Archive for hard rock

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Tygers of Pan Tang- First Kill

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2020 by 80smetalman

Here is one band that totally passed me by back in the 1980s. While I had heard of Tygers of Pan Tang throughout the years, I never got around to listening to any of their material. That all changed about a year ago when a colleague I know from officiating (American) football gave me a bag full of CDs, three of which were from this band. None of those albums was their 1986 compilation album, “First Kill,” but the other albums I did listen to gave me more than enough reason to include them here.

All the tracks, except for the closer, were all from the band’s early days and were recorded live. Having a quick look back through the discography, the only songs which appear on other albums are “Euthanasia” and “Slaves to Freedom,” which appear on the debut, “Wild Cat,” although “Bad Times” and my personal favourite,”Straight as a Die,” appear on the 1997 re-issue. With all of that said, it doesn’t make that much difference because all of the songs appeal to me.

What impresses me the most about the band is the strings section. Guitarist Robb Weir hammers out some great guitar solos on the album, especially on my favourite track. Then again, his best solo is on “Slave to Freedom.” Mr. Weir really goes nuts on that one and because it’s live, I regret not being in the audience. On the downside and why “Slaves to Freedom” is not my favourite song, is because the vocals of Jess Cox sound strained on it. Anyway, I was talking about the strings section and I must point out that the bass playing of Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws is some of the best bass playing I’ve heard. I’m now going to make a bold declaration by saying he belongs in the same category as Billy Sheehan, Michael Anthony, Lemmy and so many others.

It’s not just Weir’s solos that I like. Many of the songs on “First Kill” open with some ear grabbing riffs. “The Final Answer,” “Euthanasia” and “Shakespeare Road” all open with great riffs and establish the songs right from the start. The latter of the three has some another noteworthy guitar solo and not to leave him out, it’s the track which best showcases the drumming of Brian Dick. Putting all of these elements together and listening to the result, I fail to see why Tygers of Pan Tang don’t get more recognition in mentions of new wave of British heavy metal, which they were part of. I guess they were to NWOBHM what the Johnny Van Zant band was to Southern Rock in the very early 80s, a great band that didn’t get the recognition it should have gotten.

Track Listing:

  1. Slaves to Freedom
  2. Angel
  3. Straight as a Die
  4. The Final Answer
  5. Euthanasia
  6. Shakespeare Road
  7. Don’t Take Nothing
  8. All Right on the Night
  9. Bad Times
  10. Small Town Flirt

*”Small Town Flirt” was recorded just prior to the release of the album and done with a different bass player and drummer. This band was officially known as Tyger Tyger and it was the only song they released.

Tygers of Pan Tang

Jess Cox- vocals

Robb Weir- guitars

Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws- bass

Brian Dick- drums

On “Small Town Flirt”

Brian Emerson- bass

Mr. Roland- drums

Better late than never they say. It’s definitely true in my case in regards to Tygers of Pan Tang. This was a great band, actually, they’re back together and touring so after listening to “First Kill” and some of their other albums, I will have to see them if they come around.

Next post: Agnostic Front- Cause for Alarm

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Iron Maiden: Somewhere in Time

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2020 by 80smetalman

After Judas Priest’s use of guitar synthesizers on their “Turbo” album, many people in the metal world were waiting with great anxiety on the release of Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time” album because the rumours were flying that Maiden were also using guitar synthesizers on their new album, me included. Like so many metalheads at the time, I thought synthesizers were for pop bands and true metal bands didn’t use them. However, when all the anxiety was over and I finally got to listen to the album, I found that the use of guitar synthesizers didn’t turn Iron Maiden into Duran Duran and actually, “Somewhere in Time” is still a cool album.

Taking a step I didn’t normally take back then, I bought the twelve inch single, “Wasted Years.” Normally, I went straight for the album but I guess the guitar synth rumours made me a little nervous. After a listen or two, I found that the synths suited the song very well and that there was nothing to worry about. Iron Maiden remained true to the sound which made them a sensation. Long story short, I loved the song. One piece of 80smetalman history: the “Wasted Years” twelve inch was the first record I bought when I got to England.

