Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Rock Dudes Who Look Like Chicks

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2021 by 80smetalman

One point of heavy metal debate in 1986 came with the emergence of glam metal. There were a lot of heavy metal musicians who wore more make up than my sister, ratted out their hair and basically looked like girls. I have always found the whole thing rather amusing but it did get some hostility from the emerging thrash element. Wayne’s World, (Not the film but the segment on Saturday Night Live) even did a top ten list of rock dudes who look like chicks. Before I get to it, I would like to put down my top three in the category as they don’t appear in Wayne’s list.

3. Michael Monroe- Hanoi Rocks
2. Vinnie Vincent
1. Wayne includes just the bass player in his list, I think the whole band should be there.

I hope you enjoyed that and feel free to let me know your choices!

Next post: Since I didn’t start including songs in my posts until I got to 1984, I thought I would venture back and share the actual songs from one hit wonders between 1978-83.

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Rest in Peace Michael Stanley

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2021 by 80smetalman
Michael Stanley

I have just learned that 1970s-80s singer, song writer Michael Stanley has passed away in his sleep after a long battle with lung cancer he was 72. Michael was best known for fronting the Michael Stanley Band, two of whose albums I posted here what seems a very long time ago. Those albums were his 1982 “MSB” and the 1983 “You Can’t Fight Fashion,” which yielded one of my all time favourite songs, “My Town.” Another tragic loss for music.

Michael Stanley Band

Rest in peace Michael Stanley

Final Thoughts From 1986

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2021 by 80smetalman

Recently, many of you have been writing about how music has kept you going in these troubling and uncertain times. It has been the same for me. However, as I have been posting about all the great music which came about in 1986, it has reminded me how music got me through the end of that year. As the year was closing out, I was attending university in London. During the Christmas break, most of the other students went home, leaving me pretty much on my own except for a couple of friends. I couldn’t do much because I was going through financial hardship at the time due to the Veteran’s Administration refusing to give me my veteran’s educational benefits stating the course I was pursuing in London wasn’t approved. It even went as far as for me to declare that I hated America. This was against a backdrop of a small but vocal minority of British students who believed the myth that all American students were filthy rich. Needless to say, I was at a very low point in my life but fortunately, I had music to soothe the pain.

It’s a McDonald’s now but in 1986, this place was a great Friday night heavy metal club.

Every Friday night, we would go to a club called Oscar’s in a part of London known as Newbury Park. As you can see, it’s a McDonald’s now but back then, all the metalheads in the area would go there to headbang away. There was even a guy who was the splitting image of Ozzy who used to go there. Another common occurrence was during the guitar solos, everyone on the dance floor would stop headbanging and form a big pile up in the middle of the floor. Yes, to the average observer, it all looked very homo-erotic but no one cared. It is also where I got the attention of the woman I would marry six months later when I went sliding across the floor on my knees and started playing air guitar on her leg. Oh, we were already acquainted by then but I thought it was a good way of making a grand gesture. Ah, the memories! I did happen to go to that McDonald’s in 1998 and while the inside might have changed, I could still see Oscar’s in my mind.

Before I went to London in that summer, there were two songs from 1986 which have always stuck in my mind. Both were related to the Cold War and East-West tensions. First, I’m surprised no one has asked why I didn’t include Sting’s debut album, “Dream of the Blue Turtles.” Basically, it was because I wasn’t impressed the songs I did hear on it and was convinced that like other artists I accused of doing so, he had sold out and became a Top 40 singer. However, the single “Russians” has always stuck in my mind. Likewise for Elton John. I really liked his early 1970s material but thought the same of Elton come the 1980s. It didn’t help that a video for one of his songs brought back a lot of painful memories for me. Anyhow, while it’s not a rocker, the lyrics to his 1986 single, “Nikita,” has also stuck in my mind. Probably because I was very politically aware at the time.

