Archive for political music

Great Rock Albums of 1984: U2- The Unforgettable Fire

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2017 by 80smetalman

Unlike the Greg Kihn Band, after their successful 1983 album, “War,” followed by a successful live album, U2 didn’t vanish into obscurity. Maybe Greg Kihn should have released a live album. That’s all hindsight anyway. What is history is the fact that U2 followed up their success with the really cool album, “The Unforgettable Fire.”

I don’t think I’ve said this in previous posts about U2 but the one thing their music definitely did was appeal to Metalhead and Duranie alike. For those who don’t know, a Duranie is someone who was into Duran Duran and similar type music. Those people listened to U2 and did not feel that they were going too weird in their music tastes while Metalheads could do the same without any feeling of selling out and going mainstream. “The Unforgettable Fire” album continues this trend for the band as both of those groups bought this album up.

Reading the history behind the making of the album, the band has said that they were trying to steer a different direction with it as they didn’t want to be labeled as another arena rock band. Let me be totally honest here, I have never heard anything different in the sound of “The Unforgettable Fire” than what they had accomplished with their previous three studio albums. What U2 had been able to do very well with all four of their albums to date was make different sounding songs without having to change their overall style. I have always believed it was a case of more of this with the fourth album.

With “The Unforgettable Fire” the hits come out straight away, probably because I heard the first single, “Pride in the Name of Love” on the radio before I bought the album. History states that the single was released first so that’s probably why. Still, it ranks up their among my favourite U2 songs of all time. The second single, “Bad” is the second single released and that stands out as well while at the same time, you know it’s a good U2 song. I could never fathom why the title track never charted in North America as it’s a really cool track as well. If anything, I would rate it above “Bad.” But if you know me by now, albums aren’t about the singles on them and there has to be some hidden gem in the album. For me, that track is “Wire.” If I had my way, that would have been released as a single. I like the little guitar lick The Edge uses at the beginning before it goes into a good rocking song. In fact, The Edge shows his guitar skills all through the song. Actually, “Indian Summer Sky” is a really good song and that’s what you need for a good album.

The other thing which definitely appealed to me back in 1984 was U2’s use of politics in their music. This continues with this album, especially as two songs are dedicated to the late Martin Luther King Jr, one of them being the first single. “Bad” was about heroin addiction and the idea for the title track came when the band was visiting the war museum in Hiroshima, Japan. Put these things in with the music on the album and it’s no wonder why I liked it so much.

Track Listing:

  1. A Sort of Homecoming
  2. Pride in the Name of Love
  3. Wire
  4. The Unforgettable Fire
  5. Promenade
  6. 4th of July
  7. Bad
  8. Indian Summer Sky
  9. Elvis Presley and America
  10. MLK

U2

Bono- lead vocals,

The Edge- guitars, keyboards, backing vocals

Adam Clayton- bass

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

New feature: Seeing what has been done on other blogs and now that I know that I don’t have to pay WordPress ridiculous amounts of money for the privilege, with every album post, I will include a track from said album. Typical me, last on the bandwagon. In this case, since I have sung the praises of the track “Wire,” it will be featured here.

Heavy metal was going strong in 1984, so was U2. This album is clear evidence of that fact.

Next post: Steve Perry- Street Talk

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: Jefferson Starship- Nuclear Furniture

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2017 by 80smetalman

For me in 1984, Jefferson Starship, being my favourite band in the world since 1977, would come to a cross roads with me in the form of the album “Nuclear Furniture.” As previously stated enough times that you’re all sick of reading it, my musical tastes were getting much heavier. With “Nuclear Furniture,” the band began to shy away from the hard rock of their previous three albums. However, I wasn’t going to demote them straight away and there was enough good material on the album to keep them at my number one.

