Archive for new wave

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Alarm- Declaration

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by 80smetalman

In very early months of 1984, when MTV was still playing lots of good music, one song definitely caught my attention. It wasn’t metal, not even hard rock. If I were to categorize it, something I don’t like doing, I would say it was post punk or new wave. Categories and labels a side, what I knew for sure was that I really liked the song “Sixty Eight Guns” by the Alarm. This song was a true anthem for me at the time and I still find myself singing it after all these years. The guitars were hard enough for my tastes but the way the chorus was belted out totally blew me away.

“Sixty Eight guns will never die

Sixty Eight guns our battle cry.”

As I’ve said many times, I will not buy an album on account of one song so you have to know that the rest of the album kicks just as much ass as the feature song. Most of the first half of “The Declaration” are straight ahead new wave rockers and really cook. I do detect a little Irish folk influence in the track “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke.” Then again, when doing further research on the band, I discovered they were Welsh, so I’m not surprised at this. “We Are the Light” is an acoustic track but even that doesn’t limit the powerful vocals of lead singer Mike Peters. For years, I have underestimated his vocal ability, I’ll never do that again.

“Shout to the Devil” is not a Motley Crue cover but very intelligently combines the acoustic flavour of the previous track and the more powerful sounds of the previous songs. Again, it’s very catchy. “Blaze of Glory” is also a good anthem like “Sixty Eight Guns” and like that song, I found myself wanting to sing along to the chorus. Only the lyrics aren’t quite as straight forward as “68 Guns.” I can at least sing the first part over and over, “Going out in a blaze of glory.” I do like how they use the horns on it. “The Deceiver” has an eerie introduction before going into a fast acoustic track with some good harmonica played on it. In fact the second side, isn’t quite as hard rock as the first but that doesn’t diminish the quality of “The Declaration” in the slightest.

Track Listing:

  1. Declaration
  2. Marching On
  3. Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke
  4. Third Light
  5. Sixty Eight Guns
  6. We Are the Light
  7. Shout to the Devil
  8. Blaze of Glory
  9. Tell Me
  10. The Deceiver
  11. The Stand
  12. Howling Wind

The Alarm

Mike Peters- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica

Dave Sharp- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Eddie MacDonald- bass, guitar, backing vocals

Twist- drums, percussion, backing vocals

When I listen to “The Declaration” I wonder why The Alarm didn’t get more commercial success. Some misguided people did say that they were too much like U2 but I never thought so. They were unique enough to avoid that. So, I wonder if it’s down to the discovery I made about them in the early summer of 1984, they were born again Christians. True, Christian rock was getting more attention at this time, something I’ll talk about in a future post, but I don’t hear any obvious Jesus lyrics in any of the songs that would frighten off listeners. For me, The Alarm’s “The Declaration” defined the direction I was heading in 1984 and it’s still a great album.

Next post: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Billy Idol- Rebel Yell

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by 80smetalman

billyidolrebelyell

Not sure if history would agree with me but thirty years ago, I thought that 1983 was Billy Idol’s year. After all, he made my Spring and my final weeks in the service bearable with “White Wedding” from his first album, which was cool in itself. Then, at the end of the same year, he released the follow up, “Rebel Yell.” While I thought, actually I still do think it, that the first single and title track wasn’t quite as good as “White Wedding” or even “Dancing with Myself,” I still thought it was an all right song.

“Rebel Yell” is more of a new wave album than its predecessor. Billy uses more keyboards on the songs although unlike the emerging synth pop that was manifesting itself at the time, they don’t dominate them. On the title track, the keyboards help to usher in the start of the song but it goes more traditional hard rock for the rest of it. The same sort of thing happens with the tracks “Crank Call” and “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows” and both songs are enjoyable. In fact, the hardest song on the album for me is “Blue Highway” and probably why it’s my favourite.

