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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Don Henley- Building the Perfect Beast

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2018 by 80smetalman

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I was not as musically open minded as I thought I was in the early part of 1985. While I make no justification for this, I do think the reason might have been that I was in longing after the wave of heavy metal that was played on commercial radio throughout 1984 became non existent in the early part of the following year. That was probably why I poo-pooed the “Building the Perfect Beast” album from Don Henley. Being honest, I was in Eagles mode (even though they had split up five years earlier) with not just Don but all former members of this iconic band. I expected all of their solo material to resemble the classic “Hotel California” and the singles from this album didn’t do that. So, I ignored it until a friend lent it to me and I had a listen. Then I realized what I fool I had been.

Sure, the big single “The Boys of Summer” doesn’t sound like “Hotel California” but the musicianship on the song is simply fabulous. There is some great guitar work from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Don’s voice is clean on this and all of the tracks. I have really come to like this track in my later years.

Upon further reflection back to 1985, I think that I put music into categories of heavy metal and synth pop. “Building the Perfect Beast” not being metal, I put it into the other category. Again I say “Fool!” at least to myself anyway. There is absolutely nothing synth pop about this album. If anything, there are tracks that take me back to The Eagles more country rock sound from the early 1970s. Tracks that bear evidence to this are the fast paced “Man With a Mission” and my vote for hidden gem, “You’re Not Drinking Enough.” For some reason, that track reminds me of the Eagles’ classic, “Take Me to the Limit.” But it does say “Early Eagles” all through the song. Thinking back to early 85, at the time I was dating a woman who had a drinking problem and now I’m linking this song with that. “Not Enough Love in the World” is another example of what I am trying to talk about. In fact this track would have fitted perfectly on the Eagles’ “Long Road From Eden” album.

One reason for why this album sounds as good as it does is that Don got a load of well known singers and musicians to guest on it. While you know it is definitely Don Henley on every track, these guests, have a look below to see who, add to the quality of the album for sure.

Track Listing:

  1. The Boys of Summer
  2. You Can’t Make Love
  3. Man With a Mission
  4. You’re Not Drinking Enough
  5. Not Enough Love in the World
  6. Building the Perfect Beast
  7. All She Wants to Do is Dance
  8. A Month of Sundays
  9. Sunset Grill
  10. Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed
  11. Land of the Living

Don Henley

Don Henley- lead vocals, percussion (tracks 5,6,9), drums (tracks 2-4,7), keyboards (track 6)

Danny ‘Kootch’ Kortchmar- guitars, organ (4), synthesizers (tracks 1,3,6), percussion (tracks 6,9,10), keyboards (9), synthesizer guitar and horn solos (8), ormichard (4), horns (3)

Additional Musicians

Mike Campbell- guitar, synthesizer track 1

Lyndsey Buckingham- guitar, backing vocals track 2

Charlie Sexton- guitar track 3

Tim Drummond- bass (tracks 4&5)

Pino Pallindino- bass (tracks 2,9,10)

Larry Klein- bass track 1

Jim Keltner- drums track 8

Ian Wallace- drums track 5

Kevin McCormick- African drums track 6

Randy Newman- synthesizer track 8

David Paich- synthesizer (track 7) piano (track 4 & 8)

Steve Porcaro- synthesizer (track 1 &4)

Benmont Tench- synthesizer (track 8), keyboards (track 2&5)

Albhy Galuten- synthesizer, Synclavier track 6

Michael Boddicker- synthesizer track 8

Bill Cuomo- synthesizer, percussion track 10

Backing Vocals:

Belinda Carlisle- track 3

Michael O’Donahue, Waddy Watchel, JD Souther, Carla Olson- track 6

Patty Smyth- track 6, 8-10

Martha Davis- tracks 6&7

Marie Pascale Elfman, Dominique Manicelli- track 9

Sam Moore- track 4

Brian Dear, I owe you a thanks for giving me this classic Don Henley album to listen to. Otherwise, I would have been enslaved to my ignorance that “Building the Perfect Beast” was another 80s synth pop album. It is clearly not and full marks to Don for it.

