Archive for Americans

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Anthrax- State of Euphoria

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2022 by 80smetalman

It really perturbs me when an album following one that is considered a pinnacle album for said band is slated for not being as good. It seems it was the case quite often in 1988. Slayer’s “South of Heaven” got undeserved crap because the band slowed things up after “Reign in Blood.” Some even said that David Lee Roth’s “Skyscraper” album was far below the bar set by “Eat’Em and Smile,” I never thought so. You can include Celtic Frost among those as well. The same thing was said about Anthrax’s “State of Euphoria” album. In their case, it followed on from two super albums, “Spreading the Disease” and “Among the Living.” Measuring any album by those two is a difficult task in itself. However, while I don’t think “State of Euphoria” quite reaches that bar, it’s still a good album.

The first two tracks waste no time in assaulting delicate ears with their power thrash which made “Among the Living” such a great album. Those fast and furious tracks get the blood pumping and on “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” Dan Spitz really rips a cool guitar solo. Something I noticed about the album is that Anthrax attempt to fuse the power thrash of “Among the Living” with the more melodic speed metal of “Spreading the Disease.” I think it works fine but some out there didn’t agree.

Now I get personal. I saw Anthrax three times in the 2010’s and while they kicked ass each and every time, I must say that I was slightly disappointed that they never played my favourite song from the album, “Making Me Laugh.” Those who know me know that I like just about any song which takes a swipe at television evangelists but Anthrax do it with such powerful finesse that this song really rocks! Joey’s constant change up on the vocals is done masterfully. It’s a total headbanger but I guess I will never get to hear it played live.

Following on is one I have heard them play live, “Antisocial.” Of course, I loved it when I heard it live and listening to it not live, I can easily see why it sounds so good live. What I didn’t know is that it’s actually a cover of a song from the French band, “Trust,” who I know from the soundtrack of the film “Heavy Metal.” I’ve never heard the original but this cover is brilliant. On “Who Cares Wins,” the band prove that social topics can be covered in thrash metal songs without the message behind the song getting lost. It’s a hard hitting song highlighting homelessness in America. It also confirms what an underrated bassist Frank Bello is.

Anthrax appear to bring a little horror into their metal on “Now It’s Dark.” After a haunting intro, the guitars kick in and just increase in speed. The song was inspired by the film, “Blue Velvet” and especially the sexual depravity of Frank Booth played by Dennis Hopper in the film. However, that isn’t the only film inspired song on the album. “Misery Loves Company” was inspired by the Stephen King novel and movie, “Misery” and this is what people forget about this album. Anthrax take some interesting topics and make them come alive through their thrash/speed metal approach. Hell, these guys should be praised for this effort! In between those two songs is the hidden gem, “Schism.” It’s a powerful thrash song which tackles racism. This is exceptionally important in 1988 when thrash metal was accused of being too white. Another at-a-boy goes out to the band here.

Track Listing:

  1. Be All, End All
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  3. Making Me Laugh
  4. Anti- Social
  5. Who Cares Wins
  6. Now It’s Dark
  7. Schism
  8. Misery Loves Company
  9. 13
  10. Finale

Anthrax

Joey Belladonna- vocals

Scott Ian- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Dan Spitz- lead guitar, backing vocals

Frank Bello- bass

Charlie Benante- drums

So, “State of Euphoria” isn’t quite as good as the classics which came before it. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great album in its own right because it is. Any band who can take topical issues and films and bring out the message through thrash metal deserves the utmost respect.

Next post: Killer Dwarfs- Big Deal

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To give Bruce Dickinson his knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Mass- Take You Home

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2022 by 80smetalman

What surprised me about Mass’s follow up album to their debut album, “New Birth,” is that it’s only an EP. I would have thought that a full length LP would have been on the cards, building on the momentum of the debut. “Take Me Home” has only six songs, so the question is, Are they six killer songs?

