Archive for Guitarists

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Kuni- Lookin’ for Action

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2022 by 80smetalman

One of the challenges I’ve had when writing posts is writing about albums I didn’t listen to until way after those albums first came out. “Lookin’ for Action” by Japanese guitarist Kuni was one of those. Obviously the album came out in 1988 but I didn’t get to listen to it until 2000, when my sister sent the CD. It was in fact two albums in one, this one and the band Panther’s self titled EP. What these albums had in common is that they were both fronted by Yngwie Malmsteen’s former singer, Jeff Scott Soto. I don’t know much about the history behind the album, to that I would defer to 2Loud as he is the world’s foremost expert on Jeff Scott Soto.

You can feel that there is a definite chemistry between Kuni and Jeff right from the beginning. Kuni’s riffs come through right away on the opener “Strangers in the Night” and Jeff’s vocals kick in and totally grab your attention. That chemistry continues on my pick for track of the album, “Shine On.” Jeff’s vocals are brilliant as they are throughout the album and Kuni nails a killer guitar solo. The rhythm section of Douglas Taylor Baker and Mike Terrano stake their claim on this track as well.

Kuni

Kuni shows his not a one trick pony with the guitar on the aptly named “Acoustic Piece. It’s a soft acoustic instrumental and well done. Following on is the power ballad “Memories of You.” While I have always known what a great singer Jeff is, any doubters would be reassured on this one and the term power ballad is literal. There is a lot of power in this ballad and possibly the best guitar solo in a power ballad of all time. A topic which can be debated later.

The title track is the second fastest song and Jeff has no problem with it, not that I had doubts he wouldn’t. It’s a great one to headbang along to. But some great Kuni guitar riffs open “Don’t Look Back.” This is a moderate paces song with all of the great things already mentioned present. And Kuni continues to impress with opening riffs on “Say Goodbye.” It starts off as it’s going to be another power ballad but increases in tempo and power. More speed returns on “All Night Long.” It’s a good straight up power tune with some great drum fills from Mike and a cool guitar/bass combo. “Reckless” is even faster, the fastest song on the album, giving credence to its title. It’s a marvelous reckless mess of metal and even the guitar solo is thrash metal like.

“Eyes of a Stranger” starts like it’s going to be another thrash fest but slows down just enough after the intro. While the speed decreases slightly, the power doesn’t and Jeff sounds as fresh as the opening tracks. This song is definitely runner up in the best song category. By the time, “Little Rebel” cones on, the band seems to be going nuts. A cool drum roll opens the song and at first, the song sounds as if it’s going to be another speed fest. But it does slow down with some cool guitar fills. “Someday” closes the album out very nicely and it would be amiss of me not to point out Jeff trying to sound Japanese at the end, talking about sake, Jack Daniels coca cola. These days, he would be done for cultural appropriation.

Track Listing:

  1. Strangers in the Night
  2. Shine On
  3. Acoustic Piece
  4. Memories of You
  5. Lookin’ For Action
  6. Don’t Look Back
  7. Say Goodbye
  8. All Night Long
  9. Reckless
  10. Eyes of a Stranger
  11. Little Rebel
  12. Someday

Kuni- guitars

Jeff Scott Soto- vocals

Douglas Taylor Baker- bass

Mike Terrano- drums

A what if moment: What if Jeff and Kuni stayed together and made more albums? I think it would have been awesome but we just have to enjoy “Lookin’ for Action” instead.

Next post: Slayer- South of Heaven

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?redirect=false

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Chastain- The Voice of the Cult

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, video games with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2022 by 80smetalman

Reflecting back to the late 1980s, I realize how grateful I should be to the Metal Sisters, (my sister Dawn and her friend, the late Stacy Kroger), for keeping me somewhat abreast of metal coming out of the US while I was in England. Otherwise, great bands like Chastain would have completely passed me by and I would have been having to play catch up even more. So, thanks Dawn and Stacy (R.I.P.).

Saying that, I Chastain’s 1987 album, “The 7th of Never,” did pass me by and if it’s as good as this 1988, “The Voice of the Cult,” then it’s a big loss. Ignoring what the ‘critics’ have said about this album, I found that it’s not simply a rehash of previous material. True, like with any where David Chastain appears, it does highlight his guitar skills as he rips some really cool guitar solos throughout. But I have to disagree with Canadian journalist Martin Popoff’s view that the album as in the scope of the band is laughable. I think this is a good cruising album.

