Archive for Billy Squier

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1984: Billy Squier- Signs of Life

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

With all the great metal artists, old and new, releasing stellar albums in 1984, it was only natural that the best American artist not to have cracked the UK put an album out as well. Billy Squier’s “Signs of Life” album came out in the summer of that year and would go platinum. However, I have always been reluctant to call “Signs of Life” a metal album because Billy tries to mesh his hard rock style with what was the current techno sound of the time. He uses a lot more synthesizers on the album and though they don’t make the album suck, I still like it a lot, I do prefer “Emotions in Motion” and “Don’t Say No” to this one.

Everybody identifies “Signs of Life” with Squier’s best selling single, “Rock Me Tonight,” which is on it. Before I got into that, I would like to mention the other tracks that appear here. On the opening riffs of the first track, “All Night Long,” you are led to believe that this is going to be a total Squier metal fest. It is one of the harder tracks on the album and has a pretty cool guitar solo. “Eyes on You” which follows the hit single, goes more into the vein I was talking about. The synths are there but you the hard rock roots which brought Billy Squier to the top still are present. Less keyboards appear on “Take a Look Behind Ya” and the guitars dominate. I do think it would have sounded better if the guitars were turned up a little more. Then it would have been an even cooler rocker, especially the way it ends on a guitar solo.

When I wrote about the Billy Squier concert in “Rock and Roll Children,” I had to pick my sister’s brains as she saw it and I didn’t. During the playing of “Reach For the Sky” she said he used lights that flipped up. Listening to the song, I can imagine that this combination would have been amazing to see and hear. He couldn’t have picked a better song to do this to. However, playing  live, he wouldn’t have had Brian May on stage with him to do the guitar solo on “(Another) 1984” and Mr May does work his magic here. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

On “Fall for Love,” the keyboards are done very well to mix with the music. This is a more mellower song and the keyboards as well as the guitar suit it nicely. On the other hand, “Can’t Get Next to You” is one of the best rockers on the album. The keys are used to compliment the music and are done so sparingly. Again, I think they should have turned up the guitars a little more but that’s me. I think producer Jim Steinman must have had other ideas. Except for Brian’s efforts on “(Another) 1984,” this song has the best guitar solo on it and I sometimes think that this would have made a better closer than “Sweet Release.” I stress, sometimes!

Now onto the single, “Rock Me Tonight.” To be right to the point, I have always liked this song. It’s my fourth favourite Squier song behind “In the Dark,” “Everybody Wants You” and “The Stroke.” See, Billy was great at putting out singles I liked. Back in 1984, I didn’t really clock the effeminate nature behind the video to it. I was too busy rocking out to the song. However, this video is believed to have destroyed his career as a singles artist. It is said to have alienated him from hard rocking males and made him appear ‘gay.’ Unfortunately, this was more down to the narrow minded attitudes of people in 80’s Reagan America than anything else. For me, video or not, I will always like “Rock Me Tonight.”

Track Listing:

  1. All Night Long
  2. Rock Me Tonight
  3. Eyes On You
  4. Take a Look Behind Ya
  5. Reach for the Sky
  6. (Another) 1984
  7. Fall For Love
  8. Can’t Get Next to You
  9. Hand Me Downs
  10. Sweet Release

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers

Jeff Goulb- guitar, slide guitar

Alan St John-keyboards, synthesizers

Doug Lubahn- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Chouinard- drums

Brian May- guitar solo on (Another) 1984

I’ll let you watch the video for “Rock Me Tonight” and make up your own mind.

When I wrote “Rock And Roll Children,” I did so with the intention of showing how narrow minded and intolerant people were back in 80s Reagan America, especially towards metal and metalheads. The fact that everyone stopped taking Billy Squier seriously on account of one video proves my point. People seem to forget that he made three great albums and “Signs of Life” just happened to be one of them.

Next post: Iron Maiden- Powerslave

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Def Leppard- Pyromania

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-def_leppard_-_pyromania

Here’s the album that was said to have gone multi-platinum in the US while only selling 17 copies in the UK, “Pyromaina” by Def Leppard. At first, I might have been inclined to believe that. When I went to the UK for four weeks in the summer of 1983, many English people I spoke to could only say they had heard of the band and some couldn’t even say that. Furthermore, none of their singles made the Top 40 in the UK charts so wouldn’t have gotten a mention on Top of the Pops. However, thanks to a tiny bit of research, I do know that “Pyromania” did get to 18 in the UK album charts.

Lots of exposure on MTV helped get Def Leppard the notice they deserved from American audiences. The videos to the first two singles “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” were really cool. In fact, the latter retained the all time MTV Friday Night Video Fight Championship for well over a year. Does anyone remember the Friday Night Video Fights? That’s for another time I guess. Video aside, “Photograph” is my all time second Def Leppard song, (number one hadn’t appeared by this time.) It’s just a great song in so many ways: the power chords, the harmonizing at the chorus and the guitar solo making a great concoction of a killer tune.