Opener, “Peddle to the Metal,” gives the impression that the answer to the question is in the affirmative. It’s a real power rocker with all four members firing on all cylinders and it definitely does what an opener should do, grab you by the throat and demand that you listen to the album. Following on, “Can’t Get Enough” reaffirms all the things I said about guitarist Gen D’Itria on the debut. He nails a really great guitar solo, actually, a couple of them and although not as fast as the opener, it’s a great power rocker in its own right.

Mass go near thrash on “Want It Back.” The song opens with a cool drum roll from Joey Vadala and then things just go nuts. The speed of the song is no effort for singer Louie St. August as he breezes through it with his versatile vocal style. The real noteworthy part of the song is the bass line by Kevin Varrio, it really pumps through the song. There is a slight easing of the gas pedal on, “Over You.” It’s a song about moving on after an ended relationship but it’s done fast and powerful and we are treated to a blinding guitar solo from Gene. However, while I won’t call the song weak, it’s the least strongest track on the EP. What brings it down in my eyes is the chorus is repeated a little too much.

The title track is a straight forward metal tune with the band doing everything they do right on it. If they didn’t, then this one would have been the least strongest track. Fortunately, the chorus isn’t repeated over and over till you get bored with it and I do love Louie’s scream at the end. “New Birth” had two power ballads on it but “Take Me Home” has part of one. Closer, “Holy One,” starts as if it’s going to be a power ballad but actually ventures into Black Sabbath type doom metal in places. Then it accelerates to a faster tempo and just cooks. The vocal style changes are done with considerable ease and and the rest of the band keeps up. Full marks to the rhythm section and Gene’s rhythm guitar. I really love the bridge in the middle where it tantalizes you with what appears to be an impending guitar solo but holds off for a minute or two. The guitar solo is short but sweet and the song slows back to power ballad status before the end. Best song on the album and a great way to end it.

Track Listing:

  1. Pedal to the Metal
  2. Can’t Get Enough
  3. Want it Back
  4. Over You
  5. Take You Home
  6. Holy One

Louie St. August- vocals

Gen D’Itria- guitar

Kevin Varrio- bass

Joey Vadala- drums

Unlike with their debut, I didn’t get the opportunity to see these guys live. However, there were people in the UK who had heard of them. Is that strange? I’m sure that if I had, judging from “Take You Home,” they would have kicked even more ass than the first time around. So, the answer to the original question is almost, five and a half killer songs.

Next post: Celtic Frost- Cold Lake

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition giving Bruce Dickinson his well deserved knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Slayer- South of Heaven

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2022 by 80smetalman

For some, Slayer’s “South of Heaven” album was controversial back in 1988. Some of the die-hard Slayer fans were put off because it was slower than the previous three thrash-fest albums while others were impressed that Slayer was able to slow it down a bit. Reading a little of the history, I can see where the band was coming from when they recorded this album. They didn’t want the album to sound exactly like their previous “Reign in Blood” album, no matter how fantastic that album was. Therefore, they slowed it down quite a bit.

That slow down comes through with the opening title cut. Doom metal wasn’t a thing back in 1988 but if doom metal bands wanted something to base their music on, then the song “South of Heaven” provided the perfect blue print. In spite of it being many miles an hour slower than what Slayer fans were used to, it has this hypnotic vibe which you can’t help bobbing your head along to. While not as slow, the best known song from the album follows along this path. However, the fact that they played “Mandatory Suicide” three of the four times I saw them live and they might have played it the fourth time but I only caught twenty minutes of Slayer at Download 2017. The post on that day explains why. Anyway, while not quite as slow as the opener, it still draws you in with those hypnotic chords and while it might not sound like thrash metal Slayer, the lyrics let you know that it is indeed a Slayer song. Not many other bands would sing about such topics back then. While not as spectacular as “Mandatory Suicide, ” “Live Undead” is in the same vein although the speed does increase in places, especially at the end.