First let us start out with the weak. The first single from the album, “No Way Out” while miles better than the vast majority of synth pop coming out at the time, it lacked the power chords I was now craving. Craig Chaquico does save the song with one of his decent guitar solos. Then again, he does it with many of the songs, even the ones where it’s not essential. The other songs that might fall into the same category as “No Way Out” have something else that makes them great, with the possible exception of  “Magician.” I was getting more and more politically aware in 1984 and seeking out music that reflected my beliefs. There are some great songs that do this. Two of them are about nuclear destruction, “Champion,” one of my favourites and “Showdown.” Grace Slick’s vocals make the latter song sound that much better. Again, lyrically, “Assassin” is a great song. It might have been better placed in the late 90s as it could be applied to school shootings. The song is about a stranger in the neighbourhood who turns out to be a killer. “Live and Let Live” speaks to me personally, not politically and without going into great personal detail, took a load of withheld anger from me. With the track, “Connection,” the song clearly trumpets my theory of what would happen if Jesus and Mohammed had actually met each other. While these songs might not be hard rockers, the lyrics really make you think.

Now for the rockers, “Shining in the Moonlight” is a straight ahead one of those bringing back memories of those previous three albums, “Freedom at Point Zero,” “Modern Times” and “Winds of Change.” The other two are not only cool rockers in my book but also have political lyrics I like. “Rose Goes to Yale” is a short but powerful rocker that makes a great point while rocking out to it. However, my favourite track on the album has to be “Laying It on the Line.” A great intro and even though it is a little synthed in places, I don’t mind. A cool guitar solo and to my knowledge, it is the only song anywhere to mention what had happened to my marine buddies in Lebanon some seven months earlier.

“Got US boys on foreign soil,

“Spillin’ their blood to keep the peace.” 

Track Listing:

  1. Laying It On the Line
  2. No Way Out
  3. Sorry Me, Sorry You
  4. Live and Let Live
  5. Connection
  6. Rose Goes to Yale
  7. Magician
  8. Assassin
  9. Shining in the Moonlight
  10. Showdown
  11. Champion

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Grace Slick- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar, backing vocals

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals, banjo

Pete Sears- bass, keyboards

David Freiberg- keyboards, vocals

Donny Baldwin- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Paul Kantner- Jefferson Starship

In spite of “Nuclear Furniture” being a decent album, Jefferson Starship would cease to be my favourite band in 1984. This was because that Paul Kantner would leave the band shortly after the album’s release. Not only that, he would take the Jefferson moniker with him after a lawsuit. Like I said when I posted about Kantner’s death last year, it was always his songs on the albums I preferred the most. After he left, the band would morph into Starship and I definitely didn’t like what I heard on their next album. I want to like Jefferson Starship as I always have remembered them.

Next post: Greg Kihn Band- Khintagious

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Peace Leonard Cohen

Posted in Books, Death, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 11, 2016 by 80smetalman
Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

With already so many great musicians, actors and producers going to the great gig in the sky this year, I was hoping that we could get through the rest of 2016 without any more sadness. I was wrong. It has come to my attention via my son of the passing of Canadian born novelist, poet and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. The exact details of his death are not known but a statement from his son states that Leonard died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles.

Personally, I never owned any of his records though I often heard his name mentioned in many musical circles. Anyone who has heard the song “Hallelujah” will have heard him, even if they didn’t realize it was him singing. His work both musically and literary explored many topics including sexuality, politics, religion and relationships to name a few. Therefore it saddens me to read of his passing. May he Rest in Peace.

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Jackson Browne- Lawyers in Love

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 20, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Jackson_Browne_-_Lawyers_in_Love

Proof of my Swiss cheese memory. I remember the album from Jackson Browne, “Lawyers in Love” quite well in 1983. However, it took me listening to this album after so many years to realize that during my tour of 1980, I missed out his then album, “Hold Out.” Thing is, I liked that album too and fondly remember the song “Disco Apocalypse” because it was talking about the death of disco, or at least that’s what I thought. Maybe it was just the fact that none of the songs on the mentioned album stuck out like the title track on “Lawyers in Love” did for me in 1983. It was the lyrics in the second verse that have lingered in the back of my mind for over thirty years.