If there was any question to whether Iron Maiden rocks out on the album, then have a listen to the track, “Sea of Madness.” The tracks opens with typical Iron Maiden guitar riffs from Smith and Murray before catapulting into a power tune. Bruce’s vocals are as clear as ever, Steve’s bass line is what you expect from the man as is Nicko’s drumming, plus there is a cool guitar solo. Everything’s there on “Sea of Madness” but it still doesn’t get my vote for hidden gem!

My vote for hidden gem on the album could be controversial. “Heaven Can Wait” wasn’t released as a single but it was played live on the next few Maiden tours after this one. The other point is the fact that it is definitely up there in my top ten or possibly top five of all time 80smetalman favourite Iron Maiden songs. Therefore, it could be argued that the gem isn’t exactly hidden. Nevertheless, this song just totally kicks ass and it’s a case of taking all the good things I said about “Sea of Madness” and multiplying them two or three times more for “Heaven Can Wait.”

Another track which might qualify is “Deja Vu.” Back in 86, it didn’t really make itself known unto me but listening to the album recently, it has caught my notice and it is a better track than what I used to remember. Of course, the other tracks are just as cool, having been a long distance or semi long distance runner in high school, (I ran the 800 metres), I can identify with “The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner.” While the lyrics ring true with me, Iron Maiden are one of the few bands who can capture it so well in the music.

Steve Harris stated that “Somewhere in Time” was never meant to be a concept album but it just happened that most of the songs on it were to do with time, interesting thought. However, Mr. Harris also keeps to his love of putting history to music with the closing track, “Alexander the Great.” I know if I was ever to have the opportunity to teach children about Alexander, then I would use the song to motivate the pupils.

Track Listing:

  1. Caught Somewhere in Time
  2. Wasted Years
  3. Sea of Madness
  4. Heaven Can Wait
  5. The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner
  6. Stranger in a Strange Land
  7. Deja- Vu
  8. Alexander the Great
Iron Maiden

Bruce Dickinson- lead vocals

Steve Harris- bass

Adrian Smith- guitar, backing vocals

Dave Murray- guitar

Nicko McBrain- drums

Guitar synthesizers or not, Iron Maiden put out another great album in 1986 with “Somewhere in Time.” I don’t think the band intended it but the release of the album almost coincided with my arrival in England. It’s not a bad album to arrive in another country to because after listening to it, I didn’t feel like (bad pun alert) a stranger in a strange land.

Next post: Tygers of Pan Tang- First Kill

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Samson- Joint Forces

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2020 by 80smetalman

Even as early as 1986, the British heavy metal band, Samson, was already becoming known as “the other band Bruce Dickinson was in.” No prizes for knowing Bruce was in Samson before leaving to join Iron Maiden. In fact, I probably should have been posting Samson albums in the previous years leading up to 1986. I blame my crap memory. If anyone’s interested, I could visit those albums after the tour of 86 is done before moving onto 1987.

Guitarist Paul Samson wasn’t going to throw in the towel after Bruce’s departure and continued the band and lead singer Nicky Moore proves to be a capable replacement on Samson’s 1986 album, “Joint Forces.” In spite of the fact that I had heard of Samson before coming over to Britain, I never listened to them until I saw them open for none other than Iron Maiden. It was a result of that concert, I finally got around to listening to Samson. That was the problem in 1986, so much good metal and not enough time to listen to it all.

Starting with both ends of the album, the opening and closing tracks lay down the framework to what is a great album. “The Chosen Few” is a very fast paced song which grabs your attention from the start, the closest track to thrash. Then, while the contradiction may not work on other albums, the closing power ballad, “Reach Out to Love” is the perfect way to end the album. I don’t remember if they played the song when I saw them but if I was to go back in time and Samson was playing in the US, my cigarette lighter would have been held aloft all throughout the song.

That leaves the songs in between and let me say that there is no let up anywhere on the album. I like the reggae/metal feel to “No Turning Back” and “Tell Me” is a real power rocker. Paul really lets go with the guitar on this one. “The Russians are Coming” is a short but sweet speedy rocker. It’s a good dig at then president Ronald Reagan’s paranoia that the Russians were going to invade America at any moment and it has a cool guitar solo from Paul. However, of all these tunes, my favourite has to be the mid tempo, melodic metal jam, “Burning Emotion.” For me, this track embodies everything Samson does well on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Chosen Few
  2. Tramp
  3. Burning Emotion
  4. No Turning Back
  5. Tell Me
  6. Tales of the Fury
  7. That Ain’t All
  8. Power of Love
  9. The Russians are Coming
  10. Reach Out For Love
Samson

Nicky Moore- vocals

Paul Samson- guitar

John Mccoy- bass

Chris Shirley- drums

Whether Samson was Bruce Dickinson’s other band or not seems a mute point. What I know is that I missed out on a great band in Samson, something I need to rectify.