With everything said, Slayer don’t totally abandon the sound which made them a household name in thrash metal. “Silent Scream” bears witness to that and while I wouldn’t call “Behind the Crooked Cross” a thrash song, it is still faster than many of the other songs and it’s a good metal tune in it’s own right and the King-Hanneman guitar solo trade off is fantastic. They do go more full thrash on “Read Between the Lies,” which is another song which takes a dig at TV evangelists. Well, they made themselves a prime target for metal bands. I do love the guitar work on this song and Dave’s drumming is noteworthy here as well.

Now it’s time for the song which I not only consider the hidden gem of the album but the hidden gem of the entire Slayer discography. I’m talking about “Ghosts of War.” Most people associate anti-war songs with a hippy type playing an acoustic guitar but Slayer proves that you can use thrash to get your point across. “Ghosts of War” is the thrashiest, headbanging song on the album and I love everything about it. From the cool intro to the pounding chords, Tom’s vocals being as good as ever, the guitar solo tradeoff and even when they slow the song down toward the end, that power is not lost. Okay, it’s my all time favourite Slayer song and I admit that I was a little disappointed, (I stress a little), when they didn’t play it any of the times I saw them live.

For me, the final three songs, while all good song, aren’t as strong as the rest of the album. Saying that, “Cleanse the Soul” has a cool intro before going more traditional Slayer thrash metal. Following that is a cool cover of Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor.” They do it justice. The album closes on a slower note with “Spill the Blood.” It opens with a very un-Slayer like acoustic intro before heading back into the realms of doom metal. Believe me when I say that it’s a smashing way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. South of Heaven
  2. Silent Scream
  3. Live Undead
  4. Behind the Crooked Cross
  5. Mandatory Suicide
  6. Ghosts of War
  7. Read Between the Lies
  8. Cleanse the Soul
  9. Dissident Aggressor
  10. Spill the Blood
Slayer

Tom Arraya- vocals, bass

Kerry King- guitar

Jeff Hanneman- guitar

Dave Lombardo- drums

Here’s a little hint when listening to “South of Heaven:” Forget “Reign in Blood” or any of their previous albums and listen and judge it on its own merit. While not a thrash fest, I think it’s a great album, even if Kerry King doesn’t think so.

Next post: Mass- Take You Home

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Rest in Peace DH Peligro

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2022 by 80smetalman

DH Peligro

I have just learned of the passing of Dead Kennedys drummer DH Peligro. Reports say that he died from a head trauma caused by a fall at home. He was 63, My thoughts go out to his family and the band, which he was a member of from 1981-6 and then 2001-8 and from 2009 to the present day. For me, the Dead Kennedys defined punk in America and put out some great albums in the 1980s which I have covered here. Join me in saying Rest in Peace DH.

FFI: https://www.metalsucks.net/2022/10/30/dead-kennedys-drummer-d-h-peligro-passes-away-at-63/

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Odin- Fight For Your Life

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2022 by 80smetalman

Here’s an example of not doing my research thoroughly. My first experience of American glam metal band, Odin, came via the Metal Sisters on the compilation tape they sent me for Christmas in 1986. To avoid boring you all with a very long story, I will shorten it down. When I searched for Odin on my normal sources, it revealed that their first full length LP was the “Fight For Your Life” album which came out in 1988. Therefore, I thought the song the Metal Sisters sent me, “Solar Eye,” was a single. It turns out that it was on an EP and I only found this out thanks to the Metal-Archives website. That is a good website for checking out little known metal bands.

When I first heard “Solar Eye” on said tape, I wanted to laugh. Lead singer, “Randy O. Roberg’s, high pitched screams were the reason why. They take away from the rest of the band who sound pretty tight. That desire to laugh followed on when I heard the opening track to this album. However, on the second track, “Love Action,” he dismisses the screams for the most part, they are in the chorus, and sings normally and his voice isn’t bad. Plus, you get to hear the rest of the band more and one ends up wondering which way the rest of the album is going to go.

