Archive for progressive rock

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Don Henley- Building the Perfect Beast

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2018 by 80smetalman

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I was not as musically open minded as I thought I was in the early part of 1985. While I make no justification for this, I do think the reason might have been that I was in longing after the wave of heavy metal that was played on commercial radio throughout 1984 became non existent in the early part of the following year. That was probably why I poo-pooed the “Building the Perfect Beast” album from Don Henley. Being honest, I was in Eagles mode (even though they had split up five years earlier) with not just Don but all former members of this iconic band. I expected all of their solo material to resemble the classic “Hotel California” and the singles from this album didn’t do that. So, I ignored it until a friend lent it to me and I had a listen. Then I realized what I fool I had been.

Sure, the big single “The Boys of Summer” doesn’t sound like “Hotel California” but the musicianship on the song is simply fabulous. There is some great guitar work from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Don’s voice is clean on this and all of the tracks. I have really come to like this track in my later years.

Upon further reflection back to 1985, I think that I put music into categories of heavy metal and synth pop. “Building the Perfect Beast” not being metal, I put it into the other category. Again I say “Fool!” at least to myself anyway. There is absolutely nothing synth pop about this album. If anything, there are tracks that take me back to The Eagles more country rock sound from the early 1970s. Tracks that bear evidence to this are the fast paced “Man With a Mission” and my vote for hidden gem, “You’re Not Drinking Enough.” For some reason, that track reminds me of the Eagles’ classic, “Take Me to the Limit.” But it does say “Early Eagles” all through the song. Thinking back to early 85, at the time I was dating a woman who had a drinking problem and now I’m linking this song with that. “Not Enough Love in the World” is another example of what I am trying to talk about. In fact this track would have fitted perfectly on the Eagles’ “Long Road From Eden” album.

One reason for why this album sounds as good as it does is that Don got a load of well known singers and musicians to guest on it. While you know it is definitely Don Henley on every track, these guests, have a look below to see who, add to the quality of the album for sure.

Track Listing:

  1. The Boys of Summer
  2. You Can’t Make Love
  3. Man With a Mission
  4. You’re Not Drinking Enough
  5. Not Enough Love in the World
  6. Building the Perfect Beast
  7. All She Wants to Do is Dance
  8. A Month of Sundays
  9. Sunset Grill
  10. Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed
  11. Land of the Living

Don Henley

Don Henley- lead vocals, percussion (tracks 5,6,9), drums (tracks 2-4,7), keyboards (track 6)

Danny ‘Kootch’ Kortchmar- guitars, organ (4), synthesizers (tracks 1,3,6), percussion (tracks 6,9,10), keyboards (9), synthesizer guitar and horn solos (8), ormichard (4), horns (3)

Additional Musicians

Mike Campbell- guitar, synthesizer track 1

Lyndsey Buckingham- guitar, backing vocals track 2

Charlie Sexton- guitar track 3

Tim Drummond- bass (tracks 4&5)

Pino Pallindino- bass (tracks 2,9,10)

Larry Klein- bass track 1

Jim Keltner- drums track 8

Ian Wallace- drums track 5

Kevin McCormick- African drums track 6

Randy Newman- synthesizer track 8

David Paich- synthesizer (track 7) piano (track 4 & 8)

Steve Porcaro- synthesizer (track 1 &4)

Benmont Tench- synthesizer (track 8), keyboards (track 2&5)

Albhy Galuten- synthesizer, Synclavier track 6

Michael Boddicker- synthesizer track 8

Bill Cuomo- synthesizer, percussion track 10

Backing Vocals:

Belinda Carlisle- track 3

Michael O’Donahue, Waddy Watchel, JD Souther, Carla Olson- track 6

Patty Smyth- track 6, 8-10

Martha Davis- tracks 6&7

Marie Pascale Elfman, Dominique Manicelli- track 9

Sam Moore- track 4

Brian Dear, I owe you a thanks for giving me this classic Don Henley album to listen to. Otherwise, I would have been enslaved to my ignorance that “Building the Perfect Beast” was another 80s synth pop album. It is clearly not and full marks to Don for it.

