Archive for Johnny Van Zant

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Van Zant

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2018 by 80smetalman

If there was ever proof that in 1985, the phrase ‘sold out’ was banded about quite liberally, even by me, it was with this 1985 from Van Zant. The name has always been familiar in Southern Rock terms and in this case, it was a simple re-branding of the Johnny Van Zant band. The band even had all its original members. So, why did I accuse them of selling out? The answer was that with this self titled album, Van Zant, like Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot a year earlier had moved away from the traditional Southern Rock boogie sound to a more keyboards, progressive AOR sound. However, my mis-branding of this band was short lived because after a few listens, I realized that I was wrong to ever accuse them of selling out.

One major proof I was wrong was that this album contains one of my favourite songs of 1985 and it’s definitely up there in the all time list. “I’m a Fighter” was not an abandonment from Van Zant’s more hard rocking Southern sound. In fact, it’s rare that a single released from an album in the mid 1980s sound less AOR than the rest of the album but this song absolutely kicks ass! From its unique acoustic guitar intro, to the hard rocking guitars and the blow away guitar solo, all led by the steady vocals of Johnny Van Zant who does the family name proud on every track of the album.

Once one gets over the fact that keyboards are used on the album, the rest of the album is quite good. In fact, the keyboards are used quite well. Sure, they are more prominent in tracks such as “She’s Out With a Gun” and “You’ve Got to Believe in Love” but they are still good songs and the latter does have a killer guitar solo. In fact, I think that Robbie Gay and Erik Lundgren may be the most underrated guitar duo of all time. Tracks such as the opener “Midnight Sensation,” the single I’ve already mentioned, “Two Strangers in Love” and “2+2” are all good to decent rockers. “Two Strangers in Love” is my vote for the hidden gem on the album, especially the way the guitar solo takes the song out at the end.

Thinking back to that time, maybe the reason why it took me a couple of listens to get into this album maybe be down to the four remaining tracks. While not bad, they don’t reach the mark set by the first six songs. The possible exception being “Does a Fool Ever Learn,” which is about a woman who’s with an abusive man but won’t leave him. Full marks to the band for bringing this issue to light in the song. Also while not as spectacular as the first six, “Heart to the Flame” does have a catchy vibe to it and but it took me a couple of listens to notice. However, all’s well that ends well and now I regard this album as one of my tops for 1985.

Track Listing:

  1. Midnight Sensation
  2. She’s Out With a Gun
  3. I’m a Fighter
  4. You’ve Got to Believe in Love
  5. Two Strangers in Love
  6. 2+2
  7. Heart to the Flame
  8. Does a Fool Ever Learn
  9. Right on Time
  10. Lonely Girls

                         Van Zant 

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Morris- drums

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Gay- guitar, backing vocals

Erik Lundgren- guitar, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

Richard Head- synclavier

Brian Heathrington- keyboards, synthesizer

Steve McCray- keyboards, synthesizer

Thinking about it, the self titled album from the re-branded Van Zant wasn’t the top of my favourite album of 1985 list but it was definitely on it. I would call this the most underrated album of said year because it is a blinder. The problem was with people’s attitudes in 1985. Anything with heavy guitars was considered heavy metal while many metalheads considered anything with a keyboard too mainstream. This can be the only reason this album didn’t fare so well.

Next post: AC/DC- Fly on the Wall

Those who’ve known me for some time might have already guessed why I’m posting this album next.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1609763556?pf_rd_p=855cdcfd-05d9-474f-b84d-8286a3530ba1&pf_rd_r=THG6RHH8RZVA8V406BZ7

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: Johnny Van Zant Band- The Last of the Wild Ones

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2015 by 80smetalman

jvz-wildones

 Owing to the fact that I spent two thirds of 1982 overseas combined with the expectations of the military, I only managed to attend one concert in 1982. It was at a local club in Jacksonville, North Carolina called the Chateau Madrid. It’s not there any more and unlike the Driftwood, I couldn’t find any pictures of it on line. Anyway, there are no prizes for guessing who it was I saw that night as I am visiting the album from that tour of the Johnny Van Zant band right now. I remember it being a good night and Johnny and Co were on form and I loved when they played Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “I Ain’t the One.” However, what could have ruined that night was the fact it was in a club full of drunk marines, yes I was one of them but I didn’t get involved in any scraps that night. No kidding, while I was enjoying the show, two marines to my right suddenly went to the floor in a heap and started hooking and jabbing. A few minutes after the bouncers broke up that fight and ejected the participants, two more guys on my left engaged in similar festivities. Those weren’t the only two bouts on the card that night but I didn’t let it spoil my enjoyment of the evening.

“The Last of the Wild Ones” is the third album from the Johnny Van Zant Band and it is definitely a power Southern Rock album. Some of the tracks are almost metal such as the opener and “Can’t Live Without Your Love.” Both of these are some very heavy songs where Robbie Gay and Erik Lundgren show what they are capable of with a guitar in their hands. The track “Inside Looking Out” sounds like what I think Boston would have sounded like if they had come from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The power ballad, “Still Hold On” is the one song of such genre that comes closest to the bar set by April Wine the previous year as to what a power ballad should sound like. “It’s You” is the one song I remember getting air play at the time and it’s not your standard made for radio single. This song rocks and I can’t believe how much I had forgotten of the song, shame on me I know. My question is why this album didn’t break the band out of the Southeast as had it gotten more notice up North, it would have done well.

