Archive for new wave

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Dire Straits- Brothers in Arms

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by 80smetalman

The arrival of “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits in the summer of 1985 brought many different reactions to people. Back then, I couldn’t help but laugh at teens who thought they were the brand new sensation of the 1980s. More than one of these was completely dumbfounded when I told them that Dire Straits had been on the go since 1978 and had four prior albums. Old time followers though, upon hearing this album accused the band of abandoning their original sound and going too new wave. Some even went onto say that Dire Straits had sold out. I never thought that though I realize now that particular label got banded around too much.

“Money for Nothing” was the first big single from “Brothers in Arms” and it seemed to be on every time I switched on MTV. It also got lots of radio airplay and that was one piece of evidence used by hardcore followers to insist the band sold out. Further evidence was the fact that Sting sang accompanying vocals on the song. If you want to know my thoughts, (and you do want to know my thoughts), I never thought this song was a sell out. Furthermore, I thought Sting did a damn good job on the vocals and I have always loved the fuzz guitar throughout the song. Okay, it didn’t dislodge “Sultans of Swing” off my top spot for my favourite Dire Straits songs, it didn’t even make the top three, but it is a good song.

In fact, “Money for Nothing,” isn’t even my favourite song on this album! That honour goes to the next song on the album, “Walk of Life.” Sure, there’s a heavy keyboard sound on it but it wasn’t done in that choppy synth pop style. Got to give full marks to Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher on it, they play it very well. Plus the song just has a vibe that grabs me and has me nodding along to the melody. Maybe also the American sports themed video on MTV might have had some influence on me too.

Unfortunately, after the those two songs and a cool opener, “So Far Away” is a more traditional sounding Dire Straits song for me, the album goes a little downhill on the next couple of songs. While the sax playing of Michael Brecker on “Your Latest Trick” is very good, it doesn’t redeem the song to a point where I can say, “Hey, this is good.” Nor do things improve with the next track, “Why Worry.” Both of these songs could be put on an album called, “Dire Straits Does Elevator Music” for that’s what they remind of.

Fortunately, the album improves to more familiar Dire Straits territory after that. While there are still elements of elevator music on “Ride Across the River,” at least Mark Knopfler let’s his guitar do some singing on it and I do like the jungle rhythms in the background. Then for a complete change, there is a country music sounding acoustic guitar intro on “The Man’s Too Strong” before going into more Dire Straits sounding guitar rock. This track will have you saying, “This is more like it” and my vote for hidden gem on the album. However, it does get some stiff competition for that honour from the next track, “One World.” More of the old Dire Straits here and again, Mr Knopfler isn’t afraid to let loose on the guitar. Those two songs all lead to the end which is carried out very somberly but nicely by the title track.

Track Listing:

  1. So Far Away
  2. Money For Nothing
  3. Walk of Life
  4. Your Latest Trick
  5. Why Worry
  6. Ride Across the River
  7. The Man’s Too Strong
  8. One World
  9. Brothers in Arms

Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler- lead guitar, lead vocals

Alan Clark- keyboards

Omar Hakim- drums

John Illsley- bass, backing vocals

Guy Fletcher- keyboards, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Sting- vocals on “Money for Nothing”

Michael Brecker- saxophone on “Your Latest Trick”

Randy Brecker- trumpet

Malcolm Duncan- saxophone

Jimmy Maelen- percussion

Mike Mainieri- vibraphone, keyboards

David Plews- trumpet

Jack Sonni- guitar synthesizer on “The Man’s Too Strong”

It was on the tour for this album when I finally got to see Dire Straits live. It was a good show but and they played “Sultans of Swing”  as well as several songs from this album. There was a good mix of old and new followers there too. However, my big hang up about that evening was they didn’t play my number two and three DS songs, “Skateaway” and “Industrial Disease.” You can’t have everything I suppose. Still, no matter which side of the fence you sit on for “Brothers in Arms,” I have to say that it’s not a bad album.

Next post: The Power Station

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: The Hooters- Nervous Night

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2018 by 80smetalman

Thanks to everyone who wished me well on my holiday. It was just a long weekend at the Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Skegness and then a couple of days at Cleethorpes but it was nice. Now, I’m back and it’s back to the tour of the 1980s through my eyes.

Skegness Fair and park

Probably no one remembers when I posted about a band called Beru Revue a few months back. So, to refresh everyone’s memory, Beru Revue were a local band out of Philadelphia who were very popular in their native area but never broke out and made it elsewhere. At the end of that post, I mentioned that another band from Philadelphia would break out and rise to national attention in 1985. That band was The Hooters and they did so with their second album, “Nervous Night.”

