Archive for Bruce Springsteen

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Lone Justice

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2018 by 80smetalman

My first hearing of the band Lone Justice in 1985 came not through MTV or the radio, nor did it come from anyone recommending I buy their debut album. I first heard about them when I was told they were supporting then legends, U2. Then two days before I was going to see them, my local radio station played their first single, “Ways to be Wicked.” I liked it and that gave me a greater expectation of the band when I finally did see them and on that night, I wasn’t disappointed! In 1985, U2 and Lone Justice made a very good combination.

Lone Justice are listed in Wikapedia as country rock and I don’t disagree with that assessment. Thre is definitely a country music influence and the album is too rock to be considered country. Have a listen to “Don’t Toss Us Away.” However, I think a better assessment is Southern Rock meets new wave. When listening to the rock guitars you can hear what was then called modern synths compliments of one Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mike Campbell from the same band lends his guitar skills as well and there is even contributions from Little Steven who most of the world knows from Bruce Springsteen’s band. With this accompaniment assisting, it’s no wonder the album is so good. Not that I am taking anything away from the band because those players weren’t with them when I saw Lone Justice live and the band was quite capable of holding their own. Not only did they play material from this album, they also delighted the crowd to covers of CCR’s “The Fortunate Son” and “Sweet Jane.”

“Ways to Be Wicked” has always been my favourite Lone Justice song, probably to the exposure on radio and eventually MTV. Other songs which really stand out for me are “After the Flood” and “Soap, Soup and Salvation” which is about the extreme poverty that was rising in America during the mid 1980s. Again, I take nothing away from the rest of the album and while the musicianship is first rate, the driving force behind each and every song is the vocals of Maria McKee. She may be small in height but her vocal range makes her ten feet tall. Thinking about it, I’m rather disappointed that more wasn’t said about her vocal ability back then because she is phenomenal.

Track Listing:

  1. East of Eden
  2. After the Flood
  3. Ways to be Wicked
  4. Don’t Toss Us Away
  5. Working Late
  6. Sweet, Sweet Baby (I’m Falling)
  7. Pass It On
  8. Wait Til We Get Home
  9. Soap, Soup and Salvation
  10. You Are the Light

Lone Justice

Maria McKee- guitar, harmonica, vocals

Ryan Hedgecock- guitar, vocals

Marvin Etzioni- bass, backing vocals

Don Heffington- drums

Additional Musicians:

Mike Campbell- guitar

Tony Gilkyson- guitar

Bob Glaub- bass

Little Steven- guitar

Benmont Tench- piano, organ, synthesizer, backing vocals

Three years after seeing Lone Justice and hearing their debut album, I mentioned to someone who was heavily into the band that I had seen them support U2. He responded that U2 should have supported Lone Justice. I wouldn’t have gone that far but I can appreciate his feelings. Lone Justice should have achieved much more than they did and this album proves it.

Next post: Warlock- Hellbound

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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 1984: Bruce Springsteen- Born in the USA

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

For a good many people, the “Born in the USA” album from Bruce Springsteen was the album of the year in 1984. No one can debate how successful this album was. Any album which sell 11 million copies certainly is that. For the Top 40 brigade, it produced seven singles and like U2, Bruce Springsteen was one of those artists who both metalheads and non metalheads could listen to and not feel they were being unfaithful to their chosen genre. Needless to say, 1984 was Bruce’s year and this album was the reason why.

Now, I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade but I am going to make my opinion known as it was the same now as it was then. Like the rest of the world, I agree that this is a fine album. It was certainly four steps up from his previous album, the rather depressing, “Nebraska,” but I don’t rate this album as high as classics like “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and only slightly higher than “The River.” Still, unlike outgoing governor Chris Christie, Bruce Springsteen has always made me feel proud that I grew up in New Jersey.

Reflecting back, I think my main problem with “Born in the USA” was the fact that all of the singles got played to death on the radio at the time. That usually happens in any artist’s home ground so New Jersey radio stations did that. However, some of the singles got tiresome after hearing them played for the 957th time. “Glory Days” and “I’m On Fire” were examples of this and probably “Dancing in the Dark” as well. They were all good songs but got old after hearing them so many times. Saying that, “Cover Me” is the big exception here. I could hear that song 9050 times and wouldn’t get tired of it.