David Chastain

What I mean by ‘cruising album’ is this is one I would save for the car stereo when embarking on a journey. It doesn’t have to be a long one, driving to the supermarket is sufficient enough. “The Voice of the Cult” has nine good songs but I must say that none of them stand out as a top song. None of them distinguish themselves from the other so what you get here is one good song after another which is great for travelling.

What makes the songs great is of course the guitar work of Dave. Unlike the album, “Ruler of the Wasteland,” he doesn’t set out to be the next Yngwie Malmsteen but instead is his own guitarist. He really nails the solos on just about each and every song. Arguably, his best efforts come on the track, “Fortune Teller” as there are some cool solos throughout. Now, here’s where I take issue with Mr. Popoff. Leather Leone is a fantastic singer, probably the most underrated female vocalist of the 1980s. Did I just say that? I just did. At least I’m impressed with her vocals on this album. Furthermore, one must give the rhythm section their fair dues. It takes a lot of skill to keep up with David Chastian as he riffs and solos his way through the album and I will stand by my belief that Mike Skimmerhorn and Ken Mary do it with incredible ease. “Child of Evermore” is a good example of how good the rhythm section is. Put all of this together and you get a great album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Voice of the Cult
  2. Live Hard
  3. Chains of Love
  4. Share Yourself With Me
  5. Fortune Teller
  6. Child of Evermore
  7. Soldiers of the Flame
  8. Evil for Evil
  9. Take Me Home

Chastain

David T. Chastain- guitar

Leather Leone- vocals

Mike Skimmerhorn- bass, backing vocals

Ken Mary- drums

Next time you go for a ride in the car, pull out “The Voice of the Cult” from Chastain, it makes great driving music.

Next post: Odin- Fight For Your Life

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

To sign the petition for a knighthood for Bruce Dickinson, 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: George Thorogood- Born to Be Bad

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2022 by 80smetalman

Yet, another great American artist who didn’t quite make it over in the UK. Here, George Thorogood is most known for “Bad to the Bone” and that’s a shame because of what a great guitarist he is. On account of that, it would be several years down the line before I learned of his 1988 album, “Born to be Bad.”

Compared to his previous albums, George doesn’t go full blues rock. Don’t get me wrong, that sound is still there and many of the songs have his trademark opening riffs, like the opener, “Shake Your Money Maker,” originally recorded by Elmore James and covered by many other artists. George’s version does the song justice, especially how he nails the guitar solo.

A number of the songs have a 1950s vibe which would have made Jerry Lee Lewis proud. That sound comes in the form of “You Talk Too Much.” I can easily picture the characters of “Grease” jiving along to this one. Heck, maybe if this song was in the film, I would have enjoyed it more. However, Hank Carter is the star of this track as his sax solo is superb! But he goes back to traditional blues territory on “Highway 49.” His guitar licks are just super cool on here and give full credit to the rhythm section as well.

Things go back to the 50s vibe with the title track and it’s very catchy. Even George’s guitar solos is in the vein of that decade but it still sounds great. That vibe continues on the cover of Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” Billy Blough’s bass line is what solidifies this song, it reminds me a little of Johnny Cash and of course, we get another cool guitar solo from you know who. And the 50’s party continues on with “I’m Ready,” which sounds like something out of “Happy Days.” While George and the Destroyers are jamming away on the song, I get visions of The Fonz riding past on his motorcycle. We also get another great sax solo from Hank.

If George had been around in the decade which seems to heavily influence this album, then I could definitely see him playing “Treat Her Right” on American Bandstand. The song would have been huge. It is an original from the band has another cool guitar solo. It was released as a single but failed to chart.

For the last three songs, the last two, the best on the album, George and his band go back to their more traditional blues roots. “I Really Like Girls” is a fast, fun jam. “Smokestack Lightning,” is slower but has a great blues sound to it, which even a no rhythm person like myself can follow along with. However, the best is saved for last as “I’m Movin’ On” is what I have liked about George Thorogood all of these years. A good blues number with a tight rhythm section, the best vocals on the album and some great guitar solos.