It might not be well known but before this album came out, The Hooters had some previous commercial success when they co-wrote Cyndi Lauper’s second big hit single, “Time After Time.” Trust me, The Hooters’ version of the song totally blows Lauper’s out of the water. At least I think so. Looking back into history, one shouldn’t have been surprised when they did make the big time. I remember their first single and one of my favourite tracks on the album, “All You Zombies” getting played quite a bit on the radio. Then to my surprise, on a visit to Rhode Island, I saw the video to said song played on a local music channel. That confirmed that The Hooters had actually made it.

My theory behind the the success of “Nervous Night” was it down to the music being a bit different. Some called it new wave or punk because that was the label given to any music that didn’t fit any mold in 1985. I always think it’s great when you can’t pigeonhole music that’s good. The closest track that may fit into the mold others try to impose on it would be the fourth one, “Don’t Take My Car Out Tonight.” There is a synth sound supporting a hard rock sounding guitar along with some of the other unique instruments the band plays like a melodica. Saying that, it’s all done well. “Hanging on a Heartbeat” can also fit this mold and it does have a good guitar solo.

The two more successful singles “And We Danced” and “Day by Day” are also unique but still very commercial radio friendly. It’s probably why both either hovered around or cracked the top 20 in the singles charts. However, there are two possible hidden gems. While, “Where Do the Children Go,” which Patty Smyth makes a guest appearance on, did get some airplay on radio and MTV, it didn’t chart as well as the other two singles and most people have forgotten it. I haven’t. This is a brilliant song, especially the way the mandolin is played on it. The other hidden gem is “Blood From a Stone” which rocks a little more. The song is about working people struggling to keep their heads above water during a time when wages were being cut and people were only given part time jobs to make the unemployment figures look good. Even now, these lyrics ring true:

“I work hard to pay the rent and support my government

The highways and the railroad tracks

I’m not giving it up till they give it all back

You can laugh and but it’s no joke 

You got to fix the thing that’s broke

There’s no meat only bone, but you can’t get blood from a stone.”

“South Ferry Road” is a pretty good rocker as well and “She Comes in Colors” has a sound reminiscent of The Cars.

Track Listing:

  1. And We Danced
  2. Day By Day
  3. All you Zombies
  4. Don’t Take My Car Tonight
  5. Nervous Night
  6. Hanging on a Heartbreak
  7. Where Do the Children Go
  8. South Ferry Road
  9. She Comes in Colors
  10. Blood From a Stone

The Hooters

Eric Bazilian- lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, saxophone

Rob Hyman- lead vocals, keyboards, melodica

Arthur King- bass, vocals

John Liley- guitar

David Uoskkinen- drums

I’ll let you decide if The Hooters version is better than Cyndi Lauper’s

I think most people believe it’s great when a local artist makes the big time and for most people in the Delaware Valley, it was The Hooters in 1985. This would be their year as “Nervous Night” would win several awards and the band would open the Live Aid Concert. Yes great things and two years later, The Hooters would be one hit wonders in the UK but that’s a story for another day.

Next post: Fiona

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Lone Justice

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2018 by 80smetalman

My first hearing of the band Lone Justice in 1985 came not through MTV or the radio, nor did it come from anyone recommending I buy their debut album. I first heard about them when I was told they were supporting then legends, U2. Then two days before I was going to see them, my local radio station played their first single, “Ways to be Wicked.” I liked it and that gave me a greater expectation of the band when I finally did see them and on that night, I wasn’t disappointed! In 1985, U2 and Lone Justice made a very good combination.

Lone Justice are listed in Wikapedia as country rock and I don’t disagree with that assessment. Thre is definitely a country music influence and the album is too rock to be considered country. Have a listen to “Don’t Toss Us Away.” However, I think a better assessment is Southern Rock meets new wave. When listening to the rock guitars you can hear what was then called modern synths compliments of one Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mike Campbell from the same band lends his guitar skills as well and there is even contributions from Little Steven who most of the world knows from Bruce Springsteen’s band. With this accompaniment assisting, it’s no wonder the album is so good. Not that I am taking anything away from the band because those players weren’t with them when I saw Lone Justice live and the band was quite capable of holding their own. Not only did they play material from this album, they also delighted the crowd to covers of CCR’s “The Fortunate Son” and “Sweet Jane.”

“Ways to Be Wicked” has always been my favourite Lone Justice song, probably to the exposure on radio and eventually MTV. Other songs which really stand out for me are “After the Flood” and “Soap, Soup and Salvation” which is about the extreme poverty that was rising in America during the mid 1980s. Again, I take nothing away from the rest of the album and while the musicianship is first rate, the driving force behind each and every song is the vocals of Maria McKee. She may be small in height but her vocal range makes her ten feet tall. Thinking about it, I’m rather disappointed that more wasn’t said about her vocal ability back then because she is phenomenal.

