Archive for melodic rock

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Tommy Shaw- Girls With Guns

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2017 by 80smetalman

 

Styx guitarist, although back in 1984 it was former, Tommy Shaw’s first solo album is yet another reason why I don’t let one song influence me when I buy an album. It was the opening title track that was played by radio and while “Girls With Guns” is a decent song, it on its own, wouldn’t have been enough for me to buy the album. What influenced me to buy it was the songs Tommy wrote whilst he was in his former band.

The great thing about Styx in the 1970s and 80s was that Tommy, Dennis De Young and James Young all had the ability to write and perform great songs. While I don’t have a preference in this realm, the songs that Tommy wrote which I really loved were: “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Renegade” and “Man in the Wilderness” for starters. Therefore, like with Dennis’s solo album, I used the memories of the great Styx songs Tommy wrote to influence my decision to buy “Girls With Guns.”

Styx

Did my logic work out? My answer is yes. It’s true that the opener, title track and first single was always intended to sound more 80s synth but I did like it. It doesn’t really matter because each track after offers up something new each time. The very next track, “Come In and Explain” is very much heavy rock and Tommy does open up with his guitar on that one. Following that, he attempts a ballad with “Lonely School.” Now, I don’t want to knock his voice because Tommy Shaw can sing and it’s not a bad song but I don’t think that voice is made for ballads, at least on this song. Just my thoughts that’s all. However, he does go into more familiar territory with “Heads Up.” This sounds like his days with Styx and there is good harmonizing in the vocals. Plus, there’s the added bonus of him laying down a particularly cool guitar solo, so full marks here.

Pure speculation here but maybe he realized he wasn’t up for singing ballads because while “Kiss Me Hello” is a ballad, there is much more harmonizing on it and therefore a big improvement. Additionally, I have to give full marks to Peter Wood here because he does a marvelous job on the keyboards on this one. Tommy does end the song with a little guitar solo so full marks all around, actually.

“Fading Away” has a very progressive rock intro and then goes to a reggae sound. Now Tommy Shaw is no Bob Marley but his voice sounds okay on it. He does fuse more progressive rock into the song and the mix sounds okay. “Little Girl World” has a catchy feel good factor about it. It’s one of those songs you would play at a celebration or something and has some more good keyboard work from Wood. But there’s some hard guitars that do manifest themselves out of the background. A similar thing can be said for “Outside in the Rain” but the guitars are more noticeable, especially with one of Shaw’s solos on it. He is also accompanied by one Carol Kenyon on the vocals. “Free to Love You” is the love child between 1980s synth and traditional Styx. Elements of both permeate the album without either establishing dominance and with another cool guitar solo, Tommy blends them well. The closer, “The Race is On” is a decent progressive rock song with saxophones on it. Nicely done in a way that closes the album out on a good note.

Track Listing:

  1. Girls With Guns
  2. Come In and Explain
  3. Lonely School
  4. Heads Up
  5. Kiss Me Hello
  6. Fading Away
  7. Little Girl World
  8. Outside in the Rain
  9. Free to Love You
  10. The Race is On

Tommy Shaw, now sporting a mullet in 1984

 

Tommy Shaw- guitars and lead vocals, mandolin

Steve Holley- drums, percussion

Brian Stanley- bass

Peter Wood- piano, electric piano, synthesizers

Carol Kenyon- accompanying vocals on “Outside in the Rain”

Richie Connata- sax solo on “The Race is On”

Molly Duncan- saxophone section on “The Race is On”

Tommy Shaw followed Dennis De Young in releasing a solo album after Styx. While he’s not afraid to stretch out a bit on the album, he does remember that his guitar work is his main weapon as it was for Styx. However, he does have  good keyboards player in Peter Wood and that helps to make “Girls With Guns” the winner here. If I were to compare it to Dennis’s album.

