Archive for new wave

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Greg Kihn Band- Kihntagious

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2017 by 80smetalman

One of the biggest questions I have about 1984 is why did the Greg Kihn Band fade into oblivion in this year? The band was riding high on the wave of their very successful 1983 album, “Kihnspiracy,” which, in spite of the album having the ballad hit single “Jeopardy” on it, was a good rocking album. MTV seemed to like them as the video for the first single from the 1984 album, “Kihntagious,” “Reunited,” got a lot of play. I still think that it is a pretty good song. So I ask why did this band fade away so rapidly?

Could the answer be with “Kihntagious?” The already mentioned single leads off the album and gives it a promising start. Then comes the misleading “Rock,” the second single. This was released as a dance track and though there’s some good individual spots of musicianship on it, (Greg Douglass does some good lead guitar work on it), the dance vibe does sort of kills it for me. However, that is simply the weakest track on the album. “Stand Together” takes me back to their first album. It’s a good rocking track. “Confrontation Music” has a strong reggae vibe which I like quite a bit. Plus, Douglass probably plays his best guitar solo on this one. “Work, Work, Work” is a rocking closer that works on different levels.

Track Listing:

  1. Reunited
  2. Rock
  3. Make Up
  4. Stand Together
  5. Confrontation Music
  6. One Thing About Love
  7. Worst That Could Happen
  8. Trouble With the Girl
  9. Cheri Baby
  10. Hard Times
  11. Work, Work, Work

Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn- vocals, rhythm guitar

Greg Douglass- lead, slide guitars, backing vocals

Larry Lynch- drums, vocals

Steve Wright- bass, backing vocals

Gary Phillips- keyboards

Listening to “Kihntagious,” I can’t still fathom as to why the Greg Kihn Band slipped into obscurity after. I mean, this isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. I guess the answer is somewhere out there.

Next post: U2- The Unforgettable Fire

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

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Great(ish) Rock Albums of 1984: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Rod Stewart has always been a top forty artist in my book. He’s had a string of hits over the past four decades, some of them I actually liked, especially during the 1970s and 80s. I confessed to this fact when I visited his 1982 “Tonight I’m Yours” album some time ago. One of those singles I like happened to be the single, “Infatuation,” from the 1984 album, “Camouflage.” The song does venture  towards the new wave/hard rock borderland and even more so with the guitar solo by Jeff Beck. That brings me to the video for the song. Rod continues his string of cheesy videos that started with “Young Turks” where everyone is dancing on the hoods of cars and carries on with “Infatuation. In this video, Jeff Beck pops up in the hotel room from out of nowhere to play his solo. I understand that Mike LeBrain has had the same problem. Whenever he stays in a hotel room, Jeff Beck shows up. To quote a title from another song on “Camouflage,” some guys have all the luck.

After the opener, “Infatuation,” things go downhill pretty fast. While, I applaud Rod Stewart for a decent single at first, with the next track, I’m ready to place a bounty on his head for his act of sacrilege. He covers the Free classic “All Right Now” and it is a totally synthed out version. If he had kept to the script set down by Free, his voice would have carried the song but with all the synthesizers, I have to say, “No Rod!” But that’s not the only cover he has destroyed. On track four, he sings a cover of the Todd Rungren classic, “Can We Still Be Friends.” Like “All Right Now” there’s nothing wrong with his voice on the song but again, the synthesizers ruin it for me. While this sacrilege isn’t as bad, it’s still bad enough that even Jeff Beck’s guitar solo can’t save it.

Jeff does improve things with a solo on the track after, “Bad For You.” This one is more in line with the opener and sounds quite good. “Heart is On the Line” is one of those pop sounding songs that isn’t bad but it’s not one I want to listen to over and over. “The title track is much more sharper. Rod’s voice takes control of it and therefore the synths that appear on it are only in the background. Plus there’s a good use of horns adding a bit of diversity. Had Jeff belted out a solo on it, it might have been my favourite track. The closer, “Trouble” typifies how unbalanced “Camouflage” is. The keyboard intro makes you feel it’s going to be a cool prog rock song only to fade away into a ballad. Now, Rod has always been able to sing a good ballad and does so here but the intro leaves me disappointed with the rest of the song.