Next post: Iron Maiden- Somewhere In Time

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Wrathchild- Trash Queens

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2020 by 80smetalman

One very interesting British band which came my way in London in 1986 was Wrathchild. First, I am fairly sure they didn’t get their name from an Iron Maiden song, at least it seems to be the case according to the band’s history. However, they were one of the ever growing list of glam metal bands who wore more make up than a lot of ladies I know.

Wrathchild’s 1986 album, (for me it’s 86 because I never heard of them before I got to England in that year), “Trash Queens” was my introduction to them. According to history, the album is a compilation of the single and opening song, “Do You Want My Love,” their EP “Stackheel Strutt” and three live tracks which appear at the end.

The said single, I can see why Wrathchild would have released it as one, it’s got a radio friendly catchy vibe to it. Still, it never got in the charts nor do I remember it being played at any metal club I went to back then. Still, it’s an all right track. Saying that, maybe they should have released the B-side second track, “Rock the City Down.” This is a more upbeat song with some good power chords and harmonizing and a catchy riff in the middle. My choice for song of the album.

It took me a couple of listens to get into “Lipstick Killers” before I decided it was a cool track and not just an amusing title. Following that, the next two tracks are two good rockers. Not anything I would go nuts about but they are okay. The title track has some good guitar work from Lance Rocket and “Teenage Revolution” has some cool chords at the intro. Then we get to the three live tracks. Once again, they’re okay although “It’s a Party” does end the album on a good note.

Track Listing:

  1. Do You Want My Love?
  2. Rock the City Down
  3. Lipstick Killers
  4. Trash Queen
  5. Teenage Revolution
  6. Twist the Knife
  7. Cock, Rock, Shock
  8. It’s a Party
Wratchild

Rocky Shades- vocals

Lance Rocket- guitar

Marc Angel- bass

Eddie Starr- drums

After being introduced to so many great bands when I got to the UK, it was only a matter of time before I came across a band that was good but not great. That was Wrathchild. Although, “Trash Queen” is an okay album but not one I will go back to again and again.

Next post: Samson- Joint Forces

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Mama’s Boys- Power and Passion

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 19, 2020 by 80smetalman

Something I’ve realized in my later years actually manifested itself back in 1986, I just didn’t see it at the time. That is that heavy metal transcends national borders. Attending university in London, the metalheads of the university all banded together, united in metal. When walking home from a gig one night, one of the group made the observation, “We’re a right bunch here. We have an American, a Welshman, an Englishman, an Irishman and a Northerner.” (The Northerner was from Blackpool in the north of England.) Proof then that heavy metal can unite the world! I do recall this event in “Rock and Roll Children.” Why am I telling this story? Because it was the Irishman in the group, actually he was from Northern Ireland, who introduced me to a band from his homeland, Mama’s Boys.

I had heard the name Mama’s Boys before I arrived in the UK but my local record store in the US did not stock any of their albums. They were rather useless. It was my new friend Kieran, (the Patrick character in “Rock and Roll Children” is based on him), who opened my eyes to the band via their album, “Power and Passion” and I was very glad about that.

“Power and Passion” is a straight-forward 80s heavy metal album. There is simply some great musicianship combined with some great hooks in many of the songs. It has a decent opener in “Hard’n Loud” and there are hooks a plenty on the slower, more bluesy track, “Needle in the Groove.” Some great intro riffs and a cool guitar solo on “Run” and there is an interesting instrumental in the form of penultimate track, “The Professor II.” More straight ahead rockers and a closer which will make you come back to the album again and again. However, the song that does it most for me is “Lettin’ Go.” This track defines the album the best. Some great hard rocking riffs, a pounding rhythm section while keeping to their more melodic metal sound and of course, another great guitar solo.

If the three McManus brothers were to keep to the guitar, bass, drum formula, they would have still sounded great. No one can question the commitment and talent of these three but they do contribute their Gaelic roots by adding such instruments as a fiddle, whistles and bagpipes. This makes them even more unique and this album even better!