The third track, “She Was the One” answers the question as it’s a decent power ballad. Randy doesn’t scream and you get to hear the good rhythm section of Aaron Samson and Shawn Duncan as well as the guitar work of Jeff Duncan as he lays down some good guitar fills and rips a short but sweet guitar solo. However, I can only say it’s a decent power ballad because it has an ‘it’s all been done before’ feel to it. On the straight forward rocker, “I Get What I Want,” you are reassured that Randy O. Roberg is definitely done with the screaming and sings normally. A short acoustic instrumental, “Serenade to the Court” follows right after.

The first side ends following on from the instrumental as “Modern Day King” begins with a medieval ballad type feel. However, the song picks up pace and then goes nuclear in the middle. Okay, Randy’s voice does go higher but not to the screams of the opening track and Jeff does lay down a blinder of a solo. It gets my pick for best song on the album. It shows what this band was capable of achieving and though it goes out, some say predictably, as it came in, it still sounds great.

Side two starts with a good power rocker in “Stranger Tonight.” Again, the screams are watered down, which is a good thing and the rhythm section clicks and another good guitar solo. Okay, I’m adding Jeff Duncan to my ever-growing list of underrated guitarists. “Stranger Tonight” is the second best song on the album. Actually, I’m left to draw the conclusion that the second two-thirds of the album is the better part. “Time and Time Again” is another great hard rocker where the Duncans and Aaron are unchained and just rock out. I’m also beginning to think that the singer is the weakest link with the band. That impression shows even more on “I’m Gonna Get You.” Again, it’s the guitar, bass and drums which make the song and there is a little more screaming form Randy which just sounds annoying.

Penultimate track, “Push,” has the good place for Randy’s high pitched screams as it opens the song rather well, followed by some good guitar work. Randy sings most of the song in falsetto and while I won’t call it annoying, it doesn’t help the song either although the good playing does. The closer, which is also the title track, opens with spoken words which at the end tell us to “Fight For Your Life.” It’s an amusing bluesy doom rock track which is a good way to end the album as it all comes together nicely. Even with the falsetto screams and Jeff Duncan saves his best solo for the end. The album has grown on me with each listen and it shows that Odin had potential.

Track Listing:

  1. 12 O’clock High
  2. Love Action
  3. She Was the One
  4. I Get What I Want
  5. Serenade to the Court
  6. Modern Day King
  7. Stranger Tonight
  8. Time and Time Again
  9. I’m Gonna Get You
  10. Push
  11. Fight For Your Life

Odin

Randy O. Roberg- vocals

Jeff Duncan- guitar

Aaron Samson- bass

Shawn Duncan- drums

This was from 1986 and I’m including it to show the screaming.

The problem with Odin in 1988, they were part of a saturated market. Their sound and image, although I like this album, “Fight For Your Life,” really didn’t offer anything unique back then. It’s still worth listening to today.

Next post: Kuni- Looking For Action

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition for a knighthood for Bruce Dickinson, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

To Tie You Over

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2022 by 80smetalman
CDKBY4 Mar. 15, 2011 – Baton Rouge, LA, USA – Television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart breaks down in tears on televised sermon as he confesses his relationship with a prostitute. 1988 photo (Credit Image: © Robin Nelson/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Due to reasons beyond my control, I am unable to post the next album, “Imaginos” by Blue Oyster Cult, on the tour through the golden decade of heavy metal. I was in a car accident the other night. Don’t worry, I’m fine although Mrs 80smetalman is still quite shaken up. Actually, what happened is one of those believe or not occurrences. See, our car was hit by a mobility scooter. The scooter actually hit us! I saw the scooter about to go on the road so I stopped but the scooter kept going straight into us. It hit us at some speed because the driver fell off immediately. He was taken to hospital and was also arrested for drunk driving. So, it was totally not our fault.

