Archive for Mellow out rock

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2017 by 80smetalman

Forget Toy Story, forget his controversial 1977 hit, “Short People,” my favourite Randy Newman song has always been “I Love LA,” which is the opening track on his album “Trouble in Paradise.” Released in 1983, this album didn’t come to my attention til the following year, courtesy of MTV, which is why I’m posting it here.

Alert, “Trouble in Paradise” is not an album for hardcore metalheads. Randy has always been a piano player and a very good one to say the least. His chops can be heard all throughout the album. However, there is one guitar solo on it. It appears on the track, “The Blues,” and is played by Steve Lukather of Toto fame. An additional bonus to this song is that he duets with Paul Simon on it and both do a fine job.

Many of Randy Newman’s songs have an air of humour about them. With this album, “Same Girl” and “My Life is Good” are good, funny tracks and I have always been tickled by some of the lyrics in “Miami.” “Miami, Blue day, best dope in the world and it’s free.” However, he has a serious side. To my knowledge, the track “Christmas in Capetown” was the first song to talk about the Apartheid in South Africa. He deserves full kudos for that. “Real Emotional Girl” is more of a serious ballad as well.

Many guest artists appear on “Trouble in Paradise” including the two who appear on the track, “The Blues.” Of all the tracks, I do love the backing  vocals from Jennifer Warnes, Wendy Waldman and Linda Ronstadt on “I’m Different.” For me, while Randy is his normal self on the song, it’s the backing vocals from these three ladies who really make this song shine for me. Definitely the second best track on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. I Love LA
  2. Christmas in Capetown
  3. The Blues
  4. Same Girl
  5. Mikey’s
  6. My Life is Good
  7. Miami
  8. Real Emotional Girl
  9. Take Me Back
  10. There’s a Party at My House
  11. I’m Different
  12. Song for the Dead

Randy Newman

Randy Newman- vocals, piano

Steve Lukather- guitar

Jennifer Warnes- vocals

Don Henley- vocals

Larry Williams- horns

Steve Madalo- horns

Jon Smith- horns

Ralph Grierson- piano

Neil Larson- piano

David Paich- keyboards

Michael Boddicker- keyboards

Nathan East- bass

Jeff Porcaro- drums

Larry Castro- percussion

Paulinho Da Costa- percussion

Christine McVie- backing vocals

Wendy Waldman- backing vocals

Lindsey Buckingham- backing vocals

Bob Seger- backing vocals

Linda Rondstadt- backing vocals

Rickie Lee Jones- backing vocals

Paul Simon- vocals on “The Blues”

Waddy Watchell- guitar

I won’t say that “Trouble in Paradise” is a great album to mellow out to but it does have its moments there. While Randy Newman is not as zany as Weird Al Yankovic, there is a good deal of humour if you listen for it. It’s a good album just to sit back and enjoy.

Next post; The Cars- Heartbeat City

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Great Pop Albums of 1984: Julian Lennon- Valotte

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2017 by 80smetalman

I’m taking a lead from a post from Rich and posting about one of my not guilty pleasures. By 1984, I was in full heavy metal mode and it might surprise some that I would even entertain a pop sounding album. My counter is that having been (and still am) a big fan of The Beatles, I thought an album by the son of the great John Lennon, whose life had been so tragically snuffed out just over three years prior, was worth a listen. To be frank, I do like Julian Lennon’s debut album, “Valotte.” While it’s called pop on Wikapedia, I have always and will continue to call it mellow out rock because that’s what it exactly is.

Julian’s old man’s influence can be heard straight away on the opening title track of the album and its head rises now and again throughout the album. My first reaction to the opening track was that he was trying to sound like his father and while there isn’t anything wrong with that, I was wondering on my first listen way back then that would there be any originality from the son. I can say there is. On the track, “On the Phone,” there is a venture near the waters of progressive rock and I do like the intro. The next track “Space” is an appropriate title for that song, It does sound rather spacey and goes even further into the prog rock zone.

