Archive for New Jersey

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Fiona

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2018 by 80smetalman

New Jersey has always been divided into North and South. The Southern part, where I’m from, has always been Philadelphia oriented while the Northern part has always been New York oriented. This has always been the case when supporting sports teams and it seems has been the case for music. It’s probably another reason why Beru Revue’s popularity never went beyond the Philadelphia- South Jersey area and it is also why more people living in South Jersey at the time were more into The Hooters than they were into Northern New Jersey singer Fiona.

Fiona (Flanagan)’s debut album appeared in early 1985 and from what I remember, her label, Atlantic, seemed to be doing everything they could to push the album and its single, “Talk to Me.” Unfortunately, the highest the single got was #64. Fortunately, the album did slightly better. Examining the album, I know there are some good to decent rock tunes. “Hang Your Heart on Me” is a decent opener for the album. It does the job in obtaining your interest and the mentioned single does have a cool sax solo on it. I think the problem with it was that it was too mainstream for metalheads and too rock for trendies. The best rocking track is the third one, “You’re No Angel,” which boasts Fiona’s best vocals and a really cool guitar solo. “James” is also a decent rocker although her vocals aren’t quite as good on it. For me, “Rescue You” sounds too 80s synth pop for me but her vocals are okay and there’s another good guitar solo on it. Then there’s the closer, “The Na Na Song.” I have to say that it is probably one of the best album closing tracks of all time. True, the second half on the song is mostly comprised of her singing, “Na na, na na na na na” but it, with the harder rocking does great to take the song and the album to it’s natural conclusion.

In spite of some good rock tunes and some great musicianship on the album, what let’s this album is Fiona herself. I won’t be as harsh as my sister who simply says Fiona can’t sing, I will say that she’s not a great vocalist. Take “James” for instance. When she’s singing the more power rock parts, her voice is okay but it’s when she tries to go more melodic, her voice lets the song down. The same can be said on “Over Now,” which is a shame in a way because that song has the best guitar solo on the album. Her vocal weakness comes through the most on the power ballad, “Love Makes You Blind.” Her voice isn’t up to it. I don’t want to be cruel to her so I’ll put forward this perspective. Instead of being made to sing more commercial ready, it would have been better for her if she had fronted a proper heavy metal band which her vocal ability is more suited for. That’s my verdict anyway.

Track Listing:

  1. Hang Your Heart On Me
  2. Talk to Me
  3. You’re No Angel
  4. Rescue You
  5. James
  6. Love Makes You Blind
  7. Over Now
  8. The Na Na Song

Fiona

Fiona- lead vocals

Bobby Messano- guitar

Gregory Tebbitt- guitar

Benjy King- keyboard

Alan Hurwitz- keyboard

Peter Zale- keyboard

Joe Franco- drums, percussion

Donnie Kisselbach- bass

Schuyler Deale- bass

Rick Bell- saxophone

Elena Aazan- backing vocals

Tom Flanagan- backing vocals

Peppi Marchello- backing vocals

Louie Merlino- backing vocals

‘The Mob’- backing vocals

Tara O’Boyle- backing vocals

Jimmy Wilcox- backing vocals

Fiona wasn’t the big commercial success Atlantic Records was hoping for in 1985 and I’ve given clues as to why. In spite of that, her debut album is still pretty good and worth a listen.

BTW, I hope people out there aren’t taking this to mean that heavy metal singers aren’t as good as those who aren’t. Many mainstream vocalists can’t sing metal.

Next post: George Thorogood- Maverick

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536483187&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band- Tough All Over

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by 80smetalman

Jon Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band was probably the biggest flash in the pan in 1985 but that didn’t stop their album, “Tough All Over,” from being good. Their first act of notoriety was to have a couple of songs, which they’re more known for on the soundtrack of the film “Eddie and the Cruisers.” Most of you who were living in the USA around this time might remember their two hits from that soundtrack, “On the Dark Side” and “The Warm Tender Years.” In fact, the band has been so identified with that film that many people thought that the title of the film was the actual name of the band. No, Eddie and the Cruisers has always been a fictitious band from the film. I’ve never seen the film but I have heard that there is a scene filmed along a road called Bay Avenue in Somers Point, NJ, where I lived for a year and was the next town over after I moved. Maybe I should watch it.

A shot of Bay Avenue in Somers Point

“Tough All Over” was the John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown’s attempt to break away from their association with the film and prove they could make good music on their own. In my most humble opinion, the album does prove that they are capable of making good music without the aid of a movie soundtrack. This is a good progressive, melodic rock album and I can definitely hear the comparisons made to Bruce Springsteen at the time. The best example of this is “Dixieland,” which starts with a cool sax solo but the entire song, the tempo, the vocals all permeate Bruce Springsteen. Many of the other tracks follow this vein but not quite as pronounced as “Dixieland.”