Track Listing:

  1. Shake Your Monemaker
  2. You Talk Too Much
  3. Highway 49
  4. Born to be Bad
  5. You Can’t Catch Me
  6. I’m Ready
  7. Treat Her Right
  8. I Really Live Girls
  9. Smokestack Lightning
  10. I’m Movin’ On
George Thorogood

George Thorogood- guitar, vocals

Hank Carter- saxophone, vocals

Billy Blough- bass

Jeff Simon- drums

Steve Chrismar- guitar

I have always wondered why George Thorogood wasn’t successful in the UK. He did bring a unique sound to music back in the 1980s and did very well in America. “Born to Be Bad” did hit #32 in the album charts, proving you don’t always need a good single to have a great album.

Next post: All About Eve

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

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

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Survivor- Too Hot to Sleep

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2022 by 80smetalman

Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of mathematical link between my liking an album and its chart success because I really like this album “Too Hot to Sleep” by Survivor. However, the album was not a successful album chart-wise. Survivor proved to me in 1984, with the “Vital Signs” album that they didn’t need the “Rocky” films to achieve success. It was further cemented with their previous album, “When Seconds Count.” So, I can’t figure for the life of me why this album did so poorly because I really like it or maybe that’s the reason.

“Too Hot to Sleep” borders on being heavy metal on some tracks. That was made clear on the opening track, “She’s a Star.” When I heard those power chords, I thought, “Wow, this is good!” Another point is the fact that Frankie Sullivan nails some really cool guitar solos on many songs, including the one already mentioned. Hell, looking at the video, he looks like he could be a metal guitarist. Actually all three members look pretty metal in that video. On the other hand, Survivor didn’t completely abandon the melodic rock formula which brought them fame. “Desperate Dreams” is living proof of that fact.

Like with their previous album, the title track is one that does it for me. It has that hauntingly cool acoustic guitar intro followed by the dependable vocals of Jimi Jamison and supported by keyboard work from Jim Peterik and of course a killer solo from Frank. He really goes mad at the end. The only thing needed was to turn up the guitars an octave or so higher.

“Didn’t Know It Was Love” stays in traditional Survivor territory. It reminds me of “High On You” from the “Vital Signs” album and I’m more than a little surprised that it didn’t make a dent in the singles charts. It’s a song meant for such things. Meanwhile, “Rhythm of the City” is a straightforward rocker with a great rhythm guitar riff. This song is definitely close to metal and out of all my blubbering about the guitar playing of Frankie, he’s at his best on this one. One way to describe this track is to think of “Burning Heart” from “Rocky IV” as a metal tune. No doubt, this one gets my vote for hidden gem. Talking about “Burning Heart,” “Here Comes Desire” is a song which is closer to that. It has a definite swagger to it, especially with Jim tinkling the ivories on it and a great guitar solo from Frankie.

The track that did have some chart success is the ballad “Across the Miles.” Jimi’s vocals are the key to this one although he is backed up well by the other two. “Tell Me I Am the One” is more in the 80s pop vein but the backing vocals are good and Frankie keeps it from becoming a total pop song. Things go more rock on “Can’t Give It Up.” The band is spot on with this one with some nice little guitar hooks and you get double the prizes, a good guitar solo and the song is taken out with some keyboard wizardry from Jim. The album goes out with authority with the almost power ballad like “Burning Bridges.” Was the title a metaphor of things to come? Who knows? But it does end the album well.

Historical facts I understand these days which I couldn’t fathom back then was Survivor replaced bassist Stephen Ellis and drummer Marc Droubay with studio musicians. On the tour for “When Seconds Count,” Stephen developed a stomach ulcer and was unable to play on many of the tour dates. Marc was becoming more disillusioned with the band’s shift to more pop and was eventually dismissed from the band. That’s the strange thing, I wouldn’t call “Too Hot to Sleep” a pop album, more melodic rock inching towards melodic hard rock.