Beki Bondage

Back to London, what I loved about the city in 1986 was that somewhere, at some pub or club, there would be a heavy metal or hard rock band playing. One I mention quite a bit in “Rock and Roll Children” was a pub called “The Wellington” in the Shepherd’s Bush part of the city. I saw some great bands there, including the band who I became friends with, Torque Show. However, one November evening in 1986, I attended a benefit gig to raise money to fight drug addiction in young people, a worthy cause. Opening was an Iron Maiden influenced band called Elixir and there was an band made up from musicians from around the city, which included Lisa Dominique on vocals and on bass was a musician who appeared on the popular UK soap opera “East Enders.” Closing out the night was a band called Beki and the Bombshells, led by Beki Bondage. They were described as a punk/metal crossover but they ended the evening very well.

Well, that concludes the tour of 1986. You know, at one point, I thought I would never get through the year as there were so many great albums. Maybe in one case, it was a very good thing for me at the time because music can help you forget your troubles even if it’s only for a brief moment. One final note, I hear that The Wellington is now either a Burger King or KFC.

Next post: Rock Dudes Who Look Like Chicks

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Megadeth- Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2021 by 80smetalman

They weren’t called “The Big 4” back in 1986 but history has now taught us that 86 was the year which all four bands under that title came out with pivotal albums. Three of which, I have already posted about, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” Anthrax’s “Spreading the Diseases” and “Reign in Blood” from Slayer. Last but certainly not least, (I will never state a preference of these albums because it will result in a “Scanners” effect), is Megadeth and their album, “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?” With the benefit of historical hindsight, I can definitely conclude that 1986 was the year which sprung thrash metal into the limelight with these four bands and their fantastic albums leading the charge.

What “PSBWB” did for me was to satisfy my ever-growing appetite for things thrash back then. Hearing those riffs would get me out into a mosh pit, even now. In addition, some of the songs seemed to speak directly to me. Many times I felt like the opener, “Wake Up Dead,” after a good night in the college bar, which wasn’t all the often at the time but that’s another story. I didn’t realize the Dave Mustaine wrote the song because he was cheating on his girlfriend at the time and feared getting caught. While I’m not a Satanist, I was still very fond of black metal songs like “The Conjuring” because it was something I could listen to in defiance of the religious nuts in America, even though I was in England.

In regards to the title track, I have to agree with the masses that it’s a monster of a song, definitely up there in my all time list of favourite Megadeth songs. I was harbouring similar feelings towards the USA as Dave was at the time so the lyrics seemed to speak to me on a very personal level. On top of that, he sings the song with that sinister sneer in his voice, something I have always liked about him. Then if that’s not enough, the song ends with the title repeated in a way which invites the listener to engage and a thrashing good mosh.

While “PSBWB” is a definite thrash album, tracks like “Devil’s Island” make it so, there are some less thrashy moments as well, which in no way detract from the enjoyment of the album. “Good Mourning/Black Friday” starts with a cool melodic lead guitar intro which shatters the myth that thrash musicians can’t play their instruments. However, that intro serves to lull you into a false sense of security before the second half of the song goes full blow out your ears thrash. I do love the guitar solo on this part of the song. But that’s not all, the band unveil a further surprise in the bluesy sounding “I Ain’t Superstitious,” a cover of an old Howlin’ Wolf song from the 1960s. This track is such a pleasant surprise that I call it the hidden gem on the album. The way its played, you can’t help just to bob away to it and the guitar solo is just outstanding. Even though it might be a contrast with the total thrash out of a closer that is “My Last Words,” which is about playing Russian Roulette, it works perfectly.

Track Listing:

  1. Wake Up Dead
  2. The Conjuring
  3. Peace Sells But Who’s Buying
  4. Devil’s Island
  5. Good Mourning/Black Friday
  6. Bad Omen
  7. I Ain’t Superstitious
  8. My Last Words

Dave Mustane- lead vocals, guitar

Chris Poland- guitar

David Ellefson- bass, backing vocals

Gar Samuelson- drums

“Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?” joins the albums from the other three big 4 bands to mark 1986 as a very big year in thrash metal. While other bands would also begin to stamp their mark on the thrash world, it is Megadeth and the other bands which started the avalanche.