There are some more slower songs on here like “Eyes Without a Face” which did score as a big hit for him in the singles charts. That song marked a move away from punk to a more new wave sound. The same can be said for “Flesh For Fantasy,” but I like that one a little more. It did take me a few careful listens before I fully appreciated “Daytime Drama.” That’s because if you listen closely, there is some good guitar work in support. However, unlike hardcore punk or metal, it doesn’t come out and hit you in the face. I have to now concur with 1537’s assertion that Steve Stevens is a really good guitar player. Therefore, while I still don’t think that “Rebel Yell” quite hits the level of Idol’s self titled album, it’s still a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Rebel Yell
  2. Daytime Drama
  3. Eyes Without a Face
  4. Blue Highway
  5. Flesh for Fantasy
  6. Catch My Fall
  7. Crank Call
  8. (Do Not) Stand in the Shadows
  9. The Dead Next Door
Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Billy Idol- guitar, vocals

Steve Stevens- guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizer

Phil Feit- bass on Rebel Yell

Sal Cuevas- bass on Eyes Without a Face

Steve Webster- bass

Judi Dozier- keyboards

Jack Waldman- keyboards

Thommy Price- drums

Greg Gerson- drums on Rebel Yell and Do Not Stand in the Shadows

Mars Williams- saxophone on Catch My Fall

Perri Lister- backing vocals on Eyes Without a Face

The more I think back, the more convinced I become that 1983 was Billy Idol’s year. Two albums and four big singles prove that point. It is also why I thought that “Rebel Yell” would be the best way to end the tour of 1983.

Next post: Great Albums Killed by the Cassette Player

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Will Trump’s Presidency Usher in a New Wave of Heavy Metal?

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by 80smetalman
Donald Trump

Donald Trump

I read a post on a blog, which my buddy 1537 reminded me of in his post last night, that the Presidency of the newly elected Donald Trump may usher in a new wave of heavy metal. With his ultra conservative politics, there will be a lot of angry musicians out there who will be inspired to write a lot of songs about Trump and the political/social climate that might generate from it. From that, a resurgence in heavy metal might just come about. Plus history can back it up.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Let’s begin by going back to the 198os when the US President was another ultra conservative, Ronald Reagan. During the decade, for which he was in office for most of, there was a heavy metal explosion. First there was the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), which filled the early part of that decade. Inspired by that, many American metal bands emerged, I don’t feel I have to name them all. Towards the end of Ronnie’s presidency, we had the onslaught of thrash, a custom blend of punk and heavy metal. Even the PMRC, who operated with Reagan’s behind the scenes positive nod, failed to stop the heavy metal onslaught. It could also be why the 80s was the golden age of heavy metal. It also gave me good amount of inspiration when I wrote “Rock and Roll Children.”

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Reagan’s successor, George HW Bush was a liberal Republican and that coincided with a downward trend in heavy metal. That continued well into the presidency of the more liberal Bill Clinton. We had the grunge period and a lot of great 80s metal acts kind of drifted into near obscurity during the 1990s. I say near but not total, I do remember some great metal from old and new acts but metal was definitely stuck in a rut during this decade. In fact, I heard former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra once say that many members of hardcore punk bands in the 80s, in the 90s, went back to California, got computer jobs and started driving BMW’s. Maybe, there wasn’t anything to be angry about during Clinton’s presidency.

George W Bush

George W Bush

That all changed with the election of George W Bush in 2000. A new wave of ultra conservative politics brought on a new wave of heavy metal. The fragmented factions of metal, whether it by nu metal, Viking metal, black metal etc, established themselves back on the world music stage. They seemed to put aside their differences and come together for the common metal good. Furthermore, gaining inspiration from their 1980s elders, many of the bands from the golden decade also made a comeback. Again, we see right wing politics ushering in a new surge in heavy metal.

Barrack Obama

Barrack Obama

Obama’s presidency did bring the heavy metal surge to a more calming trickle. Fortunately, the lessons of the 1990s were learned and heavy metal didn’t go underground. While no new ground has been gained during the more liberal years of Obama, none has been lost either. What may have happened is that metal had become insular with metalheads finding sanctuary with each other. Metal now rests upon a springboard, ready to jump into any direction. If the person, I voted for, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, had been elected, metal would have gone in a more artsy direction. Not much chance of that happening.

Now we have Trump, who many believe to be extremely right wing, racist, sexist and a few other ists as well. So the question to be asked is “Will Trump’s presidency lead to a new resurgence in heavy metal? The answer will soon be made known to us. Things are promising to heat up in the heavy metal world and I am very excited to see what will become of it.

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1983- Triumphs and Tragedies

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2016 by 80smetalman
The Alamo

The Alamo

The only tragedy I remember from 1983 actually happened the year before. Due to my military service, I didn’t find out about it until 83 when I read about all the fallout from it. I’m talking about when Ozzy Osbourne pissed on the Alamo. He claims he was drunk as a skunk, (I’ve never seen a drunk skunk so I have nothing to compare it to.) Ozzy also said he didn’t know it was such a national shrine, well it is in Texas. The result of his action got him banned from the city of San Antonio for ten years, although that was lifted a few years later when he made a large donation to the Alamo charity.