Track Listing:

  1. East of Eden
  2. After the Flood
  3. Ways to be Wicked
  4. Don’t Toss Us Away
  5. Working Late
  6. Sweet, Sweet Baby (I’m Falling)
  7. Pass It On
  8. Wait Til We Get Home
  9. Soap, Soup and Salvation
  10. You Are the Light

Lone Justice

Maria McKee- guitar, harmonica, vocals

Ryan Hedgecock- guitar, vocals

Marvin Etzioni- bass, backing vocals

Don Heffington- drums

Additional Musicians:

Mike Campbell- guitar

Tony Gilkyson- guitar

Bob Glaub- bass

Little Steven- guitar

Benmont Tench- piano, organ, synthesizer, backing vocals

Three years after seeing Lone Justice and hearing their debut album, I mentioned to someone who was heavily into the band that I had seen them support U2. He responded that U2 should have supported Lone Justice. I wouldn’t have gone that far but I can appreciate his feelings. Lone Justice should have achieved much more than they did and this album proves it.

Next post: Warlock- Hellbound

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Eric Clapton- Behind the Sun

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2018 by 80smetalman

In my last few posts, I have recollected how back in 1985, I thought several great rockers from the 1970s had sold out and gone too commercial only to realize that I was wrong when finally getting around to listening to their album. However, I never said this about guitar god Eric Clapton when his “Behind the Sun” album came out in the same year. Ironically, all the music critics at the time said he did exactly that, citing his collaboration with Phil Collins on the album. One said that Eric was in danger of turning his back on his faithful following and liable to end up playing his greatest hits on the Vegas circuit. What do critics know?

It was on tour for this album when I finally got to see Eric Clapton in his full glory in concert. I do make a passing comment about it in “Rock And Roll Children.” Memories from that piece of history have brought up two items from that night. One, Eric did play a lot of his greatest hits that evening but he did play some from the album too. The other and I think this might be down to management, his two female backing singers were dressed kind of new wave but that didn’t affect his brilliant music played that evening. If anything, I thought the biggest act of sacrilege from the show was that he let the rhythm guitarist play a solo on “Cocaine.”

If Eric Clapton sounds new wave or too commercial on the “Behind the Sun” album, I sure as hell don’t hear any evidence of it. To me, this was Eric Clapton at his usual best. Even looking at the two singles released from the album, “She’s Waiting” and “Forever Man” do not give me any thought that he was trying to go too commercial 80s here. “She’s Waiting” is everything I had always remembered and liked about his music and “Forever Man” reminds me of his great hit with Derek and the Dominoes, “Layla.” So again, I shoot down the accusation that Eric was trying to sound too commercial. One song that totally refutes that claim is my vote for hidden gem, “Same Old Blues.” Here, he shows how he got the nickname ‘Slow Hand’ as he solos all through the song, classic blues guitar at its very best.

Some my counter claim by citing his cover of the 1979 disco hit by one hit wonder Amii Stewart, “Knock on Wood.” Clapton’s version of this song sounds nothing like the original disco tune. He puts his own spin on the song, that’s a certainty. If there’s any variation from traditional Clapton, it has to be with “See What Love Can Do” which sound rather calypso but it’s played very well with a classic Clapton guitar solo it. In fact, what I love about the album is the fact that he solos his way all the way through it and that’s what I have always liked about him. He is truly a guitar god.

Amii Stewart

Track Listing:

  1. She’s Waiting
  2. See What Love Can Do
  3. Same Old Blues
  4. Knock On Wood
  5. Something’s Happening
  6. Forever Man
  7. It All Depends
  8. Tangled In Love
  9. Never Make You Cry
  10. Just Like a Prisoner
  11. Behind the Sun

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton- lead guitar, lead vocals

Phil Collins- drums (tracks 1,3,4,9,10), shaker (tracks 7 & 9)

Donald Dunn (From the Blues Brothers)- bass (tracks 1,3,4, 7-10)

Jamie Oldake- drums (tracks 1,3,4, 7-10)

Chris Stainton- synthesizers, organ, piano (tracks 1,3,4, 7-10)

Marcy Levy- backing vocals (tracks 1-3 and 6-9)

Lyndsey Buckingham- rhythm guitar (track 5)

James Newton Howard- synthesizer (track 5)

Jerry Lynn Williams- backing vocals (tracks 2 & 5)

Lenny Castro- congas, percussion (tracks 2 & 6)