Track Listing:

  1. She’s a Star
  2. Desperate Dreams
  3. Too Hot to Sleep
  4. Didn’t Know It Was Love
  5. Rhythm of the City
  6. Here Comes Desire
  7. Across the Miles
  8. Tell Me I’m the One
  9. Can’t Give It Up
  10. Burning Bridges
Survivor

Jimi Jamison- lead and backing vocals

Frankie Sullivan- guitar, backing vocals

Jim Peterik- keyboards

Additional Musicians:

Peter-John Vettesse- keyboards

Bill Syniar- bass

Mickey Curry- drums

Ian Lloyd- backing vocals

Tommy Shaw- backing vocals

Rory Dodd- additional lead vocals on “Across the Miles”

Survivor would take a hiatus after “Too Hot to Sleep” although Jimi Jamison would tour under the band’s name resulting in legal disputes. It’s a damn shame this album didn’t take off because this whole album has been a hidden gem for me.

Next post: Bonfire- Fireworks

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

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

Original Vs. Cover- Ohio

Posted in Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2022 by 80smetalman

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

As my normal break in the action between the years and influenced by 2Loud, I thought I would do another “Original Vs. Cover” post. Today, I picked the song “Ohio” originally written by the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The song was written in 1971 in protest to the shooting which took place at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, which left four students dead.

When CSNY released the song, it was a clear reflection of the anger which was dividing America at the time. The Vietnam War was still going and Americans were dying in what is still considered a very questionable war. This anger is vehemently expressed through the lyrics and the passion of the vocals. The guitar licks augment this making the song’s message even more powerful. Even more than half a century later, those lyrics and the power behind the music give off strong emotions no matter how you feel politically. It’s one song which, for me, has definitely stood the test of time.

Hannah Wicklund in Bristol, England (October 2019)

The cover comes via Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin’ Stones, another 80smetalman discovery I have been plugging on here. Her version of “Ohio” didn’t appear on her album which I gushed over four years ago but when I saw her live in October, 2019, she played it and it was completely mind-blowing. I have always said that Hannah is a great guitarist and she shows it here. To steal a tired phrase from “X Factor,” she totally makes the song her own by simply totally rocking it out.

My Verdict: I’m going to take the easy way out and call it a tie. Which version of “Ohio” I like to listen to depends on my motivation for listening. If I want to chill and be absorbed in the lyrics or be politically motivated, then I will listen to the CSNY original. The lyrics are meant to be thought provoking and they do that to me. However, if I fancy a good rock out with some fantastic blues style guitar work, then I will pull out Hannah’s cover. Not a criticism but I don’t feel the message behind the lyrics in her version but that’s down to the great guitar work. Plus, if what I hear is true and history isn’t being properly taught in America, then she probably wouldn’t have appreciated the message CSNY were sending fifty years earlier.

Next post: TBA

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@80smetalman

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

Great Metal Albums of 1987: The Great Kat- Worship Me or Die!

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2022 by 80smetalman

Could this be a case of looks being deceiving? When you look past the guitar, leather and spikes, you might be inclined to think that this innocent looking young lady sang Taylor Swift type songs. After all, it seems that these days, some female pop singers dress in a neo-metal fashion in an attempt to lure younger metal males into checking out their music. However, metalheads aren’t as stupid as they think. They listen to what’s inside the album and not judge by the cover. With The Great Kat, on the other hand, she is the real deal. What you get from her debut album, “Worship Me or Die!” is a half hour of great thrash metal.

After a great shredding introduction, Kat, (real name Katherine Thomas), declares that she is the “Metal Messiah.” Her declaration is short and to the point with some great power riffs to back her up. After, she lets you know that she is possessed by the devil and you are her little slaves. Her shredding backs up her claim. If that’s not enough to convince you, she power chords and shreds her point in declaring “Death to You.”

Once you are convinced she the possessed metal messiah, you get my favourite track of the album, “Satan Goes to Church.” My amusement for television evangelists is satisfied when the song is introduced by a television evangelist telling us to repent. That is quickly sidelined by a thrash frenzy telling us that Satan is coming into the church and writing his name in blood before burning it down. It’s all tongue and cheek but I bet the Jesus freaks back then got their knickers all in a twist over it.

Now that Satan has burned down the church, you have no other choice do what Kat says in the title track, “Worship Me or Die!” Kat declares her omnipotence by letting you know that Kat rules, once again backed up by serious thrash chords and more shredding. From there, she goes on a four song death to all march, first summoning demons, then a speed death, a song which seems to go at 900mph. It carries on with killing the Muthers, (I don’t think she’s talking about actual mothers here), before laying it all to rest with “Ashes to Dust,” complete with a funeral service at the beginning. It’s all one big thrash-fest and I must give full credit to the rhythm section for being able to keep up with her.