“Well I Don’t Know” is for sure a pop tune but it does have the only true guitar solo I can discern on the album. (There is some lead guitar bridges in other songs but that’s all.) Unfortunately, as I am no longer in possession of the album and Wikapedia doesn’t say which guitarist plays the solo, we’ll never know. The next pop song is the big single from “Valotte” called “Too Late for Goodbyes,” which got a lot of play on radio and MTV at the time. Listening to it again after so many years, I do notice that he does walk the tightrope between sounding commercial pop and his father’s influences rather well. It is probably the best tune for a radio hit. But I much like better, songs like “Lonely” with the cool sax solo which is the highlight of this mellow tune. “Say You’re Wrong” goes more into 80s synth pop and while not terrible, is unspectacular. “Jesse” is the hardest track on “Valotte.” It’s not heavy, not even close, but there is an upbeat tempo and some cool guitar bridges on it. The closer, “Let Me Be” is interesting. It’s a kind of ragtime piano tune that’s only just over two minutes but it is the best way to close the album out. I think Julian might have been going for a non serious exit here.

Track Listing:

  1. Valotte
  2. O.K. for You
  3. On the Phone
  4. Space
  5. Well I Don’t Know
  6. Too Late for Goodbyes
  7. Lonely
  8. Say You’re Wrong
  9. Jesse
  10. Let Me Be

Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon- lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards, drums

Justin Clayton- guitar

Carlton Morales- guitar

Barry Beckett- keyboards

David Lebolt- keyboards

Peter Wood- keyboards

Roger Hawkins- drums

Steve Holley- drums, percussion

David Hood- bass

Marcus Miller- bass

Carmine Rojas- bass

Robert Mac Donald- percussion

Rory Dodd- backing vocals

Eric Taylor- backing vocals

Jon Faddis- trumpet

Joe Shepley- trumpet

Michael Brecker- saxophone

George Young- saxophone

Lawrence Feldman- saxophone

Ron Cuber- saxophone

Guest Musicians

Jean ‘Toots’ Theilmans- harmonica on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Martin Briley- guitar on “Too Late For Goodbyes”

Dennis Herring- guitar on “Jesse”

In one respect, Julian Lennon couldn’t win with the critics on “Valotte.” The either said he was trying to be too much like his father or not enough. While his father’s influence is there, he does have his own stamp on the album, even if it is a very mellow album. While I wouldn’t listen to it travelling to or from Bloodstock, if I was younger, I would use it in the same ways teenage boys used “Beth” by KISS in the 1970s or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in the late 80s. The album is all right.

Next post: The Alarm- Declaration

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Great? Rock Albums of 1983: Chris DeBurgh- The Getaway

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2016 by 80smetalman

The_Getaway

Don’t bother scrolling down to see if I’ve written “April Fool” at the bottom of the post, I am seriously posting about this album because I actually bought it in 1983. There is a cautionary moral to my tale. Throughout my entire record buying life, I had one record buying rule: Never buy an entire album on account of one song. This rule has probably saved me lots of money over the years  but one time, in 1983, I broke my rule and the result was Chris DeBurgh, “The Getaway.”

In May of that year, Chris’s best known hit, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” got a considerable amount of airplay on the radio and I liked it. I liked the rather rock sounding lead guitar breaks between the verses along with fantasy quest sounding lyrics. Plus I liked eerie introduction to the song, the keyboards and acoustic guitar got my attention straight away. My point, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” is a decent rock song. Now, I could blame it on my lack of living space whilst still in the marines as normally, I would have bought the song on 45. (Remember those?) However, I didn’t want to risk the record breaking while packed with all my stuff for that final trip home, so I bought “The Getaway” on cassette.

In tradition of the time, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” opens the album. The joke here is that I could have stopped the tape there but I didn’t. Sometimes, I think that maybe I should have. After the big hit, the next three songs are totally mellow out love song ballad type things. None of them really grabs my interest. Then things speed up for the next two songs. Both “The Getaway” and “Ship to Shore” are not ballads but still not rock. They are both trendy pop songs and though I’ve heard worse, nothing to get excited about. Then after another ballad, things take a slightly interesting turn.