Next post: Some Remaining Bits of 1986

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2021 by 80smetalman

It seems like an age and a half ago when I revealed that the Killer Dwarfs were my favourite Canadian band. Linking past with present, I remember that there could have been a time when this might not have been the case. Having picked up their debut album in 1985, which was recorded in 1983, I hadn’t heard anything from them and so they were pushed into a ‘saved’ file somewhere in my memory while I listened to more current music of the time. Then, in the late summer of 85, I bought that copy if “Metallion” magazine and after reading all the articles and interviews, when I got near the end, there was a review of a gig in Toronto by none other than, you guessed it, the Killer Dwarfs. Reading the favourable review of the show and a quote by lead singer, Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham, who said the band was working on new material, I searched the magazines and any other sources for news of a new album, then, a year later, in a famous metal record shop in London called “Shades,” I discovered their second album, “Stand Tall.”

Thanks to that magazine article, I already knew there were line up changes with the new album. Guitarist Bryce Trewin and bass Ange Federro were replaced by Mike Hall and Ron Mayer respectively. That didn’t stop me from getting the album and taking it back to my halls of residence to listen to it. I liked what I heard straight away.

Like with other metal bands in 1986, synthesizers were introduced into the Killer Dwarfs’ sound. That comes through with the opening title track but while the synths are there, they play a supporting role because that song sounds great. The same can be said for the third track, “Up to You and Me.” The synths compliment the song without taking it over and listening to it recently a long layoff, I never realized how good a bassist Ron Mayer was because he really does shine on this particular track.

After that though, things go more metal for the rest of the album. While Mike Hall plays some really good solos on the first three tracks, it is “Borderline” where he is finally let of the leash and allowed to play some brilliant guitar riffs as well as a great solo. Then with the closing track of side one, (I had this on cassette), the band goes absolutely hard rocking nuts on “Through Animal Eyes.” This is a pure metal song and I only wish the producer would have turned Mike’s guitar up a fraction more because then it would be killer, pun intended.

While all the songs on “Stand Tall” are worthy of being my favourite track, the one that starts of side two gets the award. “Keep the Spirit Alive” has a great guitar riff and a bass which stamps its mark from the very beginning. Listening to the lyrics, I think they might have been talking about themselves. They had almost disappeared only to come back with this great album. I have always found the lyrics quite inspirational and it is here where I will sing the praises of Russ Graham. I going to put my head in the noose and declare that he is second to Danny Vaughn as one of the most underrated vocalists in rock or metal. His vocals here are just simply magnificent and some great solos from Mike help propel the track to number one.

Needless to say, though I’m going to say it anyway, following “Keep the Spirit Alive,” the rest of the album doesn’t in any way lessen in quality. “Believe in Me” is a pure metal song and I remember the only time I saw the Killer Dwarfs live in 1988, Russ used the song to encourage audience participation. He chose the right song. “Do or Die” comes the closest to being a filler track but in reality, it is nowhere near being filler. It has a pounding guitar and bass sound and it’s on this track were drummer Darrell Millar gets my praise. He does have some good drum rolls on the track. After the track “Out in the Streets,” which has some more good lead guitar work from Hall, we go come to the closer, “Bite the Hands That Feeds.” It gives the impression that it is recorded live but I don’t think it actually is. No matter, its a great closing track for the album which does the job any good closing track should do, get you wanting to listen to the album again. All four members come together very nicely on this one.

Track Listing:

  1. Stand Tall
  2. Human Survival
  3. Up to You and Me
  4. Borderline
  5. Through Animal Eyes
  6. Keep the Spirit Alive
  7. Believe in Me
  8. Do or Die
  9. Out in the Streets
  10. Bite the Hand That Feeds
Killer Dwarfs

Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham- vocals

Mike ‘Dwarf’ Hall- guitars

Bad Ronald ‘Dwarf’ Mayer- bass

Darrell ‘Dwarf’ Millar- drums

For me, knowing that not only the Killer Dwarfs were back but back with a fantastic album was another great way to end my 1986. While they never came to London to support the album was disappointing, I still had it to fall back on and if you thought I gushed over “Stand Tall,” then wait till I get to their next album in 1988.

