Archive for Canada

The Song Behind the Story

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2022 by 80smetalman

First I like to thank Mike Ladano for publishing my story for his series “The Adventures of Tee-Bone Man and Superdekes” on his blog. My addition to the series is titled, “Tee-Bone Man and Superdekes’ Time Travelling Adventure” and is available to read by clicking the link: https://mikeladano.com/2022/10/05/the-adventures-of-tee-bone-man-chapter-8-tee-bone-dekes-time-travelling-adventure-by-80smetalman/

In the story, I mention a 1974 song by The Righteous Brothers called, “Rock and Roll Heaven” which I thought I would share here. Listen and enjoy.

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Rush- Hold Your Fire

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2022 by 80smetalman

My excuse of being in Britain at the time is why I am posting Rush’s 1987, “Hold Your Fire,” album for 1988. I didn’t hear about this album until 1988, although I might have heard about it sooner if I hadn’t lost touch with two UK friends who are big Rush fans. Oh, I see both of them on Facebook now and they will probably both put in their two penneth on this post.

Reading a little history, I am rather perplexed as to why some ‘critics’ said that synthesizers were overused. The two Rush albums previous to “Hold Your Fire” were more synth pop in my not so humble opinion. If anything, I think this album was made ten years too late. It would have been right at home among all the great progressive rock bands from the 1970s as I find this a great offering of some cool progressive rock. Okay, there aren’t the power chords of some of the more hard rock Rush albums but Alex’s guitar is plain to hear. He does some good riffs, take “Time Stand Still” for instance but the one thing which comes to my mind on “Time Stands Still” is Geddy Lee. We all know his singing and songwriting capabilities and many will praise his keyboards skills, I do. What only Rush fans realize is that Geddy plays bass and his skills on that instrument seemed to be forgotten. Not me, Geddy, nor any dedicated Rush fans but I do like his bass line on this track and on “Open Secrets.” Oh yes, I better mention that til Tuesday singer and bassist Aimee Mann lends her voice to the track and it works very well.

The entire album is one cool progressive rock jam. Even though the intro of the opener, “Force Ten,” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a metal album, the prog rock shines through and continues on. However, there is a standout track and that happens to be “Prime Mover.” The guitar on the intro is one of those which has me fist pumping the air. Hell, turn up the guitar and you have a great metal song. Again, Lee’s not talked about much bass playing is just as prominent on the song. Like so many Rush fans, I always knew he could lay down a cool bassline. Furthermore, the song has a catchy melody which sounds like typical Rush and Geddy unleashes his skills on the keyboards here. Now some of you are probably asking, “What about Neil?” Well, he does what he always does and pounds the skins very well. Though there are some interesting drum fills on “Prime Mover.”

If I had to pick a track which could be called ‘filler,’ it would have to be “Tai Shan.” It’s an attempt, Alex used that exact word in a 2012 interview with “Total Guitar” to experiment using classical Chinese music. He also called the song, ‘corny.’ I wouldn’t go that far and I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s just not as good as the other nine. Speaking of Alex, I just wish he soloed more on the album, that’s all. His only solos come on “Mission,” “Turn the Page” and the closer, “High Water.” The solos are quite good but it’s Neil’s drumming that really shines through on “Mission.

Track Listing:

  1. Force Ten
  2. Time Stands Still
  3. Open Secrets
  4. Second Nature
  5. Prime Mover
  6. Lock and Key
  7. Mission
  8. Turn the Page
  9. Tai Shan
  10. High Water
Rush

Geddy Lee- lead vocals, bass, synthesizer

Alex Liefson- guitar

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:

Aimee Mann- accompanying lead vocals on “Time Stand Still,” backing vocals on “Tai Shan,” “Primer Mover” and “Open Secrets”

Andy Richards- additional keyboards, synthesizer programming

I am with those in the cult status who regard “Hold Your Fire” with great esteem. I much prefer this to their previous two albums but like I said at the beginning, it might have been more accepted if it had come out ten years earlier.