Track Listing:

1. Good Girls Gone Bad

2. It’s You

3. The Last of the Wild Ones

4. Still Hold On

5. Can’t Live Without Your Love

6. Danger Zone

7. Together Forever

8. Inside Looking Out

9. The One and Only

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Gay- lead guitar

Erik- Lundgren- lead guitar

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Morris- drums

Maybe it was because the corporate record companies had made their millions out of Southern Rock the previous year the reason for why this album seems virtually unknown outside the Southeast of the USA. This is a shame because they alone got to enjoy what a great album “The Last of the Wild Ones” really is and many got to do it without having drunk marines fighting around them.

Next post: Greatest Hits of the Outlaws- High Tides Forever

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 Rock Albums of 1981: Nantucket- A Long Way To The Top

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by 80smetalman

 

Long_Way_To_The_Top_LPDue to the fact that I didn’t hear this album until the August of 1981, I have always assumed that “A Long Way to the Top” by Nantucket was released in that year. I now know that it was released in 1980. The title cut is a cover of the AC/DC classic and was recorded as a tribute to the passing of Bon Scott. It won the band a supporting slot with AC/DC on the “Back in Black” tour. That must have been one hell of a concert and I wish I wasn’t on sea duty at the time.

Like the Johnny Van Zant Band, Nantucket were yet another great Southern Rock band who were around at Southern Rock’s peak of popularity but never really got recognised outside the Southeast of the U.S. At least, Johnny Van Zant could be identified with his famous late brother but this wasn’t the case for Nantucket. I admit, if I hadn’t been down south at the time, I probably would have never heard of them either. Fortunately, for me, I did get to hear this wonderful album.

First, the tribute to Bon is a very fitting one, Nantucket do a splendid job covering this long time AC/DC gem. Lead singer Larry Uzzell does try to sound like Bon and while no one can ever duplicate Scott, his efforts are noteworthy. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint either but is played in the great tradition that made Nantucket a name for themselves in the South. “Time Bomb,” “5o More,” “Living With You” and “Rugburn” are all great songs. The one standout track, other than the title cut, for me is “Too Much Wrong in the Past.” That is a classic rock song. I love the way that song fakes the listener in with the piano and lead guitar as if it’s going to be a power ballad and then just explodes, very nicely done.

Track Listing:

1. A Long Way to the Top

2. Living With You

3. Time Bomb

4. 50 More

5. Media Darling

6. Rugburn

7. Too Much Wrong in the Past

8. Over and Over

9. Turn On the Radio

10. Tell Me (Doctor Rhythm Method)

11. Rescue

12. Rock the 80s

Nantucket

Nantucket

Tommy Redd- guitars, vocals

Larry Uzzell- lead vocals

Tommy Downing- lead guitar

Eddie Blair- sax, keyboards, vocals

Kenny Soule- drums

Pee Wee Watson- bass, vocals

Nantucket were another band that should have gotten more world wide attention but unfortunately didn’t. This album proves that they were as good as many of their Southern contemporaries. Still, I would have loved to see them open for AC/DC.

Next post: Marshall Tucker Band- Dedicated

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

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

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Johnny Van Zant Band- Round Two

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by 80smetalman

R-150-1201591-1200342586

Whether it was the glam metal scene in LA or the thrash scene in San Francisco back in the 1980s, of all the bands from those areas who gained world wide popularity, there were many bands who were just as good but never fully broke out of the local scene. The same thing can be said of Southern rock in the earlier part of the decade. I was fortunate to have been stationed in North Carolina during this time, so I was fully able to appreciate it when Southern Rock was at the height of its glory. It gave me a good feeling whenever I trotted back across the Mason-Dixon Line to New Jersey, that many of my friends were listening to Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws and 38 Special. Unfortunately, not so many people heard of Johnny Van Zant when I mentioned them up north. They were mainly well known just in the south.

As all my British friends would say, this was a bloody shame because the Johnny Van Zant Band were a very good band and their second album, “Round Two” bears witness to this fact. There is a definitely influence from Johnny’s older brother on this album because I can detect some Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds here. But in no way does this band simply rip off the great Skynyrd. They bring their own brand of hard rock to tracks like “(Who’s) Right or Wrong,” “Shot Down” and “Standing in the Falling Rain.” Lead guitarists Robbie Gay and Eric Lundgren  know how to play on these songs as well as others. They also do a very hard version of the Beatles classic “Drive My Car.” The album does have a ballad in the form of “Yesterday’ Gone.” I must declare that of all the Van Zant boys, Johnny’s vocals are the most attuned for singing ballads. Not that he can’t sing harder songs just as well, maybe better. It’s just too bad “Round Two” has been allowed to lay dormant for so many years.

Track Listing:

1. (Who’s) Right or Wrong

2. Standing in the Falling Rain

3. Yesterday’s Gone

4. Let There Be Music

5. Keep Our Love Alive

6. Night Time Lady

7. Drive My Car

8. Shot Down

9. Cold Hearted Woman

10. Play My Music

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant Band

Johnny Van Zant- vocals

Robbie Gay- lead guitar

Erik- Lundgren- lead guitar

Danny Clausman- bass

Robbie Morris- drums

As I progress through hard rock and metal history, I am discovering albums and bands that I took little notice of or missed completely. I can’t say that I missed the Johnny Van Zant Band because I saw them live in 1982 but that’s another story. I do regret not listening to this album more back in the time and I wish more people did as well. Here’s everyone’s chance to rectify that now.

Next post: Nantucket- Long Way to the Top

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