Track Listing:

  1. Hard’n Loud
  2. Straight Forward (No Looking Back)
  3. Lettin’ Go
  4. Needle in the Groove
  5. Run
  6. Power and Passion
  7. Don’t Tell Mama
  8. The Professor II
  9. Let’s Get High
Mama’s Boys

Pat McManus- guitar, fiddle, backing vocals

John McManus- bass, lead vocals, backing vocals, low whistle, tin whistle uilleann bagpipes (Irish bagpipes)

Tommy McManus- drums, bodhran drum (Irish drum), backing vocals

With all the metal bands coming out all over the world, it seems only natural that there would be at least one from Northern Ireland. With “Power and Passion,” Mama’s Boys do their country and heavy metal proud.

Next post: Wrathchild- Trash Queens

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Magnum- Vigilante

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2020 by 80smetalman

By November 1986, being in England for three months, my introduction to British bands I had not heard of in the USA was in danger of becoming over-saturated. This could be down to the fact I was in London and there were so many rock and metal clubs that I could have gone out any night of the week and discovered a new metal act. Finances prevented that from happening. However, one band which I was introduced to at the time was Magnum.

What I didn’t know was that Magnum had a pretty long history before I had heard of them. They went back as far as 1978 but my first experience of them was their 1986 album, “Vigilante.” It was the title track which really hooked me, I spent quite a few Autumn Fridays night at the metal club headbanging away to it. Ah, great song and great memories!

Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to its great title track. In fact, after a listen or two, I thought that maybe Magnum shouldn’t be called heavy metal and that was even before people started putting metal into categories. Personally, I would class them as straight forward rock or melodic hard rock, possibly in the vein of Night Ranger.

The first three tracks of “Vigilante” are ready for radio commercial rock tunes. In fact, to my surprise, it was the album’s opener, “Lonely Night” that was released as a single. I thought it should have been the title track but remembering how things were back then, it was probably a good call or it would have been if the song had managed to chart, it didn’t. “Sometime Love” or the fourth track, “Midnight (You Won’t Be Sleeping)” would have been better candidates. There is enough of a guitar riff on those tracks that might have enticed more metalheads to by the single. Plus, “Midnight” has a cool sax solo.

Things look up on the second half of the album as things go more hard rock at this point. “Red on the Highway” starts things off very well. This song cooks and leaves me to question why more songs weren’t like this one. This is the first track which actually got my head to bang along with it. A cool guitar solo from Tony Clarkin helps too. The next track, “Holy Rider” is even heavier with some cool riffs. Both of these could be classed as hidden gems.

Here’s my final misgiving about “Vigilante.” The ballad, “When the World Comes Down” should have been the closer. It’s a good ballad but what I like best is that it has that ‘hold your cigarette lighters in the air while singing along’ feel to it. That makes it a great closer. That means, placing the title track after the two rockers would have made that part of the album sound phenomenal and the actual closer track would still be good coming after “Vigilante” but as a penultimate track. That would have set up my choice for closer exceptionally well. That’s just my thought.

Track Listing:

  1. Lonely Night
  2. Need a Lot of Love
  3. Sometime Love
  4. Midnight (You Won’t Be Sleeping)
  5. Red on the Highway
  6. Holy Rider
  7. When the World Comes Down
  8. Vigilante
  9. Back Street Kid
Magnum

Bob Catley- vocals

Tony Clarkin- guitar

Wally Lowe- bass

Mark Stanway- keyboards

Mickey Barker- drums

In one case, it’s a little surprising Magnum didn’t have more success in the US. I think they would have appealed to those who were into more melodic rock like Night Ranger or Survivor. They appeal to me more as I’m mellowing a bit with age but in 1986, as someone looking for the loud power chords, it was just an okay album.

One final note: The cigarette lighters in the air at concerts is definitely an American custom.

Next post: Mama’s Boys- Power and Passion

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Waysted- Save Your Prayers

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2020 by 80smetalman

Whenever you go to another country, a great experience to have is to sample the local acts who haven’t quite made it to your own country. When I got to London in 1986, my new friends introduced me to this band called Waysted and their legendary bassist, Pete Way. Being eager to learn about and listen to new metal bands, I delved into them and I was very impressed with what I heard.