Next post: Van Halen- OU812

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmal.com

To sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Glass Tiger- Diamond Sun

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2022 by 80smetalman

With “Diamond Sun” being the second album from Canadians, Glass Tiger, I had no pre-conceived notions about what the album should or shouldn’t sound like. After posting on their debut album, “The Thin Red Line,” I knew they weren’t a metal band but more of a pop-rock outfit. While that might have put me off in 1988, it doesn’t do so now and I appreciate what a good album “Diamond Sun” is.

It seems that with the first two tracks, Glass Tiger seemed to be copying U2 as that’s what those tracks remind of. Al Connelly’s riffs are similar to those of the The Edge on these tracks and if I didn’t know better, it could have been Bono singing on the tracks instead of Alan Frew. Now, I’m not condemning Glass Tiger for this influence because both of those songs are pretty good, it’s just my insane mind picking things like that up.

Glass Tiger do go more original on the third track, “I’m Still Searching,” which I have discovered went to number two in the Canadian charts. So, well done to them. Listening to the track, it is definitely a made for radio commercial rock song and it does have a catchy vibe to it. My only minor criticism is they should have let Al do a longer guitar solo. Right after, we come to the ballad, “A Lifetime of Moments.” I’m surprised that this one wasn’t released as a single because it’s also a radio friendly ballad. I do love the sax solo from guest musician, Earl Seymour.

They do rock things up a bit more of “It’s Love U Feel” and while the bassline is present for many of the songs, it is definitely the driving force behind the song. Full marks to Wayne Parker but while the tempo picks up and there are some good little guitar hooks, it reminds a little of Duran Duran, except for the cool guitar solo. The track “Send Your Love” is in a similar vein to this one and that included a cool guitar solo.

Full marks should also be given to the band for not being afraid to explore. On “My Song,” they get with Irish folk band, The Chieftains, and make a really nice sounding Gaelic rock tune. As for the hidden gem, it’s a no brainer, the power ballad, “(Watching) Worlds Crumble” wins it hands down. It’s great listening to Alan Frew croon his way through with power chords and a great solo from Al Connelly. The piano parts from Sam Reid bring an air of tenderness to the song before a cool drum fill from Michael Hanson lead the charge which takes the song out on a high. “Suffer in Silence” has a Stevie Nicks feel on the intro but other than that, nothing special and while “This Island Earth” is a good closer, it does go on a little too long.

Track Listing:

  1. Diamond Sun
  2. Far Away From Here
  3. I’m Still Searching
  4. A Lifetime of Moments
  5. It’s Love U Feel
  6. My Song
  7. (Watching) Worlds Crumble
  8. Send Your Love
  9. Suffer in Silence
  10. This Island Earth
Glass Tiger

Alan Frew- vocals

Al Connelly- guitar

Sam Reid- keyboards

Wayne Parker- bass

Michael Hanson- drums, additional guitars

Additional Musicians:

Dabello, Arnold Lanni, Sheree Jeacocke, Colina Phillips- backing vocals

Keith Scott- additional guitar

Jim Vallance- additional drums and keyboards

Rene Worst- additional fretless bass

Earl Seymour- saxophone

Full credit where due, Glass Tiger was a very talented band and it shows on this album. I might have passed this one by back in 1988, especially as it was unheard of in the UK but I can appreciate it now.

Next post: The Bangles- Everything

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to have Bruce Dickinson knighted, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Honeymoon Suite- Racing After Midnight

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2022 by 80smetalman

Now that my other writing obligations have been fulfilled, I can get back to the task of posting on here. BTW, has anyone bought the download to the wrestling match I wrote the script for? Further shameless plug alert: You will be reading my contribution to “The Tales of Tee-Bone Man and Superdekes” on one of Mike’s future posts. I got to satisfy my delusions of grandeur on that one. I know in reality that I’m not the foremost rock historian.

Now onto the next album, “Racing After Midnight” from Canadian rockers, Honeymoon Suite. After listening to the album, I have decided to declare that Honeymoon Suite is the best Canadian artist not to have cracked Great Britain. Most British people I know haven’t heard of these guys, while many of them have heard of my favourite Canadian band, Killer Dwarfs, who Canadians say is an even more obscure band. I might have had a little to do with that. Anyway, the shameful part about this is that Honeymoon Suite are a great band and had they been around a few years earlier, they might have made an impact in the UK.

