Archive for Hysteria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track Listing:

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

Brian Volmer- lead vocals

Brent ‘Doctor’ Doener- guitar, backing vocals

Paul Hackman- guitar, backing vocal

Daryl Gray- bass, keyboards, piano, backing vocals

Greg ‘Fritz’ Hinz- drums, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

Don Airey, Sam Reid- additional keyboards

Mickey Curry, Brian Doener, Matthew Fernette- additional drums

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

Next post: Great White- Once Bitten

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

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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: Def Leppard- Hysteria

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2022 by 80smetalman

The challenge for me writing about Def Leppard’s 1987 “Hysteria” album is what I can I say or write about it which hasn’t been said before? I mean this album spawned seven singles, went platinum in many countries and gold in a few more as well as going to number one in the charts. Furthermore, the album was finally recorded four years after their previous sensational album, “Pyromania,” in which the band had to overcome the tragic accident which cost drummer Rick Allen his arm and Steve Clark’s battle with alcohol. There was also the problem with producers. Mutt Lange started producing but walked out and Jim Steinman didn’t last. The band tried to produce it themselves but Mutt came back and helped the band make history. So, in many ways, this album was a remarkable triumph for the band.

As soon as I heard the opening riffs to “Women,” I knew this album was going to be a good one. True, many heavy metal purists said that it was a slide away from metal to more power pop but the songs are so good, I don’t care. There is a lot of good metal bits on the album for me to enjoy. The entire first side of the album, (I first got it on cassette), was nothing but the hits. Most of you know them already so I don’t feel the need to go through each one individually. Besides, some of you have written a lot about the album that I fear that I would simply be repeating.

On the subject of metal vs power pop, the one track and it’s my favourite on the album and second favourite Def Leppard song of all time, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is definitely a heavy metal song. Those power chords just blow me away and yes the way they sing the title in the chorus may sound cheesy to some but this song just knocks it out of the park. A grand slam because the previous tracks load the bases. (For my non North American readers, I’m using baseball terms). In addition, it sets up very nicely for the next track, “Armageddon It.” Love those opening riffs.

With all of the singles, you might be asking which track do I put for hidden gem. Okay, you’re probably not asking that but I’m going to answer anyway. The hidden gem is “Gods of War.” True, nowadays some might think the exploding bombs and machine gun noises in the background are a bit silly but at the time I thought they were cool. I thought the same when they used excerpts from Ronald Reagan’s and Margaret Thatcher’s speeches about the 1986 US bombing of Libya and the Falklands War. On top of that, I really love Rick Savage’s bass line and the guitars on it, great song.

With the exception of the title track, the rest of the second side weren’t singles, even the hidden gem. However, it would be wrong to call any of these tracks filler. They are certainly not in my book. “Run Riot” comes pretty close to being another hidden gem.

Track Listing:

  1. Women
  2. Rocket
  3. Animal
  4. Love Bites
  5. Pour Some Sugar on Me
  6. Armageddon It
  7. Gods of War
  8. Don’t Shoot Shotgun
  9. Run Riot
  10. Hysteria
  11. Excitable
  12. Love and Affection

Joe Elliot- lead and backing vocals

Steve Clark- guitar, backing vocals

Phil Collen- guitar, backing vocals

Rick Savage- bass, backing vocals

Rick Allen- drums, backing vocals

While I don’t agree with those who say that Def Leppard sold out with “Hysteria,” they’re laughing all the way to the bank, I wouldn’t debate those who say that it was the start of the slippery slope away from metal and more into commercial rock. But in 1987, I didn’t give two and a half shits about that, I just really liked the album.

Next post: Envy- Ain’t It a Sin

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