Archive for Fridays

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Jefferson Starship- Modern Times

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by 80smetalman

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When Jefferson Starship released their previous album, “Freedom At Point Zero,” Rolling Stone magazine commented that they had become just another heavy metal band. We all know that any one who has heard that album can deduce that the person from Rolling Stone who said it obviously has no understanding what heavy metal is but that’s beside the point. In response to that statement, Paul Kantner, wrote back saying, “Fuck You, We Do What We Want.” Those words became immortalised on the closing track of this album “Modern Times.”

It was a wise thing to let Jefferson Starship do what they wanted for this album follows on nicely from the last one. While not heavy metal, there is a great deal of hard rock on the album to be loved. The first two tracks, “Find Your Way Back” and “The Stranger” were both singles for the band but in no way are either of these songs pop. Probably why the highest they charted was the former of the two, which peaked at 29. “Wild Eyes” is a typical Jefferson Starship rocker and the last track on side one (I only bought cassettes at this time), “Save Your Love,” Craig Chaquico demonstrates why I rant on about his guitar playing so much. Side two gives us three shorter in length powerful rockers. The opening riffs of “Mary” have stuck in my mind for over thirty years now the way that familiar riff of “Smoke On the Water” has. The fourth song, “Alien,” goes a little more on the progressive side and some say that it’s a little way out there. Then comes the closer, “Stairway to Cleveland.” “While not a piss take of the Led Zeppelin classic, the reason why Jefferson Starship gave that title to the song was because they thought that Cleveland was the direct opposite of heaven at the time. I knew a few guys from Cleveland back then and they wouldn’t debate them on that. The song also makes good digs at politics and some of the institutions of the time as well as Rolling Stone.

One of the hypes behind the release of “Modern Times” was it marked the return of Grace Slick to the band. Not particularly true. She does sing backing vocals on most songs and lead on “Alien” and as a duet with Mickey Thomas on “The Stranger.” That’s one reason the song is so good. Of course, you can never fault the musicianship of this band on any album and definitely not here. Chaquico shines with his guitar throughout with Paul Kantner laying down the reliable rhythm for him. Pete Sears does his normal keyboard wizardry and Aynsely Dunbar shows why he was considered a brilliant drummer back then.

Grace Slick

Grace Slick

Track Listing:

1. Find Your Way Back

2. The Stranger

3. Wild Eyes

4. Save Your Love

5. Modern Times

6. Mary

7. Free

8. Alien

9. Stairway to Cleveland

Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

David Freiberg- piano, organ, synthesiser, bass, vocals

Pete Sears- bass, piano, synthesiser, moog

Aynsley Dunbar- drums, percussion

Grace Slick- vocals

There was one time back in 1981 when I didn’t watch Fridays solely to see Melanie Chartof. I watched because Jefferson Starship was appearing on it that night. They were my favourite band back then and the “Modern Times” album reminds me why.

Next post: Jim Steinman- Bad For Good

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

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Great Rock Albums of 1981: Franke And The Knockouts

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Franke and the Knockouts were originally going to be placed in my selection of One Hit Wonders for 1981 because all I can remember about them was their one song “You’re My Girl” being played on the radio at the time and watching them perform the song on the ABC late night comedy show “Fridays.” For those who don’t remember “Fridays,” it was ABC’s attempt to match the very successful “Saturday Night Live” on NBC. It was roughly done in the same format and although it ran for a couple of years, “Fridays” couldn’t hold a candle to “Saturday Night Live” even after the departure of all the original greats like Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. One thing I could say I liked about “Fridays” however was Melanie Chartof. She did stir my red blooded maleness and was the main reason I watched the show in the first place.

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Melanie Chartof

Melanie Chartof

So you’re probably asking, “What’s all this got to do with the album by Franke and the Knockouts?” Let me get back on track here. After doing a tiny bit of research, I discovered that they weren’t one hit wonders. I never knew it was them who performed “Hungry Eyes” and I can’t even blame my naivety on being in the service. Must have been asleep on that one. Still, the debut, self titled album from Franke and the Knockouts is more of a progressive AOR sound that fit right in about that time. The first three tracks give a definite feel that this album is heading down the AOR path. The single “You’re My Girl” marks a slight turning point for the songs get a bit more rockier after that. Not a total rock out but you can hear more of the guitar on those songs. That brings me to another point and my obsession for guitarists. From what little I hear from Billy Elworthy on the album, I hear that this is potentially a great guitarist. Unfortunately, he isn’t given the time to show what he can really do and that’s a bit of a let down for me.

Track Listing:

1. Come Back

2. Sweetheart

3. She’s a Runner

4. You’re My Girl

5. One For All

6. Tonight

7. Running Into The Night

8. Tell Me Why

9. Annie Goes Hollywood

10 Don’t Stop

Franke And The Knockouts

Franke And The Knockouts

Franke Previte- lead vocals

Billy Elworthy- guitars

Blake Levinsohn- keyboards

Leigh Fox- bass

Claude LeHanaff- drums

Tommy Ayers- synthesiser, organ, backing vocals

I have to confess, I always thought the name Franke and The Knockouts reminded of a doo-wap band from the late 50s or early 60s. These guys are nothing like that. Instead, they bring a good fusion of progressive rock that can be enjoyed and is probably the reason a later hit would be often used in films.

Next post: Jefferson Starship- Modern Times

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