Archive for Michael Jackson

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Weird Al Yankovic- Even Worse

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2022 by 80smetalman

After the critical and commercial disappointment of his album, “Polka Party,” Weird Al thought his career might have been over. As a result, he took some time off before getting back into the studio. It seems that taking his little break paid multi-dividends as “Even Worse” has been his most successful album. Note here, it is typical of Weird Al to call his album “Even Worse” when it was such a good album. Of course, knowing him, Weird Al might have been in the mindframe that if you thought “Polka Party” was bad, maybe this album is even worse. Either way, it had the desired effect.

Track Listing:

  1. Fat- Weird Al was a little reluctant to use this song because he was already being known as that “Eat It Guy” and didn’t want to be accused of riding on Michael Jackson’s coat tails. However, Michael was a big Weird Al fan and encouraged him to record the song. The song is a total parody of Jackson’s iconic song, “Bad” and Michael also let him use the same recording studio to make the video. Only Weird Al used larger dancers in the video. While “Fat” continues to give me giggles whenever I listen to it, I don’t think it would be so successful into today’s ultra-sensitive world.
  2. Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White- This is a true Weird Al original. It doesn’t parody any singer’s song or style but it’s a bit of a rocker as well. I have to admit, guitarists Jim West and Rick Derringer, yes that Rick Derringer, rip a cool guitar solo trade off. The song is about having strange dreams where he’s bowling on the Starship Enterprise and getting pushed through a revolving door by a midget but always stuck in a closet with Vanna White. For those who don’t know, Vanna White is a presenter on the US version of the TV show “Wheel of Fortune.”
  3. (This Song’s Just) Six Words Long: A total parody of the George Harrison single, “Got My Mind Set On You.” Weird Al does try to keep to the spirit of his song as he repeats the lyrics over and over. Maybe that was the point he was trying to make.
  4. You Make Me- From the point of view of my Asperger’s mind, I can see the point Weird Al is trying to make here. Many of us know people who can drive you to wanting to do outrageous things. However, no one has ever made me want to build the Eiffel Tower out of Belgian waffles. Done in the style of Oingo Boingo, it is a bouncy synth pop song but very well done.
  5. I Think I’m a Clone Now- My favourite song on the entire album! It typifies Weird Al at his very best. It’s a total parody of one hit wonder Tiffany’s number one, “I Think We’re Alone Now.” He follows the style Tiffany recorded it but singing about clones is a real hoot. I say I giggle when I hear “Fat,” but I go into total hysterics when I hear this one.
  6. Lasagne- Another funny parody, only this time it’s the Los Lobos classic, “La Bamba” which gets the Weird Al treatment. I have always like how Al sticks to the original music as much as possible but adds his own hilarious lyrics to it. Anyone, like me, who loves good Italian food can appreciate the lyrics here.
  7. Melanie- Another original, “Melanie” is about a love struck teenager who stalks a girl who is not interested in him in the very least. However, if you pay attention to the lyrics, there is a dark message related to teenage mental health as the singer commits suicide at the end because the girl doesn’t want to know him. Some will balk that mental health is no laughing matter but if Weird Al can use his humourous lyrics to address a problem, then why not listen? Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now.
  8. Alimony- Weird Al goes live on this one where he parodies Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony.” If Weird Al sounds this good live, then I definitely regret never seeing him. Still, it’s a funny song about a money grabbing ex wife.
  9. Velvet Elvis- For me, this is probably the least strongest track on the album, though it’s not bad. Done in the style of The Police, it does have a good dig at Elvis Presley enthusiasts.
  10. Twister- Weird Al raps here in Beastie Boys style as he pays tribute to the game “Twister.” How many children’s parties have you gone to where they play Twister? It does show how versatile he can be and that he’s not afraid to venture into unknown territories. It also proves that nothing is safe from being a Weird Al parody.
  11. Good Old Days- The album ends with my vote for hidden gem. “Good Old Days” is done in the easy listening style of James Taylor and it’s about a young psychopath reminiscing about his younger days. He begins by torturing rats with a hacksaw and pulling the wings off of flies, then to burning down the local store and bashing in the owner’s head to finally, tying his date to the dance to a chair, shaving off her hair and leaving her in the desert. Only Weird Al can sing songs like that and leave you with a big grin on your face.
Vanna White
Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- vocals, accordion, keyboards

Jim West- guitar, mandolin, backing vocals

Steve Jay- bass, banjo, backing vocals

Jon ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion

Rick Derringer- guitar

I don’t think this was an official video for the song as “Attack of the Clones” came out 14 years after the song but I think Mike Ladano will get a kick out of the Star Wars reference.

