Archive for Blackfoot

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Van Zant

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2018 by 80smetalman

If there was ever proof that in 1985, the phrase ‘sold out’ was banded about quite liberally, even by me, it was with this 1985 from Van Zant. The name has always been familiar in Southern Rock terms and in this case, it was a simple re-branding of the Johnny Van Zant band. The band even had all its original members. So, why did I accuse them of selling out? The answer was that with this self titled album, Van Zant, like Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot a year earlier had moved away from the traditional Southern Rock boogie sound to a more keyboards, progressive AOR sound. However, my mis-branding of this band was short lived because after a few listens, I realized that I was wrong to ever accuse them of selling out.

One major proof I was wrong was that this album contains one of my favourite songs of 1985 and it’s definitely up there in the all time list. “I’m a Fighter” was not an abandonment from Van Zant’s more hard rocking Southern sound. In fact, it’s rare that a single released from an album in the mid 1980s sound less AOR than the rest of the album but this song absolutely kicks ass! From its unique acoustic guitar intro, to the hard rocking guitars and the blow away guitar solo, all led by the steady vocals of Johnny Van Zant who does the family name proud on every track of the album.

Once one gets over the fact that keyboards are used on the album, the rest of the album is quite good. In fact, the keyboards are used quite well. Sure, they are more prominent in tracks such as “She’s Out With a Gun” and “You’ve Got to Believe in Love” but they are still good songs and the latter does have a killer guitar solo. In fact, I think that Robbie Gay and Erik Lundgren may be the most underrated guitar duo of all time. Tracks such as the opener “Midnight Sensation,” the single I’ve already mentioned, “Two Strangers in Love” and “2+2” are all good to decent rockers. “Two Strangers in Love” is my vote for the hidden gem on the album, especially the way the guitar solo takes the song out at the end.

Thinking back to that time, maybe the reason why it took me a couple of listens to get into this album maybe be down to the four remaining tracks. While not bad, they don’t reach the mark set by the first six songs. The possible exception being “Does a Fool Ever Learn,” which is about a woman who’s with an abusive man but won’t leave him. Full marks to the band for bringing this issue to light in the song. Also while not as spectacular as the first six, “Heart to the Flame” does have a catchy vibe to it and but it took me a couple of listens to notice. However, all’s well that ends well and now I regard this album as one of my tops for 1985.

Track Listing:

  1. Midnight Sensation
  2. She’s Out With a Gun
  3. I’m a Fighter
  4. You’ve Got to Believe in Love
  5. Two Strangers in Love
  6. 2+2
  7. Heart to the Flame
  8. Does a Fool Ever Learn
  9. Right on Time
  10. Lonely Girls

                         Van Zant 

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Morris- drums

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Gay- guitar, backing vocals

Erik Lundgren- guitar, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

Richard Head- synclavier

Brian Heathrington- keyboards, synthesizer

Steve McCray- keyboards, synthesizer

Thinking about it, the self titled album from the re-branded Van Zant wasn’t the top of my favourite album of 1985 list but it was definitely on it. I would call this the most underrated album of said year because it is a blinder. The problem was with people’s attitudes in 1985. Anything with heavy guitars was considered heavy metal while many metalheads considered anything with a keyboard too mainstream. This can be the only reason this album didn’t fare so well.

Next post: AC/DC- Fly on the Wall

Those who’ve known me for some time might have already guessed why I’m posting this album next.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1609763556?pf_rd_p=855cdcfd-05d9-474f-b84d-8286a3530ba1&pf_rd_r=THG6RHH8RZVA8V406BZ7

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Blackfoot- Vertical Smiles

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2017 by 80smetalman

Another great Southern Rock or in my view Southern metal band who went for a more commercial rock sound in 1984 was Blackfoot with their album, “Vertical Smiles.” Keyboards player Ken Hensley from Uriah Heep became a permanent member and guitarist Charlie Hargrett left over disagreements with the band and management. However, I have always believed Charlie’s departure to be fairly amicable because written on the album cover is “Special thanks to Charlie Hargrett for fourteen years of agony and dedication.”

The move to more commercial rock comes out in the very first song, “Morning Dew,” which was released as the album’s only single. I remember it getting limited airplay on radio. While I have always liked this song, it was certainly a departure from traditional Blackfoot. The keyboards lead into the song and it’s present throughout, although this isn’t a bad thing. I also love the military sounding snare drums complements of Mr Spires and Rick Medlocke pelts a good guitar solo on it. So there is a lot to like with “Morning Dew.”