Track Listing:

  1. Infatuation
  2. All Right Now
  3. Some Guys Have All the Luck
  4. Can We Still Be Friends
  5. Bad For You
  6. Heart is On the Line
  7. Camouflage
  8. Trouble

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart- vocals

Jeff Beck- guitar

Jim Cregan- guitar

Robin LeMesurier- guitar

Michael Landau- guitar

Jay Davis- bass

Tony Brock- drums

Kevin Savigar- keyboards

Michael Omartian- keyboards, percussion, backing vocals

Jimmy Zavala- harmonica

Gary Herbig- saxophone

Jerry Hey, Chuck Finley, Kim Hutchcroft, Charlie Loper, Gary Grant- horns

Was “Camouflage” great? I tend not to think so, however, it could have been so if there weren’t so many synth versions of classic rock songs. The songs that are good are but others let the album down. It seems here, he was comfortable being a top forty singer.

Next post: Roger Waters- The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

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 1984: The Cars- Heartbeat City

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by 80smetalman

Way back in the early days, when I posted about The Cars’ 1978 self titled debut album, Stone from Metalodyssey commented that The Cars were ahead of their time. I totally agree with this and will add to it by stating that they continued to be ahead of their time with their albums from the early 1980s. However, by 1984 time had caught up with them and what they were doing wasn’t so advanced. It seemed that many bands were influenced by them and were copying what they were doing. But no matter what other bands were trying to do, there will only be one band called The Cars and to paraphrase a quote at the time by former WWE manager, Lou Albano, they were “often imitated but never duplicated.” Proof in the pudding is their 1984 album, “Heartbeat City.”

‘Captain’ Lou Albano

What is so great about this album is while others may have been trying to copy The Cars, they didn’t do anything different from what they had done before. Yet, “Heartbeat City” still manages to sound fresh. Some will point to the biggest hit from the album, “Drive” and say that they did change. A few misguided individuals, who know not this band, have labelled them one hit wonders, WTF? My rebuttal comes with my favourite track on the album, “You Might Think” which was also a top ten hit for the band. For me to like a song that makes it into the top ten singles chart is saying something.

“Heartbeat City” is another successful marriage of hard rock and more synthesizer oriented sounds of the early 1980s performed by the band. A great example is the hidden gem that is “Stranger Eyes.” That is a song which is a foundation for the union I have just described. Then there are other tracks, some of them were even released as singles like “Magic” and “It’s Not the Night.” I do love Greg Hawkes keyboard work on the latter of the two although the I like the more hard rock on the former. Am I being wishy washy? Most probably but when an album can be so diversified and still catch and hold my attention, then it must be said that The Cars did something very right on this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Hello Again
  2. It’s Not the Night
  3. Magic
  4. Drive
  5. Stranger Eyes
  6. You Might Think
  7. I’s Not the Night
  8. Why Can’t I Have You
  9. I Refuse
  10. Heartbeat City

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals

Ben Orr- bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on tracks 4, 5 and 7

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

Time might have caught up with The Cars but that didn’t stop them from doing what they did best and putting out a great album in “Heartbeat City.” Some have said that this was their best album, though I’ve always been partial to their first. However, I wouldn’t enter into any debate about it.

Next post: J Geils Band- You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Go Go’s- Talk Show

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2017 by 80smetalman

Cause and effect here: From what I remember, the third album from The Go Go’s received hardly any radio airplay although the first single, “Head Over Heels” got a decent video play on MTV. That is the effect, the cause was because I think “Talk Show” is the best of their three albums in the early 1980s. They had matured as a band by this album and while the music is still in the pop-rock, new wave vein, their playing had really improved and why it’s my favourite Go Go’s album.

Of all five ladies who comprised the band, the one whose musicianship really struck me was that of lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey. I’ll be the first to admit that she doesn’t hold a candle to Girlschool’s Kelly Johnson in the female lead guitarist sweepstakes, she does some okay solos on the tracks. “Turn to You,” “Beneath the Blue Sky” and “You Thought.” She also plays keyboards and her best efforts if probably on “Head Over Heels.” Fair play, Caffey is a very underrated musician for sure. Speaking about underrated, I think that drummer Gina Schock is much better drummer than what she’s given credit for. All drummers reading this are welcome to comment here.

Actually, I think “Talk Show” is heavier than their previous albums, “Beauty and the Beat” and “Vacation.” The songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph are all fairly hard. Not metal but they are hard enough to be a step up, “Turn to You” especially. “I’m the Only One” is even harder though. It almost explodes onto you at the beginning and that is kept up throughout the song making it the hardest rock song on the album. Plus, it has Caffey’s best guitar solo. Okay, it’s my favourite track on the album. “Capture the Light” is pretty good as well and “Mercenary” is a cool closer that gives further support to my feelings in Gina Schock’s drumming.

