken over by some intricate guitar work and keyboards interplay. I do like what Alex does on this track with his guitar and even if the initial drum sound seems a bit 80s, Neil Peart does show his usual outstanding form on the track. The track is a further statement against the belief that Rush were totally synthed out in the 1980s. While not a metal tune, the guitar work is far better than what any 1980s synth pop band could have ever done.

This reminds me of something I said when I posted about “Grace Under Pressure” but I think it needs saying again. People seem to only see Geddy Lee as a singer and don’t fully appreciate his skills on the bass and synthesizers. He’s an ace on both of them. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that the bass lines on “Power Windows” are the best of any Rush album. Of course, Alex and Neil deserve all the credit due them on the album too.

Track Listing:

  1. Big Money
  2. Grand Designs
  3. Manhattan Project
  4. Marathon
  5. Territories
  6. Middletown Dreams
  7. Emotion Detector
  8. Mystic Rhythms


Geddy Lee- vocals, bass, synthesizers

Alex Liefson- guitar

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians

Andy Richards- additional keyboards

The Choir- additional vocals

This band didn’t need Steve Lukather for this album.

Rush is why I hate people using labels. For those who haven’t heard me rant about this previously, some idiot heard “Tom Sawyer” once and decided to call Rush a heavy metal band and other idiots picked up on the label. Rush were never a heavy metal band, their music is far to complex, though I am not saying metal is simple. Rush are a brilliant hard working band as “Power Windows” clearly shows.

Next post: Frank Zappa- Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Invention

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Mick Jagger- She’s the Boss

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2019 by 80smetalman


Well it was unanimous! When I asked if I should take a step back to 1985 to visit Mick Jagger’s solo album, “She’s the Boss,” two people said yes and nobody said no. So, even though it was 2-0, I can’t ignore the majority and so I’m posting about Mick’s first solo album. I assume that since no one else voted, that no one really cares that I do.

When the lead singer of a long established legendary band decides to make a solo album, the question asked is “How much is the album going to sound like the material they normally do with their band?” My simple answer isn’t so simple. Yes, there is a small departure from the traditional blues based sound of the Rolling Stones but in no way did Mick make an 80s synth pop album. The opening track, “Lonely at the Top” has a catchy vibe with some good guitar work on it. The same can be said for the second track, “1/2 a Loaf.” These are good tracks and both get me listening to the album. While you can hear some of the influence from his band, these two tracks are pure Mick.

The closest tracks to 80s synth pop are “Running Out of Luck” and the album’s first single, “Just Another Night.” I admit that when I first heard the single on the radio, it put me off the album a little. Maybe that was the intention of said single. Fortunately, I already knew not to judge an album by one song and hearing some positive things from two college friends and despite both of these guys being big Stones fans,  I gave the album a go. You know what? I don’t regret it.

Even if I hadn’t given the album a go on the advice of those friends, the second single, “Lucky in Love” would have persuaded me to. This song has some pretty hard rocking bits to it, especially in the chorus, plus the fact that Atlantic City is mentioned in it where I worked at the time.

Again, the rest of the album is some good rock. I love the intro on “Turn the Girl Loose” and while I knew way back from “Angie” that Mick was capable of singing a ballad, he does an amazing job on “Hard Woman.” It also helps that there is a fantastic guitar solo on it compliments of one Jeff Beck. It’s always been tough picking an absolute favourite on “She’s the Boss” but now I’ve made up my mind, it’s “Hard Woman.”

Track Listing:

  1. Lonely at the Top
  2. 1/2 a Loaf
  3. Running Out of Luck
  4. Turn the Girl Loose
  5. Hard Woman
  6. Just Another Night
  7. Lucky in Love
  8. Secrets
  9. She’s the Boss


Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger- lead and backing vocals, harmonica

Jeff Beck- guitar

Wally Badarou- synthesizer on “Lucky in Love” and “She’s the Boss”

John Bundrick- synthesizer on “Just Another Night”

Ray Cooper- percussion on “Lucky in Love” and congas “She’s the Boss”

Aiyb Dieng- shaker on “Lucky in Love” water drums on “Just Another Night”

Sly Dunbar- drums on tracks 3,6,7&9

Bernard Edwards- bass on tracks 2,4&8

Steve Ferrone- drums on “1/2 a Loaf”

Anton Fier- electric drums on “Just Another Night,” percussion on “She’s the Boss”

Anton Figg- drums on “Turn the Girl Loose” and “Secrets”

Guy Fletcher- synthesizer on tracks 1,7&9

Bernard Fowler- backing vocals on tracks 1,7&9

Jan Hammer- piano on “Hard Woman”

Herbie Hancock- organ on track 1, synthesizer on tracks 3,4&7

Colin Hodgkinson- bass on “Hard Woman”

Bill Laswell- bass on “Just Another Night”

Chuck Leavell- organ on “Lucky in Love” and “She’s the Boss”

Ron Magness- synthesizer on “Just Another Night”

Eddie Martinez- lead guitar on tracks 1,3&9

Alfa Anderson- ladies rap on “Turn the Girl Loose”

Lenny Pickett- baritone sax on “Turn the Girl Loose”

Daniel Ponce- beta drum on “Running Out of Luck”

Nile Rogers- guitar on “1/2 a Loaf” and “Secrets”

Robert Sabino- piano, keyboards, synthesizer on “1/2 a Loaf” and “Secrets”

Robbie Shakespeare- bass on tracks 3,6,7&9

Michael Shrieve- drums on “Lonely at the Top”

G.E. Smith- lead guitar on “Secrets”

Tony Thompson- drums on “Hard Woman”

Fonzi Thornton- backing vocals on “1/2 a Loaf”

Pete Townshend- guitar on “Lonely at the Top” acoustic guitar on “Hard Woman”

A great lineup of musicians and not one of them was Steve Lukather!