While released as singles, “Foolin'” and “Too Late For Love” didn’t achieve the chart status as the other two but they are also brilliant songs. I was gutted when I saw Def Leppard in 1986 and they didn’t play “Foolin.'” Like the Iron Maiden album I reviewed in the last post, the rest of “Pyromania” isn’t filler. “Rock, Rock til You Drop” is as good an opener as any. I also have a very warm spot for “Die Hard the Hunter” and think it could have been released as a fifth single. Love the guitar solo on it. With all this, it is no wonder why many people on both sides of the Atlantic considered “Pyromania” the album of 1983.

In spite of all the success the album has enjoyed, Def Leppard did have some challenges while recording it. During the recording, the rest of the band decided they had enough of guitarist Pete Willis’s alcohol problems and fired him. While Willis recorded all the rhythm guitar tracks on the album, Phil Collen was brought in to replace him and he recorded all the solos on the songs Willis was supposed to. Listening to the efforts on this album, I have to ask if we should include the guitar duo of Clark and Collen along with the greats of Tipton and Downing, Hanneman and King, Watson and Gillis to name a few.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock Rock Til You Drop
  2. Photograph
  3. Stagefright
  4. Too Late for Love
  5. Die Hard the Hunter
  6. Foolin’
  7. Rock of Ages
  8. Comin’ Under Fire
  9. Action! Not Words
  10. Billy’s Got a Gun

defl

Joe Elliot- lead vocals

Steve Clark- guitar

Phil Collen- guitar

Rick Savage- bass

Rick Allen- drums

Pete Willis- rhythm guitar

On amusing story I heard that when Def Leppard supported Billy Squier on tour in the States in 1983, many people left after Def Leppard’s set, leaving Billy Squier to play to a half empty arena. I’m not sure if this is true or not.  My sister saw them both, maybe she can shed some light on it. What I do know that “Pyromania” put Def Leppard on the world music stage in this year and rightly so.

Next post: Rainbow- Bent Out of Shape

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: The Plasmatics- Coup d’Etat

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-CoupdEtat

Here is the last of the great metal albums which came out in 1982 but it didn’t come to my attention until the early months of 1983 due to my being posted in Japan at the time. Like Billy Squier’s “Emotions in Motion” album, “Coup d’Etat” by the Plasmatics was an album that I have neglected for quite a long time. Saying that, I still have fond memories of seeing the video for the single, “The Damned” from this album on the video screens of Sgt Peppers on Okinawa. At this time, music video was still something I was only becoming familiar with, so seeing Wendy O Williams in that outfit while singing away while standing on the school bus as it crashed through walls of television sets was something else. Probably why “The Damned” is my favourite Plasmatics song of all time. It also helps that it’s a great song to begin with.

Wendy driving the school bus in "The Damned."

Wendy driving the school bus in “The Damned.”

For years, I have regarded this band as punk but as I listen to “Coup d’Etat” again after so many years, I firmly believe that the album holds all the classic trademarks of heavy metal. Track after track has some heavy metal hook that grasps my attention and leaves me wondering why I didn’t take notice of it more. First, the album has both a grabbing opener that makes you want to stick around for the rest of it and a closer that seals the belief that this is a great album once it’s over. Of course all the tracks in between keep things running along very nicely. Standout tracks, apart from “The Damned” of course are “No Class,” “Stop” and “Mistress of Taboo.”

Another thing which not only I but probably many others had is the lack of appreciation for the talents of the rest of the band. Yes, Wendy was the main feature of the Plasmatics, both for her looks and her very unique vocals and I have already sung the praises of lead guitarist Ritchie Stotts when I reviewed the “Metal Priestess” album. He’s even better on this album by the way. I submit “Paths of Glory” into evidence. However, nothing should be taken away from the rhythm section of Beech, Romanelli and Tolliver. These guys are definitely tighter on this album and the results prove itself in the music. What this album has done is to look at the entire band in a whole new way and give them the respect they are long overdue.

Track Listing

  1. Put Your Love Into Me
  2. Stop
  3. Rock’ N Roll
  4. Lightning Breaks
  5. No Class
  6. Mistress of Taboo
  7. Country Fairs
  8. Paths of Glory
  9. Just Like on TV
  10. The Damned
  11. Uniformed Guards
The Plasmatics

The Plasmatics

Wendy O Williams- lead vocals

Ritchie Stotts- lead guitar

Wes Beech- rhythm guitar, lead guitar on tracks 2, 9, 5

Junior Romanelli- bass, keyboards

T. C. Tolliver-drums, percussion

I’ve just had a thought, I wonder if the opening track on this album was a response to a song on AC/DC’s “Back in Black” album. Interesting thought, though. What I do know is that this album helped start my 1983 in style and while I may have neglected it for a long time, (fool, me), it gave me a video that has stuck well in my mind for over thirty years.

