Archive for British

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Alarm- Declaration

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by 80smetalman

In very early months of 1984, when MTV was still playing lots of good music, one song definitely caught my attention. It wasn’t metal, not even hard rock. If I were to categorize it, something I don’t like doing, I would say it was post punk or new wave. Categories and labels a side, what I knew for sure was that I really liked the song “Sixty Eight Guns” by the Alarm. This song was a true anthem for me at the time and I still find myself singing it after all these years. The guitars were hard enough for my tastes but the way the chorus was belted out totally blew me away.

“Sixty Eight guns will never die

Sixty Eight guns our battle cry.”

As I’ve said many times, I will not buy an album on account of one song so you have to know that the rest of the album kicks just as much ass as the feature song. Most of the first half of “The Declaration” are straight ahead new wave rockers and really cook. I do detect a little Irish folk influence in the track “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke.” Then again, when doing further research on the band, I discovered they were Welsh, so I’m not surprised at this. “We Are the Light” is an acoustic track but even that doesn’t limit the powerful vocals of lead singer Mike Peters. For years, I have underestimated his vocal ability, I’ll never do that again.

“Shout to the Devil” is not a Motley Crue cover but very intelligently combines the acoustic flavour of the previous track and the more powerful sounds of the previous songs. Again, it’s very catchy. “Blaze of Glory” is also a good anthem like “Sixty Eight Guns” and like that song, I found myself wanting to sing along to the chorus. Only the lyrics aren’t quite as straight forward as “68 Guns.” I can at least sing the first part over and over, “Going out in a blaze of glory.” I do like how they use the horns on it. “The Deceiver” has an eerie introduction before going into a fast acoustic track with some good harmonica played on it. In fact the second side, isn’t quite as hard rock as the first but that doesn’t diminish the quality of “The Declaration” in the slightest.

Track Listing:

  1. Declaration
  2. Marching On
  3. Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke
  4. Third Light
  5. Sixty Eight Guns
  6. We Are the Light
  7. Shout to the Devil
  8. Blaze of Glory
  9. Tell Me
  10. The Deceiver
  11. The Stand
  12. Howling Wind

The Alarm

Mike Peters- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica

Dave Sharp- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Eddie MacDonald- bass, guitar, backing vocals

Twist- drums, percussion, backing vocals

When I listen to “The Declaration” I wonder why The Alarm didn’t get more commercial success. Some misguided people did say that they were too much like U2 but I never thought so. They were unique enough to avoid that. So, I wonder if it’s down to the discovery I made about them in the early summer of 1984, they were born again Christians. True, Christian rock was getting more attention at this time, something I’ll talk about in a future post, but I don’t hear any obvious Jesus lyrics in any of the songs that would frighten off listeners. For me, The Alarm’s “The Declaration” defined the direction I was heading in 1984 and it’s still a great album.

Next post: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

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Great Pop Albums of 1984: Julian Lennon- Valotte

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2017 by 80smetalman

I’m taking a lead from a post from Rich and posting about one of my not guilty pleasures. By 1984, I was in full heavy metal mode and it might surprise some that I would even entertain a pop sounding album. My counter is that having been (and still am) a big fan of The Beatles, I thought an album by the son of the great John Lennon, whose life had been so tragically snuffed out just over three years prior, was worth a listen. To be frank, I do like Julian Lennon’s debut album, “Valotte.” While it’s called pop on Wikapedia, I have always and will continue to call it mellow out rock because that’s what it exactly is.

Julian’s old man’s influence can be heard straight away on the opening title track of the album and its head rises now and again throughout the album. My first reaction to the opening track was that he was trying to sound like his father and while there isn’t anything wrong with that, I was wondering on my first listen way back then that would there be any originality from the son. I can say there is. On the track, “On the Phone,” there is a venture near the waters of progressive rock and I do like the intro. The next track “Space” is an appropriate title for that song, It does sound rather spacey and goes even further into the prog rock zone.