“The Borderline” is a ballad but the lyrics are quite interesting. The song is about two lovers who live in neighbouring countries who are about to go to war. Since the nations of Europe fought like cats and dogs from the fall of the Roman Empire until World War 2, this situation probably happened a lot. Another nice surprise is as the song nears the end, you are treated to a rather decent guitar solo. The credits don’t say who plays it but hats of to whoever it was. After “Where Peaceful Waters Flow,” which sounds like it has a choir harmonizing on it, comes the closer in three parts. The beginning called “Revolution” sets the song up for its glorious middle where that guitarist gets to shine again on “Light a Fire.” This part is the rockingest on the album and maybe a metal band should cover just those two minutes. Then in typical fashion on the album, “Liberty” is another ballad to end the song, except I have come to like the keyboard exit that ends the album in a eerie manner similar to how the album started. So, with “The Getaway,” we have a good beginning and a half decent end to the album. It’s just the in between that lets it down.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  2. The Island
  3. Crying and Laughing
  4. I’m Counting on You
  5. The Getaway
  6. Ship to Shore
  7. All the Love I Have Inside
  8. The Borderline
  9. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  10. Revolution
  11. Light a Fire
  12. Liberty
Chris DeBurgh

Chris DeBurgh

Chris DeBurgh- vocals, guitar, piano

Rupert Hine- synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals

Jim Giblin- bass

Steve Negus- drums

Phil Palmer- guitars

Dave Caddick- piano on I’m Counting on You

Tim Wynveen- guitars

Anthony Thistlewaite- saxophone

Steven W Tayler- woodwinds, saxophone

Nigel Warren-Green- cello

Anthony Head, Sue Wilkinson, Diane Davison, Miriam Stockley- backing vocals

I have come to this conclusion, I theorize that Chris DeBurgh had the potential to be a great rock singer. Instead, he sang ballads and other mellow out songs. “The Getaway” is evidence of both. Still don’t do what I did and buy this album on account of a really good opening song.

Next post: Modern English- After the Snow

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 1983: Todd Rundgren- The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Toddruntgrenbang

The first time I heard the song “Bang On the Drum All Day” by Todd Rundgren on the radio, I thought, “This is great! Todd is back.” I have been a big Todd Rundgren fan since 1978 when a friend enlightened me to the “Something/Anything” album. Adding to the euphoria brought on by listening to that album, he then released the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album in said year. If I wasn’t a Rundgren convert before, I certainly was after hearing both of those great albums. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that I would be obtaining his newest offering in 1983.

toddsa

trhomh

In a fairy tale world, I would be telling you how great “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect” is. Unfortunately, it’s not. It lacks the versatility that I have always liked Todd for. On the two previously mentioned albums, there is lots of progressive rock, hard rock, ballads and even a little heavy metal. “Metal?” you ask. Just listen to the track “Out of Control” off the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album and you’ll see what I mean. Another thing great about Todd’s previous albums is that he brings a bit of humour to some of the songs on both. However, on this album, the only evidence of that is on the track “Emperor of the Highway,” which is the second best track behind “Bang On the Drum All Day.”

The funny thing is that the first four tracks all start off with a very catchy introduction but each of those tracks quickly turn bland after and one loses interest. They are all very keyboard dominated and pretty much sound the same. “Tin Soldier” picks things up a little and it’s the third best track. Then comes to the two best tracks and they redeem the album from the previous blandness. Sadly though, the last two tracks are a big let down following the big single. Maybe Todd should have made “Bang On the Drum All Day” the closer, it would have worked in my humble opinion.

In defense of Todd, now, unlike the Motorhead album, reading a little of the background history to this album was a good thing as far as Mr Rundgren is concerned. It turns out that “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” was a contractual obligation album. Therefore, he didn’t put the time and effort into it as he did with his better albums. This would be his last album with Bearsville Records. So, with this new evidence taken into consideration, I can let him slide for this album not measuring up to the previous ones.

Track Listing:

  1. Hideaway
  2. Influenza
  3. Don’t Hurt Yourself
  4. There Goes Your Baybay
  5. Tin Soldier
  6. Emperor of the Highway
  7. Bang on the Drum All Day
  8. Drive
  9. Chant

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Todd Rundgren- All instruments, vocals and production

All in all, “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” isn’t horrible. It’s just not nearly as great as his best albums. Then again, when you record an album simply because you have to, it probably won’t be as good and you won’t put your best effort into it. Let it be known that my feelings for the posted album in no way detract from my assertion that Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame.