Next post: The Wrestling Album

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Giuffira

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2018 by 80smetalman

A band that caught mine and many other people’s attention was Giuffria with their self titled debut album. The band was originally formed as a side project by keyboards player Greg Giuffria after he left his former band Angel. A band I had heard great things about back in the day but never got around to listening to. Back to Giuffria, their first single, “Call to the Heart” did get a lot of airplay and according to recorded history, number fifteen in the charts. It was one of those ballads that the ladies seemed to really like but it had some good progressive rock hooks as well as a guitar solo to grab the attention of men. If I’m honest, I liked the song but it really wasn’t heavy enough for me.

Everything that Giuffria was capable of doing can be found in the opening track of the album, “Do Me Right.” It starts with some classic 1970s sounding progressive rock via a great keyboard intro. Then the song carries on with some great vocals backed up by a more than capable rhythm section before guitarist Craig Goldy hammers out his best solo on the album. It’s definitely my favourite track.

The two hardest tracks on the album are “Don’t Tear Me Down” and “Dance” and it is probably a good thing that those two songs were back to back after the forementioned ballad. It proved to doubters that they could rock as much as anyone. Things go slightly softer and more melodic, bordering on commercial after that with the remainder of the songs, “Turn Me On” being the harder rocking exception. Goldy and Giuffria really cook with guitar and keyboard on that one. “The Awakening” is rather amusing, with the children’s choir and keyboards giving it that Saturday horror film feel. Saying that, the talent of this band pulls up the quality  of each song making them more enjoyable.

No matter what you think of the songs, you can’t deny that this was one talented band. David Glen Eisley had a voice that was as good as many lead singers in that day. The keyboard skills of Greg Giuffria show themselves in every song. Chuck Wright and Alan Krigger are very good rhythm section and as for the guitarist, Craig Goldy, his playing on the album leaves me to conclude that it was no wonder why he was head hunted to join Dio a year later.

Track Listing:

  1. Do Me Right
  2. Call to the Heart
  3. Don’t Tear Me Down
  4. Dance
  5. Lonely in Love
  6. Trouble Again
  7. Turn Me On
  8. Line of Fire
  9. The Awakening
  10. Out of the Blue

Giuffira

David Glen Eisley- lead vocals, keyboards, harmonica

Greg Giuffria- keyboards, backing vocals

Craig Goldy- guitar

Chuck Wright- bass, backing vocals

Alan Krigger- drums, percussion

While doing a bit of research for the post, I had one rumour from 1985 quashed. In said year, Giuffria went on tour supporting legends Deep Purple. The rumour was that Purple kicked them off the tour because Giuffria was blowing them away every night. I have always found that hard to believe, especially as I saw Deep Purple in this year and they were superb. From what I’ve read, Ritchie Blackmore was a bit of an a””hole towards the band. He cut their stage time from 45 minutes nearly in half to 25, forbade them to play any guitar solos and they had to play with the arena lights on. Therefore, they left the tour on their own accord and I don’t blame them. While I missed my chance to see them live, this album is a good fall back.

Next post: Don Henley- Building the Perfect Beast

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Fogerty- Centerfield

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2018 by 80smetalman

In March of 1985, I almost won a free copy of “Centerfield,” from former CCR lead singer and guitarist John Fogerty. The local radio station was giving away a free copy of the album to the second caller. I immediately rang the station and got through, unfortunately I was the first caller, damn! As a result, I had to cough up the money and buy the album but after hearing it, the expense was well worth it.

One big question on many people’s minds was how much would the album sound like Credence Clearwater Revival? The answer is rather complex. There is definitely the CCR influence on several of the songs, “Big Train (From Memphis) is a prime example. It reminds me of many of the songs on CCR’s album “Willy and the Poor Boys.” “I Saw it On TV” is another good example of the CCR influence. But and this is a big but, the lyrics of the song are about modern times and how we are supposed to take everything we see on television as the blind truth. I like to think it’s a dig at 80s Regan America, which is something I tried to do when writing “Rock and Roll Children.”