Kat gets the children involved by playing a sweet little game called, “Satan Says.” Backed by foreboding, slower riffs, she kindly warns the children what might happen if they don’t play. “Satan goes follow me, Satan says ‘Go to Hell!'” The album then closes out with a total metal massacre, with the great shredding in which the album was first brought in.

Track Listing:

  1. Metal Messiah
  2. Kat Possessed
  3. Death to You
  4. Satan Goes to Church
  5. Worship Me or Die
  6. Demons
  7. Speed Death
  8. Kill the Muthers
  9. Ashes to Dust
  10. Satan Says
  11. Metal Massacre
The Great Kat (she doesn’t look so innocent here)

The Great Kat- guitar, lead vocals, violin

Tom Von Doom- bass

Adam Killa- drums

“Worship Me or Die” proves a point I have been making recently here and on other blogs; Back in the 1980s, female shredders didn’t get the respect they so deserved. The Great Kat, I emphasize the great because she was just as good as many of her male counterparts at the time and she should have been taken more seriously.

Next post: Savatage- Hall of the Mountain King

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@80smetalman

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: Whitesnake- 1987

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2022 by 80smetalman

Out of all the great metal albums which came out in 1987, the most noted of these had to be Whitesnake’s “1987” album. You don’t need me to tell you how this album tore up the charts in the year the album is named after and the following one. In fact, the album which kept it from attaining number one in the US was Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album. So it begs the question, why was this metal album so successful?

First, let’s go over some of the history in the making of this album. While recording it, David Coverdale was struck down with an illness which required hospitalization and later surgery. There was even doubts that he would ever be able to sing again. Thank the metal gods that this wasn’t the case. Now for the soap opera bit. Depending on who’s side you believe, David and guitarist John Sykes would part company while the album was recorded. From what I read on Wikipedia, (not the most reliable of sources), David accused John of trying to replace him and John was growing impatient at David’s seeming lack of motivation to get back in the studio. While this explains why the touring lineup is different from the recording one, it can be said that the album was born out of adversity.

Drawing my own conclusion as to why “1987” was so successful, I put it down that it was the combination of commercially viable songs and hard rockers, which ticked all the boxes. Most people know the hits from the album, “Still of the Night,” “Is This Love,” “Give Me All Your Love” and “Here I Go Again,” the latter re-recorded before released as a single. Note: after years of hearing the single version and then hearing the original version from the album again after many years, I prefer the original. These are good power ballads as was the rerecorded “Crying in the Rain,” which helped Whitesnake finally achieve commercial success in the US.

The other element behind the album’s success is that in spite of the top 40 singles, the other tracks proved that Whitesnake hadn’t forgotten how to rock out. First let me correct a misleading statement in the above paragraph. The first and last singles, “Still of the Night,” and “Give Me All Your Loving” were definitely not power ballads. Both are full steam ahead rockers with some great guitar riffs from Sykes. They lead the charge as the next track is also a serious rocker. In fact, the second track, “Bad Boys,” gets my vote for hidden gem. John shreds even better on “Straight for the Heart.”

John Sykes

What I sometimes find frustrating about albums which are reissued so many times is which version should I write about. In this case, since I had already established myself in the UK at the time, I will go with the European issue. The US issue omits two tracks, “Looking for Love” and “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again,” which is a shame because America missed out on two good songs. The former, another power ballad which works and the latter, a definite straight up rocker. The strategic placing of both ballads and rockers go along way to cement the reason why this album was such a success.

Track Listing (European Release):

  1. Still of the Night
  2. Bad Boys
  3. Give Me All Your Loving
  4. Looking for Love
  5. Crying in the Rain
  6. Is This Love
  7. Straight From the Heart
  8. Don’t Turn Away
  9. Children of the Night
  10. Here I Go Again
  11. You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again

Recording Line up:

David Coverdale- vocals

John Sykes- guitar

Neil Murray- bass

Aynsley Dunbar- drums

Don Airey- keyboards

Bill Cuomo- keyboards

Note: other musicians, including some from the touring lineup, were brought in on some of the re-recordings.

