Archive for Guitarists

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Van Halen- 1984

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

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

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

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

220px-bark_at_the_moon

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

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

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

Jake E Lee

Jake E Lee

Track Listing:

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

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne- lead vocals

Jake E Lee- guitar, backing vocals

Bob Daisley- bass, backing vocals

Don Airey- keyboards

Tommy Aldridge- drums

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

Next post: Billy Idol- Rebel Yell

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Dokken- Breaking the Chains

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

dokken_-_breaking_the_chains

Before I get lynched for stating that the 1983, “Breaking the Chains” album was Dokken’s debut album, I will be the first to point out that this album was released in Europe two years earlier. I didn’t discover this fact until 1986 when I went over to the Continent. Therefore, like many Americans, I assumed that the 1983 effort was their debut. However, for parity, I will make it a point to listen to the earlier version and take notes on any differences.

Even when this album did come to my attention, I didn’t go out and buy it straight away. Reason being was that my friend and heavy metal officianado, Frank Formica, had seen them live supporting Aldo Nova and Blue Oyster Cult and fed back that he wasn’t impressed. He stated that it was like watching a puppet show in regards to how they moved on stage and that only about thirty people were getting into them. This meant that I gave “Breaking a Chains” a miss and didn’t actually listen to it until after their third album.

Now I would like to say that the debut album was a blinder of an album and I was a fool for not picking it up in 1983. I’m afraid I am cemented in the belief that their next two albums after were strides better. However, you have to start somewhere and “Breaking the Chains” was a good a springboard as any. There are some decent songs on here, my favourite being the title cut, which would still be a strong track if it had appeared on one of the later albums. Other stand out tracks for me are “Felony,” “Live to Rock, (Rock to Live),” “Nightrider” and “Stick to Your Guns.” In addition, “In the Middle” has been growing on me recently. But one thing I can say about most of the tracks here is that guitarist George Lynch is already showing his magic on the six string and this, like the later albums, would continue to improve with age.

Track Listing:

  1. Breaking the Chains
  2. In the Middle
  3. Felony
  4. I Can’t See You
  5. Live to Rock, (Rock to Live)
  6. Nightrider
  7. Seven Thunders
  8. Young Girls
  9. Stick to Your Guns
  10. Paris is Burning
Dokken

Dokken

I couldn't find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I've included a solo shot.

I couldn’t find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I’ve included a solo shot.

Don Dokken- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

George Lynch- lead guitar

Juan Crocier- bass, backing vocals

Wild Mick Brown- drums

As any metal historian worth his salt can tell you, Juan Crocier would leave the band and go to newer pastures. No prizes for guessing which band he would end up with. While I like the album, the lack of commercial success of “Breaking the Chains” had the band Elektra label considering dropping them. While history would go on to prove that the decision to give them another chance was the right one, we nearly lost them after one album and we would have been denied the better ones.

Next post: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Virgin Steele- Guardians of the Flame

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-virgin_steele_guardians_of_the_flame

Virgin Steele’s 1982 debut album might have passed me by, (I blame being in the service at the time), but their second album, “Guardians of the Flame,” didn’t. I have a friend of my sister’s to thank for that because she was a big Virgin Steele fan. It was this album that she played on cassette in her car one day and the rest was history.

What hooked me straight away is that my all time favourite Virgin Steele song is the opener on “Guardians of the Flame.” “Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight” is one of those with a fast catchy beat that hooks you immediately. One can’t helped to headbang away to this tune. It is helped by the guitar work of Jack Starr, then the entire album is as well, and the rhythm section sounds the tightest on this song. What’s best is that lead singer, David DeFeis doesn’t try so much to be Joe Cool metal singer on it. His vocals are good enough but his attempts at high screams have always been off putting for me. He doesn’t do that on “Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight.”

DeFeis does those things on the next two tracks but fortunately, Starr’s guitar work cancels out the screams and makes those songs enjoyable. Maybe he gets the hint by track four because he doesn’t scream on “The Redeemer” making it a strong, powerful track. I sense a little Black Sabbath influence here and done well. The song is seven minutes long but a lot of that is Jack laying down the jams, so it’s a very enjoyable track.