On the flip side, there are songs which I believe John put his own stamp on free from the influence of his former band, for the most part anyway. Two of those were released as singles, “Rock and Roll Girl” and my favourite track on the album which is also the title track. I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world, though I do play softball, the lyrics still move me and make me want to put take the bat and ball out and hit a few. Another I guess you could call a Fogerty Special, is “Mr Greed,” where he shows he can play lead guitar a little.

Of all the songs which are or not CCR influences, the one that incorporates both very well is the album opener and first single, “The Old Man Down the Road.” This is probably why it did so well in the charts. It reminds us old CCR fans that he hasn’t gone too far away from his roots but offers something new to the then younger crowd who might have branded John as some sort of ageing hippy. After all, Ronald Regan’s greatest success as president in the 1980s was to demonize the 1960s. Sorry, I digress but what John did was take what he had done before and mix it with something new and make a good soft rock album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Old Man Down the Road
  2. Rock And Roll Girl
  3. Big Train (From Memphis)
  4. I Saw It On TV
  5. Mr Greed
  6. Searchlight
  7. Centerfield
  8. I Can’t Help Myself
  9. Zanz Kant Danz

John Fogerty

John Fogerty- lead vocals, lead guitar

Rockin’ Sydney Simien- accordion

Willy T- saxophone

Kip Basque- rhythm guitar

Mark Miller- bass

Warren Storm- drums

John Fogerty established himself as a true solo artist in 1985 with his album “Centerfield.” What he did was take the country rock sound of his former band and threw in some tricks of his own. The combination made a great album.

Next post: Giuffria

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band- Tough All Over

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by 80smetalman

Jon Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band was probably the biggest flash in the pan in 1985 but that didn’t stop their album, “Tough All Over,” from being good. Their first act of notoriety was to have a couple of songs, which they’re more known for on the soundtrack of the film “Eddie and the Cruisers.” Most of you who were living in the USA around this time might remember their two hits from that soundtrack, “On the Dark Side” and “The Warm Tender Years.” In fact, the band has been so identified with that film that many people thought that the title of the film was the actual name of the band. No, Eddie and the Cruisers has always been a fictitious band from the film. I’ve never seen the film but I have heard that there is a scene filmed along a road called Bay Avenue in Somers Point, NJ, where I lived for a year and was the next town over after I moved. Maybe I should watch it.

A shot of Bay Avenue in Somers Point

“Tough All Over” was the John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown’s attempt to break away from their association with the film and prove they could make good music on their own. In my most humble opinion, the album does prove that they are capable of making good music without the aid of a movie soundtrack. This is a good progressive, melodic rock album and I can definitely hear the comparisons made to Bruce Springsteen at the time. The best example of this is “Dixieland,” which starts with a cool sax solo but the entire song, the tempo, the vocals all permeate Bruce Springsteen. Many of the other tracks follow this vein but not quite as pronounced as “Dixieland.”

While Bruce might be an influence here, there is enough to say that the band aren’t just clones of the Boss. The title track and “Where the Action is” are catchy melodic rock vibes that can go on inside your head after the song finishes. “More Than Just One of the Boys” has a good opening riff and speaking of openers, “Voice of America’s Sons” does the job very well. The final two tracks are more bluesy mellower tunes but they do end the album okay. So, what you get here is a good melodic feel good rock album which doesn’t have me pining for any past soundtracks.

Track Listing:

  1. Voice of America’s Sons
  2. Tough All Over
  3. C-I-T-Y
  4. Where the Action Is
  5. Dixieland
  6. Strangers in Paradise
  7. Small Town Girl
  8. More Than Just One of the Boys
  9. Tex-Mex(Crystal Blue)

John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band

John Cafferty- lead vocals, guitar

Gary Gramolini- lead guitar

Patrick Lupo- bass

Kenny Jo Silva- drums

Bobby Catoia- piano, keyboards, synthesizers

Michael ‘Tunes’ Antunes- saxophone

And I thought I’d throw in a classic from Eddie and the Cruisers

Was it the association with the film? Was it because some thought they sounded too much like Bruce Springsteen? Or was it because that in 1985, the music world was divulging too much into synth pop and metal and there was no room for a straightforward melodic rock band? Whatever the reason, although I now know they had an album in 1988, I never heard from John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band again. However, this album “Tough All Over” was good enough for me to remember it after so many years.