“Well I Don’t Know” is for sure a pop tune but it does have the only true guitar solo I can discern on the album. (There is some lead guitar bridges in other songs but that’s all.) Unfortunately, as I am no longer in possession of the album and Wikapedia doesn’t say which guitarist plays the solo, we’ll never know. The next pop song is the big single from “Valotte” called “Too Late for Goodbyes,” which got a lot of play on radio and MTV at the time. Listening to it again after so many years, I do notice that he does walk the tightrope between sounding commercial pop and his father’s influences rather well. It is probably the best tune for a radio hit. But I much like better, songs like “Lonely” with the cool sax solo which is the highlight of this mellow tune. “Say You’re Wrong” goes more into 80s synth pop and while not terrible, is unspectacular. “Jesse” is the hardest track on “Valotte.” It’s not heavy, not even close, but there is an upbeat tempo and some cool guitar bridges on it. The closer, “Let Me Be” is interesting. It’s a kind of ragtime piano tune that’s only just over two minutes but it is the best way to close the album out. I think Julian might have been going for a non serious exit here.

Track Listing:

  1. Valotte
  2. O.K. for You
  3. On the Phone
  4. Space
  5. Well I Don’t Know
  6. Too Late for Goodbyes
  7. Lonely
  8. Say You’re Wrong
  9. Jesse
  10. Let Me Be

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon- lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards, drums

Justin Clayton- guitar

Carlton Morales- guitar

Barry Beckett- keyboards

David Lebolt- keyboards

Peter Wood- keyboards

Roger Hawkins- drums

Steve Holley- drums, percussion

David Hood- bass

Marcus Miller- bass

Carmine Rojas- bass

Robert Mac Donald- percussion

Rory Dodd- backing vocals

Eric Taylor- backing vocals

Jon Faddis- trumpet

Joe Shepley- trumpet

Michael Brecker- saxophone

George Young- saxophone

Lawrence Feldman- saxophone

Ron Cuber- saxophone

Guest Musicians

Jean ‘Toots’ Theilmans- harmonica on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Martin Briley- guitar on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Dennis Herring- guitar on “Jesse”

In one respect, Julian Lennon couldn’t win with the critics on “Valotte.” The either said he was trying to be too much like his father or not enough. While his father’s influence is there, he does have his own stamp on the album, even if it is a very mellow album. While I wouldn’t listen to it travelling to or from Bloodstock, if I was younger, I would use it in the same ways teenage boys used “Beth” by KISS in the 1970s or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in the late 80s. The album is all right.

Next post: The Alarm- Declaration

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

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Billy Idol- Rebel Yell

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by 80smetalman

billyidolrebelyell

Not sure if history would agree with me but thirty years ago, I thought that 1983 was Billy Idol’s year. After all, he made my Spring and my final weeks in the service bearable with “White Wedding” from his first album, which was cool in itself. Then, at the end of the same year, he released the follow up, “Rebel Yell.” While I thought, actually I still do think it, that the first single and title track wasn’t quite as good as “White Wedding” or even “Dancing with Myself,” I still thought it was an all right song.

“Rebel Yell” is more of a new wave album than its predecessor. Billy uses more keyboards on the songs although unlike the emerging synth pop that was manifesting itself at the time, they don’t dominate them. On the title track, the keyboards help to usher in the start of the song but it goes more traditional hard rock for the rest of it. The same sort of thing happens with the tracks “Crank Call” and “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows” and both songs are enjoyable. In fact, the hardest song on the album for me is “Blue Highway” and probably why it’s my favourite.

