Archive for Americans

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Phantom, Rocker and Slick

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2019 by 80smetalman

phroslalbum

The biggest question I have been asking myself since 1985 is “Why didn’t Phantom, Rocker and Slick achieve greater success than what they did? For me, this was a great straight ahead, no frills rock album from a good tight band. The band possessed all the tools to be great. Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker proved they were a great rhythm section when they were in the Stray Cats and were just as formidable in this band. Additionally, Lee has a good singing voice that fits perfectly with the songs. Plus, guitarist Earl Slick shows he’s a great guitarist as he plays what I have always considered the best guitar solo of 1985, (see below). So, why not?

Apart from the album itself, I can also provide additional evidence that they sounded just as good live. I recorded their live performance on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, (who remembers that?). In fact, some of the songs they played sounded better live than what it did on vinyl. Again, I ask, “Why not?”

If people don’t remember anything else about Phantom, Rocker and Slick, the one song that they might remember is the hit, “Men Without Shame,” which got a considerable amount of airplay on local radio. I was hooked straight away the first time I heard that song, despite the fact the radio version of the single chopped a good chunk of the guitar solo out of it. Why do they do that? So, you can imagine how I reacted when I heard it in its full glory.

Some more critical people might criticise the album for sounding a bit the same. Yes, I would agree there are similarities between the tracks, “Sing For Your Supper,” “Hollywood Distractions” and “Well Kept Secret” but not enough to say they are all the same. All three are great straight ahead power rockers and all three members of the band are at the top of their game. Furthermore, Phantom and Rocker haven’t totally abandoned their time with the Stray Cats as evidenced in the 1950 ballad like tracks, “Time is On My Hands” and “No Regrets.” On the latter tracks, there is another killer guitar solo from Slick. That’s the other thing, I’ll go out on a limb and venture my belief that Earl Slick is a better guitarist than Brian Setzer was in the Lee and Jim’s former band. An additional bonus is that there is some strong song writing on the album. “Lonely Actions” is proof of this, so again, “Why not?”

Track Listing:

  1. Men Without Shame
  2. My Mistake
  3. What You Want
  4. Time is On My Hands
  5. No Regrets
  6. Lonely Actions
  7. Well Kept Secret
  8. Runnin’ From the Hounds
  9. Hollywood Distractions
  10. Sing For Your Supper

prs

Phantom, Rocker and Slick

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, backing vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, lead vocals

Earl Slick- guitar, backing vocals

The theme of this post is quite obvious by now. I am asking why didn’t Phantom, Rocker and Slick achieve greater success. Everything to do so was present in bucket loads. My only theory to it was that it was down to the categorising and polarisation of music back in 1985. There was no neat little box for trendies or metaheads to put them into and while the music on the album is well played, there is an element of fun to it and society back then wasn’t ready for it.

Next post: Brian Setzer- The Knife Feels Like Justice

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: ZZ Top- Afterburner

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2019 by 80smetalman

It’s back to the grindstone for the new year so in my case, it’s back to the tour of the golden decade of heavy metal. While, it wasn’t planned, I realized that it might be cool to start the new year off with a post from an album from one of the all time greats, ZZ Top.

Thinking back to 1985, when I heard the first single from the “Afterburner” album, “Sleeping Bag,” I have to admit that I wasn’t too impressed. For me, that song was too synth pop and was too quick to accuse ZZ Top of selling out and abandoning their Texas boogie blues sound and wanting to sound like Duran Duran. Many other people I knew were of the same opinion. Fortunately, like I’ve said so many times throughout the history of the blog, one song doesn’t make an album. Slowly but surely, reports came in that the rest of the album wasn’t all synth pop and that Top hadn’t completely forgotten where they had came from. What convinced me that this was the case was the second single, “Rough Boy.” Even though some of Billy Gibbons’s great guitar work was shortened for the sake of radio friendliness, I realized that the reports from others were indeed correct.