Next post: Megadeath- Peace Sells But Who’s Buying

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Metal Church- The Dark

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2021 by 80smetalman

Crimson Glory may have failed to impress me when I saw them live in February, 1987, but the next band of the evening, Metal Church, totally blew me away. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult for them not have blown me away because their 1986 album, “The Dark” was on my listening rotation at the time. It was one of those albums which ended my 1986 on the right note and propelled me into 1987.

Some critics have accused “The Dark” of having lost its teeth in comparison to the more thrash induced self titled debut album. They went on to say that Metal Church was confused about which direction they were heading. What do critics know? All I knew was that I loved the album and continue to do so. Yes, some of the songs aren’t as fast and take on a more straight-forward metal approach but there is still some good speed metal to mosh to. The album opener does what it says in the song title, it hits you like a “Ton of Bricks.” It’s a throat grabber, guaranteed to fill a mosh pit anywhere and the next track, “Start With Fire,” would keep that mosh pit going.

It’s with the third track, “Method to Your Madness,” where some critics may point to an abandonment of the thrash sound. What I know is that while it has more of a melody, that melody is very catching and with the crashing guitars and thumping bass, it’s one to get you headbanging along to. Plus, the chorus is good to sing along to. Then we come to my favourite song on the album and one of my favourite Metal Church tunes of all time, “Watch the Children Pray.” This song has a great doom metal type intro and this was many years before anyone coined the phrase. It’s impending doom feeling has you gripped until the guitars come crashing down around you. It’s probably the closest Metal Church comes to having a ballad. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was dedicated to Metallica’s Cliff Burton who died nine days before it’s release. I think Cliff would be happy with this choice of song.

Another criticism slung at the album is that after the tracks “Over My Dead Body” and the title cut, which are both pure thrash tunes and I love how the chorus is sung on the title cut, the album takes a nosedive as the remaining tracks are filler. I disagree with that, totally. While, I might prefer the first half of the album, the remaining songs aren’t in anyway, filler. Not to these ears! “Pyscho” and “Line of Death” carry on the thrash party, if anything, the ferocity increases with these two tracks, although “Line of Death” does slow down for a breather in the middle of it. “Burial at Sea” may not be thrash but there is some very powerful chords to assault your delicate ears and a couple of good lead guitar hooks. In fact, if I were to hurl any criticism of this album, I think that “Burial at Sea” should have been the closer as the actual closer, “Western Alliance,” is more of a thrash song and would have been better before “Burial at Sea.” While maybe not the best choice for closer, it’s still a great mosh tune and fits in better with the four songs which precede it. Other than that, “The Dark” is still a great album.

Track Listing:

  1. Ton of Bricks
  2. Start the Fire
  3. Method to Your Madness
  4. Watch the Children Pray
  5. Over My Dead Body
  6. The Dark
  7. Psycho
  8. Line of Death
  9. Burial at Sea
  10. Western Alliance
Metal Church

David Wayne- vocals

Kurdt Vanderhoof- guitar

Craig Wells- guitar

Duke Erickson- bass

Kirk Arrington- drums

Unfortunately, after this fantastic album, things would stall in the Metal Church camp. Personnel changes meant that they would not put out another album for nearly three years but that’s a story for another day. For with “The Dark,” they definitely stamped their name on 1986.

Next post: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Crimson Glory

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2021 by 80smetalman

I avoided listening to any Crimson Glory over the many years. This was down to when, in February 1987, I saw them support Anthrax and Metal Church at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. To make a long story short, I was totally unimpressed with them. After the concert, I stated that the night would have just as good if Crimson Glory had been left off the bill as Anthrax and Metal Church were both amazing. Thirty plus years on, whether I like it or not, Crimson Glory did make up a small piece of heavy metal history and being the open minded chap I try to be, I gave their debut album a few listens. Maybe it’s me having more wisdom in my older years or possibly, they simply had an off night when I saw them but this album is pretty good.