Next post: The Kinks- Word of Mouth

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1501701674&sr=8-7&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by 80smetalman

Nearly everyone and their sibling says that the “Grace Under Pressure” album was the beginning of Rush’s synthesizer period. In reality, the band had started to go in that direction with their previous album, “Signals.” What was popularly believed at the time was that as a result of my favourite Rush album, “Moving Pictures,” some misguided persons heard songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” and called Rush a heavy metal band. Therefore, in reaction to that, they went for the more synthesizer sound to squash the stereotype. At first I believed it but now in my old age, I don’t really care if it was true at the time or not. I just like the album.

While Rush are not heavy metal, it doesn’t stop many metalheads like myself from liking them, a lot. In the opening pages of “Rock And Roll Children,” the main characters play “Grace Under Pressure” to mellow out a bit after an evening of heavy metal records. I have to admit, when I heard the first single, “Distant Early Warning,” I wasn’t too sure about them. Maybe they had sold out and gone commercial. I guess in my naivety, I expected them to continue in the same vein as my favourite Rush album. But believe me, “Grace Under Pressure” was no sell out and it was many levels above some of the other synthesizer music that was manifesting at the time.

What Rush did with “Grace Under Pressure” was take the emerging synth sound and made it into something of their own. I’ve said a number of times that all three members are talented musicians and together, they can create some fantastic music which all will enjoy no matter what camp you’re in. For me, sure I was slightly disappointed at first that the guitar takes a back seat on the album, but it doesn’t go away completely. You can clearly hear Liefson’s licks laying down the foundation along with Peart’s beat in support of Lee’s keyboard skills and vocals. I have always stated that Lee has been underrated as a keyboards player. As for Alex, he does nail solos on “The Body Electric”  and the closer, “Between the Wheels,” and I do like his intro on “The Enemy Within.” That has to be my favourite track on the album. Now, I won’t break down the album into individual songs because they all are good on their own and all compliment each other and that makes a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Distant Early Warning
  2. Afterimage
  3. Red Sector A
  4. The Enemy Within
  5. The Body Electric
  6. Kid Gloves
  7. Red Lenses
  8. Between the Wheels

Rush

Geddy Lee- vocals, synthesizers, bass

Alex Liefson- guitars

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

I think that “Grace Under Pressure” achieves what Rick, Frankie, Jeff and Bob were going for in “Rock and Roll Children.” They were looking something to just kick back and listen to. The album allows you to do that because that’s when you begin to hear and appreciate all the small intricacies contained there in and that’s when you know how good it is.

Next post: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

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 Metal Albums of 1982: Loudness- Devil Soldier

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by 80smetalman

LOUDNESS_DS

Funny thing about Loudness, I spent the last three months of 1982 and the first three of 1983 in their home country, Japan, and never heard of them. Thinking back to my time there, I do not remember hearing any home grown music of any kind. The juke boxes in any bar I went to or even in the night clubs, all they seemed to play was Western music. My conclusion is that the Japanese are more receptive to Western music and for an act to make it there, it has to first make it outside of Japan. Loudness would certainly do that three years later but at this time, they would remain beyond my attention.

One thing that Loudness certainly prove with their second album, “Devil Soldier,” is that metal can rule no matter what language it’s sung in. As long as there is a great band behind a brilliant voice, great metal can break down barriers. Some of the songs are sung in the native tongue with some parts sung in English. Take “Rock the Nation,” I tried to follow along with the lyrics written down in English but they didn’t sound like English to me, except for parts of the chorus. Nevertheless, lead singer Minoru Nihara sings it very well and he is yet another singer whose talents haven’t been given the respect it deserves. I’m going to put my hand in the piranha’s tank and put him in the same class as Dio, Meine and Gillan. His vocals just come through on each and every song.

Talking about talent, guitarist Akira Takasaki has gotten some well deserved respect. Some have said that he copies other great guitarists but I don’t hear it. The closest he or the band in general come to copying is on the title track where the beginning of the song reminds me of Heart’s classic “Barracuda.” Thinking about it, I did see that song on at least one juke box when I was in Japan. Back to the subject, Akira lays down some good riffs on many songs, most notably, “Hard Workin'” and “Angel Dust.” When he’s not shredding, he does very well in accompaniment with the rhythm section. So, what do I think? Simply, this album kicks ass.