Weird Al Yankovic was definitely back and on fine form in 1988 as “Even Worse” shows. His album is not only a bowl full of laughs but the musicianship on it is first rate as well.

Next post: Pat Benatar- Wide Awake in Dreamland

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

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Whitesnake- 1987

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2022 by 80smetalman

Out of all the great metal albums which came out in 1987, the most noted of these had to be Whitesnake’s “1987” album. You don’t need me to tell you how this album tore up the charts in the year the album is named after and the following one. In fact, the album which kept it from attaining number one in the US was Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album. So it begs the question, why was this metal album so successful?

First, let’s go over some of the history in the making of this album. While recording it, David Coverdale was struck down with an illness which required hospitalization and later surgery. There was even doubts that he would ever be able to sing again. Thank the metal gods that this wasn’t the case. Now for the soap opera bit. Depending on who’s side you believe, David and guitarist John Sykes would part company while the album was recorded. From what I read on Wikipedia, (not the most reliable of sources), David accused John of trying to replace him and John was growing impatient at David’s seeming lack of motivation to get back in the studio. While this explains why the touring lineup is different from the recording one, it can be said that the album was born out of adversity.

Drawing my own conclusion as to why “1987” was so successful, I put it down that it was the combination of commercially viable songs and hard rockers, which ticked all the boxes. Most people know the hits from the album, “Still of the Night,” “Is This Love,” “Give Me All Your Love” and “Here I Go Again,” the latter re-recorded before released as a single. Note: after years of hearing the single version and then hearing the original version from the album again after many years, I prefer the original. These are good power ballads as was the rerecorded “Crying in the Rain,” which helped Whitesnake finally achieve commercial success in the US.

The other element behind the album’s success is that in spite of the top 40 singles, the other tracks proved that Whitesnake hadn’t forgotten how to rock out. First let me correct a misleading statement in the above paragraph. The first and last singles, “Still of the Night,” and “Give Me All Your Loving” were definitely not power ballads. Both are full steam ahead rockers with some great guitar riffs from Sykes. They lead the charge as the next track is also a serious rocker. In fact, the second track, “Bad Boys,” gets my vote for hidden gem. John shreds even better on “Straight for the Heart.”

John Sykes

What I sometimes find frustrating about albums which are reissued so many times is which version should I write about. In this case, since I had already established myself in the UK at the time, I will go with the European issue. The US issue omits two tracks, “Looking for Love” and “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again,” which is a shame because America missed out on two good songs. The former, another power ballad which works and the latter, a definite straight up rocker. The strategic placing of both ballads and rockers go along way to cement the reason why this album was such a success.

Track Listing (European Release):

  1. Still of the Night
  2. Bad Boys
  3. Give Me All Your Loving
  4. Looking for Love
  5. Crying in the Rain
  6. Is This Love
  7. Straight From the Heart
  8. Don’t Turn Away
  9. Children of the Night
  10. Here I Go Again
  11. You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again

Recording Line up:

David Coverdale- vocals

John Sykes- guitar

Neil Murray- bass

Aynsley Dunbar- drums

Don Airey- keyboards

Bill Cuomo- keyboards

Note: other musicians, including some from the touring lineup, were brought in on some of the re-recordings.

Whitesnake- 1987 tour lineup

David Coverdale- vocals

Vivian Campbell- guitar

Adrian Vandenberg- guitar

Rudy Sarzo- bass

Tommy Aldridge- drums

Shortly after the album soared up the charts, someone wrote to Kerrang stating that Whitesnake’s next album would be called “1991” as that was when it would come out, (history proved that person wrong), and the recording lineup would have Gene Simmons on bass and Lars Ulrich on drums. I can’t remember who the guitarists were going to be. However, the touring lineup would have Eddie Van Halen and Mick Mars on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass and Charlie Benante on drums. That was the state of the band in 1987. While there might have been some truth to that, one can’t fault how super colossal of an album “1987” turned out to be.

Next post: Tigertailz- Young and Crazy

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@80smetalman

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Weird Al Yankovic- In 3D

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

Michael Jackson did two things in 1984 which rose him up a few points in my estimation, both of which were linked to his top selling song, “Beat It.” First, when accepting a Grammy for the song, he had the decency to include Eddie Van Halen in his list of thank yous. After all, it was Eddie’s guitar solo on the song the reason why metalheads, bought the single. The other act was to allow Weird Al Yankovic to record a parody of “Beat It” called “Eat It.” That would be Weird Al’s best known single and even charted in the UK and it helped his 1984 album, “In 3D” become his biggest album. In fact, he was allowed to use many of the same dancers Michael Jackson used in the “Beat It” video for “Eat It.”