Mick Jagger proved that he could make great music without the Rolling Stones although many people are glad he stayed with the band. However, the success of this album did indirectly lead him to record what “Family Guy” calls ‘ The gayest video ever’ with David Bowie. Still, this is a great album.

Next post: Back to 1986 with Rush- Power Windows

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Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2019 by 80smetalman


When I began re-familiarizing myself with the Rolling Stones’ 1986 album, “Dirty Work,” I suddenly realized that I might have committed a crime that I should be possibly hung for. During the tour of 1985, I had totally forgotten that Mick Jagger had released a solo album in that year and I remember it was pretty good. The question is now what to do about it.

Before I answer that question, I will now share my thoughts on “Dirty Work.” For me, the album had confirmed that the Rolling Stones had completely gone back to the sound that had made them the legends they were. I was finally able to put the disco albums of “Some Girls” and “Emotional Rescue” behind me and enjoy the music the band had been making since the 1981 “Tattoo You” album.

When I hear the first two tracks on the album, “One Hit to the Body” and “Fight,” I am wondering if the band were going out looking for violence. I mean, the lyrics “I got to get into a fight” makes it kind of clear that they were. Of course, with all the PMRC bullshit that was going on at the time, maybe they were trying to wind people up. Violent lyrics or not, those two songs are pretty hard rocking and set the tone for the rest of the album.

Admittedly, when I heard the first single, “Harlem Shuffle” on radio and MTV, it took me a couple of listens to get into it. However, upon closer examination, the song simply highlights their blues influence and now I can totally appreciate that. An even harder track is “Hold Back” where it almost sounds as if the Stones were trying to go a little metal here. There is some good guitar work on the song from Richards and Wood. Then when you think you have the album pegged, they change things with the Richards lead vocal reggae sounding “Too Rude.” Keith does sing okay on it but what really stands out for me on the track is Wyman’s bass line.

Bill adds another cool bass line on the following track, “Winning Ugly” along with some more interesting guitar work. I don’t know which Stone plays the guitar solo on it, my guess it’s Ronnie, but it’s very nicely done. On the other hand, I don’t know quite what to make of “Back to Zero.” It’s a good track with a good funk vibe to it but I wonder whether or not it’s to be taken seriously or meant to be a tune you play to put life into at party. It could easily do that. The title cut reminds my of a previous Rolling Stones song, “Hang Fire.” Not that it’s a bad thing, I’ve always liked that song and this title track does cook but my ears can’t ignore the comparison between the two songs. It does have a cool guitar solo. They go more old school blues with “Had It With You” where Mick plays a mean harmonica before the album closes with the Richards sung ballad, “Sleep Tonight.” There is strong bayou blues feel on this song and it’s the perfect closer for the album. Unless you count the brief piano instrumental tagged on at the end.

Track Listing:

  1. One Hit (To the Body)
  2. Fight
  3. Harlem Shuffle
  4. Hold Out
  5. Too Rude
  6. Winning Ugly
  7. Back to Zero
  8. Dirty Work
  9. Had It With You
  10. Sleep Tonight
  11. Back to Zero

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger- lead vocals, harmonica

Keith Richards- guitar, piano, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Too Rude” and “Sleep Tonight”

Ronnie Wood- guitar, pedal steel guitar, tenor saxophone, drums on “Sleep Tonight”

Bill Wyman- bass, synthesizer

Charlie Watts- drums

Additional Personnel:

Chuck Leavell- keyboards

Ivan Neville- backing vocals, bass, organ, synthesizer

Jimmy Page- electric guitar on “One Hit to the Body”

Bobby Womack- backing vocals, electric guitar on “Back to Zero”

Phillipe Saisse- keyboards

Anton Figg- shakers

John Regan- bass on “Winning Ugly”

Dan Collette- trumpet

Ian Stewart- piano

Marku Ribas- percussion

What Steve Lukather not on the album?

Jimmy Cliff, Don Covay, Beverly D’Anglelo, Kirsty MacColl, Dolette McDonald, Janet Pendarvis, Patti Schialfa, Tom Waits- backing vocals

With the “Dirty Work” album, I was reassured that the Rolling Stones were now back to what made them great. Silly me to have ever doubted them.

Next post: It’s up to you the reader. Should I take a step back to 1985 and post Mick Jagger’s “She’s the Boss” album? Or should I continue with 1986 which the next post would be Rush- Power Windows. Please vote!

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