Following a brief instrumental is the title cut. It begins like any other straight forward Virgin Steele metal tune but then in the middle, it goes totally progressive rock. I mean that when I listen to this part, I could be listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. However, it works with the second longest song on the album, just shy of seven minutes. You got to give them credit for having the balls to stretch out a bit here and credit where do for pulling it off. Again, Jack Starr has an influence on it too.

Things go back to more power metal after that with three really strong metal tracks. Then the album closes with the ballad like, “A Cry in the Night.” Using a ballad as a closer is always risky but there is a great guitar solo towards the end that helps to take the song out in very good way and has me making mental notes to listen to it again.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Say Goodbye Tonight
  2. Burn the Sun
  3. Life of Crime
  4. The Redeemer
  5. Birth Through Fire
  6. Guardians of the Flame
  7. Metal City
  8. Hell or High Water
  9. Go All the Way
  10. A Cry in the Night
Virgin Steele

Virgin Steele

David DeFies- vocals, keyboards

Jack Starr- guitar

Joe O’Reilly- bass

Joey Avazian- drums

I was impressed by the second album from Virgin Steele, “Guardians of the Flame” and I would seek out their later material. So what I ask myself is why I never got their debut album. If any of you can shed light on whether I’ve committed a travesty or had a lucky escape by not listening to it, I would be very grateful.

Next post: Waysted- Vices

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

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Fastway

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-fastwaylp

Fastway first came to my attention in 1983, when I discovered they were supporting AC/DC on their “Flick of the Switch” tour. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to that concert, I was in between jobs at the time and had been to see the mighty Black Sabbath with Quiet Riot the week before, so I couldn’t afford to go. Shame because I would have to wait another two years before I saw AC/DC live and although, they had a great support act then, (Yngwie Malmsteen), it would have been nice to see Fastway as well. Besides, it’s not greedy wanting to see AC/DC twice in your lifetime.

Their debut album is one reason I wished I could have seen Fastway live. In a past post, I used the phrase rockabilly. No, Fastway aren’t that, instead I would upgrade their sound from this to metalabilly. There, I just invented a new word, I think. Their is a catchy country type vibe with some of the songs but that vibe is enhanced by some great hard crunching guitars. Then again, the guitarist is none other than Fast Eddie Clarke from Motorhead fame. The best example of this is on the track, “All I Need is Your Love.” It is definitely metalabilly, (I’m going to try to use that word as much as possible in this post), but Clarke does hammer out a good guitar solo.

For the most part, there isn’t much I can say about the debut album from Fastway that hasn’t probably been said before or I’ve said about other albums from other bands. All the elements of a good album are present here. “Easy Livin'” is a good attention grabbing opener, especially with the metalabilly sound coming through almost straight away. There are some more harder metal sounding tracks on the album in the form of “Another Day” but even on that one, Fastway put their mark on it. One track that is certainly different is “Heft.” That song is what some would call “way out there.” There is the hard bluesier hippy feel to the song. One that you would listen to in the same vein as you would listen to a Pink Floyd album, but Clarke’s hard crashing guitars on it remind you who is actually playing the song.

With “We Become One,” since it was released as a single, one might be inclined to think it would be some sort of metal anthem. That song doesn’t quite come up to anthem status but it’s still a cool song. There is a little left over from “Heft” in it and while it’s still a cool metal song, I can see why commercial radio would have ignored it. More fools them I say. If any song comes anywhere to being an anthem, it’s got to be the next track, “Give it All You Got.” I think that one would have fared better on radio and I like how the song ends. It leads perfectly to my favourite track on the album, “Say What You Will.” The best was to describe it is even more metal metalabilly, (there I used it again). I like the little lead guitar bits during the verses, which lead to another killer solo before all coming together for a great metal climax.  The penultimate track is okay but nothing to get over excited about. It keeps things ticking over nicely for the more memorable closer, “Give it Some Action.” That is unless you own the original vinyl or later CD pressings which include the bonus track, “Far Far From Home.” Having it on cassette, I didn’t get the bonus track but no matter, I enjoyed the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Easy Livin’
  2. Feel Me, Touch Me (Do Anything You Want)
  3. All I Need is Your Love
  4. Another Day
  5. Heft!
  6. We Become One
  7. Give it All You Got
  8. Say What You Will
  9. You Got Me Runnin’
  10. Give it Some Action
  11. Bonus track, not available on all releases: Far Far From Home
Fastway