There are some more slower songs on here like “Eyes Without a Face” which did score as a big hit for him in the singles charts. That song marked a move away from punk to a more new wave sound. The same can be said for “Flesh For Fantasy,” but I like that one a little more. It did take me a few careful listens before I fully appreciated “Daytime Drama.” That’s because if you listen closely, there is some good guitar work in support. However, unlike hardcore punk or metal, it doesn’t come out and hit you in the face. I have to now concur with 1537’s assertion that Steve Stevens is a really good guitar player. Therefore, while I still don’t think that “Rebel Yell” quite hits the level of Idol’s self titled album, it’s still a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Rebel Yell
  2. Daytime Drama
  3. Eyes Without a Face
  4. Blue Highway
  5. Flesh for Fantasy
  6. Catch My Fall
  7. Crank Call
  8. (Do Not) Stand in the Shadows
  9. The Dead Next Door
Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Billy Idol- guitar, vocals

Steve Stevens- guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizer

Phil Feit- bass on Rebel Yell

Sal Cuevas- bass on Eyes Without a Face

Steve Webster- bass

Judi Dozier- keyboards

Jack Waldman- keyboards

Thommy Price- drums

Greg Gerson- drums on Rebel Yell and Do Not Stand in the Shadows

Mars Williams- saxophone on Catch My Fall

Perri Lister- backing vocals on Eyes Without a Face

The more I think back, the more convinced I become that 1983 was Billy Idol’s year. Two albums and four big singles prove that point. It is also why I thought that “Rebel Yell” would be the best way to end the tour of 1983.

Next post: Great Albums Killed by the Cassette Player

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Ozzy Osbourne- Bark at the Moon

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-bark_at_the_moon

Way back in the beginning, when I first began posting about 1983, I stated that it was the year that the dam well and truly burst and that heavy metal flooded the valleys. With all the great albums from metal artists in this year, one would be forgiven if they believed that an album from one of the legends of metal, Ozzy Osbourne, wouldn’t have made much difference. Besides, he did put out a live album in the form of “Speak of the Devil” earlier in the year. However, Ozzy did come out with an album anyway, and while I wouldn’t debate anyone who said that it wasn’t quite as good as his first two solo albums, I still think it’s a fine album nonetheless.

The title track of “Bark at the Moon” just happens to be one of my all time favourite Ozzy singles. It’s definitely in the top five. When I saw him live, he opened the show with it and that set the tone for what was going to be an historic night. I do commit it to pen in “Rock and Roll Children.” There are other tracks on the album that are pure blinders as well. “Now You See It (Now You Don’t) and “Rock and Roll Rebel” are two perfect examples and “Center of Eternity” is a real cool song. I do like the keyboard intro. In fact, “Bark at the Moon” seems to use more keyboards than the previous Ozzy albums. This is especially the case in the closer, “Waiting for the Darkness” and on “Slow Down.” Another feature with the album is that there are two ballads on it, “You’re No Different” and “So Tired” which was released as a single and I remember it getting a fair amount of radio play back then.

The big question that was asked when “Bark at the Moon” came out was if Ozzy’s new guitarist Jake E Lee would fill the void left behind by the death of Randy Rhoads. The short answer is that nobody can replace Randy, he had a style all to his own. However, Jake E Lee’s talents with the six string can never be ignored, especially on this album and when he played live. His playing goes a long way in making the album as good as it is.

Jake E Lee

Jake E Lee

Track Listing:

  1. Bark at the Moon
  2. You’re No Different
  3. Now You See It (Now You Don’t)
  4. Rock And Roll Rebel
  5. Center of Eternit
  6. So Tired
  7. Slow Down
  8. Waiting for the Darkness
Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne- lead vocals

Jake E Lee- guitar, backing vocals

Bob Daisley- bass, backing vocals

Don Airey- keyboards

Tommy Aldridge- drums

Ozzy Osbourne joined the flood of heavy metal in 1983 with the album “Bark at the Moon.” Ozzy’s drinking problems would manifest themselves in the months following and he would eventually have to go and dry out. He wouldn’t release a studio album for nearly three years after but he did leave us a good one to bide the time.

Next post: Billy Idol- Rebel Yell

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Waysted- Vices

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

waysted_vices

The US and Great Britain has always enjoyed an exchange of musical ideas, although Canada has also been included in this. This has been even more the case in regards to heavy metal where both countries have benefited from this metal exchange. When I came to Britain in 1986, I too participated in this exchange of metal. I brought American metal bands like the Stormtroopers of Death and Suicidal Tendencies and my British friends introduced me to bands like Waysted. The problem was that when I was introduced to Waysted, it was their 1986 album which was first played to me. As a result, I never got around to listening to Waysted’s 1983 debut album, “Vices,” until last week.