Track Listing:

  1. Lonely Player
  2. Angel Dust
  3. After Illusion
  4. Girl
  5. Hard Workin’
  6. Loving Maid
  7. Rock the Nation
  8. Devil Soldier
Loudness

Loudness

Minoru Nihara- vocals

Akira Takasaki- guitar

Masayoshi Yamashita- bass

Munetaka Higuchi- drums

In 1985, many in the West would say that thunder would come from the east and it did. However, in 1982, Loudness were still gearing up for their conquest with a great album in “Devil Soldier.” It’s proof to me that heavy metal could unite the world.

Next post: Whitesnake- Saints and Sinners

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishingroup.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

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: Don Henley- I Can’t Stand Still

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2015 by 80smetalman

Don_Henley_-_I_Can't_Stand_Still

Sometimes I wonder if musicians who are in a band and then put out their own solo albums aren’t faced with an agonizing worry on how their albums are to be received. If the album sound too much like that of their band, they are accused of just putting out the same album with different musicians. On the other hand, if they venture too far from that band’s sound, they are criticized for being too diverse or if the album sounds somewhat commercial, selling out. People of little or no experience of heavy metal have accused both Ozzy and Bruce Dickinson of doing the former in spite of the fact that when you listen to those albums, there are notable differences  in the sound between Ozzy and Black Sabbath as well as Bruce and Iron Maiden. No pleasing some people I suppose. Having heard many a solo album, I think the one album that best successfully strides the line between these two extremes is the solo album by Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn, “Soldiers and Sailors on Riverside.” It is my favourite melodic rock album of the 2000+ era and while there are some moments where you can hear the Tyketto influence, he definitely does his own thing without totally diversing and it sounds very good. Therefore, I wonder if back in 1982, I wonder if Don Henley had such a worry when he released his first solo album following the demise of The Eagles.

dv-ssor

It took me a couple of listens to “I Can’t Stand Still” before I finally remembered how good it is. Fortunately,  I am more musically open minded than I was in 1982 and that helped me appreciate it even more. While the influence of Henley’s days with The Eagles is definitely there, he puts his own spin on things. It’s not “Hotel California” but it was wrong of me to expect it to be. The closest songs that come to that on “I Can’t Stand Still” are the tracks “You Better Hang Up,” “Nobody’s Business” and “Them and Us.” As far as The Eagles go, I have always believed that Henley’s voice was best suited for their ballads and this is certainly proven with the two ballads on this album, “Long Way Home” and “Talking To The Moon.” Ironically, it is the single from the album where Don puts his best personal stamp. “Dirty Laundry” may sound like new wave synth pop to the untrained ear but it is definitely his song and the guitar solos are the best on the album. The following track and probably my favourite, “Johnny Can’t Read,” gets the same sort of work from Don. What amazes me the most about “I Can’t Stand Still” is the sheer number of musicians Henley gets to play on the album with him. I mean, he practically used all of Toto at some point on the album.

Track Listing:

1. I Can’t Stand Still

2. You Better Hang Up

3. Long Way From Home

4. Nobody’s Home

5. Talking to the Moon

6. Dirty Laundry

7. Johnny Can’t Read

8. Them and Us

9. La Eile

10. Lilah

11. The Unclouded Day

Don Henley

Don Henley

Don Henley- drums, lead vocals, keyboards

Ras Baboo- percussion, timbales

Derek Bell- harp

Kenny Edwards- bass, guitar

Steve Foreman- percussion

Bob Glaub- bass

Louise Goffin- vocals, gut string guitar

Andrew Gold- keyboards

Max Gronenthal- vocals, gut string guitar

George Gruel- vocals

Garth Hudson- synthesizer

Maren Jensen- vocals, gut string guitar

Danny Kooch Korchmar- bass, guitars, synthesizers, backing vocals

Ross Kunkel- drums

Steve Lukather- guitar

Paddy Maloney- whistle, ulliean pipes

Jeff Porcaro- drums, moracas

Steve Porcaro- keyboards

Timothy B Schmidt- bass, guitar, vocals

Leland Sklar- bass

JD Souther- acoustic guitar, gut string guitar

Benmont Trench- keyboards

Waddy Watchel- electric guitar

Ian Wallace- drums

Joe Walsh- lead guitar

Max Williams- drums

Bill Withers- vocals, gut string guitar

Warren Zevon- vocals, gut string guitar

Don Henley made an impressive start out of the blocks in his solo career with “I Can’t Stand Still.” While he doesn’t completely abandon his past, he isn’t afraid to be his own person with the album and once that conclusion is arrived at, it makes the album that much more enjoyable.