Thinking about “Rough Boy,” the full length version on the album is even better from what radio had to offer. True, the song is a bit of a ballad but if ballads had guitar solos like this one, then what’s the problem? I will also not debate that there might be some synth pop sounds on “Afterburner” but for the most part, there is plenty of what ZZ Top had been famous for before hand. “Stages,” which was also released as a single and “Woke Up With Wood” bear testimony to that. If these tracks don’t convince you then “Can’t Stop Rocking” certainly will. This is a straight forward hard rocker that comes close to being a metal tune. Dusty Hill does the vocal duties here and he sounds fantastic and that leaves Billy to work more of his guitar magic and the result is pure magic.

The second half of the album carries on where the first half left off. “Planet of Women,” (I would have loved to have gone there in 1985), gets my vote for hidden gem. It’s as hard rocking as “Can’t Stop Rocking” but what carries past the line for me is Billy Gibbons. His solos are just a little bit better on this track. Things continue in this vein for the rest of the album with “I Got the Message” but “Velcro Fly” does mark a slight return to synth pop, except Billy’s guitar solo is first rate. Then we get to the last two tracks where the links with the previous mega successful “Eliminator” album come through loud and clear. Penultimate track, “Dipping Low (In the Lap of Luxury) reminds me very much of “Give Me All Your Loving,” not a bad thing. The closer, “Delirious,” reminds me of “Bad Girls,” which was the closer from the “Eliminator” album. Maybe the band planned it that way because when the album closes, you are convinced that ZZ Top haven’t sold out and remain the band that they have always been.

Track Listing:

  1. Sleeping Bag
  2. Stages
  3. Woke Up With the Wood
  4. Rough Boy
  5. Can’t Stop Rockin’
  6. Planet of Women
  7. I Got the Message
  8. Velcro Fly
  9. Dipping Low (In the Lap of Luxury)
  10. Delirious
zztop

ZZ Top

Billy Gibbons- guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals

Dusty Hill- bass, keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocal on tracks 5 and 10

Frank Beard- drums

In conclusion, ZZ Top did not sell out with the “Afterburner” album. In fact, though I wasn’t impressed when I first heard it, “Sleeping Bag” has been growing on me more. It just proves how great this band has always been.

Next post: Joe Lynn Turner- Rescue You

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh God! It’s Starting Already

Posted in Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by 80smetalman

Three days into 2019 and already two tragic deaths. First, I read about former Dr Hook singer, Ray Stewart, famous for his eye patch, passed away quietly in his sleep at his home in Canada. He was 81. Dr Hook was famous for soft rock hits in the 1970s such as “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” and “Sharing the Night Together.” My personal favourite Dr Hook tune can be accessed at the bottom of this post.

Ray Stewart

The second passing comes from the world of wrestling, which I was a big fan of in the 1980s. Former WWE commentator and interviewer ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund passed away in Florida today. He was 76. I remember his unique commentary and interview style which will never be duplicated.

Gene Okerlund

Rest in peace Ray Stewart

Rest in peace Mean Gene Okerlund

 

 

 

 

2018: Tragedies and Triumphs

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2018 by 80smetalman

We are all reflecting on 2018 as the year comes to a close. For me, the year has been a roller coaster of triumphs and tragedies. The tragedies being losses in my own personal life as well as some in the music and entertainment world. Although it happened in 2017, the effects of the passing of my mother in law were felt for several weeks into the new year. Then, when I thought Mrs 80smetalman and I had gotten over it, my mother died in early March. Losing both mothers barely two months apart is something I would not wish on any couple. After putting that behind us, my wife’s aunt suddenly died. No one was really expecting it but it was not the way anyone wanted to see the year end.

Like 2016 and 17, 2018 has had its share of people we love from the music world departing this world, including two I only just found out about. Those were Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy from The Blues Brothers and former Jefferson Airplane/Starship lead singer Marty Balin. Saying that, the list I found them on did not include Huntress lead singer, Jill Janus, which I’m a little peeved about. Here’s a list of some of the others who passed on.