While Bruce might be an influence here, there is enough to say that the band aren’t just clones of the Boss. The title track and “Where the Action is” are catchy melodic rock vibes that can go on inside your head after the song finishes. “More Than Just One of the Boys” has a good opening riff and speaking of openers, “Voice of America’s Sons” does the job very well. The final two tracks are more bluesy mellower tunes but they do end the album okay. So, what you get here is a good melodic feel good rock album which doesn’t have me pining for any past soundtracks.

Track Listing:

  1. Voice of America’s Sons
  2. Tough All Over
  3. C-I-T-Y
  4. Where the Action Is
  5. Dixieland
  6. Strangers in Paradise
  7. Small Town Girl
  8. More Than Just One of the Boys
  9. Tex-Mex(Crystal Blue)

John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band

John Cafferty- lead vocals, guitar

Gary Gramolini- lead guitar

Patrick Lupo- bass

Kenny Jo Silva- drums

Bobby Catoia- piano, keyboards, synthesizers

Michael ‘Tunes’ Antunes- saxophone

And I thought I’d throw in a classic from Eddie and the Cruisers

Was it the association with the film? Was it because some thought they sounded too much like Bruce Springsteen? Or was it because that in 1985, the music world was divulging too much into synth pop and metal and there was no room for a straightforward melodic rock band? Whatever the reason, although I now know they had an album in 1988, I never heard from John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band again. However, this album “Tough All Over” was good enough for me to remember it after so many years.

Next post: John Fogerty- Centerfield

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2015 by 80smetalman

Bruce_Springsteen_-_Nebraska

Now that I am mellowing with age a little, I found that listening to albums now that I didn’t think much of when I listened to them when they first came out but I am now appreciating them a bit more. Having grown up in New Jersey, I was hoping that when I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” again, that I would feel the same way. Unfortunately, I don’t.

With “Nebraska,” Bruce plays all of the instruments himself and he goes for a more folk sound on it. In fact, quite a few country artists, including the late Johnny Cash, have covered songs from “Nebraska.” That’s another reason why I should be more into this album because it was during my military days which were mainly based in North Carolina and that gave me more of an appreciation for country music. Sadly to say, that even that doesn’t make me appreciate “Nebraska” any more. The only songs which I can really say I like are “Johnny 99” and “Used Cars.” Even the single “Atlantic City” doesn’t get me excited despite it being about the city I grew up near. The song sounds just as depressing as the actual city has become today. I went to Atlantic City back when I went back to the States last Autumn and the place is depressing. With three major casinos now closed, I have to agree with my friend’s assessment that Atlantic City has become the new Detroit minus the murders.

Track Listing:

1. Nebraska

2. Atlantic City

3. Mansion on the Hill

4. Johnny 99

5. Highway Patrolman

6. State Trooper

7. Used Cars

8. Open All Night

9. My Father’s House

10. Reason to Believe

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- all instruments and vocals

One argument that came out at the time of “Nebraska” and I totally reject to this day is the one that Bruce Springsteen is nothing without the E Street Band. No, what Bruce did was to go into the studio and make an album by himself. While hearing “Nebraska” makes me want to go and play one of his other albums, he does still show that he is a talented artist and continues to be. Two years after this album, he would go out and make history but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: 1982 Triumphs and Tragedy

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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 1978: Bruce Springsteen- Darkness on the Edge of Town

Posted in 1978, Music with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2012 by 80smetalman

Being a New Jersey boy, it would be a complete act of sacriledge if I didn’t include this 1978 offering from The Boss. This was another one of those albums I never had to buy because everyone else I knew had it. The summer of 1978 was awash with car stereos, (casette and 8track) blasting this album out of their speakers as they drove around town. Furthermore, the single “Badlands” got lots of airplay on local radio merely because it was a local artist making good.

I believe, as do many others, that “Darkness on the Edge of Town” showcases Springsteen’s working class roots. The tracks from this album have a raw, gritty appeal and the lyrics in them compliment this feeling. This is why I consider this album a good cruising album, to play when you’re driving down the main drag of your home town. I know, because that’s what happened for my friends and me back in the summer and autumn of 1978 and beyond.

Track Listing:

1. Badlands

2. Adam Raised a Cain

3. Something in the Night

4. Candy’s Room

5. Racing in the Street

6. The Promised Land

7. Factory

8. Streets of Fire

9. Prove it All Night

10. Darkness on the Edge of Town

Bruce Springsteen- lead vocals, lead guitar, harmonica

Roy Britton- piano, vocals

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone, vocals

Danny Federici- organ, glockenspiel

Gary Tallent- bass

Steven Van Zandt- rythm guitar, vocals

Max Weinberg- drums

This was the first album that proved to me that you didn’t need a hit single to make a good album. The two singles from this album only just broke into the top forty charts, while the album made it all the way to number sixteen. It probably did better in New Jersey. At the time, a schoolmate of mine reckoned that Springsteen was the next Bob Dylan. I don’t know if I can agree with that, but I do know that this is a good classic album that shows why Bruce Springsteen is The Boss. If you have “Darkness on the Edge of Town” on CD, put it in your car stereo next time you go for a drive, you’ll see what I mean.

Next post: Cheap Trick- Heaven Tonight

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