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy was already getting himself a reputation outside the heavy metal world for the wrong reasons. His infamous biting the head off a bat was making its rounds. Of course, the religious element in America embellished things further. There were rumours he blew up goats on stage and at one show, he supposedly threw a puppy into the crowd and said he wouldn’t sing anymore until the audience killed the puppy. While this was all untrue hype, it didn’t help Ozzy when he actually did something for real. So for Ozzy and somewhat in the metal world, this was a bit of a tragedy because it overshadowed the two albums he released in the year. I’ll be covering those soon enough.

Now for the triumphs. It seems that 1983 was a cool year for festivals. I got to go to two of them. The first one, I mentioned when I posted about the Nantucket and Doc Holliday albums a few months ago. Those two bands topped the bill at the Mayfair Festival at Jacksonville, North Carolina. The other five bands remain pretty much unheard of with the bottom three being cover bands. So, I thought I’d include them in this little piece of history. They were Skeet Kelly, Roxy, Avalanche- who did a great cover of Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal,” Peer Pressure- who did a reasonably decent cover of John Cougar’s “Hurt So Good” and Eraxle- who closed their set with a fantastic cover of Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man.” I consumed loads of alcohol and there were some interesting events between the bands like a wet t-shirt and a men’s ugly legs competition. A fine day from what I remember.

Nantucket

Nantucket

Military commitments kept me from attending this festival but my sister went. I tried to pick her brains but she didn’t remember much. In the June, Journey headlined in Philadelphia and with them were John Cougar, Sammy Hagar, The Tubes and Bryan Adams. From what she can remember, my sister says that Journey sounded great and had a fantastic light show. John Cougar and Bryan Adams were both very good as was Sammy Hagar despite his red spandex. Unfortunately, The Tubes weren’t up to the rest of those who played that day. If this line up played in more cities than Philly, I would love to hear your account of the day.

Journey Live

Journey Live

It didn’t matter that I was in the military for this one, I couldn’t have gone to the US Festival because it was 3000 miles away in California. The US Festival was a three day festival where the first day consisted of new wave bands, the second day’s line up was heavy metal and the third day’s was a rock line up. From what I heard, all three days were fantastic although I do recall an interview with a local sheriff saying that he was going to try to ban such events following the festival. I didn’t think about it then, but that was the first salvo fired at music in the 1980s. I think the best thing to do is just to let you look at the line up for the three days and I’m sure you will be just as awestruck as I was.

Us Festival Showbill

Us Festival Showbill

I did get to the final festival in 1983. This was my first Donington Festival as I happened to be in England at the time. From my memory, I can recall that Diamond Head were all right and Dio were very good. I didn’t twig on who the lead singer was until they played “Heaven and Hell” but that was okay. They were brilliant. Then came Twisted Sister. I can still remember Dee Snider’s quip: “We’re not Culture Club or any of those gay boys or Duran Duran nor any of those other wimps. We’re Twisted Sister and we play heavy metal rock and roll!” Of course I knew there must of been something about them when they were introduced as Twisted Fuckin’ Sister. Their music was great too.

For me, ZZ Top took the concert. They played a magnificent combination of old and new material during their time on stage. Of course it helped that they played my two favourite ZZ Top tunes, “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “La Grange.” They also played quite a few songs off their new “Eliminator” album so they basically rocked. The big let down after ZZ Top was Meatloaf. I was not impressed, he just sounded terrible that day. Worse, my friend’s English girlfriend didn’t realize that they ran a special train after the concert so out of fear of getting stuck, we left early and missed headliners, Whitesnake. I remain gutted but overall, Donington 1983 was a kick ass day and proved that Great Britain could rock.

donfest83

 

That was 1983 in a nutshell. The only real tragedy was Ozzy pissing on a national shrine but all the great concert festivals more than compensated for it. Just posting about it has me psyched for Bloodstock in two weeks. It was no wonder I was super excited when I got out of the marines that year.