Things go decisively harder for the next few songs after. “Living in the Limelight” is a pure belter and Medlocke’s signature vocals are present. The song rocks! The same can be said for “Get It On.” This too is a good rocker from the more memorable days of Blackfoot. The song in between them, “Ride With You” isn’t bad either. It’s just too much keyboards where some good guitar stuff should be and that lets it down a little. Then, the album slows right down with two power ballad type songs, “Young Girl” and “Summer Days.” It does show a more tender side to the band and both songs are done very well. Happily, things go back to more familiar ground with the blazing “A Legend Never Dies.” I have always thought “this is more like it.”  It proves that Blackfoot can effectively employ guitar and keyboard together in a song. But the most true old style Blackfoot track is the pen ultimate, “Heartbeat and Heels.” This song casts aside any doubt that Blackfoot have completely abandoned their past. It is the hidden gem on the album. I’ve never been too sure about the closer. You would think that any song titled, “In For the Kill” would be a hard rocker and though this song has moments, it doesn’t move me in for any kill. Still, it’s probably the best song to close the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Morning Dew
  2. Living In the Limelight
  3. Ride With You
  4. Get it On
  5. Young Girl
  6. Summer Days
  7. A Legend Never Dies
  8. Heartbeat and Heels
  9. In For the Kill

Blackfoot

Rick Medlocke- guitar, lead vocals

Ken Hensley- keyboards, backing vocals

Greg T Walker- bass, backing vocals

Jackson Spires- drums, backing vocals

Sherri Jarrell- backing vocals

Note: This was a band photo from the last album but I thought I’d use out it of respect for Charlie Hargrett

All in all, “Vertical Smiles” is a pretty decent album. True, they incorporate keyboards where a harder guitar sound should be in places but it’s not bad. The album does have good songs. Still, it’s not near the same level as their three famous albums, “Strikes,” “Tomcattin'” and “Marauder.”

Next post: Survivor- Vital Signs

To buy Rock and Roll Children go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1503603657&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

Posted in Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2017 by 80smetalman

Maybe U2 were trying to follow in the lead of Blackfoot in the sense that after three albums, release a live album. The difference here is that the three Blackfoot albums are all considered classics while the same can’t be said for the three U2 albums. Now don’t get me wrong, I like all three of these albums, “Boy,” “October” and “War.” However, the first two didn’t propel them to stardom the way “War” did. “Boy” turned my head in their direction but when I mentioned U2 to others, I mostly got blank stares. “October,” on the other hand, is U2’s best kept secret. Not a lot of people seem to know too much about the album but I’ve always liked it. “War” goes without saying, it made the band a worldwide name. It is on the back of “War” that the live “Under a Blood Red Sky” album was released.

When most people think of this live album, they automatically assume it’s from the filmed concert “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky,” it’s not. The songs are live but recorded separately from concerts in Colorado, Boston and Germany. Furthermore, the filmed concert is nearly and hour and a half long while the album consists of just eight songs and is just over thirty-five minutes.

Ironically, the album starts with the best known song from the “October” album, “Gloria.” Probably a good opener as any for U2 at this stage of their career. What’s more, the next two songs are off the “Boy” album but then, “I Will Follow” is my all time favourite U2 song and it’s played very well. The crowd really get into it and if I had been there, I would have too. The fourth song, “Party Girl,” doesn’t appear on any of the albums but it’s still okay. Remember, back in 1983, U2 were still hungry and making their mark on the music world and all of the songs reflect that on the album.

It’s not until song five we get anything from the “War” album and that is the phenomenal “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” My second favourite U2 song and the way it’s played here is pure magic. Next is another good song from the debut album in the form of “The Electric Co.” For me, it’s played just as well live as when I hear it on the “Boy” album. Were there studio fixes here?  I can’t say. The last two songs from “War” take the album out brilliantly. First is the fantastic “New Year’s Day” and there is no better song for them to close a concert with than “40.” When I saw them in 1985, they would close the show with that song and it was mind blowing. I have to say that “Under a Blood Red Sky” takes me back to another time and almost seemingly another U2 because they were actually good but it hadn’t gone to their heads yet.

Track Listing:

  1. Gloria
  2. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  3. I Will Follow
  4. Party Girl
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  6. The Electric Co
  7. New Year’s Day
  8. 40

U2

Bono- lead vocals, guitar

The Edge- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, bass on “40”

Adam Clayton- bass, guitar on “40”

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

“Under a Blood Red Sky” may not go down as one of the greatest live albums in history but it’s still a good album. Especially if you like U2 when they were more hungry and less with the ego.