Fastway

Dave King- vocals, harmonica

Fast Eddie Clarke- guitars

Jerry Shirley- drums

Mickey Feat- bass (uncredited)

While I’ve been singing the praises of Fast Eddie Clarke on the album and it’s deserved, I have been ignoring the other two members of Fastway and that’s unfair because both of them deserve their share of the credit on why their debut album is so good. King’s vocals are impressive, especially as I finally got around to listening to the missing bonus track. Had it been included on all copies of the album, it might have done better in the sales department. Jerry Shirley proves he’s a tidy drummer and deserves as much praise as well. With all three coming together, Fastway created a very cool first album.

Next post: Savatage- Sirens

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

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Mercyful Fate- Melissa

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-melissa_album

My first experience of  the 1983 “Melissa” album from Danish metal band Mercyful Fate didn’t come until early 1985 when I heard the best known song from the album, “Black Funeral” on a compilation album. During that time, I constantly heard the Jesus brigade going on about how the lyrics of rock songs all have hidden Satanic messages that mess with your subconscious. Well, it is safe to say that there are no such hidden subversive lyrics in the song, “Black Funeral.” No, instead lead singer King Diamond just comes out and sings “Hail Satan.” I’ve loved that song ever since.

“Black Funeral” isn’t the only song on the Melissa album that has straight forward messages from the Dark Lord. There are lyrics in most of the songs here that grab my attention and fill me with much amusement. Take the second track, “Curse of the Pharaohs.” Those lyrics, “Don’t touch, never ever steal unless you’re in for the kill or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs” Continue to make me smile. After that is “Into the Coven” with, “Come, come into my coven and become Lucifer’s Child.” The penultimate track, “Satan’s Fall” gives two different sets of lyrics to amuse. The first is “Bring me the blood of the unborn child.” The second greatly amused my roommate at University in London and upon hearing it repeated “Satan’s still alive.” With all of these, one my think that I have upside down crosses on my front lawn and an altar in my backyard where I sacrifice chickens, goats and virgins to Satan. I don’t because like so many millions of people, song lyrics don’t effect me like that.

Satanic lyrics is only one reason to like this album. The music on “Melissa” is of top quality. Most metalheads know the unmistakable voice of King Diamond and his ability to go from a deep, low growl to his high pitched harmonies. On this album, he is probably at his best. However, what has gone less noticed is the guitar work of both Michael Denner and Hank Shermann. Not only do they hammer out some cool solos throughout the album, there is some nice little guitar breaks in the songs as well. Two more to add to the list of under appreciated guitarists. Furthermore, this is the only album that I know where the first three tracks all have catchy riffs. The opening riffs in “Evil” definitely grab your attention and when the song ends, the opening riffs to “Curse of the Pharaohs” keeps things moving. That’s not all, the medieval sounding opening lead guitar intro to “Into the Coven” is done very nicely. So, all in all, this is an album to enjoy the music while being amused by the lyrics.

Track Listing:

  1. Evil
  2. Curse of the Pharaohs
  3. Into the Coven
  4. At the Sound of the Demon Bell
  5. Black Funeral
  6. Satan’s Fall
  7. Melissa
Mercyful Fate

Mercyful Fate

King Diamond- vocals

Hank Shermann- guitar

Michael Denner- guitar

Tim “Grabber” Hansen- bass

Kim Ruzz- drums

Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” album was my first true indoctrination into black metal and it had the effect of getting me hooked on it. For me, it was the right album at the right time.