Vinnie Paul

Bruno Sammartino

Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin

It’s rather ironic that Aretha Franklin and Matt Murphy, they played husband and wife in the Blues Brothers film, both died in 2018.

Marty Balin

The only decent shot I got of Jill Janus and she has her back to me

Ed King

Fortunately, there were many triumphs in 2018 as well. The best of those was becoming a grandfather, thus ensuring a third generation of metalheads in the LeFevre family. In addition, two weeks ago, I got to see my daughter receive her master’s degree, a proud moment.

Grandfather and grandson

Needless to say, there were a lot of musical highs in 2018 as well. In February, I was invited to the album launch party for the band Black Emerald. A band I had seen at Bloodstock in 2013 and impressed me so much, I wrote a post as to why they should be signed. Someone must have read it because this year saw the release of Black Emerald’s debut album, “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us. I have listened to the album several times now and it’s brilliant. I hope this is the dawning of great things to come for this band.

Although my trip to the US, was due to tragic circumstances in March, I still got to experience what I called “America’s best kept secret” in the form of blues guitarist and singer Hannah Wicklund and her band the Steppin’ Stones. This was another album from this year that I enjoy more with each listen.

Hannah Wicklund

Hannah wasn’t the only lady in rock to turn my head in 2018. Not long after, I got to experience Lebanese metal maidens Slave to Sirens. Last report I heard, they are working on a full length album and I will definitely be picking it up when it comes out.

Slave to Sirens

No year would be complete without going to a music festival or two. In June, I went to the Sunday at Download where I was awed by the likes of Iglorious, Shinedown, Black Veil Brides, Marilyn Manson and Ozzy himself. I was also introduced to up and coming new band, Puppy but the best part for me was after a more than thirty year wait, I got to see German thrashers, Kreator. It was definitely a day to remember.

Mille leads Kreator onto the stage

Ozzy’s kick ass show

One festival wasn’t enough so in August, I went to Bloodstock for the full three days. Each day brought both the expected and unexpected. On the Friday, Suicidal Tendencies, Judas Priest and Doro all performed as well as I thought but I was further impressed by Kamelot and Feed the Rhino. Likewise on Saturday, Gojira proved they earned the headlining slot but I was also wowed by Orden Organ, the pirate metal of Alestorm and Sophie Lancaster Stage headliners Orphaned Land. I am currently listening to Orphaned Land’s new album, “Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs” and so far, I’m very much liking what I am hearing. However, you can’t forget Sunday, which could have been called Scandinavian Day as most of the bands were from Sweden or Finland. Still, Fozzy was brilliant as always and Mr Big showed they could play Bloodstock and Devil Driver was one big mosh pit. On the other hand, I was very grateful for my introductions to Amaranthe and Nepalese metalers Underside. This was a great way to end my festival career.

Feed The Rhino welcome everybody to Bloodstock

ST comes on stage

Doro on the Sophie Stage

Levermann and Kersting leading from the front.

Alestorm on stage with a lot of flying inflatable objects.

Orphaned Land

A shot of the entire band

Amaranthe won me over

Underside show that you can rock in Nepal.

Late in the year, AC/DC tribute band Hell’s Bells made their annual trip to Stroud and were as good as always but the year ended with seeing Slayer, Anthrax and Lamb of God in Cardiff. This is supposed to be Slayer’s farewell tour and it was a great night for them to go out on.

Obviously, I got closer to the stage for Hell’s Bells

Anthrax in Cardiff

Lamb of God

Slayer appear!

Yes, 2018 was a year of triumphs and tragedies for me. The important thing is that I got through it with many great memories. Likewise, 2019 is also looking very promising. On the personal side, both of my sons are getting married this year. My younger one in February and my eldest is getting married in December. While I have retired from going to three day festivals, I think I will go to Bloodstock on the Sunday with the Scorpions headlining that day and Dee Snider playing as well. However, the band I want to see most that day is Queensryche. I’m already looking forward.