Ray Cooper- percussion, gong, bongos (tracks 1,3,7,8)

Nathan East- bass, backing vocals (tracks 2,5,6)

Steve Lukather- rhythm guitar (tracks 2 & 6)

Shawn Murphy- backing vocals (tracks 1,3,7,8)

Michael Omartian- synthesizer (tracks 2 & 6)

Jeff Procraro- drums (tracks 2 & 6)

Greg Phillinganes- synthesizer, backing vocals (track 5)

John JR Johnson- drums (track 5)

J. Peter Robinson- synthesizer (tracks 1,3,4 7-10)

Ted Templeman- shaker, tambourine, timbales (tracks 5 & 6)

When “Behind the Sun” came to my attention, I was glad that a classic album from a great musician was able to fill the gap in what was a few metal starved months for me. This album was never too 80s pop in my view, it just cooks.

Next post: Lone Justice

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: The Wrestling Album

Posted in Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2018 by 80smetalman

Big question: Is my memory not as good as I thought or is Wikopedia not as accurate as they are believed to be? For more than thirty-three years, I was convinced that “The Wrestling Album” came out in the early part of 1985. However, Wikopedia claims it came out in the November of that year. Anyway, when in 1985 the album came out doesn’t really matter, it did and it provided an amusing alternative. Besides, it was still better than a lot of the commercial synth crap that was around.

“The Wrestling Album” came out in a bid to take advantage of the “Rock and Wrestling Connection” which was established the previous year with Cyndi Lauper. She doesn’t sing on this album, with the exception of Rick Derringer’s “Real American,” the wrestlers do. Many of the big WWE, although back then it was still the WWF, who were around at the time have songs, some of them are quite good. The best ones in my view are “Grab Them Cakes” by Junkyard Dog and credit where due, “Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield” by bad guy manager Jimmy ‘The Mouth of the South’ Hart. Wrestling commentator Mean Gene Okerlund does do a pretty good rendition of “Tutti Fruitti.” Derringer’s song, like most of the ones sung by the wrestlers is done in a punk/new wave fashion but he does do a reasonably cool guitar solo on it. After all, that’s what makes Rick great! Furthermore, all the main WWE wrestlers perform on the first track, “Land of a Thousand Dances” which got considerable airplay on MTV. But the album isn’t just music, in between the tracks, you get some funny commentary from Vince McMahon, Gene Okerlund and wrestler, actor and the man who would eventually come to be governor of Minnesota, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura.

While it’s very easy not to take the album seriously, I can also see that those behind the album, especially Cyndi’s then manager David Wolf, made sure the songs were done right. He got Derringer and Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman to produce the album. I have to admit, they do a good job on it, no matter how much I want to burst out laughing whenever I hear “Captain Lou’s History of Music/Captain Lou” by Lou Albano. Then again, I have never dismissed humour in music and there’s a lot to be had with “The Wrestling Album.”

Track Listing:

  1. The Wrestlers- Land of a Thousand Dances
  2. Junkyard Dog- Grab Them Cakes
  3. Rick Derringer- Real American
  4. Jimmy Hart- Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield
  5. Captain Lou Albano and George ‘The Animal’ Steele- Captain Lou’s History of Music/Captain Lou
  6. WWF All Stars- Hulk Hogan’s Theme
  7. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper- For Everybody
  8. Mean Gene Okerlund- Tutti Fruitti
  9. Hillbilly Jim- Don’t Go Messin’ With a Country Boy
  10. Nikolai Volkf- Cara Mia

Rick Derringer

Jim Steinman

Frank Zappa once asked, “Does humour belong in music?” My answer to this has always been an emphatic, “Yes!” “The Wrestling Album” is a very fun album and you can’t fault the quality of the songs even if the singers aren’t “ahem,” top notch. It did provide a humourous break in the action back in 85.

Next post: Van Morrison- A Sense of Wonder

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Tribute to Beru Revue- A Great Philadelphia Band

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by 80smetalman

Beru Revue

Living in Southern New Jersey, I was very much influenced by what was happening in Philadelphia which was fifty miles away. I rooted for their sports teams, most of the time, except when the Phillies played the Dodgers, the Eagles played the Steelers or the 76ers played the Celtics. However, I have always been a die hard Flyers fan. Most importantly though, Philadelphia was where I went to see most of my concerts. Which is why most of the concerts in “Rock And Roll Children” take place at the Spectrum. Furthermore, Philadelphia radio stations were far superior to the one in Atlantic City, also I got treated to some of the bands coming out of there. One of these bands was Beru Revue.

The Philadelphia Spectrum, now sadly torn down.