Weird Al Yankovic has always been known for his parodies of other great songs and there are plenty of those on “In 3D.” His second single from the album, “I Lost on Jeopardy” is a parody of the Greg Kihn Band’s 1983 hit, “Jeopardy” as well as making fun of the TV game show of the same name. I do wonder how many people went on game shows and looked stupid on national television. Greg Kihn makes an appearance in the video for this song. “King of Suede” parodies the classic from The Police, “King of Pain” and is about a clothing store owner. “Rocky XIII” is a funny parody of Survivor’s hit from the film “Rocky III” “Eye of the Tiger” about how Rocky Balboa gives up boxing to be delicatessen owner. I love the lyrics: “It’s the rye or the kaiser, it’s the thrill of one bite.” A lesser known track but one of my favourite is “The Brady Bunch,” a parody of the Men Without Hats’s only hit, “Safety Dance.” It is believed that from the lyrics, Weird Al didn’t care too much for the 1970s American sit com his song is named after.

It’s not just famous songs that come under the comic roast of Weird Al. He parodies other subjects as well. The second track, “Midnight Star” takes the rip out of grocery store tabloids. However, some of the headlines he mentions for his tabloid, “Midnight Star” aren’t too far fetched in the real ones. I do remember headlines like, “They’re Keeping Hitler’s Brain Inside a Jar,” “Aliens From Outer Space are Sleeping in My Car” and “The Ghost of Elvis is Living in My Den.” Another of my favourites is “That Boy Could Dance” which is about a nerdy geeky loser who is a great dancer, so all his shortcomings are overlooked. Trust me, the song is much funnier that my attempt to explain it here. Then there is the Bob Marley influenced reggae track, “Buy Me a Condo” which is about a Jamaican boy who wants to come to America and live a middle class existence. Even my least favourite track on the album, Mr Popeil is funny. Probably because I remember all the Popeil adverts for things like the Ginsu Knife and the Pocket Fisherman.

In 1981, there were two singles called “Stars on 45” and “Stars on 45 II.” The former took Beatles’ songs and made a medley out of it. The latter did the same with Beach Boys songs. So what Weird Al did was to take classic rock songs and make a medley out of those but instead, set to polka music. Some great rock classics like “Smoke on the Water” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” get the polka treatment.

When I bought this album and saw the track listing, I thought the closer, “Nature Trail to Hell,” might be a parody of the AC/DC classic, “Highway to Hell.” Instead, it lambastes blood and gore horror films. “Nature Trail to Hell” to quote the song, is about “A homicidal maniac who finds a cub scout troop and hacks up two or three in every scene.” This was particularly relevant at the time because “Friday the 13th Part 4” was in the cinema then. You know, the one advertised as the film where Jason meets his grisly end. Well done by Al, it makes a fantastic closer.

Track Listing:

  1. Eat It
  2. Midnight Star
  3. The Brady Bunch
  4. Buy Me a Condo
  5. I Lost on Jeopardy
  6. Polkas on 45
  7. Mr Popeil
  8. King of Suede
  9. That Boy Could Dance
  10. Rocky XIII
  11. Nature Trail to Hell

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- vocals, synthesizer, accordion, piano

Jim West- guitar

Steve Jay- bass, banjo, talking drums

John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion

Rick Derringer- guitar, mandolin

Weird Al Yankovic hit the big time 1984 with this album, “In 3D.” I dare anyone to listen to this album and not laugh their heads off at least one song. For me, it’s nearly all of them. Anyone who doesn’t find any part of this album funny, then they have no sense of humour.

Next post: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

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/Metal Albums of 1983: Aldo Nova

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-aldonova

When my household finally caught up with the times in 1983 and got MTV, the video for the big single, “Fantasy,” from Canadian rocker Aldo Nova’s debut album received a fair amount of airplay. Okay, it may not have been played as much as Big Country’s “In a Big Country” or the full twenty minute video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but I saw it a good few times. Naturally, I assumed that the song was current. It was only later that I discovered that the song and the album were actually released over a year earlier. Therefore, this was another great album that came out in 1982, which I missed on account of my commitments to the military back then. It is also the reason why I am still posting it for 1983. I guess I should be grateful to MTV or else I might have missed it all together.

Even before I first saw the video for “Fantasy,” Aldo Nova was making a name for himself in metal circles back then. He supported giants Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult on two different tours and the reports I received from my friend and my sister was that he was pretty good. That, along with the single I heard, was enough grounds to explore the debut album and what a wise decision that turned out to be.