A side result of this is that I haven’t been able to properly listen to the album. So what I will do is put two songs which would have gone great on my “Downfall of the Holy Man” post where Jimmy Swaggart gets his comeuppance. Both of these songs rip on television evangelists, Metallica’s “Leper Messiah” came out two years before Swaggart’s downfall and Iron Maiden’s “Holy Smoke” came two years after. Still, both songs are correct in their message. Furthermore, I consider both of these songs hidden gems from each band. So, sit back, have a listen and laugh and I’ll be back with B.O.C. soon.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

Even more reason to sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood. https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Dead Musicians Bands

Posted in 1980s, Books, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2022 by 80smetalman
Dio

When I wrote “Tee-Bone Man and Superdeke’s Time Travelling Adventure” for Mike Ladano’s blog, the biggest challenge in discipline for me was not to get totally carried away with all the possible collaborations between musicians who have left us. It doesn’t take too much smarts to realize that the possibilities are endless and I could have filled many pages with them and that’s just the ones I would like to see!

Lemmy

First, I am quite convinced that every deceased musician would love to sing or play with the King, Elvis and that includes Lemmy. It would be an interesting song, that part’s for sure. Of course Lemmy wouldn’t be left out as many would like to get him to play bass on their song or sing with them and I’m not just talking about metal musicians. Why couldn’t he lay down a bass line for Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin? Then we can take it to the complete other extreme and have Lemmy do a song with Whitney Houston. Why not?

One combination I mention in the story would almost certainly happen. I firmly believe that Ronnie James Dio would have hooked up with former bandmates from Rainbow and the connection of that band to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and formed a band with Jimmy Bain on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards and Cozy Powell on drums. Furthermore, I stand by my choice for guitar in the group as I strongly feel that Criss Oliva of Savatage fame would be the best fit for the above combo. Of course, you are all welcome to put forward alternatives.

The Fab Four
The Who

One combination which I thought of putting into the story but didn’t was a collaboration of the two deceased Beatles and two deceased members of The Who. John Lennon and George Harrison on guitars, John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums might be something to hear. We can even make it more interesting by throwing in the two deceased members of The Rolling Stones. Then again, we can get Brian Jones and Charlie Watts to play along with the two dead Doors! Like I said, the possibilities are endless!

The teacher in me has now taken over and so, here’s your assignment. Put together your own bands, duets or collaborations of deceased musicians and post them here! There are no right or wrong answers. Maybe the Righteous Brothers song I featured last week can motivate. After all, they have a point: “If there’s a rock and roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.”

If you missed it last time, you can read the story here: https://mikeladano.com/2022/10/05/the-adventures-of-tee-bone-man-chapter-8-tee-bone-dekes-time-travelling-adventure-by-80smetalman/

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1988: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Up Your Alley

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2022 by 80smetalman

After listening to the 1988 “Up Your Alley” album from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, I have come to the conclusion that Joan is the second best American artist not to have cracked the UK. British readers are free to debate me on this point. The facts are that the album charted in the US, Finland, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand but didn’t seem to make a dent in the UK charts. Furthermore, I didn’t know of the album in 1988, nor did anyone I know mention it. Therefore, Joan now is set firmly in my mind as the second greatest American artist not to have cracked the UK, Billy Squier is number one. Shame, because “Up Your Alley” is a damn fine album.

The funny thing is that there is an air of familiarity with the first two songs. A little research revealed that the opener, “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” has appeared elsewhere, including the movie, “Birds of Prey.” I think I know the second track, “Ridin’ With James Dean” by name but both songs come out and grab you by the throat. After your eardrums have been blown apart by the first two songs, things slow down with the power ballad, “Little Liar.” Joan makes the transition without breaking sweat and shows she can sing ballads as well as rockers. Furthermore, this is the first song where I fully appreciate the guitar work of Ricky Byrd but he does lay down some great solos all over this album.

Two covers come next, first up is “Tulane,” a Chuck Berry original which is pretty good although I wouldn’t debate any claims that it’s filler. The second is a cover of The Stooges classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Of the two, I prefer this cover. This track showcases another aspect of the entire album, the bassline and the pleasant surprise which came my way when I learned that Kasmir Sulton of Utopia fame provided those cool basslines.