Honeymoon Suite have been labelled glam metal or pop metal by the so-called officiandoes, however, I think they go a little harder rock on “Racing After Midnight.” While there is the keyboards on it and I can see why some have sung the praises of Rob Preuss on the album, I think overall this album is truly hard rock. The keyboards don’t overshadow which was a main thing done back then. Then when you have such a great guitarist as Derry Grehan, you don’t really want to drown out his riffs. This album confirms why Derry is one of my guitarists in my band of the most underrated musicians. He just wails away throughout the album, especially on “Love Forever.”

Derry Grehan- guitar

One major surprise from listening to the album and reading the credits is that Michael McDonald contributes to the song writing and provides backing vocals. For Michael, this is sort of a departure from his soul influenced vocal style and is more known for singing ballads. However, this song rocks quite a lot. It’s the middle of the album where things really get rocking although I won’t take anything away from I guess was the intended single, “Cold Look,” which definitely sounds made for radio. Unfortunately, either it didn’t get enough airplay or the fickle public didn’t take notice of it. “Love Forever,” “Other Side of Midnight” and “Love Changes Everything” are all good rockers and the best tracks on the album. It just sounds like the band just totally comes together on these three tracks. Johnnie Dee’s vocals sound great, the rhythm section is particularly tight, good keyboards support from Rob and of course there’s Derry. Yes, I’m a fan.

Honeymoon Suite have always been capable of a good power ballad or two and they don’t disappoint with “It’s Over Now.” It’s a good one which ticks all the boxes in that category. But they do go back to rocking with “Fast Company” and “Tears on the Page,” which has a 38 Special feel to it. Yet another surprise comes with the closer. While I never listened to the soundtrack of any of the “Lethal Weapon” movies, it still comes as a surprise to learn that the closing track on this album appears on the soundtrack. Still, it’s the best way to close out the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Looking Our For Number One
  2. Long Way Back
  3. Cold Look
  4. Love Forever
  5. Other Side of Midnight
  6. Love Changes Everything
  7. It’s Over Now
  8. Love Forever
  9. Tears on the Page
  10. Lethal Weapon
Honeymoon Suite

Johnnie Dee- vocals

Dermot ‘Derry’ Grehan- guitar

Rob Preuss- keyboards

Gary Lalonde- bass

Dave Betts- drums

Additional Musicians:

Michael McDonald- backing vocals on “Long Way Back”

Ted Templeman and Bobby LaKind- percussion

“Racing After Midnight” is a great album from an underrated band. Saying that, there seems to be a link between me liking an album and it being a commercial flop. Anyway, this album does rock!

Next post: Glass Tiger- Diamond Sun

To Buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To give Bruce Dickinson a well deserved knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Helix- Wild in the Streets

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2022 by 80smetalman

In 1987, Helix came out with “Wild in the Streets,” which, judging from what I’ve read, didn’t do too well for the band. It did go Gold in Canada but barely charted in the US. Being in England, I didn’t know this album even existed until recently and only heard of it thanks to my Canadian readers. Still, whatever the history or so-called critics say, I think the album was pretty good.

An AC/DC vibe opens the album with the title cut. The guitars remind me of “For Those About to Rock, We Salute” and the opening vocal salvo from Brian Volmer does sound a little like Brian Johnson. Still the track gives the album a promising start. This is quickly followed by the boogie woogie sounding “Never Gonna Stop the Rock.” The song has an unmissable swagger to it which makes you want to bob along to it and some good guitar solos as well.

Oh what a great power ballad “Dream On” could have been! Not to be confused with the Aerosmith classic, this song was originally recorded by 1970s Scottish legends, Nazareth. Being a sucker for a great power ballad, Helix’s “Dream On” had great potential but unfortunately, the production doesn’t seem to be up to scratch as compared to the rest of the album. Shame, because everything needed to be a great power ballad is there. Acoustic guitars backed up by piano chops before the power chords kick in. Brian’s vocals sound extremely passionate and there’s a killer guitar solo. It’s just too bad the production is off putting.