Next post: Utopia

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Billy Squier- Emotions in Motion

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Sqmot

Like I’ve probably said a million times on here, one of the greatest things about writing this blog is that it allows me to reminisce about some of the great albums of the time. Albums that I might not have listened to for nearly three decades or more! Not listening to an album for that extreme length of time, one forgets how great an album can be. Therefore, it is a pleasant surprise when you put such an album on and just realise that very thing. All of the above can be said for the “Emotions in Motion” album from Billy Squier. The reason why I haven’t listened to this one in such a long time was the fact that I never bought it because my sister had it and while she was away at college, I would sometimes borrow it and listen to it. Dawn, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re not too upset with me for borrowing this fine album without asking.

A year ago, when I visited Squier’s “Don’t Say No” album, I commented that Billy was the best American artist not to have cracked Great Britain. However, since I was in Okinawa when I first saw the video for the album’s single, “Everybody Wants You,” I can safely say that Billy Squier did make it in Japan. Listening to “Emotions in Motion” again after so many years, it’s easy to see why. I like this album even more than the more commercially successful “Don’t Say No.”

Billy_Squier_-_Don't_Say_No

First, like so many albums that were released in 1982, (this one didn’t come to my attention until 1983) it starts off with the single. “Everybody Wants You” is a good song and probably a good choice to be released as a single, especially with the catchy riff it contains, but it’s not the best song on the album. In fact, I’ve been having great difficulty in choosing such as all of the songs are that good here. Another fact I’ve forgotten about the album is that the title track is much harder than I remembered it being and that’s a good thing. Damn my Swiss cheese memory!

As I said, after the first two songs, the hit single and title track, “Emotions in Motion” continues to kick some serious ass. “Learn How To Live” suckers you in with an alluring acoustic intro before blasting you away with more powerful chords. Furthermore, the song is suited fine to Billy’s vocals and would not work with anyone else. “In Your Eyes” is a power ballad worthy to included with many of the others I’ve mentioned in so many posts. It nearly touches the bar set by April Wine in 1981. However, the rest of the album are all just simply great rockers, period. Another surprise after a 30 year non listening famine is that I had forgotten that Squier can play a guitar. The problem is that his best known songs, including “Everybody Wants You” don’t have noteworthy solos. Any doubts about his guitar ability is silenced once you hear him go to town on “Keep Me Satisfied” and his lead guitar intro on “One Good Woman” is quite impressive as well. There are others as well. In the end, I must say shame on me for neglecting such a great album for all of these years.

Track Listing:

  1. Everybody Wants You
  2. Emotions in Motion
  3. Learn How to Live
  4. In Your Eyes
  5. Keep Me Satisfied
  6. It Keeps You Rocking
  7. One Good Woman
  8. She’s a Runner
  9. Catch 22
  10. Listen to the Heartbeat
Billy Squier

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- lead vocals, lead guitar

Kevin Osborn- guitar

Jeff Golub- guitar

Allen St John- keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals

Greg Lubahn- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Chouinard- drums

Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Everybody Wants You” and emotional support

While I admit that I have neglected many a fine album over the years, there hasn’t been one making me feel this guilty about it like “Emotions in Motion” from Billy Squier. I just had a thought and I hope my British friends will support this. Since he’s the best American not to have made it in Britain, maybe it’s time he does. So I urge all of my British friends, as well as the rest of you reading this, to go out and listen to this album. I know you won’t be disappointed. Hell, maybe I’ll go and put him on the wishlist for this year’s Bloodstock Festival.

Next post: The Plasmatics- Coup d’ Etat

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Soundtracks of 1982: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Fasttimesatridgemonthighsoundtrack

Before I get started, let me be perfectly blunt here. I thought the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” sucked. Not as much as my friend though because while I was willing to endure it to the end, he couldn’t take it and suggested we leave. I didn’t debate it. I know that it has been preserved on account of its apparent tackling of teen issues at the time. That may have been true but they could have made a better film to deliver the message. The only positive I found about the film was the stoner character played by Sean Penn, he was quite amusing.