Next post; Glen Frey- No Fun Aloud

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: 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

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

Great Rock Albums of 1982: Toto IV

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Toto_Toto_IV

Before I launch into my first album visit of 2015, I would like to first wish all a happy new year and thank all my friends both old and new for visiting and sticking with me. It’s hard to believe that 80smetalman has been going for nearly four years now and I intend to be around for time to come. After all, I’m only in 1982 and the golden age of heavy metal didn’t end until 1989. So, I have a lot of ground to still cover.

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

One mega disappointment for the end of the year was that in spite of the many efforts, Ozzy Osbourne did not receive a knighthood. While I shouldn’t be surprised that he was ignored by the British establishment and I can’t even blame it on the metal hating Sun newspaper, it’s still a shame that his near half century of contributions to music still go ignored. Therefore, I say we redouble our efforts in 2015 so he can get his well deserved gong next year.

When I listen to the fourth album by Toto, I find myself pining for what could have been. Three years prior, they came rocking into the world with the heavy rock sound of “Hold the Line.” Those riffs are still catchy within my own mind and back in 1979, that song was an island that refused to be flooded in the sea of disco that was around at the time. “Toto IV” is a total departure from the sound in the song I have already mentioned. It follows subsequent albums in going into a more progressive, pop oriented sound. None of the songs on this fourth album come close to sounding like “Hold the Line.”

This doesn’t mean the album is bad, it’s not. The members of Toto are all talented musicians and it shows on the album. Take the opening song and like many albums of 1982 thus far, the biggest single on the album. If “Rosanna” had been done by some fly by night, 80s synth pop group put together by the likes of Stock, Aiken and Waterman, then it would have totally sucked. Sure, it might have been a top ten single but quickly buried and forgotten. The reason why “Rosanna” appears on a number of rock compilation albums is the good musicianship behind it. Hearing the lyrics does make me want to say “Oh God” but then comes a cool keyboard solo and later a decent guitar solo. They make the song and probably why it has stood the test of time. Other songs on the album are in the same vein. Eight out of the next nine songs are mellow out progressive jazzy blues sounding songs which are great to sit down and listen to but I won’t be listening to them on my way to Amon Amarth in a couple of weeks. The only song that goes anywhere near hard rock is “Afraid of Love” but that song is let down by a keyboard interlude where a cranking guitar solo should be. Still, the musicianship of Toto carry the songs through.

The closer, “Africa,” is more of the same but probably my favourite song on the album. Like the previous nine songs, the closer is definitely a strong progressive song. Unlike “Rosanna,” the lyrics for me are more listenable and the quality musicianship remains but I think they could have used a better instrumental break than the one in the song, perhaps a guitar solo. Still, it is the best song on the album for me.

Track Listing:

1. Rosanna

2. Make Me Believe

3. I Won’t Hold You Back

4. Good For You

5. It’s a Feeling

6. Afraid of Love

7. Lovers in the Night

8. We Made It

9. Waiting for Your Love

10. Africa

Toto

Toto

David Paich- keyboards, lead and backing vocals, all horn and orchestral arrangements

Steve Lukather- guitars, lead and backing vocals

Bobby Kimball- lead and backing vocals

Jeff Procraro- drums, percussion ,tympani

Steve Procraro- keyboards, lead vocals

David Hungate- bass

“Toto IV” is probably the reason why Wayne Campbell of Wayne’s World fame put “anything by Toto” as the number two party killing song. I have to disagree somewhat here. While I wouldn’t listen to the album on my way to a metal concert, I would still listen to it at more appropriate times. This is a good easy listening album, with some decent songs and quality musicianship.

Next post: Dire Straits- Lover Over Gold

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