Don’t worry, Helix get back to rocking out with “What Ya Bringing to the Party.” My answer is a couple of six packs and a bottle of Jack but this is a great party tune. One for sticking into the car stereo and going for a cruise on a Saturday night. But the party doesn’t end because right after comes my favourite track on the album, “High Voltage Kicks.” I’m not quite sure what high voltage kicks are but what I do know is that this track totally kicks ass. It starts out as a Southern blues number with some cool intricate guitar licks before the song goes total rock out. Even with the faster pace of the song, the backing vocals stay melodic. It’s the fastest song on the album.

Things continue to rock on “Give ‘Em Hell,” another great rocking song with some cool guitar riffs and brilliant solo. It’s proof of how good Helix are when they just let loose and go for it. “Shot Full of Love” is also a fast paced song and though it sounds like it’s all over the place at times, it comes together and makes a good song. It definitely has the best guitar solo on the album.

Now you would think a song called “Love Hungry Eyes” would be another power ballad but comes nowhere close to that! It’s a mid-paced song while not spectacular, keeps the album ticking over nicely. Then we come to the penultimate track, “She’s Too Tough.” This song was written by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot and was meant to be on their “Hysteria” album but instead, it went to Helix and they do a good job on it. I do love the guitar riffs on the intro. However, with the benefit of historical hindsight, if Def Leppard’s intended version of the song was anything like what Helix do here, then it would have been too hard rock for “Hysteria.” Helix close out the album with a song which seems to incorporate everything they’ve done on the rest of the album. It has a progressive intro and there’s that blues party swagger to it and some great guitar work and drum fills. It’s a great way to end the album, even without the cheesy explosion at the very end.

Track Listing:

  1. Wild in the Streets
  2. Never Gonna Stop the Rock
  3. Dream On
  4. What Ya Bringing to the Party
  5. High Voltage Kicks
  6. Give ‘Em Hell
  7. Shot Full of Love
  8. Love Hungry Eyes
  9. She’s Too Tough
  10. Kiss It Goodbye
Helix and their friends

Brian Volmer- lead vocals

Brent ‘Doctor’ Doener- guitar, backing vocals

Paul Hackman- guitar, backing vocal

Daryl Gray- bass, keyboards, piano, backing vocals

Greg ‘Fritz’ Hinz- drums, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

Don Airey, Sam Reid- additional keyboards

Mickey Curry, Brian Doener, Matthew Fernette- additional drums

My theory is that on “Wild in the Streets,” Helix tried to be all things to all people and while the album sounds great, it didn’t work out for them commercially. Capitol Records would drop them from the label after this, which was a shame but the sign of the times of how one commercially unsuccessful album could be the death knell for a band.

Next post: Great White- Once Bitten

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Great Rock Albums of 1987: Glass Tiger- The Thin Red Line

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2022 by 80smetalman

Glass Tiger was a band I had heard of back in the day but never got around listening to them. When I first heard the name, I thought they were going to be a glam metal band and looking at pictures of the band cemented that belief in my eyes. However, when I finally got to listen to the debut album, “The Thin Red Line,” I quickly discovered that Glass Tiger was indeed not a heavy metal band! If anything, I should have paid more attention to the genre labels on the websites I do my research on. They list the band as pop rock or light AOR and I can agree wholeheartedly with that.

This begs the question: Is the album terrible? Admittedly, if I had heard this album back in 1987, I would have never wanted to listen to it again. This is because I was totally into my metal, (not that I’m not these days), but this album would be too commercial for my liking back then. Fortunately, I am much older and wiser (pause for laughter) and am able to approach “The Thin Red Line” with a much more open mind.

Here’s the real shocker. The album starts with the title cut and the intro sounds like we’re going to be treated to some good Dio like metal. I waited for the crunching guitars to kick in but instead we get heavy synthesizers. Even with my open mind, it’s a bit of a let down. Saying that, one cannot fault the keyboard skills of Sam Reid. He leaves his trademark on every song of the album and fair dues, he doesn’t play in a bubblegum synth pop fashion which was so popular at the time. I really appreciate his skills on “Closer to You.”