Needless to say, I could concur Pete Way lived up to the hype my new friends were giving about him and I can add that I was also blown away by the guitar work of one Paul Chapman. What I am kicking myself over was not knowing at the time that the vocals came from the most under appreciated singer ever, Danny Vaughn. I wouldn’t really get familiar with his vocals until I listened to Tyketto some six years later. Knowing this now, I love their album, “Save Your Prayers,” that much more!

Danny Vaughn

Applying what I know now to what I didn’t know then, I can hear some of the magic Danny would take to Tyketto on this album. A great example is the track, “Singing to the Night.” This could have easily been a Tyketto song but Chapman rips a killer solo on it. It’s a great melodic hard rock tune. However, Waysted show they still have the heavy metal chops. The first two tracks are total indication of this fact and “Hell Comes Home” is a total rock out. My vote for the best song on the album.

Midway through the album, Waysted take things down a notch with a couple of ballads, “Heroes Die Young” and “Heaven Tonight.” Actually, “Heroes Die Young” starts out as if it’s going to be a ballad with the somber piano intro but then increases its speed by several hundred mph and just kicks ass. The fastest song on the album. “Heaven Tonight,” on the other hand, is a total power ballad and Vaughn’s vocals have always been well suited for ballads and are so suited here. The guitar solo is well suited to the song too.

An interesting track is “How The West Was Won.” Originally, I thought it might have been about the mal-treatment of Native Americans, especially when ‘torn up treaties’ is mentioned in the lyrics, but alas, it is more of an innuendo to a love song. It’s still a cool jam. Then speed increases once again on “Wild Night” and power on through with “Out of Control” and another ripping guitar solo from Chapman. Unless you have the album on CD, the album closes with the ballad, “So Long” and it’s a great way to close this dynamite album.

Track Listing:

  1. Walls Fall Down
  2. Black and Blue
  3. Singing in the Night
  4. Hell Comes Home
  5. Heroes Die Young
  6. Heaven Tonight
  7. How the West Was Won
  8. Wild Night
  9. Out of Control
  10. So Long
  11. Fire Under the Wheel (Bonus Track)
Waysted

Danny Vaughn- vocals

Pete Way- bass

Paul Chapman- guitar

John Diteodoro- drums

I never knew if or how well Waysted were received outside the UK. I fear that if I hadn’t come to England, they might have passed me by and with this album, it would have been a damn shame.

Next post: Magnum- Vigilante

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Loudness- Lightning Strikes

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 8, 2020 by 80smetalman

Supporting Saxon on the night of the first ever concert I attended at the Hammersmith Odeon was Japanese metal greats, Loudness. While it was my first time seeing Saxon, unfortunately, I have to admit it was my only time, I had seen Loudness a year earlier with Motley Crue and in my opinion, Loudness blew the Crue away. And while they didn’t blow Saxon away, they were as good as they had been a year earlier.

My anticipation on their next album, “Lightning Strikes,” was just as intense as my anticipation of seeing them live again. After the phenomenal “Thunder in the East,” I couldn’t wait to hear how Loudness would follow it up. Was it as good as its predecessor? To be honest, it was always a difficult task to follow up that album but I must say that “Lightning Strikes” comes pretty close.

They kept the format the same, using the single as the opening track. Finding hard not to compare and contrast, “Crazy Nights” is my all time favourite Loudness song but “Let It Go” is very good. The difference is that Loudness go for more a melodic hard rock sound on the new single, which caught me momentarily off guard but after a good listen, I can say “Let It Go” is definitely a good song.

What the band attempts to do and does it quite well is to create the feeling of the previous album on the new one. “Dark Desire” is a power jam while “1000 Eyes” has an introduction which reminds me a little of the track “Heavy Chains” off “TITE.” It’s still a great track and then comes the hidden gem, “Face to Face.” There is no attempt for melodic hard rock here, it’s almost thrash but Loudness pulls it off. Each member of the band contribute something here. Minoru Nihara shows he can sing at that speed and Akira Takasaki rips a blinder of a solo but it’s the rhythm section which impresses me here. Solid bass chords from Massayoshi Yamashita and frantic drumming from Muneteka Higuchi combine to make it the gem.