Reflecting back, I think that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to put a straight-forward metal band like Crimson Glory on a bill with two thrash metal giants. While there are some great power chords throughout the album, which comes through straight way, there are some great melodies on the songs as well. Furthermore, I can see why some people have made comparisons between lead singer, Midnight, and Queensryche’s Geoff Tate. Midnight does like to do the screams and he does it quite a bit on many of the songs. “Heart of Steel” is a prime example of his vocal prowess. It also helps that lead guitarist Jon Drenning gets to show off his shredding skills and on a further note, I now include Ben Jackson in my list of great rhythm guitarists. I have to concede that there is a lot to like on the album.

One track, where Crimson Glory tries to cover all the bases is “Azrael.” My guess is that they were trying to make Queensryche style progressive type song. It starts out with an acoustic intro which gives the impression of a possible ballad before going into the power chords. The track is played very well and Midnight gets to scream quite a bit. The song also lets you know that there was an angel of mercy named Azrael as “Azrael, angel of mercy,” gets repeated a lot. Overall, it’s a pretty decent track, though it doesn’t get my vote for top track. Nor does, “Heart of Steel.” No, my votes for best tracks on the album are “Dragon Lady” and “Queen of the Masquerade.” There are no special reasons as to why these two tracks are my favourites on the album, they simply are the tracks which grab me and make me take notice of them. The band does nothing different with them, they simply put everything together in a way which pleases me. On another note, maybe the concert promoter heard the track, “Mayday,” and assumed Crimson Glory were a speed metal band. It could also be down to the closer, “Lost Reflection,” which while a good closer, is slightly similar to a Metal Church song from their album at the time.

It would be a dereliction of duty not to point out what made Crimson Glory stand out in the 1980s. It wasn’t anything to do with their sound, it was the fact that they wore silver metallic masks. In an age where a lot of metal bands began to look alike, the masks made them stand out. You saw the masks and knew it was them. Unfortunately, because I was so not impressed when I saw them, I thought that the masks were just a gimmick in order to compensate for lack of musical acumen. I see now that’s not the case.

Track Listing:

  1. Valhalla
  2. Dragon Lady
  3. Heart of Steel
  4. Azrael
  5. Mayday
  6. Queen of the Masquerade
  7. Angels of War
  8. Lost Reflection

Midnight- lead vocals

Jon Drenning- lead guitar

Ben Jackson- rhythm guitar

Jeff Lords- bass

Dana Burnell- drums

Hindsight isn’t 20-20 but it’s a lot better than foresight or present sight. Reflecting back, it might have been better if Crimson Glory had been on the bill with Queensryche and Bon Jovi when I saw them three months prior to this concert. Having been still unfamiliar with Queensryche and had an “eh” approach to Bon Jovi, I think I would have appreciated them more. Especially if this debut album is anything to go by.

Next post: Metal Church- The Dark

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Note: I do write how unimpressed I was with Crimson Glory in the book.

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Agent Steel- Mad Locust Rising

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2021 by 80smetalman

One misconception people outside the heavy metal fraternity had about Combat Records in 1986 was that they would sign any band who could breathe, (direct quote). I think they were jealous of the fact which I pointed out in a post which now seems many moons ago, that Combat Records ruled 1986! Before that, it launched great bands such as Metallica and Megadeath onto the road to superstardom. Anyhow, for me, the more 1986 rolled along, it rapidly became my ‘go to’ label for thrash. Agent Steel and their four song EP, “Mad Locust Rising,” was a result of that.

The first track of the EP, “The Swarm,” is a seventeen second intro. The intention is that you, the listener, is about to be swarmed by a plague of locusts, unfortunately, the production doesn’t make it clear as to whether that happens. No worries though, because the second track, the title track, jumps in straight away and bombards your delicate ears with some amazing thrash. Probably the best way to describe the song is this is what it would sound like if Robert Halford joined a thrash band. You can definitely hear Rob’s influence on lead singer, John Cyriis, in the the vocals, especially the way in which he holds his note near the end. Meanwhile, he is backed up by some ferocious speed chords and a couple of cool guitar solos which are guaranteed to get a mosh pit started.