Being the metalhead I am, I always have an ear out for the guitar and unlike so many synth pop bands of the era, Al Connelly’s guitar isn’t smothered in the mix. I accept the fact that he’s not crunching the power chords on each and every song but it works here. He lays down his first solo on “Closer to You” and his lead guitar intro combined with the backing keyboards of Sam, creates a haunting effect on “Looking at a Picture.” It took me several listens to realize this but the combination works well on this particular track. In fact, let me say that all five players in the band are very talented. Alan Frew is a good singer and there are some cool bass lines from Wayne Parker and Michael Hanson is a more than capable drummer.

Of course, there has to be one track which I prefer over the rest and in this case, it’s “Ecstasy.” This is the closest Glass Tiger comes to being hard rock and you get to hear more of Al’s guitar on it. Plus, he lays down a rather cool solo. “Ancient Evenings” does come second but not a very close one. The best way to describe “The Thin Red Line” is that they are Marillion, Mr. Mister and Duran Duran all rolled into one. I hear a little of all three throughout the album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Thin Red Line
  2. Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)
  3. Closer to You
  4. Vanishing Tribe
  5. Looking at the Picture
  6. The Secret
  7. Ancient Evenings
  8. Ecstasy
  9. Someday
  10. I Will Be There
  11. You’re What I Look For
Glass Tiger

Alan Frew- vocals

Al Connelly- guitar

Sam Reid- keyboards

Wayne Parker- bass

Michael Hanson- drums

Additional Musicians:

Jim Vallence- additional keyboards, backing vocals

Mark Lafrance, Paul Janz, Dalbello and Sharon Lee Williams- backing vocals

Bryan Adams- backing vocals on “Don’t Forget Me” and “I Will Be There”

Keith Scott- additional guitar

Doug Edwards- additional bass on “Don’t Forget Me”

David Pickell- harmonica

Chase Sanborn, Charles Gray, Russ Little- horns

I have to admit, the album has grown on me. It took a few listens but it has. It could because my musical tastes have gone a little more melodic in my advancing years, though I still enjoy a good thrashing mosh like with Agnostic Front.

Next post: Alice Cooper- Raise Your Fist and Yell

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Anvil- Strength of Steel

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2022 by 80smetalman

First, let me award Anvil’s “Strength of Steel” album the 80smetalman Award for “Best album of 1987 to have escaped my attention.” That’s where the paradox begins. In “Anvil, The Story of Anvil” documentary about the band, Lips laments that most fans only know of their first three albums, “Hard and Heavy,” “Metal on Metal” and “Forged in Fire” and don’t know about the albums they had released since. One of those mentioned was this album. However, while it did escape my attention at the time, “Strength of Steel” was the only Anvil album to chart in the US, hitting 191. Therefore, I must conclude that while the album is now a distant memory, it must have been fairly big at the time.

“Strength of Steel” opens with the title cut which opens with some foreboding bass and drums before the guitars come crashing down. What it does is let you know that Anvil hadn’t gone anywhere as it marks the band’s return to playing some serious metal. On my first couple of listens, I was about to confine the second track, “Concrete Jungle” to the filler heap. However, after subsequent listens, I should slap myself for even thinking of doing that. Robb Reiner’s drums open the track which is then accented by some intricate guitar work from Lipps. He lays down a nice solo and when it reaches its climax, is accompanied by some cool rhythm guitar licks. I also like how the entire band comes together to take the song out.

Robb’s drums and Lipps and Dave Allison’s guitars bring in “9-2-5” on an absolute high. Everyone can identify with a song about the daily working grind but when it’s done with a cool guitar solo, it makes it even better. Guitars introduce “I Dreamed of the End of the World” and boy does this song rock. I have decided that if I am around when the world is about to end, then this is the track I’m going to be listening to when it does. If the world hasn’t quite ended by the time the song is finished, the guitar swirling instrumental, “The Flight of the Bumble Beast” can take it the rest of the way. This could be a thrash song at that speed but the guitar solo keeps right along with it.

Here’s my one constructive criticism of the album. Songs about the working grind should be immediately followed by a party song. “Cut Loose” is about just going out and letting your hair down and with the intensity the song is at, plus the killer guitar solo, it’s my track of the album. However, it would have been better placed if it followed on right after “9-2-5.” No real biggie because it sets up the charge which is the second half of the album. “Mad Dog” leads the charge with it’s crunching guitars but the star of this track is the bass of Ian Dickson. It’s his bassline which keeps things together while the others go off on wild tangents. I do find Lipp’s little snigger at the end of the song quite amusing.