Back in the mid 1980s, Beru Revue made several trips to South Jersey clubs and I was lucky enough to catch them three times. Their brand of rock, considered new wave by most was definitely unique. They combined great musicianship and if you listened to the lyrics, keen political awareness while maintaining a sense of humour. This gave them a pretty large cult following around the clubs of the Delaware Valley, (comprising Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.) One of their songs, “Hoods A Go Go For the 80s” got airplay on local radio, unfortunately, their fame never spread much beyond that. Although I did take two friends who were visiting from Rhode Island to see them and they were so impressed, they bought Beru’s EP.

Beru Revue:

Bob ‘Beru’ McCafferty- lead vocals

Greg ‘T-Bone’ Davis- guitar

Gerry Healy- guitar

Johnny Sacks- bass

Buzz Barkley- keyboards

Tommy ‘Sir Francis Drake’ Pinto- drums

This is my favourite Beru Revue song:

Hopefully, you’ve had a listen and agree with me that Beru Revue were far too good to be just a locally known band. Even to this day, I have cool memories of them. Maybe one reason they never made it nationally or internationally was the fact that Philadelphia has produced so many great musical acts over the years. One such band would get national attention in 1985, you’ll read about that in the near future and a year later, a Philly metal band would do the same. However, I lament as to what a great contribution to the music world Beru Revue would have been if they had been luckier.

Next post: 1985- The Backlash Begins

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: David Bowie- Tonight

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2018 by 80smetalman

Every year through the journey through the golden age of heavy metal, there is no doubt in my mind that I missed an album or two that was considered a great album in that year. One I nearly missed was the “Tonight” album from the legendary David Bowie. My (poor) excuse for this was the fact that I was so caught up in posting about all the great metal albums that this one nearly past me by.

Thinking back to said year, I remember when the single, “Blue Jean,” from the album first appeared on MTV, my reaction to the song was, “Hey, David has gone back to his more traditional roots that brought him fame, no pun intended, in the 1970s.” “Blue Jean” is considered a light rocker in my eyes and it is the best song on the album. Back then, it persuaded me that “Tonight” would be better than his previous album, “Let’s Dance,” so I went out an procured it. After a listen, I came to the conclusion that “Tonight” was better than “Let’s Dance,” but not that much better.

For the first few songs, “Tonight” sounds like it was it was preformed by a late 1970s lounge act. Everything that comprises such a thing is present in these songs. It’s definitely music to mellow out to, however, I can not fault the first rate musicianship on the songs. It is why I can say that while theses songs aren’t exactly my cup of tea, they still provide good listening to if you are in the right mood. Two prime examples are the seven minute long opener, “Loving the Alien” and his mellowed cover of the Beach Boys classic, “God Only Knows.”

For those who have “Tonight” on vinyl or cassette, side two goes in a more harder rock direction starting with “Neighbourhood Threat.” This is a decent rocker and even more harder than the single “Blue Jean” and precisely the reason why it’s the hidden gem on the album. The single comes next and things pretty much carry on from there, although the remainder of the songs aren’t quite as hard rock as these two. Saying that, I do like the horns sound in “I Keep Forgettin.'” The second side is definitely the better side for me.

Track Listing:

  1. Loving the Alien
  2. Don’t Look Down
  3. God Only Knows
  4. Tonight
  5. Neighbourhood Threat
  6. Blue Jean
  7. Tumble and Twirl
  8. I Keep Forgettin’
  9. Dancing With the Big Boys

David Bowie

David Bowie- lead vocals

Derek Bramble- guitar, synthesizers, bass, backing vocals

Carlos Alomar- guitar

Omar Hakim- drums

Carmine Rojas- bass

Mark King- bass on “Tumble and Twirl”

Rob Yale- CMI on “Loving the Alien,” “Tonight” and “God Only Knows”

Guy St Ange-marimba

Sammy Figueroa- percussion

Tina Turner- vocals on “Tonight”

Iggy Pop- backing vocals on “Dancing With the Big Boys”

Robin Clark, George Simms, Curtis King- backing vocals

The Borneo Horns:

Stanley Harrison- alto and tenor saxophones

Lenny Pickett- tenor sax, clarinet

Steve Elson- baritone saxophone

Arif Mardison- string arrangements, synthesizers

Okay, David Bowie’s 1984 album “Tonight” doesn’t make me stop wanting to listen to “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders From Mars” but it is, at least in my opinion, better than his more commercial album, “Let’s Dance.” While it’s not something I would want to listen to in conjunction with any metal album, it is still a good album to lay back, mellow out and appreciate the fine playing on it.

Next post: Tank- Honour & Blood

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