Next post: Great Soundtracks

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Planet P- Project

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Planetpproject

Who says American bands aren’t capable of making good progressive rock? Jeremy Clarkson to name one but don’t worry, he does write a column in The Sun, as does some other berk whose name I can’t remember, who insinuated a similar claim. If either of these two gentlemen were to make such a claim in my presence, I would politely guide them to the likes of Kansas, Styx and Planet P. True, the first two bands incorporated lots of hard rock and in the case of Styx, almost bordering on heavy metal but both bands also produced some great progressive rock tunes in their material. As for Planet P, this band was as progressive as anyone and this is proven with their debut album “Project.”

Planet P was the brain child of former Rainbow keyboard player, Tony Carey. I was first alerted to their existence when I heard several tracks from the album played on a rate an album radio programme. It wasn’t the hard rock/metal that I was now a devoted disciple of but I liked it.

The album opens with a bit of space rock, in the form of “Static.” It sounds enough like Pink Floyd that some people made comparisons to that band. It is a little trippy but it does haul your ears in for the rest of the album. Track two, “King For a Day” could have been released as a single. It is one of those songs capable of uniting both progressive purists and metalheads with its catchy melody and lyrics. The next few tracks are good progressive rock tracks and “I Won’t Wake Up” is very good. Then comes the song they did release as a single, “Why Me.” That is a very good song and the fact that it got to number four on the mainstream hot tracks bears testimony of this. However, the album doesn’t rest on the single. The very next track, “Power Tools” is my favourite track on this album. It is the closest they come to hard rock but it’s a catchy upbeat song.

“Send It In a Letter” is more experimental progressive rock. Great use of synthesizers are made here. It’s another space rock sounding song. “Adam and Eve” combines the best of progressive, space and hard rock and does it very well. It doesn’t settle down in one of those said genres for very long before one of the others hits you like a ton of bricks.

Before Planet P, I always knew Tony Carey to be a good keyboards player from his Rainbow days but had little experience of him as a singer. His vocals are more than sufficient on “Project.” He even harmonizes well on the song he doesn’t sing lead. Furthermore, he managed to put together a great band to back him up. Well done to Tony and Planet P!

Track Listing:

  1. Static
  2. King For a Day
  3. I Won’t Wake Up
  4. Top of the World
  5. Armageddon
  6. Tranquility Base (Only available on CD and cassette)
  7. Why Me
  8. Power Tools
  9. Send It In a Letter
  10. Only You and Me
  11. Ruby (Only available on CD and cassette)
Planet P

Planet P

Tony Carey- lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass, acoustic guitar

David Thomas- lead vocals on “Only You and Me”

Johan Daansen- guitar

Robert Musenpichler- guitar

Helmut Bibl- guitar

Hartmut Pfannmeuller- drums, percussion

Fritz Matzka- drums, percussion

Peter Hauke- drums, percussion

Planet P not only proved that Americans (and Germans) could make some great progressive rock, the “Project” album gained them a lot of respect from metalheads and prog purists alike.

Next post: Stevie Nicks- The Wild Heart

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Joe Jackson- Night and Day

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Night_and_day_JJ

What I liked about the “Night and Day” album by Joe Jackson in 1983 was the fact that it was different. While rock was busy dividing and sub-dividing itself into categories and sub categories, including my beloved heavy metal, Joe went out and made an album that you really can’t put anywhere. Of course, as was the style of the time, so called music officianadoes simply called it new wave. That is very lazy in my humble opinion. I just appreciate it the album because it was so unique although the fine musicianship of Joe and his band had something to do with it as well.

My first experience with Joe Jackson came a year earlier with the song many know him best for, “Is She Really Going Out With Him.” Why I never visited any of his previous albums, I’ll never know but it was the “Night and Day” album that made an impression on me. Funny thing is that this album is a contrast to the mentioned song as that song is more of a hard rock tune and this album has definite hints of jazz and combined with some of the sarcasm with some of the lyrics, reminds me a little of the great Frank Zappa.

Let’s start with what many people know, the two singles “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us in Two.” In 1983, a lot of people played the former song before going on nights out and I don’t blame them. It is a great song to get you in the mood. The latter song is more of a ballad type and I get the impression that it’s about a relationship on the rocks. While slower than the other songs on the album, it’s definitely not soppy and is a decent song.