Side two goes back to originals, although Desmond Child gets song writing credits on the opener, the ballad and “You Want In, I Want Out.” Anyway, before “You Want In, I Want Out,” which is a decent song, which again highlights Kasmir’s bass skills, is a band written ditty called, “I Still Dream About You.” They forego the Child inspired commercial melodies and just go totally rock out here. I class this one as the hidden gem for its sheer power. Guitars rule on “Just Like in the Movies” and I regret not including Joan in my ancient post of great rhythm guitarists. Ricky lays down an interesting guitar solo to say the least. The horn section gives this song a cool added dimension.

More guitar riffs adorn “Desire.” This is a slower song with doo-wop backing vocals. Not the greatest song on the album but not filler either. Thommy Price is let off the leash on “Back It Up” as he pounds the skins at the beginning of the track. This is raucous but catchy rocker and another hidden gem. “Play That Song Again” is the perfect closer for the album. It has a catchy melody behind the power chords which makes me want to say, “play this album again.”

Track Listing:

  1. I Hate Myself for Loving You
  2. Ridin’ With James Dean
  3. Little Liar
  4. Tulane
  5. I Wanna Be Your Dog
  6. I Still Dream About You
  7. You Want In, I Want Out
  8. Just Like in the Movies
  9. Desire
  10. Back It Up
  11. Play That Song Again
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Ricky Byrd- lead guitar, backing vocals

Kasmir Sulton- bass, backing vocals

Thommy Price- drums

Additional Musicians:

The Uptown Horns

Robert Lawson- keyboards

Frank Carillo- guitar, backing vocals

Kenny Laguna- various instruments, backing vocals

Desmond Child, Chuck Kentiss, Louie Merlino, Paul Carrizzo- backing vocals

My weird mind again, I stated that back in 1982, after a bloody battle, Joan Jett usurped Pat Benatar’s throne as Queen of Rock. Six years later, I can’t say if Pat got her throne back or is Joan still the ultimate queen. If I were to judge but this album and Pat’s 1988 album, “Wide Awake in Dreamland,” I would say Joan keeps the crown as “Up Your Alley” totally rocks!

Next post: Dead Artists

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To give Bruce Dickinson his knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1988: Aerosmith- Gems

Posted in 1978, 1979, 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2022 by 80smetalman

Special thanks goes out to 2loud for this album. If he hadn’t written a post on “Gems,” I most likely still wouldn’t have heard of it. I blame it on the fact that by November, 1988, I was settling into family life in the UK, with my first born very much on the way. Therefore, I couldn’t give music my full or even half full attention. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. Of course, the other reason why it passed me by was that “Gems” is a compilation album put forward by Aerosmith’s old label, Columbia Records who still could make a few bucks out of the band and my trips to record stores by then were almost non existent, so unless it was a big album, it most certainly passed me by.

The saying ‘better late than never’ applies to this as I am glad that, inspired by 2loud’s post, I sat down and listened to it and boy was I impressed! As you know, I always site hidden gems on any album I write about and here we have an entire album full of them. What is more, I can’t help thinking that the tracks were cleaned up a bit before being put on the album. Take “No Surprise” for instance. It comes from the “Night in the Ruts” album which I have always considered to be a total dirge. However, on “Gems,” it sounds really clear and now I fully appreciate the track much more than on the original album. Even the two tracks from my all time favourite ‘Smith album, “Toys in the Attic,” seem to sound better and that’s a feat in itself. Here’s another paradox which is me, “Round and Round” is the penultimate track on my favourite album but I don’t mind the fact that it’s not picked for the job on “Gems.”

I think what “Gems” achieves is showcase how great Aerosmith’s songs can be once you get past the hits. None of the songs from the 1980 “Greatest Hits” album are on this album and that’s a good thing. In addition, you get a lot of the songs from the earlier albums, when the band was still hungry and they hadn’t made the transition from musicians dabbling in drugs to druggies dabbling in music. “Mama Kin” is the best example of this. I forgot how great those opening riffs are. However, even the songs from the albums after the transition sound really great. “No Surprise” has already been mentioned but there seems to be a different swagger to “Jailbait” off “Rock in a Hard Place.”