If the title track didn’t convince people of the influence Judas Priest had on Agent Steel, then their cover of “The Ripper” would. Since I consider this song to be the hidden gem of the entire Judas Priest discography, I listened to the cover with very critical ears and if Agent Steel had spoiled the song, then I would be pouring out my wrath on this page. Fortunately for them, they do a good job with it. Of course, Cyriis tries hard to emulate his hero and there is only one Rob Halford but John’s vocals are quite good here. And because Agent Steel are thrash or speed metal, they take the pace up a few mph but the song doesn’t suffer at all. So, good job there.

Two songs combined into one close out the EP. The first part, “Let It Be Done,” is mad mosh pit inducing thrash and it is here where guitarists Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles play their best solos. While they slow the temp down considerably for the final part of the track, “The Day at Guyana,” it doesn’t lose the power, giving you the sense of impeding doom while the EP closes out. On the subject of EP’s, one advantage they have over LP’s is that the artists or the record company can choose what tracks they think are best to go on and not have to worry about filler. I know this doesn’t always work out but for “Mad Locust Rising,” it definitely does.

Track Listing:

  1. The Swarm
  2. Mad Locust Rising
  3. The Ripper
  4. Let It Be Done/The Day at Guyanan
Agent Steel

John Cyriss- vocals

Juan Garcia- guitar

Bernie Versailles- guitar

Mike Zaputil- bass

Chuck Profus- drums

Note: George Robb actually played bass on the album but was fired from the band after it was recorded.

Like so many bands in 1986, Agent Steel came and went. However, if you love a good short, sharp mosh, they did leave a cool EP in which to do it to.

Next post: Crimson Glory

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Joshua- Surrender

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2021 by 80smetalman

Joshua is another American band which didn’t come to my attention until I got over to the UK. Unlike Racer X, however, Joshua was better known outside the US than in it. In 1983, they scored a minor hit in Japan but they seemed to be unnoticed in North America and Europe. One theory could be down to them being described as Christian rock. Maybe so, but when I listen to their album, “Surrender,” I don’t hear any overt Jesus lyrics in the songs.

Another contrast to the band in the previous post is that I can label Joshua and that label is melodic metal. Furthermore, it’s the same type of melodic metal that was very popular in the 1980s. It could also be the reason why they weren’t more well known than they actually were. They are a good, tight solid band and it is shown on this album, “Surrender.” Lead singer, Jeff Fenholt has a steady and consistent voice which lasts throughout the entire album. He doesn’t need to do any falsetto type vocals or screams, what he does is more than sufficient. The rhythm section of Jo Galletta and Loren Robinson provide a steady beat all through the album. When time to shine, keyboardist Patrick Bradley delivers the goods. His most noted effort comes on the track, “Your Love is Gone.” That brings me to the guitar duo of Joshua Perahia and Kenneth Tamplin. Maybe it’s my ears needing syringing but some of the guitar solos remind me of Vinnie Vincent’s, but only they aren’t all over the place like Vinnie’s was on his album. Because both guitarists deliver some really cool solos, maybe Vinnie was trying to emulate Perahia and Tamplin.

Throughout “Surrender,” you get a good consistent mix of good melodic metal songs. This is definitely an album for putting on in the car when going on a long drive because the songs are consistently good, although I can’t say there is any one song which totally blows me away. The closest comes with the two tracks dead centre on the album where the rock goes harder yet without losing any of the melody. Those tracks are “Rockin’ the World” and “Back to the Rock.” The power chords give those songs just a little bit more oomph in my humble opinion. Saying that, there is a cool keyboard bit on “Back to the Rock.” But on a commercial level, if I were to choose a song from “Surrender” which had the best shot at commercial success, it would be “Hold On.” Remembering how bands like this made their success back in the 80s, this track follows that formula. It has a good melody with a hard rock edge and while I love the guitar solo on it, I have the sneaking suspicion that it would have been cut down to make the track more radio friendly. So, maybe it was a good thing it wasn’t a single.

Track Listing:

  1. Surrender Love
  2. Heart Full of Soul
  3. Your Love is Gone
  4. Hold On
  5. Back to the Rock
  6. Rockin’ the World
  7. Stay Alive
  8. Love Shock
  9. Reprise

Joshua Perahia- guitar, backing vocals

Kenneth Tamplin- guitar, backing vocals

Jeff Fenholt- lead vocals

Patrick Bradley- keyboards, backing vocals

Loren Robinson- bass, backing vocals

Jo Galletta- drums

It’s a shame how so many good bands come and go without getting the recognition they deserved. This was the case with Joshua, so I hope that I am doing them some sort of justice in retrospect here today.

Next post: Agent Steel- Mad Locust Rising

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Racer X- Street Lethal

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2021 by 80smetalman

Reflecting back to the 1980s, I have come to the conclusion that it is easier for American bands to get noticed in Great Britain than it is for British bands to get noticed in the US. Supporting my claim is the 1986 debut album, “Street Lethal,” from Los Angeles based metal band, Racer X. It was a good British friend who first enlightened me about this band and having been in the UK for a few months by then, I assumed they were British. My good friend informed me that Racer X were in fact, American.

I love it when I can’t pigeon hole a band. Wikipedia calls this album speed metal and true, there are songs which could be called that. The title cut is one such song as is “Loud and Clear.” However, those tracks alone aren’t enough to call Racer X speed metal. Plus, their image is one of a LA glam metal band. Then there is my choice for favourite track on the album, “Into the Night,” which is definitely more in the realm of Judas Priest. Although unlike Ded Engine, lead singer Jeff Martin, does not sound as if he has a head cold. On top of that, guitarist Paul Gilbert tries to imitate one Yngwie J. Malmesteen on his guitar solo. In fact, there is an instrumental towards the end of the album called “Y.R.O.,” which is said to stand for “Yngwie Rip Off.” At least they have a sense of humour.

One song, which successfully bridges the speed metal label, Judas Priest influence and Yngwie type guitar solo is “Blowin’ Up the Radio.” All three of those elements come together very well to make a very good song. On the other hand, I would say that “Hotter Than Fire” could be the most home grown song on the album but then Gilbert spoils my theory with another Yngwie style guitar solo. That’s not a bad thing, really.

“On the Loose,” while not a bad track, isn’t anything noteworthy either. It’s not quite filler but I would call it more of a supporting track. “Dangerous Love” goes back to a more speed metal sound and “Getaway” is a more Priest influenced metal tune and of course, an Yngwie influenced guitar solo. That brings me to the closer, “Rock It.” After several listens, I’m not sure what to make of the song. I like the catchy, soulful intro. If anything, the band abandons the Judas Priest influence and tries to be more like Van Halen. The band plays it very well and I take my hat off to the rhythm section especially. But sorry Jeff Martin, you’re not David Lee Roth. His vocal style is much more suited to the other songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Frenzy
  2. Street Lethal
  3. Into the Night
  4. Blowin’ Up the Radio
  5. Hotter Than Fire
  6. On the Loose
  7. Loud and Clear
  8. Y.R.O.
  9. Dangerous Love
  10. Getaway
  11. Rock It
Racer X

Jeff Martin- vocals

Paul Gilbert- guitar

John Alderete- bass

Harry Gschoessher- drums

Note: As you can see, there are five in the picture but four people in the credits. This is because they would add a second guitarist on the next album.

If Racer X were some sort of come and go in an instant type band, then they wouldn’t have remained in my memory for thirty years plus. It’s been a long time since I actually listened to “Street Lethal” and though I wouldn’t rate is as high as some of the classics from 1986, it’s still a very good listen.

Next post: Joshua- Surrender

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