Singles aside, the rest of the album holds up very well. All songs are definitely played very well here. Many of them are piano dominated with his best efforts heard on the track “Cancer,” one of my favourites on the album. He just goes to town on the ivories for the final two or three minutes of the song. Furthermore, I love the assertion the song makes that every thing will be found to cause cancer. The way scientists are going on these days, that song is a bit of a prophecy fulfilled. He also sarcastically sings about television in with “T.V. Age” and “Real Men” was written in response to the emerging gay community in New York. As you have probably guessed by now, I do take a specific interest in albums’ opening and closing songs. For me, they can make or break an album. Both of the positioned tracks on “Night and Day” pass my mark. “Another World” grabs your attention from the start and “A Slow Song” takes the album out on a sublime note. Overall, this album is proof that music didn’t need to be categorized to be good.

Track Listing:

  1. Another World
  2. Chinatown
  3. TV Age
  4. Target
  5. Steppin’ Out
  6. Breaking Us in Two
  7. Cancer
  8. Real Men
  9. A Slow Song
Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson- vocals, pianos, organ, alto saxophone, harmonica, synthesizer, vibraphone

Sue Hadjopoulos- flute, percussion, congas, xylophone, timbale, bells, bongos, backing vocals

Graham Maby- bass, percussion, backing vocals

Grace Milan- vocals

Ed Roynesdal- keyboards, violin

Larry Tolfree- timbale, percussion, drums

Richard Torre- percussion, clave, bongos, cowbell

Al Weisman- vocals

There’s a very interesting thing about the “Night and Day” album. As you go through the list of musicians on it, there’s not one guitar mentioned. Normally, the metalhead in me would scream, “Wot, no guitars!” That leads to another question: How can an album not have any guitars on it and sound this good? The answer is down to the musical genius that is Joe Jackson.

Next post: Golden Earring- Cut

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Big Country- The Crossing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by 80smetalman

Big_Country_-_The_Crossing

It was the beginning of December in 1983 when MTV finally came into my household. That was because we were offered a really good deal on it, so my mother agreed to it but that’s not important here. What I did discover almost straight away was that while many an act owed their success to MTV, that channel also had the potential to kill an act. In those first few weeks, just about every time we switched on the channel, the video for Big Country’s first big hit, “In a Big Country” would be playing. It got played to the point that whenever it came on, either me or my sister and even my then 12 year old brother would crack the sarcastic comment, “Hey, never seen this one before.” The irony is that when I first heard that song, I thought it was decent enough. I liked Big Country’s Scottish Celtic-folk sound mixed in with a bit of hard rock. It was definitely something I would call new wave. Unfortunately, the over saturation of the song on MTV put me off and as a result, I never got to appreciate how good their debut album, “The Crossing” was.

Another ironic point about this album was that by chance, I saw the video for their second single, “Fields of Fire.” I say by chance because unlike “In a Big Country” they hardly played it and that’s a shame because I preferred “Fields of Fire” to the other one. It is a bit harder. Throughout “The Crossing,” the folk-rock combination weaves its way in, out and around all the tracks. The first three or four tracks edge closer to the more progressive side. There are some very interesting musical arrangements here, especially with the song, “Chance.” Things tend to sound a bit more harder after that, although the track “1000 Stars” does slightly remind of U2. Furthermore, I do like the acoustic folk sound on “The Storm.” But “Harvest Home” is more hard rock for and that is followed by my favourite track, “Lost Patrol.” Another song, I will add to my list of songs that would sound good metalized.

At first, I didn’t know what to think about the closer, “Porrohman.” But once I sat down and really listened to it, I found it to be one of those that absorbs you in and you have no choice but to just enjoy it to its end. A great song to end the album with. One more point I have to make is about the vocals of Stuart Adamson. What makes his vocals good is that they fit right in with the music and that does well here.

Track Listing:

  1. In a Big Country
  2. Inwards
  3. Chance
  4. 1000 Stars
  5. The Storm
  6. Harvest Home
  7. Lost Patrol
  8. Close Action
  9. Fields of Fire
  10. Porrohman
Big Country

Big Country

Stuart Adamson- vocals, guitar, piano, ebow

Bruce Watson- guitar, vocals, ebow, mandolin, sitar

Tony Butler- bass, vocals

Mark Brzezicki- drums, percussion,vocals

Did you know that some people actually consider Big Country to be one hit wonders. I don’t. From what I heard from their later work, they seem to go a bit more harder. Still, they were never one hit wonders. That label kept people like me from hearing how good “The Crossing” actually was.

Next post: Robert Plant- The Principle of Moments

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