On a separate note, when I learned about Lemmy’s passing last week, I thought that the metal hating UK newspaper, The Sun, would say little if anything at all about it. To my surprise, there was two pages dedicated to the great man and his contribution to music over the past forty years. Before we get to excited, one of the contributors did write about Lemmy’s limited vocal capability. He misses the point, Lemmy’s voice was perfect for the songs he sang. Let’s hear Olly Muirs try to sing “Ace of Spades.” Then again, the skeptic in me thinks that the main reason the paper ran so much about Lemmy is because he is seen as a British icon.

thesun

Next post: Bryan Adams- Cuts Like A Knife

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 1982: Glenn Frey- No Fun Aloud

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2015 by 80smetalman

nofunaloud

 It was often speculated back in the early 1980s if Glenn Frey and Don Henley were engaged in a rivalry after the Eagles split. Many thought the same thing a decade earlier with John Lennon and Paul McCartney after the Beatles broke up. The evidence in this case was the fact that in 1982, both Frey and Henley put out albums around the same time. Don Henley’s album was visited in the last post so this time, I’ll take a look at Glenn Frey’s debut album, “No Fun Aloud.”

One big similarity between the two albums from the former Eagles is Glenn Frey also uses a shit load of musicians to record the album. In fact, I recognised at least one name from the Don Henley album although Glenn doesn’t use any members from Toto on his album. Another big similarity is the fact that while Glenn Frey does add put his own stamp on the album, there are still plenty of hints from his Eagle days on “No Fun Aloud.”

Frey’s stamp is immediately put on the album with the two opening tracks, both of which are introduced with horns. Both, however, do the job in hooking your attention. The opener, “I Found Somebody” is a more bouncier tune while its successor, “The One You Love” is more of a slow jazz sound. The Eagles influence comes with the next song, “Party Town.” “Sea Cruise” comes from way out in left field because it wasn’t something I would have expected from Glenn. The song is more of a reggae, calypso sound but fair play, he makes it work. One song that sticks out for me is “That Girl,” which Glenn co wrote with Bob Seger. It is definitely Glenn’s style of song but you can hear Bob’s influence on it as well. It had me wondering out loud if these two did any more collaborations and saying it’s a shame if they hadn’t. Furthermore, I do like the lead guitar intro in “All Those Lies,” a classic Eagles type jam, kind of reminiscent of “One of These Nights.” The closer, “Don’t Give Up,” is the hardest rocker on the album. Some impressive guitar and a couple of solos make sure this album goes out on a high.

Track Listing:

1. I Found Somebody

2. The One You Love

3. Party Town

4. I Volunteer

5. I’ve Been Born Again

6. Sea Cruise

7. That Girl

8. All Those Lies

9. She Can’t Let Go

10. Don’t Give Up

Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey- vocals, guitar, organ, synthesizer, bass, keyboards, piano, clavinet

Wayne Perkins- acoustic guitar

Duncan Cameron- electric guitar

Danny Kootch Korchmar- lead guitar

Josh Leo- lead guitar

Roger Hawkins- bass, drums

Bryan Garofalo- bass

Bob Glaub- bass

David Hood- bass

Roberto Pinon- bass

Michael Huey- drums

John J.R. Robinson- drums

Allen Balzeck- keyboards

Clayton Ivey- piano

David Hawk Wallinsky- organ, synthesizer

Al Garth -tenor sax

Greg Smith- sax, backing vocals

William Bergman- saxophone

Harvey Thompson- saxophone

Jim Coiles- saxophone

Ronnie Eades- saxophone

Jim Horn- saxophone

Ernie Watts- saxophone

Lee Thornburg- trumpet

John Berry Jr- trumpet

Jim Ed Norman- strings

Steve Foreman- percussion

Heart Attack- horns

It’s hard to say for sure if there was any sort of rivalry between Glenn Frey and Don Henley or if Glenn had the dilemma that some artists have when they are/were in a group and record a solo album. All I know is that “No Fun Aloud” is a suitable solo debut album from Glenn Frey.