Track Listing:

  1. Head Over Heels
  2. Turn to You
  3. You Thought
  4. Beneath the Blue Sky
  5. Forget That Day
  6. I’m the Only One
  7. Yes or No
  8. Capture the Light
  9. I’m With You
  10. Mercenary

The Go Go’s

Belinda Carlisle- lead vocals

Charlotte Caffey- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Jane Wiedlin- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Kathy Valentine- bass, backing vocals

Gina Schock- drums, percussion, backing vocals

It is possible that “Talk Show” being my favourite Go Go’s album was why they broke up after it. I hope it’s not the case but after 1984, the Go Go’s would be no more. Lead singer, Belinda Carlisle would have a successful solo career towards the end of the decade, (I’ll cover those albums in due time) and Jane Wiedlin would have a couple of hits but for me, she’ll always be Joan of Arc in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Still, the end of the road for a band that was just discovering how good they could be.

Next post: A Poll

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 1984: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Normally, I tend to go off artists who have too many commercial radio hits, especially if they altered their sound in order to gain that commercial airplay. Fortunately, I can’t say the same for The Pretenders with their album, “Learning to Crawl.” There are a good number of songs on this album which I remember getting a good amount of play on radio and more so on MTV. Some even breached the Top 40! Do you know what the best part is? The Pretenders made little or no change to their sound. They simply did what they did so well on their first two albums and in my not so humble opinion, they did it better on “Learning to Crawl.”

Let’s start with the songs we do know. “Middle of the Road” was the first single I remember hearing when the album was released in January, 1984. At this stage in my life, I was becoming very politically aware and found myself seeking out music with political overtones. While The Pretenders aren’t really a politically motivated band, the lyrics of “Middle of the Road” did get my attention. Also the fact that it’s a good straight forward rocker and very worthy to be the opener.

Although it was released as a single in 1982, (see my posts on one hit wonders of 1982), “Back on the Chain Gang” was included on the album. Even more reason for me to like it and what’s more, they didn’t change the song for the album. It’s still my all time favourite Pretenders song of all time. I was surprised to see that the ballad like, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” only reached 83 on the US charts. I did remember hearing it a lot at the time and it often gets used in romantic films.

One song that I can identify with more and more theses days is “My City Was Gone.” On this song, Chissie Hynde laments how her home town of Akron, Ohio has changed beyond recognition. I can feel for her on this one. Since I’ve been living in the UK, every time I return to New Jersey for a visit, I see that it has changed. At first, it was just less woodland and like in the song, more shopping malls. However, the arrow through my heart happened in 2001 when I went to my childhood stomping ground of Wildwood. All my favourite amusements, especially the walk through pirate ship, were gone and replaced by go-cart tracks. It was then I realized my childhood had died. During the same visit, I discovered the woods I used to build forts in, (that’s dens for my UK readers), was bulldozed down for new housing. So Chrissie, I can feel for you on that song.

Now for the non hits. I say non hits but there is a definite, I heard this before feel whenever I listen to “Time the Avenger” and “Show Me.” I’m talking about those songs themselves, I can’t remember hearing either one anywhere else but the album but they give me the feeling otherwise. The band goes a little country with “Thumbelina.” I was used to frequent a bar that had live country music back then because it was staggering distance from my house and that song wouldn’t have been out of place if had been played there. “I Hurt You” is a solid song and the closer, “2000 Miles,” does get some airplay around Christmas time.

Track Listing:

  1. Middle of the Road
  2. Back on the Chain Gang
  3. Time the Avenger
  4. Watching the Clothes
  5. Show Me
  6. Thumbelina
  7. My City Was Gone
  8. Thin Line Between Love and Hate
  9. I Hurt You
  10. 2000 Miles

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica

Robbie McIntosh- lead guitar, backing vocals

Malcolm Foster- bass, backing vocals

Martin Chambers- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Billy Bremner- lead guitar on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City was Gone,” rhythm guitar on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Tony Butler- bass on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone

  • Andrew Bodnar- bass on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Paul Carrack- piano, backing vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Three weeks into 1984 and things were starting off very well musically for this year. The “Learning to Crawl” album from The Pretenders was part of that.

Next post: The Go Gos- Talk Show

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

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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

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