Whitesnake- 1987 tour lineup

David Coverdale- vocals

Vivian Campbell- guitar

Adrian Vandenberg- guitar

Rudy Sarzo- bass

Tommy Aldridge- drums

Shortly after the album soared up the charts, someone wrote to Kerrang stating that Whitesnake’s next album would be called “1991” as that was when it would come out, (history proved that person wrong), and the recording lineup would have Gene Simmons on bass and Lars Ulrich on drums. I can’t remember who the guitarists were going to be. However, the touring lineup would have Eddie Van Halen and Mick Mars on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass and Charlie Benante on drums. That was the state of the band in 1987. While there might have been some truth to that, one can’t fault how super colossal of an album “1987” turned out to be.

Next post: Tigertailz- Young and Crazy

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@80smetalman

To get 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: Tony MacAlpine- Maximum Security

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

Back in 1987, it was very easy for people to accuse guitarists who made instrumental albums of trying to copy Yngwie Malmsteen. True, there are some similarities to Yngwie when I listen to Tony MacAlpine’s second album, “Maximum Security,” but I must severely stress, SOME. Track 2, “Hundreds of Thousands,” sounds like it came straight from Yngwie. And while there are more moments which may sound similar to the Swede, Tony is definitely not a Yngwie clone.

Starting with the obvious, there’s the fact that there are no vocals on the album, it’s pure instrumental. That’s the next point, Tony adds an extra dimension to his work by playing keyboards on it as well and it comes through straight away on the album’s opening track. Where his keyboard skills really shine is on the track, “Etude #4 Opus #10,” written by Chopin. You get two minutes of some fine keyboard work, thus showing Tony’s versatility.

Of course, Tony doesn’t have Yngwie’s ego, thank God. Tony has two guitarists come along and jam with him on three tracks. George Lynch of Dokken fame trades solos with him on two tracks, “Tears of Sahara” and “The Vision.” The other contributor is none other than Jeff Watson from some band called Night Ranger. You might have heard of them. Jeff plays on “”The King’s Cup” and does a super job too. This paring makes this track the best one on the album. Of course, what sticks in my weird mind the most on that particular track is that it opens with a drum roll similar to the Kreator classic, “Pleasure to Kill.” Both of these guitar wizards add an extra layer of guitar goodness for Tony.

The tracks where Mr. MacAlpine is at his fingerboard smoking best on his own, are “Key to the City” and “The Time and the Test.” It’s difficult for me to put it down in words but he just totally shreds those two tracks. Obviously, he shreds well on the others as well, “Sacred Wonder” especially. To sum it up, you get more than just an album with a guitarist playing all the way through it, you have some fine compositions here.

Track Listing:

  1. Autumn Lords
  2. Hundreds of Thousands
  3. Tears of Sahara
  4. Key to the City
  5. The Time and the Test
  6. The King’s Cup
  7. Sacred Wonder
  8. Etude #4 Opus #10
  9. The Vision
  10. Dreamstate
  11. Porcelain Doll
Tony MacAlpine

Tony MacAlpine- guitar, keyboards, bass

George Lynch- additional guitar solos (tracks 3 and 9)

Jeff Watson- additional guitar solos (track 6)

Deen Castronovo- drums (tracks 1-3, 5 and 6)

Atma Anur- drums (tracks 4, 7 and 9-11)

Not that I care about such things, “Maximum Security” was Tony’s only album to break into the charts. I am not surprised because he shows he is such a talented musician all around. It makes it more of a shame that he seemed to almost vanish after.

Next post: Motley Crue- Girls, Girls, Girls

About four years ago, I wrote a post calling for Bruce Dickinson to receive a knighthood. What I should have been doing is posting the link with every post since. I have seen the error of my ways so with every post from now until Bruce receives his gong, I will post the link to my petition here. I hope all of you, especially my British followers, will sign it.

https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

Another petition I have started and this is not metal related is that I am petitioning the NFL to have next year’s Philadelphia Eagles v Pittsburgh Steelers game played in London. I hope you will sign that one too.

https://www.change.org/p/nfl-2022-steelers-eagles-game-to-be-played-in-london

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

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Envy- Ain’t It a Sin

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2022 by 80smetalman

Before I launch into the album, I thought I’d share another photo of my metalhead granddaughter Juliana.