Next post: Julian Lennon- Valotte

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Biggest Tragedy of 1983

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

 

Pay tribute to these brave souls

Pay tribute to these brave souls

I make no apologies for repeating myself from a post I made three years ago or for the fact that this has little to do with music. Furthermore, I make no apologies for anyone who has read my post about this on my Peaceful Rampage blog. But for all the great music I experienced in 1983 and the joy of getting out of the marines that year and all the good memories of said year, the one tragedy that will always haunt me from 1983 will be the bombing of the marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983.

A total of 241 lives were lost that day, some of them good friends of mine. I spent nearly three of my four years of service in the battalion that was blown up over there and knew a lot of those guys. I lived and partied with them so I guess you could say they were like family to me when I was serving. That’s why this tragedy has lingered with me for so many years. Maybe it’s also the fact that shortly after, America seemed to simply sweep it all under the carpet and forget about it. What was worse, a year later, it re-elected the madman president who had sent them there in the first place. Reagan was so determined to get the military involved in something that he recklessly sent the marines into something he, himself, wasn’t sure what the objectives were. I remember one of my friends who wrote me before he left for Lebanon saying, “We’re going to Beirut to get grenades thrown at us.”

Since I began 80smetalman nearly seven years ago, I have stated that on many occasions that my experiences in the Marines played a part in shaping me into the metalhead I am today. Not just metal, either. If I hadn’t spent the better part of four years in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have been so immersed in Southern Rock. In fact, one memory that has sprung to mind was how every time that friend would and I would get in my car to go out partying, he would want Blackfoot, “Strikes” played on the cassette player. He was a big Blackfoot fan which was why I played that album and the “Highway Song” album so much in the weeks following the tragedy.

When I did post about this tragedy three years ago, I had a lot of condolences and support from many of you my readers, to which I am still truly grateful. I hope you will be just as understanding this time around and possibly as a tribute play some of the following albums many of these comrades in arms introduced me to while I was serving with them.

220px-Blackfoot_-_Strikes

nzhotd

R-150-1986236-1280267276

220px-Black_Sabbath_Heaven_and_Hell

Rush_2112

220px-Def_Leppard_-_High_'n'_Dry

There are definitely more albums than this but these are the ones that have always stuck in my mind. Have a listen to one or more and remember those who died in this tragedy.

Next post: Kix- Cool Kids

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Blackfoot- Siogo

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Blackfoot_siogo

Further evidence to support the fact that Southern Rock was becoming a non entity north of the Mason-Dixon Line is to be found with Blackfoot’s 1983 album, “Siogo.” It’s also yet another reason why I was glad I got to spend three months in the South. In the years running up to 83, Blackfoot had been slowly but surely gaining attention in the North thanks to their three best known albums, “Strikes,” “Tomcattin'” and “Marauder.” However, when I did return North in the middle of the year, it seemed that no one had known they put out a new album and it was fortunate I had bought it in North Carolina because it would have been tougher to find it in New Jersey.

“Siogo” marked a slight change of direction for Blackfoot in the sense that they acquired keyboards player Ken Hensley. Many metalheads and hard rockers normally panic when a band known for hard power chords from the guitar adds keyboards. There is the belief that said band is selling out, going commercial or whatever and Van Halen in 1986 proves that point but that story is for another time. Well, you can all rest easy because when I first heard the single from the album, “Send Me and Angel,” I thought the keyboards went well with the hard crunching guitar that Blackfoot was known for. Everything else associated with Blackfoot was in place, the great guitar solos, Rick Medlocke’s unmistakable vocals and the rhythm section provided by Walker and Spires.

Let me get right to the point, “Siogo” is a great album and it’s unfortunate it has been overlooked so long. It also proves that the addition of a keyboard does not destroy the sound of a hard and heavy band if employed properly. Dio is the ultimate example but again, that’s for another time. Proof of this with this album lies in the track “Goin’ in Circles.” You can hear the keyboards in support at the beginning when the guitars pound in on the intro to the song. They add flavour to it and then go on a support role as the song gets into full gear and there’s a killer guitar solo on it. If you want to hear Hensley at his keyboard best, then the track “We’re Going Down” is the one. His keyboard solo is the highlight of a song that is no less rocky. The rest of the album is more old school Blackfoot if there is such a thing. Full of trademark intros, see “Teenage Idol” and “Crossfire” here and straight forward, blow your eardrums hard rock music. I said it before but it still applies with “Siogo,” Blackfoot could be called “Southern Metal.”