In typical 1982 fashion, the album opens with the big single but like so many other great rock and metal albums from that year, the rest of the album carries on very well. In the case of Aldo, the tracks “Hot Love” and “It’s Too Late” keep me headbanging away. Both are great rocking gems. Then comes the power ballad, “Ball and Chain” and it is this track that has forced me to put Aldo Nova into the category of deeply under appreciated guitarists. He really rips his solo here. “Ball and Chain” also has me pondering something else. This song, along with April Wine’s “Just Between You and Me” and the Killer Dwarfs’ “Fire In Your Eyes,” has me thinking that maybe Canadian bands are the best at power ballads. Something to debate anyway.

It would have been wrong of me to say that the album picks up after the power ballad because it never really slowed down. Still, “Heart to Heart” is a great song and in metal power, I put it between the power ballad and first three tracks. Following it is what sounds for me was a definitely intended AOR single, “Fooling Yourself.” However, the chorus is quite catchy so I don’t blame him for this one. Even more so because the next track, “Under the Gun” is the best rocking track on the album complete with another great guitar solo.

The album seems to slow down a great deal after that. I wouldn’t call “You’re My Love” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” power ballads, just ballads although the latter has a cool guitar solo reminding me of why I added Aldo to my ever growing list of underrated guitarists. I would like to say that the album closes with a blinder but I really can’t say that about “See the Light.” The song reminds me of something you would hear from a nightclub band. It is done very well and sounds good despite being keyboard dominated but with all the harder tracks, I found myself straining in anticipation for a power chord that never comes. It’s only Aldo’s guitar solo that saves it for me and that gets me into the song at the end. While the last three songs may not measure up to the rest of the album in my view, those other seven songs are more than enough to make this album a great one.

Track Listing:

  1. Fantasy
  2. Hot Love
  3. It’s Too Late
  4. Ball and Chain
  5. Heart to Heart
  6. Fooling Yourself
  7. Under the Gun
  8. You’re My Love
  9. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
  10. See the Light

Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova- vocals, guitars, bass, synthesizers, keyboards

Dennis Chartrand- piano

Michel Pelo- bass

Robert Biagioni- bass

Michael La Chapelle- drums, percussion

Terry Martel- drums, percussion

Daniel Barbe- backing vocals

Dwight Druck- backing vocals

Thank God for MTV is all I can say. While their playing of the video for “Fantasy” may have misled me as to when Aldo Nova’s first album came out, it did give me the opportunity to actually discover Aldo and listen to the album. Something I will always be glad about.

Next post: Aldo Nova- Subject Aldo Nova

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: Greg Kihn Band- Kihnspiracy

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2016 by 80smetalman

kihnspiracy

1983 was the most commercially successful year for the Greg Kihn Band. They’re best known hit “Jeopardy” went to number two in the singles charts and only “Beat It” by Michael Jackson kept it off the top spot. Maybe they should have gotten Eddie Van Halen to play a guitar solo on that song.

“Jeopardy” opens the 1983 album, “Kihnspiracy” and once the single is done and dusted, that’s when the album really kicks into gear. The very next track, “Fascination” begins with a great luring guitar intro and it is a rocker that really shapes the rest of the album. Likewise with the next track, “Tear Down the City” but only this begins with some cool lead guitar licks. Things go down a similar vein with the next couple of tracks. “You Can’t Love Them All” is a very amusing track and the guitar solos on it are first rate.

Having this on cassette, I can say that side two does eventually slow down. “I Fall to Pieces” isn’t as fast as any of the songs on side one, barring the big single but the hard guitars are strongly felt nonetheless. “Someday” is the song where keyboards are heard the most but it is still a rock song. Lead guitarist, Greg Douglass, who joined the band on the album shows he knows a little about how to play a guitar. “Curious” is the hardest song on the second side and then the album goes out with two slightly more softer songs, although “How Long” does have a cool, almost acoustic intro. Listening to the album after so many years, I think some of these songs would sound really cool if covered by a metal bands. A surprisingly good forgotten album.

Track Listing:

  1. Jeopardy
  2. Fascination
  3. Tear Down the City
  4. Talking to Myself
  5. You Can’t Love Them All
  6. I Fall to Pieces
  7. Someday
  8. Curious
  9. How Long
  10. Love Never Fails

Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Greg Douglass- lead/slide guitars, vocals

Larry Lynch- drums, vocals

Steve Wright- bass, vocals

Gary Phillips- keyboards

The tragic thing about the Greg Kihn band is that when people think of them and remember 1983, they will always be associated with their biggest single and not for the hard rocking album that “Kihnspiracy” is. That is a tragedy.

Next post: The Tubes- Outside Inside

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