“God sends his spaceships to America, the beautiful
They land at six o’clock and there we are, the dutiful
Eating from TV trays, tuned into to Happy Days
Waiting for World War III while Jesus slaves
To the mating calls of lawyers in love”

“Lawyers in Love” is more of a light rock sound. It doesn’t veer too far away from his best known single and my personal favourite, “Running on Empty.” While none of the songs reach the level of “Running on Empty,” there are still some good songs on it. “Tender is the Night” may give the impression that’s it going to be some sort of ballad, but the song does have a great hook with the guitar. It’s one of those songs you want to sing along to while you’re driving in the car or carrying out some mundane activity. It makes such tasks less so mundane. “Downtown” is a pretty cool song too. I have to say that while none of the songs are ones to bang your head to, there was enough of a rock hook to reel me in on just about all of them. The best rocker is probably the closer, “For a Rocker.”

Another thing which turned my ear more to Jackson Browne was he was getting more political with his music in the 1980s. In 1983, on account of my experiences in the marines and when I came out, I was getting more politically aware and paying more attention to such songs. “Say It Isn’t True” is probably the best example of this. While Jackson was called naive by some for this anti- war song, it made a statement. It didn’t make me go out and attend no nukes rallies but it made me think, as did the title track. But that’s just me.

Track Listing:

  1. Lawyers in Love
  2. On the Day
  3. Cut it Away
  4. Downtown
  5. Tender is the Night
  6. Knock on Any Door
  7. Say It Isn’t True
  8. For a Rocker
Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne- lead vocals, guitar

Craig Doerge- synthesizer, piano

Bob Glaub- bass, organ

Ross Kunkel- drums

Billy Payne- organ on “On the Day”

Rick Vito- lead guitar, vocals

While I was headbanging most of 1983 away, Jackson Browne’s album “Lawyers in Love” provided a light break in the action. It’s a good album to just listen to. Not a headbanger but has plenty of cool hooks that appealed to metalheads like me back in the day.

Next post: Joe Jackson- Night and Day

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 1982: Utopia- Swing To The Right

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

Swing_To_The_Right

Back in 1982 or there about, I remember reading a review on a Utopia album, not sure if it was this one or their next one, where the reviewer stated that Todd Rundgren was being pulled down by the rest of the band. I never agreed with that statement because I have always thought that Powell, Sulton and Wilcox were all talented musicians and song writers in their own right. For me, this was purely the case with their 1980 album “Adventures in Utopia,” although that is their best album.

Let me say straightaway that “Swing to the Right” is not quite as good as the 1980 classic but it’s not that bad. They do venture away from the more hard/progressive rock sound of the classic and adopt a more new wave approach. For the most part it works and even before U2 made it popular in 1983, the album is full of political lyrics aimed at corporations, religion and war mongers. My impression was that it’s a dig at the Regan administration which embraced all of the things that Utopia were having a go at. It is also the reason why Bearsville Records were reluctant to release the album at first.

The opening title track is the most progressive rock like song on the album and it boasts an excellent guitar solo from Rundgren. “Lysistrata” is also a good track and the swing to the more new wave sound definitely begins here. “Junk Rock” goes even more new wave and is a dig at synth pop which was rapidly gaining a foothold in the early 80s. “Shinola” does go back to a more progressive sound and Rundgren’s vocals remind me of some of his 1970s solo albums. The next few tracks are all what I have already spoken about, lyrics about political issues played to a new wave sound. For the most part, I like it and the standout track from these is “Last Dollar On Earth.” The closer, “One World” goes a little ways back to the more known Utopia sound and that ends the album rather nicely.

Track Listing:

1. Swing to the Right

2. Lysistrata

3. The Up

4. Junk Rock

5. Shinola

6. For the Love of Money

7. Last Dollar On Earth

8. Farenheit 451

9. Only Human

10. One World

Utopia

Utopia

Todd Rundgren- guitar, vocals

Roger Powell- keyboards, synthesizer, vocals

Kasmir Sulton- bass, vocals, keyboards

John ‘Willie’ Wilcox- drums

Todd Rundgren deserves to be in the Rock Hall of Fame both as an artist and a producer. It’s an act a sacrilege that he isn’t. The argument that his playing with Utopia demeans his talents is totally rejected by me and many others. It could be said that he should be there a third time with Utopia because they have made some good albums over the years. “Swing to the Right” is one of them.

Next post: Survivor- Eye of the Tiger

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