After “Who Knows” closes the first side in a way that makes you can’t wait to hear the second side, which opens with a very experimental sounding “Ashes in the Sky.” It is a very interesting track to say the least and I applaud Loudness for not being afraid to explore new territory. Akira does shine on the song with an acoustic intro backed with some power chords and a great guitar solo. It too is a hidden gem but not as big as “Face to Face.”

A second thrash type tune is found on “Black Star Oblivion.” The tempo races but it is here and the following song, “Street Life Dream,” where Akira plays his two best guitar solos. While “Street Life Dream” isn’t thrash, there are good power metal chords to be had. This brings me to the closer, “Complication.” I think it closes the album really well but I have since discovered that “Who Knows” closes the Japanese edition of the album. I can’t see how that would work.

Track Listing:

  1. Let It Go
  2. Dark Desire
  3. 1000 Eyes
  4. Face to Face
  5. Who Knows
  6. Ashes in the Sky
  7. Black Star Oblivion
  8. Street Life Dream
  9. Complication
Loudness

Minoru Nihara- lead vocals

Akira Takasaki- guitar

Massayoshi Yamashita- bass

Maneteka Higuchi- drums

Like I said earlier, Loudness’s 1985 album, “Thunder in the East” was a tough act to follow. However, I think that “Lightning Strikes” does a good job of coming very close.

Next post: Waysted- Save Your Prayers

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

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Saxon- Rock the Nations

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2020 by 80smetalman

October 11, 1986 was my first time attending a concert at the famous Hammersmith Odeon in London. No prizes for guessing who the headline band was or I wouldn’t be writing about it now. The support act will get the treatment in the next post but that night, I was excited about finally getting to see NWOBHM stars, Saxon and they didn’t disappoint.

An additional bonus on the night was that Saxon were on tour for their latest album, “Rock the Nations.” While I might have been there to hear some of my favourites from earlier years like “Wheels of Steel” and “Princess of the Night,” (they played both), the new material they played that night was just as good and of course, I had to get the album.

According to some critics, (I never pay attention to them anyway), “Rock the Nations” sounded cliche-ridden and sighted the departure of bassist and key song writer Steve Dawson as the reason why. Having only just started exploring Saxon in detail at the time, I didn’t know the internal politics of the band and for me, the album had everything I liked about Saxon in it.

“Rock the Nations” opens with the title track and makes it no secret that this is a Saxon album. Critics might have called it cliche but to me it was typical Saxon. If they wanted to pick on any track and they do, it’s the first single, “Waiting for the Night.” First, I can’t fathom why it was called a sappy ballad because I find it a radio- friendly, mid-tempo metal song. The other so-called sappy ballad is the closer, “Northern Lady.” Yes, it’s a ballad but in no way is it sappy. It’s a power ballad to the max with a great guitar solo. Furthermore, being married to a northern lady, it holds a special place for me in my metal heart.

Singles and ballads aside, there are some real cookers on this album. “Battle Cry” and “We Came to Rock” are great ones but if you want full on power chords and great solos, then you must listen to “You’re No Angel.” That track is the power rocker and its successor, “Running Hot,” gives it a one-two punch. “Empty Promises” walks the tightrope between all out power rock and the more radio friendly melodic metal. Actually, I thought this one would have made a better single.

This leads me to the hidden gem and the one track that’s definitely different. I’m talking about “Party ’til You Puke.” Something I did more times than I’d like to admit back then. There is a jazz feel on the song, mainly down to the fact that the band got some pianist named Elton John, (you might have heard of him), to tinkle the ivories on it. But while it has a jazz feel, there is enough power chords on here to let you remember that it’s still a Saxon metal song. The guitar work here says it all!

Track Listing:

  1. Rock the Nations
  2. Battle Cry
  3. Waiting for the Night
  4. We Came to Rock
  5. You’re No Angel
  6. Running Hot
  7. Party ’til You Puke
  8. Empty Promises
  9. Northern Lady
Saxon

Biff Byford- lead vocals, bass

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Nigel Glockler- drums

Paul Johnson- bass (doesn’t not actually play on the album)

Elton John- piano on “Party ’til You Puke”

Those same critics once said “Rock the Nations” will be an album quickly forgotten by the Saxon faithful. I have never forgotten this album. I’ve always considered it Saxon’s “Welcome to England” present for me.

Next post: Loudness- Lightning Strikes

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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.

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