Fortunately, the great thing about the album was the tracks that weren’t singles. They’re all brilliant! There is some good traditional Springsteen rock to be had on all five of these. I’m talking about “Darlington County,” “Working on the Highway,” “Downbound Train,” “No Surrender” and “Bobby Jean.” For me, it is these tracks that have made “Born in the USA” so enjoyable for me.

While most people have raved about the songs on here, I think what often gets overlooked is the lyrics behind many of these songs. Personally, I can identify a tiny bit with the title track. I didn’t serve in Vietnam but Bruce highlights how badly those who served over there were treated. I had been out of the service about a year and by this time, I was beginning to wonder what had been the point of my serving due to the way I was being treated. Only the Vietnam Vets had it far worse than I ever did. The real eye opener was “My Home Town.” It was about his native town, Asbury Park and what was happening while he was growing up. It does make one stand up and think of how divided the nation really was back in the 1960s. Bruce let his feelings be known when he wrote these songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Born in the USA
  2. Cover Me
  3. Darlington County
  4. Working on the Highway
  5. Downbound Train
  6. I’m On Fire
  7. No Surrender
  8. Bobby Jean
  9. I’m Goin’ Down
  10. Glory Days
  11. Dancing in the Dark
  12. My Home Town

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- lead vocals, guitars

Roy Bittan- piano, synthesizer, backing vocals

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone, percussion backing vocals

Danny Federici- organ, glockenspiel, piano

Gary Tallent- bass, backing vocals

Steven Van Zandt- acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals

Max Weinberg- drums, backing vocals

It is slightly amazing that in a year where heavy metal dominated, a great rock album like “Born in the USA” could do so astronomically well. It was considered by many Bruce Springsteen’s crowning achievement.

Next post: Planet P- Pink World

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Dave Edmunds- Information

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by 80smetalman

Dave_Edmunds_Information_album_cover

Radio can be very misleading. In the summer of 1983, the single “Slipping Away” from Dave Edmunds’ “Information” got a considerable amount of airplay on radio. Then in the November, when I started my job working the Saturday and Sunday midnight to eight shift at a parking lot in Atlantic City, the radio seemed to play his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)” at least once during my first few shifts. Naturally, I assumed both songs were from this album, which I never bought for some reason. It was only when I did my preliminary research for the post that I discovered that “From Small Things” was actually on the album prior to this one. Shame, because I really liked that song but listening to “Information,” I am not disappointed too much.

Another historical point, back in the early 1980s, there was a brief heyday for what some would call “Rockabilly” music. Rock music with a country music style vibe but unlike Southern Rock, this genre doesn’t have the ferocity of it relative. That’s the category this Dave Edmunds seems to fall in and I would site the track “The Shape I’m In” as evidence. Saying that, he is still much more rock than the artist most known for rockabilly in the very early 1980s. Here’s my weird mind at work again but the whole rockabilly thing has made me think of her again. Juice Newton, who had several hits between 1981 and 83. Hell, she even covered a Dave Edmunds single, “Queen of Hearts” and her version doesn’t stray far from Dave’s musically.  Confession time! In 1981 and 2, I had a serious crush on Juice Newton.

juice

Enough of Juice for now, let’s get on to “Information. The best way to describe this album is Dave Edmunds would be the result if The Ramones played country music. Each song starts out in the one, two, three go style that the Ramones were famous for throughout the 1970s. The best examples of this are “Don’t You Double” and “Don’t Call Me Tonight.” The latter song has a guitar solo in the style of Eddie Cochran, making it sound a quite fifties but it’s still well done. Dave Edmunds is very good at keeping the tempo going on every song. Another interesting track is “Feel So Right” which has that Ramones one, two, three start and goes into the rockabilly sound. However, as the song progresses, you are led to conclude that if you didn’t know that Jeff Lynne of ELO fame had produced the album, you would have discovered it for yourself with said song. Then again, the more I think about it, I can hear a little bit of Lynne influence on “Slipping Away.” These factors combined make “Information” another album I regret not buying back then.