“Straight Between the Eyes” moves the heavy metal party along nicely. Loud, hard and angry, it just fits in well with the rest of the album. “Wild Eyes” is a cover of a song by The Stampeders but Anvil put their own unique spin on it and it sounds brilliant. You can’t miss Lipps’s unmistakable vocals on this one and of course, there are those angry guitars punctuated by a great guitar solo where Lipps just goes nuts and the rest of the band keep up with him really well. Then they sound like they want to go prog-metal on the intro of “Kiss of Death.” Actually, as the song gets into gear, this is more a doom metal track. The depressing sounding vocals and slow pounding guitars stress this point. Here’s my second constructive criticism of the album, this would have made a better closer than “Paper Generals.” Don’t get me wrong, “Paper Generals” is a cool track with its anti-war lyrics and if “Kiss of Death” wasn’t on the album, then it would have made the closer but I just feel the tracks should have been swapped. That would have made a great album even greater.

Track Listing:

  1. Strength of Steel
  2. Concrete Jungle
  3. 9-2-5
  4. I Dreamed of the End of the World
  5. The Flight of the Bumble Beast
  6. Cut Loose
  7. Mad Dog
  8. Straight Between the Eyes
  9. Wild Eyes
  10. Kiss of Death
  11. Paper Generals
Anvil

Steve ‘Lipps’ Kudrow- lead guitar, vocals

Dave Allison- guitar, second vocal on “Straight Between the Eyes”

Ian Dickson- bass

Robb Reiner- drums

Lips and Roberson going for it. Anvil playing in Gloucester, UK 2016

I am pretty certain that Anvil didn’t play any songs from this album when I saw them in 2016. If I had heard “Strength of Steel” before I had seen them, I would have screamed to play tracks from it. After all, when I called for them to play “Forged in Fire,” they obliged me.

Next post: KISS- Crazy Nights

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition for a knighthood for Bruce Dicksinson, (to my non- British readers, it will count if you sign it) click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Lee Aaron

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2021 by 80smetalman

When I learned that Lee Aaron had come out with a new album in 1987, I awaited it with full optimism. It was my sister who broke the news when she sent me a couple of tracks from her self-titled album. She lamented, “Lee, Lee, what are you dong?” She went onto say that Lee had ‘wimped out’ and added keyboards to her music. When I heard the two tracks on the tape, the first two, “Powerline” and “Hands Are Tied,” I had to agree with Dawn. The keyboards were a little too much for this metalhead back in 1987.

But what about now? And is the album that bad? The answer to the first question is the way the keys were used on the album makes it sound a bit dated. As to the second question, the album is not that bad. While there are keyboards all over the album, there are still rocking moments on it. In fact, what saves the album for me is the guitar work of the very underrated guitarist, John Albani. With his guitar hooks and cool solos, none of the songs suck.

Lee with John Albani

It is true with the opening track, I agreed with my sister but the second track sounded much better and gave me hope for the rest of the album. Coming after, “Only Human” has a strong bass line and a very interesting choir sounding chorus. Lee’s vocals are especially good on this track, not that I expected any less. She was a good a singer as anyone and even today, could sing Kylie Minogue under the table. The next few tracks remind me of her previous album, “Call of the Wild,” which is not a bad thing. You get Lee’s amazing voice leading the way backed up with more great guitar work from John. The keyboards are there but not dominating and because for some reason, I am now able to tune into the bass line more on albums and Chris Brockaway does a superb job on this one.

The track “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is a bit of a paradox for me. It sounds rather 80s synth pop but there is something about it that makes me like it. Then we come to one of the hardest rock songs on the album, “Goin’ Off the Deep End.” This is the track that has me headbanging away to it, even with the keyboard fills. John’s guitar hooks and subsequent solo make this song the rocker that it is. Continuing the one-two-three punch comes the power ballad, “If This is Love.” I never had any doubt that Lee couldn’t deliver a great ballad and this is one if I had had the fortune to have seen her live, the cigarette lighter would have be held high in the air. The final blow is struck with what I think is the hardest song on the album, “Eye for an Eye.” If it wasn’t for the keyboards on the chorus, it would have taken me back to the great album which is “Metal Queen.” Some good guitar riffs on this one as well as the harmony vocals on the choruses.