Next post: John Fogerty- Centerfield

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: David Lee Roth- Crazy From the Heat

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2018 by 80smetalman

Here’s a thought, I wonder if David Lee Roth had some sort of deal with MTV back in 1984 and 85. The first video shown on the channel in 1984 was  the debut video for Van Halen’s “Jump.” One year later, the first video shown in the new year for 1985 was from the video from David’s solo album, “Crazy From the Heat,” the Beach Boys’ classic, “California Girls.” This seems too much of a coincidence for me and I wonder if David did have some sort of deal with MTV.

The first noticeable thing about “California Girls” is that it sounds nothing like the Beach Boys nor Van Halen. David puts his own spin on the song and I think he does a very good job on it. That is if you cast aside the predictable girls in bikinis video for the song. He sings very well on not just this but all songs even if sometimes one can’t take him seriously. On the other three songs on this four song EP, he departs even further from what he did with Van Halen and heavy metal in general.

With two of the remaining three songs, David tries to be a 1940s era type big band singer. Always being more the showman as opposed to the singer, his personality does burst through more than his vocal ability but he does sing very well on it. Full credit, he’s a more versatile singer than what he was often given credit for back then or even today. As for the final song, “Coconut Grove” I have always had trouble getting into that one but the reason is not down to David. Three of the four songs are good for me and it doesn’t matter that the entire EP is less than fourteen minutes.

Track Listing:

  1. Easy Street
  2. Medley: Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody
  3. California Girls
  4. Coconut Grove

David Lee Roth

David Lee Roth- vocals

Dean Parks- guitar on “Coconut Grove”

Eddie Martinez, Sid McGinnis- guitars

Willie Weeks- bass

John Robinson- drums

Sammy Figueroa- percussion

James Newton Howard- keyboards on “Coconut Grove”

Edgar Winter- keyboards, saxophone, backing vocals on tracks 1&2

Brian Mann- keyboards

Carl Wilson, Christopher Cross- backing vocals on “California Girls”

David Lee Roth’s debut solo album sparked a lot of rumours in regards to his relationship with Van Halen. It has been said that the success of “Crazy From the Heat” inspired him to go solo. Maybe it did. All I know that this is a cool little album.

Next post: The Firm

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Dokken- Tooth and Nail

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2018 by 80smetalman

Although released in 1984, it took a long time before Dokken’s “Tooth and Nail” album finally got some notice. For me, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. By March of 1985, heavy metal got little or no airplay on commercial radio of MTV save for two singles from this album. The first one, “Alone Again,” is number ten on my all time favourite power ballads list. I can’t describe it but the song just kicks ass.

It’s not just the power ballad that makes “Tooth and Nail” my all time favourite Dokken album. Just so happens that it also contains my all time favourite Dokken song, “You Just Got Lucky.” While they were being accused of becoming another glam metal band, this song proved to the world they could still play. I just love how George Lynch works his guitar magic on the song and Don Dokken does a straight forward clean vocal performance. While rumours of these two men totally hating each other were rife even then, this song shows how well they put their differences aside when it mattered.

“Tooth and Nail” has some other great metal tunes on it as well. The title cut is the closest thing to thrash the band will ever come to, a very powerful song. “Heartless Heart” doesn’t shy away from being a great metal tune although the harmonizing vocals begin to remind me of what they would do on future albums but fortunately, this time, I’m able to go back in my mind to 1985 and forget all that. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” offers up more of the same. Great power chords and vocals with some fine, fancy guitar work and that guitar work continues many-fold on “When Heaven Comes Down.” That’s a hard, grindy type of song with a cool guitar solo.