The Ramones

The Ramones

Track Listing:

  1. Slipping Away
  2. Don’t You Double
  3. I Want You Bad
  4. Wait
  5. The Watch on My Wrist
  6. The Shape I’m In
  7. Information
  8. Feel So Right
  9. What Have I Got to Do to Win?
  10. Don’t Call Me Tonight
  11. Have a Heart
Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds- guitar, vocals

Geraint Watkins- accordion

Jeff Lynne- bass, synthesizer

John David- bass

Dave Charles- drums

Paul Jones- harmonica

Richard Tandy- synthesizer

I think this was another hidden gem from 1983 that didn’t get the respect it deserved at the time. Maybe because rockabilly was already in decline or because of its unique sound, it was too hard rock for trendies but not hard enough for metalheads. All I know is that I enjoy “Information” and I know I would have liked the album if I first listened to it back then.

Next post: One Hit Wonders of 1983

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: INXS- Shabooh Shoobah

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Shaboohshoobah

Before I proceed into the post about my first experience of Australian new wave band INXS, I thought I would be like some of my fellow bloggers and mention a good bargain I picked up on an album. Last Saturday, I was in my local Morrison’s supermarket when I happened past the CD section. Normally, I might only take a sweeping glance at their CD display as most of it is chart stuff. However, something interesting caught my eye. There on the shelf was the classic Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run” album for just £3 ($4.50). Since my previous cassette copy of this album fell victim to my car stereo in 1990, I naturally had to pick it up. Now, let’s go into the post.

bsbtr

My first experience of INXS came a couple of months after I left the marines in 1983 and came by the way of the single “Don’t Change.” It wasn’t metal, it wasn’t Southern Rock nor could I put it into any sort of category but new wave, all I know that I liked the song. I liked the hard guitar sound in the background and though I thought they could have been a bit more dominant, it still worked. The keyboards were played smartly and complimented the song very well. However, having been burnt not long before this, I hesitated in buying the album “Shabooh Shoobah” right away. It was via a working companion that I was finally treated to it.

“Shabooh SHoobah” illustrates exactly where I was musically at this time in 1983. While my full conversion to heavy metal had already taken place, I wasn’t completely repulsed by what was being played on the radio at the time. When I listened to the album, I found it quite to my liking. While I wouldn’t exactly call it hard rock and there are no blistering guitar solos, there is sufficient guitar on it. Furthermore, I like Michael Hutchence’s vocals. He has that sinister sounding voice that gives a dark sounding tone to many of the songs. Track two, “Look at You” is prime evidence of this. Even with some of the more upbeat sounding songs like “Don’t Change” his voice doesn’t make the song some kind of happy pop song. Some more good examples are “Spy of Love,” “Here Comes” and “Golden Playpen.” I must also point out the saxophone playing of Kirk Pengilly on the album. I am always a bit skeptical when a band employs horns in rock but I have to say, Pengilly’s abilities are more than sufficient to pull it off here.

Track Listing:

  1. The One Thing
  2. To Look At You
  3. Spy of Love
  4. Soul Mistake
  5. Here Comes
  6. Black and White
  7. Golden Playpen
  8. Jan’s Song
  9. Old World New World
  10. Don’t Change
INXS

INXS

Garry Gary Beers- bass

Andrew Farriss- guitar, keyboards

John Farriss- drums, percussion

Tim Farriss- guitar

Michael Hutchence- vocals

Kirk Pengilly- guitar, saxophone, vocals

It has been questioned why a song by INXS, (not from this album), appears on the soundtrack to “Rock Star,” a film about a heavy metal band. Being in possession of said soundtrack, I don’t think that song is out of place on it. As the album “Shabooh Shoobah” shows, they had the potential to go in any direction. There is just enough of a rock vibe on this album to satisfy me along with some new wave creativity. On the downside, I can’t help thinking with their next album, they kind of went in the wrong direction.

Next post: The Night Before I Got Out of the Marines

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Nantucket- No Direction Home

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-No_Direction_Home_LP

One thing I am grateful for as I reflect back on 1983 was the fact that I got to spend my remaining three months in the marines in North Carolina. If I hadn’t, I might have missed out on some great stuff from a few of the great Southern Rock bands that were around at the time, Nantucket being one of them. By 1983, Southern Rock was once again contained to the South. Many people from the North had moved on from listening to what for me was a great sub-genre of rock. In the case of Nantucket, it was most unfortunate, because the world didn’t get to hear what a great band they were.