“Heartbeat of the World” is a great rocking song as well and John plays his best solos on this track, maybe I was a bit premature in picking my favourite track as this one is just as good as “Eye for an Eye.” On the other hand, “Dream With Me” could only be the closer and it’s an all right one. It would feel out of place anywhere else on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Powerline
  2. Hands Are Tied
  3. Only Human
  4. Empty Heart
  5. Number One
  6. Don’t Rain on My Parade
  7. Goin’ Off the Deep End
  8. If This is Love
  9. Eye for An Eye
  10. Heartbeat of the World
  11. Dream With Me
Lee Aaron

Lee Aaron- vocals

John Albani- guitar, backing vocals

Jim Geicer- keyboards, backing vocals

Chris Brockaway- bass, backing vocals

Randy Cooke- drums, percussion

David Roberts- backing vocals, (tracks 3 and 5)

I ask myself, have I been too hard on Lee for this album? After all, her vocals are as good as ever. My theory is that her record label was so focused on commercial success that they softened her sound a little too much. This album is pretty good but it didn’t make me want to stop listening to “Metal Queen” back then and it doesn’t now.

Next post: Merry Christmas

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Sacrifice- Forward to Termination

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2021 by 80smetalman

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when I discovered Briar in 1987 but it wasn’t the case for Canadian thrash band Sacrifice in the same year. To my regret, this band and their second album, “Forward to Termination” totally passed me by. It was mostly down to the fact that I was already established in the UK and while there were so many great thrash bands coming out of the US and UK at the time, like in many instances, Canadian bands seemed to get ignored. Listening to this album, I think this is something that needs to be addressed.

Let’s get right to the point, when I listened to the album, I wasn’t thinking that this was some great new strain of unique thrash but what they do on the album is done very well. I hear influences of both of two of my favourite bands, the Stormtroopers of Death and Suicidal Tendencies in the music of Sacrifice. The album begins with riffs associated with ST but goes straight into some hard core frenzied thrash reminiscent of S.O.D., especially the way the opening title track, which is an instrumental, goes right into the next one. In fact, the first three songs are one massive thrash affair where the band show case their talents. We get a solid rhythm section but unfortunately, there is no indication as to which guitarist plays the solos on the songs. Whoever does so on “Reanimation” rips a really cool solo. My only minor concern is the vocals of Rob Urbanati. When he sings straight up thrash, he sounds okay but when he tries to go for the high notes, there are times when he sounds like a cat being strangled. Maybe that was the intention.

After the opening three tracks comes my vote for song of the album, “Afterlife.” This is the cleanest sounding track and everything is not only done right but to perfection and the influences of the two S bands come through. While I don’t know for sure, I think the two guitarists do a solo trade off on the track and it sounds good. The slow down parts are only there to let you catch your breath before the manic thrash bombards your ear drums into submission. Also Rob lays off the falsetto attempts making his vocals sound that much better.

Following after is the seven minute long “Flames of Armageddon.” I like the way this track goes back and forth between hardcore thrash and more mainstream metal. While the solo is cool, it could have been a little longer, I think the rhythm guitar is truly fantastic on the song. What is also good about “Flames of “Armageddon” is that in spite of the length, it does not get repetitive as there are constant changes in tempo with vocals and guitar solos and a foreboding, impeding doom bass line from Scott Watts. It’s another great track.

Some cool guitar riffs start the second half of the album on “The Entity” and that sets the stage for the remainder of the album. What you get is Sacrifice honing in their craft, which pays dividends. More cool song opening riffs, great rhythm work, including the guitars and some cool guitar solos. If I went through each of these songs, I would simply be repeating myself for the most part. There is an interesting rhythm guitar part before the solo trade off on “Forever Enslaved” and the intro on “Cyanide” reminds me of the S’O.D. classic, “The Pre-menstrual Princess Blues.” Plus there is some more rhythm and lead guitar work on it but when Rob screams the song title, there is more of the strangled cat. They do change things up on the intro of “Light of the End” where you get a short but definitely to the point guitar solo before going nuclear. Then the album goes out in a mad thrash rage that is “Pyrokinesis.”