So, I wish all of you a very happy 2019! I look forward to continuing my tour through the golden decade of heavy metal as well as talking about relevant events and I look forward to reading what you all have to say in 2019.

Next post: I think I’ll put on some of the music from the bands I mentioned here.

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to All!

Posted in Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2018 by 80smetalman

A few years ago, I posted my top ten favourite Christmas songs. Now that I can paste them on here from Youtube, I thought I’d share them again while giving you a chance to listen to them and get in the festive mood. Besides, since that post, my top ten has shuffled a little. Listen and enjoy.

10. Slade- Merry Christmas Everybody

9. Joe Diffie- Leroy the Redneck Reindeer

8. The Darkness- Christmas Time

7. ACDC- Jingle Hell’s Bells

6. Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio- Walking Around In Women’s Underwear

5. Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio- Frosty the Pervert

(Author’s Advisory) This song is not for the young or those who are easily offended

4. The McKenzie Brothers- 12 Days of Christmas

3. Stryper- Winter Wonderland

2. Weird Al Yankovic- The Night Santa Went Crazy

  1. In the original post, I put the entire Twisted Christmas album but for time’s sake, I chose what is my favourite song from said album

Twisted Sister- Let It Snow

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and get lots of good music in your stockings and party away the festive season. Here’s some of my provisions, yes, it’s the same as last year.

My provisions for Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Cougar Mellencamp- Scarecrow

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

With both heavy metal and synth pop polarizing a lot of musical tastes in 1985, many people claimed that they just wanted to hear some straight forward, old time rock and roll. For a lot of these people, the “Scarecrow” album from John Cougar Mellencamp gave them just that. I can’t really disagree with that thought. While I was firmly seated in the heavy metal camp back then, I still appreciated the no frills rock the album provided. It’s probably why the album made it to number two on the album charts.

For the singles enthusiasts, “Scarecrow” netted five of them, all of which got inside the top thirty. This provides further evidence that many Americans wanted this type of straight forward rock. Because that is basically what the album is full of, eleven good no frills rock tunes. Okay, maybe the second track doesn’t qualify as such but the other ten for sure. The singles “Small Town,” “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “R.O.CK. in the USA” are still remembered and enjoyed today. All three are good steady rock tunes. Less remembered however, is my personal favourite, “Rain on the Scarecrow.” This dark song highlights the tragedy of American farmers at the time as many of them were going bankrupt and having their farms repossessed by the banks. I’m tempted to go into a political rant here but I’ll desist. What “Rain on the Scarecrow” did do for me was make me take John seriously as a song writer.

Not being one to judge an album by its singles, I can safely say that the rest of the album holds up well. Even though “Justice and Independence 85” and “Minutes to Memories” were never released as singles, they still made it onto the Hot Tracks Chart and I can see why. Furthermore, John’s more topical songwriting features in the former of the two and continues with “Face of a Nation” where he sings about the poverty and homelessness that was happening in the mid 1980s at the time. What I conclude here is that John Cougar Mellencamp’s more developed songwriting combined with straight forward rock, which a lot of Americans were craving for at the time, combined to make “Scarecrow” probably his best album at the time.

Track Listing:

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow
  2. Grandma’s Theme (In the Baggage Coach Ahead)
  3. Small Town
  4. Minutes to Memories
  5. Lonely Ol’  Night
  6. The Face of the Nation
  7. Justice and Independence ’85
  8. Between and Laugh and a Tear
  9. Rumbleseat
  10. You Gotta Stand for Somethin’
  11. R.O.C.K. in the USA

John Cougar Mellencamp

John Mellencamp- guitar, lead vocals, harmonica on Small Town

Larry Crane- guitars, backing vocals

Kenny Aranoff- drums, percussion, tambourine, backing vocals

Mike Wanchic- electric guitar, backing vocals

Toby Myers- bass, backing vocals

John Cascella- keyboards

Rickie Lee Jones- vocals on “Between a Laugh and a Tear”