“Into the Fire” was the first single released from the album and thinking back to late 1984, I don’t remember hearing it on any commercial media. Maybe it was too heavy amid the backlash against heavy metal that was starting. What I know is that I like it and as much as I sing the praises of George’s guitar capabilities, I never fully appreciated how great he really was. After another great rocker, “Bullets to Spare,” comes the forementioned power ballad. The thing is that on my first few listens, I thought that maybe “Alone Again” should have been the closer but the way the actual closer, “Turn on the Action,” ends, there is no need to swap things around. The album is good as it is.

Track Listing:

  1. Without Warning
  2. Tooth and Nail
  3. You Just Got Lucky
  4. Heartless Heart
  5. Don’t Close Your Eyes
  6. When Heaven Comes Down
  7. Into the Fire
  8. Bullets to Spare
  9. Alone Again
  10. Turn on the Action

Dokken

Don Dokken- lead vocals

George Lynch- guitars

Jeff Pilson- bass, backing vocals

Mick Brown- drums

The “Tooth and Nail” album from Dokken brought a little sunshine to what was a dour early 1985, musically. While it’s always been my favourite Dokken album, I think I like it even more these days.

Next Music Post: Yngwie Malmsteen- Rising Force

There will be another excerpt from my story before that. Oh yes, I would love to read people’s thoughts on Puppy from the last post.

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Glenn Frey- The Allnighter

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2018 by 80smetalman

When I begin a new year of my trip through the golden decade of heavy metal, I always start with albums that were made in the previous year but didn’t come to my attention until the said year. Because there were so many great albums in 1984, I didn’t get around to listening to a good number until 1985. One of these was “The Allnighter” from the late former Eagles guitarist/singer, Glenn Frey.

Reflecting back to early 1985, I used to wonder if I was a little unfair to both Glenn and one of his former bandmates who also released a solo album in this year. First, I was very much into all things metal and “The Allnighter” is definitely not metal. Furthermore, I was very much into the last two Eagles albums, “Hotel California” and “The Long Run” which did feature some harder rock than their early 1970s albums.

Glenn goes further away from his Eagles roots with this album as it’s a more mellower and somewhat bluesier sound. There are some ballads on here like “Let’s Go Home” and “Lover’s Moon.” Glenn’s voice has always been suited to these but it is also versatile enough for the faster songs. “Sexy Girl” is kind of in the middle here and he does sing it well. I recently heard a live version of it and it sounds better than the commercial version. However, the best song and one that I’ve come to appreciate far more in my aging years is “Smuggler’s Blues.” This song is proof that Frey can sing harder stuff, not that I had any doubt he couldn’t. What has really impressed me about it is the musicianship. Like his previous album, Glenn uses a ton of musicians on it, so I don’t know who does the guitar solos on the song but they are ace. Full marks to whoever played them. The song did feature on the mid 1980s TV show “Miami Vice.”

Track Listing:

  1. The Allnighter
  2. Sexy Girl
  3. I Got Love
  4. Somebody Else
  5. Lover’s Moon
  6. Smuggler’s Blues
  7. Let’s Go Home
  8. Better in the USA
  9. Living In Darkness
  10. New Love

Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey- lead vocals, guitar, bass, drums, piano, synthesizer

Josh Leo, Duncan Cameron- guitar

John ‘JR’ Robinson, Michael Huey, Larry Londin- drums

David Hood, Bryan Garofalo- bass

Greg Smith, Willie Bergman, Al Garth- saxophone

Vince Melamed, Allen Blazek, Barry Beckett- piano

Barry Beckett, David ‘Hawk’ Wollinski- synthesizer

Nick DeCaro- strings

Steve Foreman- percussion

Victor Feldman, Jack Tempchin, Oren Waters, Jack Galloway, Luke Waters- backing vocals

I might have mellowed a bit with age and while I like some of what’s on “The Allnighter,” it really isn’t my cup of tea. There are some good songs on it and it’s a great album to mellow out to or provide suitable background settings but I won’t put away my metal albums in favour of it.

Next post: I know I said at the beginning of the post that I’ll be starting with albums that came out originally in 1984 but I have to make an exception. Download is this weekend and I need the correct inspiration.

Kreator- Endless Pain

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