Track Listing:

  1. Forward to Termination
  2. Terror Strikes
  3. Reanimated
  4. Afterlife
  5. Flames of Armageddon
  6. The Entity
  7. Forever Enslaved
  8. Cyanide
  9. Light of the End
  10. Pyrokinesis
Sacrifice

Rob Urbinati- vocals, guitar

Joe Rico- guitar

Gus Pynn- drums

Scott Watts- bass

Honestly, I wish I had heard “Forward to Termination” back in 1987, I would have been seeking mosh pits. But they say better late than never and even my 60 year old ass can fully appreciate the pure thrash of Sacrifice and state that Canadian bands should have been shown more respect.

Next post: Destruction- Mad Butcher

To buy Rock And Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Sword- Metalized

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2020 by 80smetalman

Touring with Motorhead on their “Orgasmatron” tour in 1986, in the UK, was a little known band from Canada called “Sword.” Unfortunately, I didn’t see this great gig, but I wish I had. No use crying over spilt milk, I suppose. However, Sword’s support of Motorhead did get them some notice, enough that their single from their debut “Metalized” album got played at metal clubs in London. That song was “Stoned Again.”

I can see why it was released as a single. The catchy chorus with lyrics which probably caught the attention of the PMRC in the US definitely got my attention. In the late Autumn of 86, I found myself singing to myself, “God damn stoned again,” quite a lot. But it just wasn’t the amusing chorus, the guitar riff is one that has you banging your head away to it and there is a cool bass line at the intro and of course a cool guitar solo.

Insert tired cliche: one song doesn’t make an album and I can say that the rest of “Metalized” pulls its weight in support of the single. It starts with the opener, “F.T.W.” These days, some might say that the opening riffs to it are typical but back then, I loved those riffs. In fact, I still do!

Whoever wrote about this album on Wikipedia stated that the album explores the many subgenres of metal. Of course, back in 86, those subgenres were starting to emerge, so I didn’t really notice it. I still don’t really notice them now. True, the track, “Outta Control,” is a very fast speed metal song but I don’t think it’s enough to say that Sword were experimenting with thrash metal on it. While it makes me want to bang my head faster while I’m listening to it, it doesn’t have me searching for a mosh pit either. Besides, the following track, “The End of the Night,” is almost as fast. It does have some heavier chords and a great bass line.

What is good but a little frustrating about “Metalized” is the fact that the nine tracks apart from “Stoned Again,” are so good, that I find it nigh impossible to find the hidden gem. Many of the songs have something that makes them stand out, like the strong bass line or in the case of “Runaway,” a ear catching lead guitar intro and cool guitar solo in the middle. Listening to that track, that is nearly thrash as well, which makes me wonder why the writer on Wikipedia singled out “Outta Control” as the thrash song.

Apart from the small differences between the songs, they all have several things which in common which unite them. All songs have great power chords, cool guitar solos and great vocals. However, what stands out for me here is the bass playing Mike Larock. It really impresses me and while I wonder why Sword weren’t a more household name in the metal world outside The Great White North, I also wonder why Mike isn’t mentioned more among great bassists like Sheehan, Anthony, Burton, Lemmy and so on. (Feel free to add to this list.)

Track Listing:

  1. F.T.W.
  2. Children of Heaven
  3. Stoned Again
  4. Dare to Spit
  5. Outta Control
  6. The End of the Night
  7. Runaway
  8. Where to Hide
  9. Stuck in Rock
  10. Evil Spell
Sword

Rick Hughes- vocals, keyboards

Mike Plant- guitar, keyboards

Mike Larock- bass

Dan Hughes- drums

Listening to the debut album from Sword reinforces my belief that Canadian bands don’t get the respect they deserve. “Metalized” is a great album and I think that Sword should have been a household name beyond just 1986.

Next post: Saxon- Rock the Nations

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com