Sarah Flint- backing vocals on “R.O.CK. in the USA”

Laura Mellemcamp (John’s Grandmother)- lead vocal on “Grandma’s Theme”

Mimi Mapes- backing vocals on “Minutes to Midnight”

A. Jack Wilkins- saxophone on “Justice and Independence 85”

Richard Fanning- trumpet on “Justice and Independence 85”

In a 1985 that seemed to be polarizing musically, it was a relief to many that there could be straight forward rock around at the time. Not only would John Cougar Mellencamp release a top album, he would go on to arrange a benefit concert to help America’s bankrupt farmers but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: My Christmas Top Ten Revisited

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Heart

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2018 by 80smetalman

Heart’s 1985 self-titled album took the band into a more mainstream direction and gained them commercial success. The album contained five singles, “What About Love,” “These Dreams,” “Never,” “Nothin’ At All” and “If Looks Could Kill,” the first four making it into the top ten. Unlike Starship though, I didn’t immediately say that Heart had sold out and became a top 40 band because there is much on this album to like. On the other hand, this album didn’t make me want to put Heart classics such as “Dreamboat Annie,” “Dog and Butterfly” nor even their previous 1983 album, “Passionworks” to one side and not listen to them anymore.

What is interesting about this album is the song arrangement. If one was a top 40 listener, they would only need to listen to the first four tracks because those were the singles. I have always been a little surprised that “If Looks Could Kill” was released as a single because I like it so much. It is a fantastic album opener. Rocky, fast with some catchy hooks, it makes you want to stick around for the rest of the album. Something a great opener should do. Track two is the successful power ballad, “What About Love.” I think that after having the greatest power ballad of all time with “Allies” from their previous album, they probably thought they were on to something. While, “What About Love” is a decent power ballad, I do like Leese’s guitar solo on it, it doesn’t come close to “Allies” in greatness. “Never” would have been better if the keyboards were toned down a little more but it’s still a good song. Then comes the single, “These Dreams,” which was and always will be known as the song Nancy Wilson sings lead. It’s a soft rock ballad and one can’t fault Nancy’s voice, it’s good nor will I make sibling comparisons here. Ann and Nancy may be sisters but they have totally different vocal styles. The irony here is that “These Dreams” was Heart’s first number one single.

Once the four singles are done and dusted, the album goes back more to Heart’s traditional harder rock roots. “Wolf” and “All Eyes” are great rockers, especially the latter which gets my award for the hidden gem for the album. The keyboards are turned down and the guitars up, something that should have happened a little more with one or two of the songs here. The power ballad “Nobody Home” provides a brief respite between the more rocking songs. I’m surprised that was never released as a single as well. “Nothin’ At All” was the fifth single from the album and second to only the opener for hard rockyness, at least as far as singles go. It even reached the top 40 in the UK. “Shell Shock” is a good closer and it contains what is arguably Howard Leese’s best guitar solo for the entire album.

Track Listing:

  1. If Looks Could Kill
  2. What About Love
  3. Never
  4. These Dreams
  5. Wolf
  6. All Eyes
  7. Nobody Home
  8. Nothin’ At All
  9. What He Don’t Know
  10. Shell Shock

Heart (Mullet City or what?) 

Ann Wilson- lead vocals

Nancy Wilson- guitars, backing vocals, lead vocal on “These Dreams,” mandolin

Howard Lesse- guitar, keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals

Mark Andes- bass

Denny Carmassi- drums

Heart’s self-titled album brought them lots of commercial success in 1985. One can’t argue with five singles, four in the top ten with one going to number one. Some might think they sold out. I never thought that and there is enough of the old Heart here on this album to counter that claim.

Next post: Foreigner- Agent Provacteur

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542834204&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre