Archive for Bruce Springsteen

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

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

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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Great Rock Albums of 1981: Joan Armatrading- Me, Myself, I

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, video games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Me_Myself_I_-_Joan_Armatrading

Here’s an example of how my mind jumps around too much. I knew when I started 1981 that I wouldn’t be able to get everything in regards to my life in perfect chronological order. So in order to talk about “Me, Myself, I” from Joan Armatrading, I have to go back to Rota, Spain. We were granted a night’s liberty that night so my friends and I made a made dash to the Enlisted Men’s Club and started cracking open the Budweisers about 5:30 that afternoon. Providing the entertainment that night would be an English covers band called The Tender Years, who played some good rock tunes that night. What I remember most is because they were playing to a bunch of US servicemen and women, they put up a large sign that read, “We don’t play Freebird.” Of course, that didn’t stop the crowd from shouting out for it. Anyway, one song they played was the title cut of this album which stuck in my head. Good song, I thought to myself. However, I never did anything about it until later on in the summer when I heard that song played again on the radio and while the female lead singer from The Tender Years sang it well, it wasn’t as nearly as good as the original.

Hearing it back then and hearing it again now, I have to disagree with Wikapedia’s labelling of the album as “pop.” I doubt it would have been considered that back then even though disco was in it’s final throes of death. If I put a label, it would have to be soft rock or progressive rock. In some of the songs, “Ma Me Oh Beach” comes to mind here, Joan’s Caribbean roots definitely poke their nose above ground and if listened to carefully, some other songs as well. What really grabbed me is the fantastic guitar solos laid down in the title track and in the more bluesy track, “Turn Out the Light.” The latter also is best for showcasing her vocal credentials. Then  I also love the electric piano at the intro. Hell, it’s the second best song on the album and a good one! “Friends” and “All the Way From America” also stand out on this album for me.

What I know now that I didn’t know then was the amazing array of musicians that assist in propelling Joan to her glory. Paul Shaffer from David Letterman fame plays keyboards on the album and Clarence Clemmons from Bruce Springsteen’s band does what he does best with the sax. But one further surprise, the drumming chores are carried out by none other than Anton Figg, who has played for KISS and later Ace Frehley. So with an ensemble like that behind her, no wonder this album is so good.

Track Listing:

1. Me, Myself, I

2. Ma Me Oh Beach

3. Friends

4. Is It Tomorrow Yet

5. Turn Out The Light

6. When You Kisses Me

7. All The Way From America

8. Feeling In My Heart For You

9. Simon

10. I Need You

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading- vocals, acoustic guitar

Chris Speddig- guitar

Hiram Bullock- guitar

Ricky Hirsh- guitar

Dan Fedderici- organ

Paul Shaffer- piano

Phillip St John- piano

Tim Sowell- synthesiser

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone

Will Lee- bass

Marcus Miller- bass

Anton Figg- drums

With her great voice and an assembly of masterful musicians, it’s no wonder this was the most successful of Joan Armatrading’s albums. It can stand along with many of the great rock albums of the time. I’m only surprised it didn’t do more to break down racial barriers at the time. Oh yes, back to that night in Rota. I drank enough Buds that I was dancing on the table when The Tender Years played “Smoke On the Water.”

Next post: The Fools- Heavy Mental

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 Rock One Hit Wonders of 1980

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by 80smetalman

Well, its that time in the year I’m reminiscing about to pay tribute to some of the one hit wonders from said year. While there are always a good number of them in any given year, there are only a handful worthy enough to make the blog. In 1980, there were three such acts.

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The first one and it’s in the literal sense in 1980 was Charlie Dore for her big single “Pilot of the Airways.” When I first heard it, I thought it was another one hit wonder group from the 70s, Prelude. I still love their a cappella version of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.” However, after the a cappella intro, music kicks in so I ruled out Prelude as the artist of the song. Even though the sound is more country, I found myself liking the song. Charlie does have a unique voice that goes well with the song and I have to admit that back then, most songs with a guitar solo in them were worth the listen. Still, it’s a well done to Charlie Dore for this one.

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“Media Man” by Flash in the Pan was a brilliant new wave type song. It has one of those catchy choruses that sticks in your mind after the song is finished. I can hear myself singing “clap Hands For The Media Man.” The song seems to be a warning of the dangers of mass media but done to a very likeable new wave vibe. Before I get a lot of rebuttal responses, I did notice other songs by this band when I looked it up on YouTube. However, I know nothing of any other material but would be happy to be enlightened. Besides, this song did cross the ocean because later on in the year, I saw it on a juke box in a café in Barcelona Spain.

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The first time I heard “Tired of Towing the Line” from Rocky Burnette, I thought it was Bruce Springsteen. The voice was similar and there was a saxophone in the song. Therefore, I was a bit surprised to hear that Rocky Burnette was the actual artist. Still it was this song that chipped away in the charts and always seemed to be on the radio every time I switched it on. In itself, it is a decent rock tune, so hats off to Rocky for this one.

So there you have it, three songs from people who would only grace the charts once but made what is for me, songs that would linger in my brain more than three decades later. So let’s raise a toast to the three rock one hit wonders of 1980.

Next post: Black Sabbath- Heaven and Hell

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.