Next post: Styx- Kilroy Was Here

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

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1982: Steve Miller Band- Abracadabra

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-AbracadabraSM

Unfortunately for the Steve Miller Band, they were another artist, like Billy Joel, I had written off as selling out in the early 1980s. They were another band I was quite into in the late 1970s only to go off them in the early 80s. After some reflection, I have come to the conclusion as to why I accused both Billy Joel and the Steve Miller Band of selling out. By late 1982, mainstream popular music and I were heading into totally opposite directions. While music was going into more new wave synth pop, my musical tastes were growing more and more harder and while I didn’t realise it at the time, I was well on my way to becoming a metalhead.

Whatever the reason, however, the best known song and title cut from the Steve Miller Band’s 1982 album, “Abracadabra,” is not one of the songs that first come to mind when I think of this band. This is in spite of the fact that when I went to the Driftwood in 1982 and I went there a lot in the four months I was in the US, there was a dancer, (not Twinkles, she had stopped dancing there in Autumn of 81), who knew how to work the stage to that song. Fortunately, as I know all too well, one song does not an album make.

The Driftwood (I still can't believe I found a picture of it online)

The Driftwood (I still can’t believe I found a picture of it online)

The best sticker I can assign to “Abracadabra” is soft rock or mellow out rock or melodic rock, probably a combination of all the above. The album has its good moments. While it was softer than what my musical tastes would allow at the time, at least it’s done with guitars and no synthesizers. You  can hear this in each and every song. “Give It Up” gets my vote for number one song and I have to give an honourable mention to “Never Say No,” “Cool Magic” and the closer “While I’m Waiting.” When I listened to the album again after so many years, I realised that it still possessed the quality musicianship I had come to appreciate about the Steve Miller Band back in the late 70s. I just didn’t appreciate it back in 1982.

Track Listing:

1. Keeps Me Wondering Why

2. Abracadabra

3. Something Special

4. Give It Up

5. Never Say No

6. Things I Told You

7. Young Girl’s Heart

8. Goodbye Love

9. Cool Magic

10. While I’m Waiting

Steve Miller Band

Steve Miller Band

    The Steve Miller Band has always appealed to my more mellower side and I must give credit to where credit is due, the “Abracadabra” album is as good as some of their others although “Fly Like an Eagle” remains my favourite. I realise now that my mind was so focused on hard rock that the album didn’t tickle my fancy back in 1982. Times change and though I still focus on the hard stuff, I can take time and appreciate some of the more melodic offerings like this album.

Next post: Uriah Heep- Abominog

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

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: A Flock of Seagulls

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-DebutSeagulls

I first heard of A Flock of Seagulls on the radio when it was advertised they would be opening for Cheap Trick at an advertised concert. While, I thought nothing much about it at the time, I wondered after hearing their debut self titled album and comparing it to the albums I’ve heard from Cheap Trick, if this would have made a good combination for a concert. As we already know, Cheap Trick are known for  for their hard rock sound but A Flock of Seagulls had a much more progressive sound and were considered very new wave at the time. It only leaves me wondering how a concert like this would have gone down.

Some have argued that A Flock of Seagulls were the springboard that made it possible for progressive rock to descend into synth pop. Their sound is very keyboard oriented but it sounds nothing like the music which would come out a year or two later. Of course, synth pop was already making a name for itself in the UK but I can’t put that branding on this band.

Their first offering to my ears was their biggest song, “I Ran (So Far Away.) I did and still do like the way the keyboards are used in the song. It has a relaxing, reassuring feel to the song and you can appreciate that the band are capable musicians. The rest of the album also generates this same mood but the songs that stick out most for me are “Modern Love is Automatic,” “Space Age Love Song” and the instrumental “DNA.” In my view, this is a great album to lay back, mellow out and just appreciate.

Track Listing:

1. Modern Love is Automatic

2. Messages

3. I Ran (So Far Away)

4. Space Age Love Song

5. You Can Run

6. Telecommunication

7. Standing in the Doorway

8. Don’t Ask Me

9. DNA

10. Tokyo

11. Man Made

A Flock of Seagulls- Also this haircut would also be a trademark for the band

A Flock of Seagulls- Also this haircut would also be a trademark for the band

Mike Score- lead vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar

Paul Reynolds- lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Frank Maudsley- bass, backing vocals

Ali Score- drums, percussion

In 1982, A Flock of Seagulls heralded an age of new wave into music. Their melodic, progressive sound was truly original and yet enjoyed by many.

Next post: Men At Work- Business As Usual

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