Sean Penn in the film

Sean Penn in the film

Fortunately, a sucky film doesn’t mean that the soundtrack is going to be as bad. Any soundtrack that has such artists as Billy Squier, Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Sammy Hagar has to be good. My hypothesis is that when deciding what songs to use on the soundtrack, someone suggested just how kick ass the soundtrack to “Heavy Metal” was so they brought in some of the same artists on “Fast Times.” Again, Sammy Hagar does the title cut and it’s good although I wouldn’t put it at the same level as the other film I mentioned here. It’s the same with Felder’s track. It’s good but it doesn’t measure up to “Heavy Metal Takin’ a Ride.” Then again, that is a very tough song to measure up to. On the other hand, I do prefer the offering from Stevie Nicks on this soundtrack and I really liked her song on “Heavy Metal.” Plus there are good contributions from the likes of Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Billy Squier as well.

Billy Squier

Billy Squier  

Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks

joewalsh

Another comparison with “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Heavy Metal” is the fact that there are some good songs from unknown artists. The Rayvins “Raised on Radio” is a very pleasing hard rock track and it’s made me curious to hear what else they might have to offer. The same can be said for the songs by Graham Nash and Gerrard McMahon. Both deliver some decent rock here. However, they’re not the only ones. Jimmy Buffet and Poco both known more for their country rock sound go down a definite rockier route with the songs on this soundtrack. But the biggest surprise is from Donna Summer! The proclaimed Queen of Disco from the late 70s sings a blinder of a rock song on the soundtrack and all I can say is, “I’m impressed.”

Track Listing:

1. Jackson Browne- Somebody’s Baby

2. Joe Walsh- Waffle Stomp

3. Don Henley- Love Rules

4. Louise Goffin- Uptown Boys

5. Timothy B Schmit- So Much in Love

6. The Rayvins- Raised on Radio

7. Gerard McMahon- The Look In Your Eyes

8. The Go Go’s- Speeding

9. Don’t be Lonely- Quarterflash

10. Don Felder- Never Surrender

11. Billy Squier- Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives)

12. Sammy Hagar- Fast Times at Ridgemont High

13. Jimmy Buffet- I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)

14. Graham Nash- Love is the Reason

15. Poco- I’ll Leave it Up to You

16. Donna Summer- Highway Runner

17. Steve Nicks- Sleeping Angel

18. Palmer/Joist- She’s My Baby (And She’s Out of Control)

19. Oingo Boingo- Goodbye Goodbye

What can’t be faulted is that there is a great collection of songs here by some of the best artists who were around at the time. Many of whom are still going. What they did was come together to make a really cool soundtrack which leaves me thinking, “Shame about the movie.”

Next post: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- I Love Rock and Roll

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Billy Squier- Don’t Say No

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2014 by 80smetalman

Billy_Squier_-_Don't_Say_NoYou’ve all been waiting with baited breath for this, okay, maybe not but here it is. After all my ramblings about great British artists who never really made it in America, it’s time for the best American artist not to have made it in Britain. That’s right, the award goes to Billy Squier. I know from feedback from British readers of “Rock and Roll Children” that this is the case. Since one of his concerts appears early in the story, several British readers have said, that they never knew him or even heard of him. This is true, I never heard his name mentioned in UK metal circles, heard any of his songs on the radio or seen his videos on the Kerrang or Scuzz channels. His only real association with the UK is the fact that he played the 1982 Reading Rock Festival but other than that, very little. This is a shame because Squier is an excellent musician with several fine albums including this 1981 release: “Don’t Say No.”

For all my goings on about my paranoia about the singles being the opening song on the album, I must say that Billy Squier goes even further on “Don’t Say No” by having all three released singles as the first three tracks on the album. This is not a bad thing in this case. I continue to listen to “In the Dark” and his biggest hit, “The Stroke” which even got played on AM radio back in 1981 but the third single, “My Kinda Lover” got the memories flowing. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter about where you put the singles on the track list because the rest of the album is definitely not filler. “Lonely Is the Night” could also have been released as a single, especially as I like the intro in that one. “Too Daze Gone” and “Whadda You Want From Me” are also very strong tracks and his tribute to John Lennon, “Nobody Knows.” I do think his vocals are a bit too high on that song but that is offset by a cool guitar solo. The songs on here don’t disappoint so once again I find myself asking, Why wasn’t this album better received in the UK?

Track Listing:

1. In the Dark

2. The Stroke

3. My Kinda Lover

4. You Know What I Like

5. Too Daze Gone

6. Lonely Is the Night

7. Whadda You Want From Me

8. Nobody Knows

9. Need You

10. Don’t Say No

Billy Squier

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- vocals, guitar, piano, percussion

Cary Sharaf- guitars

Alan St John- keyboards

Mark Clark- bass

Bobby Chouinard- drums

What I am hoping is that everyone in the UK reading this will rush out and buy this album or at least listen to it on YouTube. That will go a long way in making up for an opportunity that was missed over thirty years ago. By all means, Americans take it out, dust it off and listen to it once more. Then remember what a great album “Don’t Say No” really was. I thought it was a great way to end the journey through 1981.

Next post: A Tribute to Some True Heroines

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London