One song, “Chip Away the Stone” from the “Live Bootleg” album is included in the tracks, so Columbia Records didn’t leave any stone unturned when looking for the gems. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, they chose all the right tracks for “Gems.” While this album was most likely meant for the hardcore Aerosmith fans, I think casual fans would appreciate it too.

Track Listing:

  1. Rats in the Cellar
  2. Lick and a Promise
  3. Chip Away the Stone
  4. No Surprise
  5. Mama Kin
  6. Adam’s Apple
  7. Nobody’s Fault
  8. Round and Round
  9. Critical Mass
  10. Lord of the Thighs
  11. Jailbait
  12. Train Kept a Rollin’
Aerosmith

Steve Tyler- vocals, harmonica, piano

Joe Perry- lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Brad Whitford- rhythm and lead guitar

Tom Hamilton- bass

Joey Kramer- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:

Jimmy Crespo- lead guitar on “Jailbait”

Rick Dufay- rhythm guitar on “Jailbait”

David Woodford- saxophone

Richard Supa- piano

Mark Radice- piano on “Chip Away the Stone”

My thanks once again goes out to 2loud for turning me on to a great album. “Gems” is definitely that, full of great but not overplayed Aerosmith classics. I can’t recall them playing any of these at Download 2017 but no matter, I got this great album.

Next post: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Up Your Alley

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a much deserved knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Survivor Albums Ranked From Worst to First

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2022 by 80smetalman

The idea for writing a post ranking albums from Survivor came as a result of comments on my post about their 1988 album, “Too Hot to Sleep.” Reading comments from 2loud2oldmusic, I suggested we write a joint post ranking Survivor albums, to which he thought it was a good idea. What this has done is to get both of us going back and listening to all eight of Survivor’s studio albums and putting them in our order of preference. Here’s mine:

8. Premonition

“Premonition” was Survivor’s second album released in 1981. Many bands seemed to have the Sophmore jinx and the same applies here. The album has its good moments but overall lacks the hunger of the debut and it’s not quite as finely tuned as future Survivor albums.

7. Survivor

Like with so many debut albums, the band’s hunger is there to see. The 1970s progressive hard rock is clearly there to hear and it has some great hard rocking moments as well as guitar solos.

6. Eye of the Tiger

Ah, the album made famous by the “Rocky” films. Even if the title cut hadn’t appeared in “Rocky III,” it was still a good enough album to stand on its on. They tended to go more hard rock on this one.

5. When Seconds Count

A good album which continues down the melodic rock path began by its predecessor, “Vital Signs.” If I had been writing this post in 1986, it would have probably be one place lower but as I am mellowing with age, I can appreciate the musicianship quality of it. However, I haven’t mellowed that much and still prefer a good rock out.

4. Vital Signs

With “Vital Signs,” Survivor veer away from hard rock and head in a more progressive, melodic rock direction. The album proves that they did so with considerable ease. There are still a couple of great guitar solos on it.

3. Caught in the Game

This album passed me by in 1983, I blame it on being in the service. But when I listened to it, I had a very pleasant surprise. This is a really good hard rocking album with some of the best guitar solos.

2. Reach

After being away for nearly 20 years, Survivor’s comeback album in 2006 is fantastic. Cliche warning: it’s almost as if they had never been away. Having different vocalists on the songs gives the album a different perspective which works well. Plus it ends with a phenomenal power ballad.

1. Too Hot to Sleep

The members of Survivor do everything to their full potential here. Great vocals, guitar solos, keyboards and a great rhythm section. Even if studio musicians were brought in for the latter. There is some great rock to be had by all. Sometimes, I can’t understand why they waited 18 years after this one to record their next album.

So there you have it, my ranking of Survivor albums. As you can see, 2loud and I have differing opinions on this but that’s something a good band with so many good albums will produce. Everyone will have their favourites.