Memories came flooding back as soon as I listened to the album, “No Direction Home,” after so many years. I remember the single, “Hiding From Love,” which was written by Bryan Adams getting a good amount of airplay on the local station in North Carolina. While Bryan’s influence can be heard on the song, Nantucket certainly make the song their own, adding that Southern boogie vibe that all great Southern Rock bands are known for.

A criticism that was being aimed at Southern bands in the mid- 1980s was they were abandoning their roots to sound more mainstream. There is some sign of this with “No Direction Home,” with the fore-mentioned single and the cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.” Saying that, Nantucket still stamp their authority on both songs and that’s where any thoughts of mainstream ends. That point is made crystal clear with the hard rocking opener. The second song, “I Don’t Want to Lose You” is more of a blues based song and it’s done very well. Following the two songs already mentioned that they didn’t write, there are some steaming rockers, “Morning, Noon and Night” and “Ready For Your Love” before slowing down to the ballad “Come Home Darling.” That is as good a power ballad as any. The album finishes on a very high note with three more rockers with the closer, “Tennessee Whiskey,” being everything you’ve always loved about Southern Rock. A massive heart pumping rocker about a favourite Southern past-time, drinking whiskey.

Another disservice to Nantucket is the lack or respect to the guitarists, Tommy Redd and Mark Downing. These two deserve to being mentioned among the great names of Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Rick Medlocke, Duane Rowlands and Dave Hlubeck. They’re that good! Nantucket offer a unique feature as well in the form of saxophonist Eddie Blair. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s as good as Clarence Clemmons of Bruce Springsteen fame. In evidence, I ask you to listen to “Girl I Got Your Number.”

Track Listing:

  1. No Direction Home
  2. I Don’t Want To Lose You
  3. Hiding From Love
  4. Ain’t That Peculiar
  5. Morning, Noon and Night
  6. Ready For Your Love
  7. Come Home Darling
  8. Never Felt This Way Before
  9. Girl I Got Your Number
  10. Tennessee Whiskey
Nantucket

Nantucket

Gary Uzzell- lead and backing vocals

Tommy Redd- guitar, backing vocals

Eddie Blair- keyboards, saxophone, backing vocals

Mark Downing- guitar

Richard Gates- drums

David ‘Thumbs’ Johnson- bass, backing vocals

I had the fortune of seeing Nantucket live two months before I left the service on tour supporting the “No Direction Home” album. (The above photo wasn’t taken at that concert). They headlined a local festival called the Mayfair and I remembered they were brilliant, though I wish I wasn’t so partied out by the time they hit the stage. While they were great in the South, I still think they were cheated out of their chance to gain wider attention.

Next post: Doc Holliday- Modern Medicine

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2015 by 80smetalman

Bruce_Springsteen_-_Nebraska

Now that I am mellowing with age a little, I found that listening to albums now that I didn’t think much of when I listened to them when they first came out but I am now appreciating them a bit more. Having grown up in New Jersey, I was hoping that when I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” again, that I would feel the same way. Unfortunately, I don’t.

With “Nebraska,” Bruce plays all of the instruments himself and he goes for a more folk sound on it. In fact, quite a few country artists, including the late Johnny Cash, have covered songs from “Nebraska.” That’s another reason why I should be more into this album because it was during my military days which were mainly based in North Carolina and that gave me more of an appreciation for country music. Sadly to say, that even that doesn’t make me appreciate “Nebraska” any more. The only songs which I can really say I like are “Johnny 99” and “Used Cars.” Even the single “Atlantic City” doesn’t get me excited despite it being about the city I grew up near. The song sounds just as depressing as the actual city has become today. I went to Atlantic City back when I went back to the States last Autumn and the place is depressing. With three major casinos now closed, I have to agree with my friend’s assessment that Atlantic City has become the new Detroit minus the murders.

Track Listing:

1. Nebraska

2. Atlantic City

3. Mansion on the Hill

4. Johnny 99

5. Highway Patrolman

6. State Trooper

7. Used Cars

8. Open All Night

9. My Father’s House

10. Reason to Believe

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- all instruments and vocals

One argument that came out at the time of “Nebraska” and I totally reject to this day is the one that Bruce Springsteen is nothing without the E Street Band. No, what Bruce did was to go into the studio and make an album by himself. While hearing “Nebraska” makes me want to go and play one of his other albums, he does still show that he is a talented artist and continues to be. Two years after this album, he would go out and make history but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: 1982 Triumphs and Tragedy

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