So, did I miss out on anything great from not listening to “Vices” for three decades? My honest opinion is that I don’t feel that I missed out on any really mega fantastic album here because it doesn’t quite reach that bar. On the other hand, if it had been played to me back in 1983, I would have bought it as it’s a decent album.

I find that the opener, “Love Loaded,” does the job of getting you to want to listen to the album more. However, it’s the second song, “Women in Chains” that really gets things going. When a song repeats a line constantly, it can be either amusing, revitalizing or off putting. With “Women in Chains,” it does the second. The next track, “Sleazy” is more a catchy straight forward rocker with some pretty decent guitar hooks in it. “Right From the Start” tries to be this trippy way out concept song but I wasn’t too impressed. Fortunately things get back to more of a rock vibe with the next song, “Toy With the Passion.” “Right From the Start” has a cool intro but goes a bit more power ballad afterwards. However, there’s some good guitar work on it. “Hot Love” is a let’s be sleazy tune done in a bluesy fashion. The song works and I do love the piano solo on it. The penultimate track, “All Belongs to You” is okay and the chorus is a bit catchy but nothing spectacular. Then things go out very interestingly with a metalized cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic, “Somebody to Love.” Wow, what a way to close an album!

Track Listing:

  1. Love Loaded
  2. Women in Chains
  3. Sleazy
  4. Night of the Wolf
  5. Toy With the Passion
  6. Right From the Start
  7. Hot Love
  8. All Belongs to You
  9. Somebody to Love

Waysted

Waysted

Fin Muir- lead vocals

Ronnie Kayfield- lead guitar, backing vocals

Paul Raymond- rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards

Pete Way- bass

Frank Noon- drums

Note: This is the best photo of Waysted I could find. I don’t know when this one was taken but that’s why there are five musicians listed in the band and only four in the photo.

“Vices” charted 78 in the UK so I can see why it never reached the States in 1983. If it had gotten into the Import section at my local record store, I would have clocked it. Saying that, it’s an album worth listening to because for Waysted, it is a promising start for better things to come.

Next Post: Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil

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

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Girlschool- Play Dirty

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-girlschool_play_dirty

During the torrent of new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), Girlschool were somewhere in the middle. They weren’t mentioned in the same breath as the giants of the time but they were better known than other bands like Diamond Head and Raven. True, their music didn’t get the airplay it deserved but most metalheads in 1983 knew who they were. I was fortunate on one occasion in the year to catch one of the few times the title track from the album, “Play Dirty,” got played on MTV.

“Play Dirty” marked a change in direction for Girlschool towards a more softer rock sound. Some would compare them to Def Leppard, really? However, the softer sound comes out with the first two tracks on the album. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that keyboards were ever used on a Girlschool album. Those tracks aren’t bad but they aren’t real headbangers either. Things do go much heavier with the third one, the title track. Even then, there are keyboards at the bridges on the song and though I have to admit, they compliment that part of the song well, it took me a couple of listens to get used to it. Besides, Kelly Johnson’s guitar solo on said song makes counters any keyboards.

Track four, a cover of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy,” marks a definite return to more traditional ground. I get the feeling that the band had a lot of fun recording this cover because it sounds good. Marc Bolan would have been proud. Even if he’s not, “Play Dirty” goes even harder after that with “Breaking All the Rules.” Now this song sounds like the Girlschool I knew and love. Keyboards are used again on “Burning in the Heat” but only as a scary movie type introduction. Something I give Ozzy credit for starting but done by many metal bands then and now. After this introduction comes more traditional Girlschool. For me, it’s probably the best lesser known track on the album.

After wowing with those more harder songs, things go back to the sound of the opening tracks. Keyboards a plenty here for I get the feeling that on “Surrender” that they were trying for a Night Ranger or Journey type hit single. However, it wasn’t released as one so this is a paradox that baffles me. It’s still a cool song and Kelly nails another cool guitar solo. The keyboards die with that song because “Rock Me, Shock Me” is a true Girlschool anthem. They should have played that on the radio but that’s the good thing about buying albums. You get to play the best songs from them that radio won’t play to yourself. The closer is a good rocker and the title has me wondering. In Britain, knob is a slang term in the media so I wonder if they were attacking the media or at least some person in it.