When I first looked at the track listing and saw a track called “Sail Away,” I thought that this was going to be some sort of ballad. After all, there are plenty of songs with similar titles that are. However, the song that bears the title on this album is nothing of the sort. Okay, maybe the first two notes of the intro may give that impression but the rest of the song just rocks! And don’t be fooled by the lyrics of “White Man’s Land.” It’s nothing racist, the song, at least to me, is a dig at the rat race and I can definitely see where they’re coming from here. Besides, the song reminds me a little of the classic “Train, Train.”

Track Listing:

  1. Send Me an Angel
  2. Crossfire
  3. Heart’s Grown Cold
  4. We’re Goin’ Down
  5. Teenage Idol
  6. Goin’ in Circles
  7. Run For Cover
  8. White Man’s Land
  9. Sail Away
  10. Drivin’ Fool
Blackfoot

Blackfoot

Rick Medlocke- lead vocals, guitar

Charlie Hargrett- guitar

Ken Hensley- keyboards, backing vocals

Greg T. Walker- bass, backing vocals

Jackson Spires- drums, backing vocals

I’m afraid that I’m going to have to say, “Damn Yankees” for the fact that this album has been overlooked up North. Fortunately, I was in the South so I didn’t miss out on it, to which I’m glad. “Siogo” is definitely a Blackfoot album that deserves a mention when you say the band’s name.

Next post: Molly Hatchet- No Guts, No Glory

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

 

 

 

 

1983: The Year the Dam Well and Truly Burst

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2015 by 80smetalman

Got a little ahead of myself on the last post. I stated that the next post would be The Scorpions but I realize that before I talk about the album that started my 1983 off right, that I should first introduce the year. 1983 was a very pivotal year for me in a lot of ways. Most important was the fact that I spent the first half of the year as a marine and the second half as a civilian. In fact, my last military haircut was on June 25, five days before I got out and it would be seventeen months before I got another one.

I have mentioned on several other blogs about how I used to store my cassettes. During my time in the marines, I bought a lot of cassettes due to the limited living space. At first, I bought a proper cassette case but that only held 30 tapes. Whenever we had some sort of training exercise, whether using live or blank ammo, there would be spare ammo cans laying about, which we were allowed to keep. I managed to get two and it was enough to house 58 more tapes. Those cans were probably my best souvenir from my time in.

The famous ammo cans

The famous ammo cans

Bonus points if you can guess the albums

Both as a marine and a civilian, the one thing that remained constant throughout was the music. I’m tempted to quote from a rather popular film from this year which I’ve never seen but I’ll refrain. It would be this year that I would declare myself a metalhead but I wouldn’t totally forget other great forms of rock. Southern Rock’s popularity may have waned north of the Mason-Dixon line but having spent the last three months of my enlistment in North Carolina, I still got to hear killer albums from Nantucket, Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet. But as it says in the title, 1983 was the year the dam well and truly burst and heavy metal flooded the world.

Next post: The Scorpions- Blackout  (yes it truly is this time)

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

 

My Top 15 Albums

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2015 by 80smetalman

Typical me of my school days. I was always forgetting to do assignments which often got me in trouble with teachers. I almost missed the one set by a fellow blogger to list my 15 favourite albums. Looks like I’m just going to make the deadline here so don’t give me a detention. Well here they are:

sod

  1. Stormtroopers of Death- Speak English or Die

stend

2. Suicidal Tendencies

 kdbd

3. Killer Dwarfs- Big Deal

dio

4. Dio- Holy Diver

FreedomAtPointZero

5. Jefferson Starship- Freedom at Point Zero

 OneMoreFromTheRoad_LynyrdSkynyrdalbum

6. Lynyrd Skynyrd- One More From the Road

 imlad

7. Iron Maiden- Live After Death

 paranoidt

8. Black Sabbath- Paranoid

Aerosmith-Toys_in_the_Attic

9. Aerosmith- Toys in the Attic

tsyou

10. Twisted Sister- You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll

dv-ssor

11. Vaughn- Soldiers and Sailors on Riverside

hotdrise

12. Hair of the Dog- Rise

220px-Molly_Hatchet_-_Flirtin'_with_Disaster

13. Molly Hatchet- Flirtin’ With Disaster

nzhotd

14. Nazereth- Hair of the Dog

220px-REO_Speedwagon_-_Nine_Lives

15. REO Speedwagon- Nine Lives

Honourable Mentions

38 Special- Rockin’ Into the Night

Jefferson Starship- Winds of Change

Kreator- Pleasure to Kill

Van Halen- II

Dio- The Last in Line

Twisted Sister- Under the Blade

AC/DC- Back in Black

AC/DC- Highway to Hell

Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon

Blackfoot- Highway Song

Damned Nation- Grand Designs

This is my list respectfully submitted on 15 September, 2015.