Next post: Tank- This Means War

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

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1983: Lee Aaron’s First LP

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-lee_aaron_-_1984_-_lee_aaron_reissue

Before I launch into the debut album from one of Canada’s best heavy metal exports in the 1980s, I have to confess that my brain hasn’t been in gear this past week. I can’t believe that when I compiled my compilation album of music stars who died in 2016, that I left out Rick Parfitt from Status Quo. Therefore, to rectify this major screw up, I would add two Status Quo songs on it. One from the “1+9+8+2” album I posted about, the song being “Want the Whole World to Know.” The other, the one I consider the better of the two songs a corporate record producer would use: “Rocking All Over the World.” Rest in Peace, Rick Parfitt.

Rick Parfitt

Rick Parfitt

Status Quo

Status Quo

 

Onto the debut album from Canada’s own Lee Aaron. Now, something else that the music websites say I got wrong. It seems that this album didn’t come out in 1983. Originally it was released in 1982 and re-issued in 1984. However, I got this on cassette as part of a double album set with Lee’s next album, “Metal Queen.” Anyway, I thought for sure that it said on the cassette that the “Lee Aaron’s First LP” was copyrighted in 1983 and have had it in my noggin for over thirty years that it came out in said year. Since it’s too much trouble to go up into my attic and dig out the cassette to check, I must ask for clemency on any misrepresentation of this album.

Now that’s over, let’s move on. I remember reading an interview of Lee Aaron in 1987 where she said she laughs when she hears this, her first album. I can see where she is coming from. Back then she was brand new to the industry and rather naive and listening to the album, one can probably say that if she had more say on the album, it might have sounded different. She only wrote on four of the songs. Lee, I hope it wouldn’t have sounded too much different because this first LP really rocks!

While she might slightly blush over the lyrics of the tracks, “I Like My Rock My Hard” and “Should Have Known,” hell, I blush for her but they are still good sounding metal songs. In fact, I have to take my hat off to Rik Emmett of Triumph who produced the album. I always thought he did a good job of taking Lee under his wing because I can’t fault any of the tracks on here. Her vocals are just phenomenal and there are some good musician work to accompany those vocals. Though I can’t ascertain why Rik only played on one song, the opener, “Under Your Spell.” Stand out tracks for me are “Night Riders” and “Took My Heart Away” to begin with. Her cover of the famous Willie Dixon blues classic, “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” which has been covered by so many bands is one of the best. Before, I heard her version, it was Foghat’s version I liked but now there’s a power struggle in my brain. However, my favourite tracks on the album are definitely “Texas Outlaw,” where she doubles with Buzz Sherman and the closing track and even though it’s only on the 1984 re-issue, I’m going to include it here, “Under the Stars.” This track is recorded live and makes me regret never seeing Lee Aaron live. So, while she might laugh at this album, I really like it.

Track Listing:

  1. Under Your Spell
  2. Lonely For Your Love
  3. Night Riders
  4. Texas Outlaw
  5. I Like My Rock Hard
  6. I Just Want to Make Love to You
  7. Runnin’ From His Love
  8. Should Have Known
  9. Took My Heart Away
  10. Under the Stars

Lee Aaron

Lee Aaron- lead vocals

Rik Emmett- guitar, track 1

Dave Alpin- guitar, tracks 1 and 7

Rick Santers- guitar, tracks 2-4, 6, 8, 9

Earl Johnson- guitar, tracks 4,6,8

Frank Soda- track 5

John Albani- guitar, track 10

George Bernhardt- guitar, track 10

Buzz Sherman- co-lead vocals tracks 4 and 8, backing vocals track 8

Bill Wade- drums- tracks 1 and 7

Mark Santers- drums, tracks 2-4, 6, 8, 9

Gen Gratto- drums, track 5

Randy Infuso- drums, track 10

Gene Stout- bass, track 1 and 7

Rick Lazaroff- bass, tracks 2-4, 6, 8, 9

Peter Crolly- bass, track 5

Jack Meli- bass, track 10

Like I said, Lee Aaron might have been embarrassed about her first album but I’m sure not. It is a good rocking album even if the lyrics of some of the songs on it do sound a bit childish. Still, you can’t fault her fabulous vocals and the musicians Rik Emmett put together to make this fine album. One of these guitarists will stay with Lee but you’ll have to wait to her future albums before I sing his praises. In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Next post: Mercyful Fate- Melissa

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

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