Track Listing:

  1. Going Under
  2. High and Dry
  3. Play Dirty
  4. 20th Century Boy
  5. Breaking All the Rules
  6. Burning in the Heat
  7. Surrender
  8. Rock Me, Shock Me
  9. Running for Cover
  10. Breakout (Knob in the Media)
Girlschool

Girlschool

Kim McAuliffe- rhythm guitar, lead vocals tracks 3,5,7,8,9,10

Kelly Johnson- lead guitar, lead vocals tracks 1,2,4,6

Gil Weston- bass, backing vocals

Denise Dufort- drums

Additional backing vocals: Lemmy, Vicky Blue, Marc Haircut

Don Garbutt- keyboards

While I like the album, “Play Dirty” marked a downward turn in Girlschool’s fortunes. Kim McAuliffe would leave shortly after the release and the US tour would never materialize. Shame, I would have loved to have seen them. That wouldn’t come for another two years but still, even with the keyboards, “Play Dirty” is still a decent album.

Next post: Virgin Steele- Guardians of the Flame

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Raven- All For One

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-raven_-_all_for_one

In 1983, not only the likes of NWOBHM bands like, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were gaining headway in the US but other bands like Raven were establishing themselves as well. It is true that Raven never came close to the commercial success the bands mentioned would go on to achieve, many metalheads would know of them nonetheless. One reason might be albums like their 1983 “All For One” album, which some people say was the last of their golden age albums.

“All For One” has everything any metalhead needs to like in a metal album. It has a straight ahead power chords augmented by some cool guitar solos from Mark Gallagher. Meanwhile, his brother John proves he is a decent vocalist and like Lemmy can play bass at the same time, thus fulfilling the second half of the rhythm section with drummer, Rob Hunter. I know I have said this many times about many bands but Raven were a good band that didn’t have the breaks of some of their NWOBHM contemporaries.

What I like about this album is that all of the tracks can be seen to be pure metal, if such a thing exists now a days. That starts right away with the first two tracks but it’s the third track, “Sledgehammer Rock” that really grabs my attention. The power of that song takes the album that much higher. In the 80s, many bands would use the technique of an a cappella harmonizing followed by a killer guitar riff but not done so much in 1983. Raven do it very well with the title track. Then they follow it up with some cool opening guitar riffs on “Run Silent, Run Deep.”

Only knowing this album on vinyl gives me the advantage of dividing “All For One” in two because Side 2 definitely outshines Side 1. It helps that the second side starts with my favourite track, “Hung, Drawn and Quartered.” This track is in the Judas Priest vein but Raven put their own mark on it, especially with Mark’s guitar solo on it. The next track, “Breaking the Chains” is the second best track so we get a one-two punch here that knocks you out. Again, we hear more impressive guitar work from Mark at the beginning of “Breaking the Chains.” It has a cool chorus and it’s well sung. The three remaining tracks, while not as dynamic as the two that lead the Side 2 charge, are very good songs in their own right. When they’re finished, you know that you’ve listened to a true metal album.

Track Listing:

  1. Take Control
  2. Mind Over Metal
  3. Sledgehammer Rock
  4. All For One
  5. Run Silent, Run Deep
  6. Hung, Drawn and Quartered
  7. Breaking the Chains
  8. Take it Away
  9. Seek and Destroy
  10. Athletic Rock

raven

John Gallagher- bass, lead and backing vocals

Mark Gallagher- guitars

Rob Hunter- drums, backing vocals

While “All For One” is probably my favourite Raven album, I don’t quite agree with the last of their golden age theory. I thought they put out some fine material after, which I will cover in the appropriate year. Still, if you’re a metalhead, you can’t go wrong with this album.

Next post: ~Girlschool- Play Dirty

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