Ain’t she cute?

Once again, I have to thank my sister for sending me a track on a cassette from a band which would have totally passed me by in 1987. In fact, this post reminds me of two things which was wrong with music back in the 1980s and the first one is probably true today. My last post was about the phenomenal “Hysteria” album from Def Leppard, which received accolades worldwide. Like the album or not, it was a huge success. However, for every Def Leppard there must be at least 100 bands like Envy, who in 1987, had an album just as good but didn’t get the commercial break. This is why I feel it’s even more important to post about their only album, “Ain’t It a Sin.”

The only track from the album that made my sister’s tape was the opening title cut and it’s good. After all, it has stuck in my memory for more than thirty years. However and this is no criticism of my sister, there are better tracks on the album. If there was any track which screams, commercial single, it’s the second one, “I Believe in You.” It has that catchy melody after opening with a keyboard intro that lures you into thinking it’s going to be a ballad but the guitars kick in right after obliterating any such thoughts. If I had seen Envy live, I would have been at the front banging my head and flashing the horns along to it. Oops, it was the 80s, so at the song’s conclusion, I would have held my cigarette lighter aloft. This is the track of the album.

Right after, things get serious with the much harder song, “Heartache.” That sets the tone for practically the remainder of the album as the next few tracks really rock, which brings me to the other thing wrong with music and particularly metal back in the day. Envy is led by the sister combo of Rhonni and Gina Stile. Rhonni handles the vocal duties and does a brilliant job. However, it is Gina on guitar that really steals the show on the album and that was the black eye for heavy metal back then. With the exception of Lita Ford, female shredders were overlooked. Even Kelly Johnson of Girlschool fame didn’t get the recognition she deserved. This was a damn shame because Gina Stile can totally shred and does so on each and every song. Some of her best efforts are on “Lie Here Waiting.” Even her rhythm guitar riffs are exceptional as highlighted on the track, “Wait On You.” She shreds on that track as well.

Gina Stile

I keep asking myself, why didn’t “Ain’t It a Sin” make a bigger impact and Envy become a household name in the metal world? This is the big question, especially since the album was produced by none other than Dee Snider, yes, that Dee Snider. One clue could lie in the record label. The name ATCO rings a bell but I never heard of ATCO/Wounded Bird Records. So maybe the band wasn’t marketed properly or simply it could be down to the fact of an over saturated metal market. In either case, it’s a shame because this is one hell of a fine album.

Another great thing about this album is that it doesn’t tail off at the end. The finish is just as strong as the start. One track which could have been a second single is “I See the Light (Let Me Rock and Roll).” This has a catchy vibe that would have been good for commercial radio but not losing it’s hard rock edge. Once again, Gina shreds magnificently.

Yet another plus is that unlike on many albums, the penultimate track isn’t the least strongest track. In fact, it’s hard to discern which track should get that dishonour because the tracks are that good! “I’m Not Your Lover” is a brilliant track and though they shine on every track, the rhythm section is brilliant here. And the closer, “Hurt Me,” might start out like it’s going to be a ballad but it changes into a rocker, though I do like the acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Track Listing:

  1. Ain’t It a Sin
  2. I Believe in You
  3. Heartache
  4. Lie in Waiting
  5. Wait On You
  6. You’re So Hot
  7. All the Reasons
  8. I See the Light (Let Me Rock and Roll)
  9. I’m Not Your Lover
  10. Hurt Me
Envy

Rhonni Stile- lead vocals

Gina Stile- guitar, backing vocals

Bill Spencer- bass

Danny Kapps- drums

Additional Musicians

Alan St. John- keyboards

Arthur Stead- keyboards

Taylor Dane- backing vocals

I put the title track in for Dawn. May I ask a favour of all of you out there? Could you all go on Youtube and have a listen to the great, forgotten album which is “Ain’t It a Sin” by Envy? I am sure you’ll like it and even if you don’t feel free to comment either way. However, I am confident you will because the big sin is the fact that the album didn’t make the headway it should have.

Next post: Testament- The Legacy

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

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