Next post: The Wrestling Album

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Giuffira

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2018 by 80smetalman

A band that caught mine and many other people’s attention was Giuffria with their self titled debut album. The band was originally formed as a side project by keyboards player Greg Giuffria after he left his former band Angel. A band I had heard great things about back in the day but never got around to listening to. Back to Giuffria, their first single, “Call to the Heart” did get a lot of airplay and according to recorded history, number fifteen in the charts. It was one of those ballads that the ladies seemed to really like but it had some good progressive rock hooks as well as a guitar solo to grab the attention of men. If I’m honest, I liked the song but it really wasn’t heavy enough for me.

Everything that Giuffria was capable of doing can be found in the opening track of the album, “Do Me Right.” It starts with some classic 1970s sounding progressive rock via a great keyboard intro. Then the song carries on with some great vocals backed up by a more than capable rhythm section before guitarist Craig Goldy hammers out his best solo on the album. It’s definitely my favourite track.

The two hardest tracks on the album are “Don’t Tear Me Down” and “Dance” and it is probably a good thing that those two songs were back to back after the forementioned ballad. It proved to doubters that they could rock as much as anyone. Things go slightly softer and more melodic, bordering on commercial after that with the remainder of the songs, “Turn Me On” being the harder rocking exception. Goldy and Giuffria really cook with guitar and keyboard on that one. “The Awakening” is rather amusing, with the children’s choir and keyboards giving it that Saturday horror film feel. Saying that, the talent of this band pulls up the quality  of each song making them more enjoyable.

No matter what you think of the songs, you can’t deny that this was one talented band. David Glen Eisley had a voice that was as good as many lead singers in that day. The keyboard skills of Greg Giuffria show themselves in every song. Chuck Wright and Alan Krigger are very good rhythm section and as for the guitarist, Craig Goldy, his playing on the album leaves me to conclude that it was no wonder why he was head hunted to join Dio a year later.

Track Listing:

  1. Do Me Right
  2. Call to the Heart
  3. Don’t Tear Me Down
  4. Dance
  5. Lonely in Love
  6. Trouble Again
  7. Turn Me On
  8. Line of Fire
  9. The Awakening
  10. Out of the Blue

Giuffira

David Glen Eisley- lead vocals, keyboards, harmonica

Greg Giuffria- keyboards, backing vocals

Craig Goldy- guitar

Chuck Wright- bass, backing vocals

Alan Krigger- drums, percussion

While doing a bit of research for the post, I had one rumour from 1985 quashed. In said year, Giuffria went on tour supporting legends Deep Purple. The rumour was that Purple kicked them off the tour because Giuffria was blowing them away every night. I have always found that hard to believe, especially as I saw Deep Purple in this year and they were superb. From what I’ve read, Ritchie Blackmore was a bit of an a””hole towards the band. He cut their stage time from 45 minutes nearly in half to 25, forbade them to play any guitar solos and they had to play with the arena lights on. Therefore, they left the tour on their own accord and I don’t blame them. While I missed my chance to see them live, this album is a good fall back.

Next post: Don Henley- Building the Perfect Beast

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: The Firm

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2018 by 80smetalman

For a good number of people in 1985, The Firm were considered a disappointment. This was because many people, including yours truly, thought that a band with both Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page in it was going to be some sort of Led Zeppelin/Bad Company hybrid. The Firm’s debut album certainly wasn’t that. What Rodgers and Page did was make their own unique music with the help of a great rhythm section featuring Tony Franklin and Chris Slade.

The album’s first single, “Radioactive,” put many metalheads off exploring them more. This is a shame because I knew that there would be better things to come on the album and I was right. This is not to say that there isn’t anything wrong with “Radioactive,” it’s a good song in it’s own right. It was just the fact that many people were expecting the song to be the love child of “Stairway to Heaven” and “Bad Company” and “Radioactive” doesn’t come close. I still like the song.

Once one has thrown away their expectations of what they thought this album was going to sound like and listen to it with an open mind, one would find that it’s a damn good album. Okay, it’s definitely not heavy metal, more of a straight forward rock album and if you listen closely, you can still hear some Bad Company influence. Especially in the songs “Make or Break, which is the hidden gem and “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” Furthermore, while Jimmy Page doesn’t nail down the solos like in the old Zeppelin classics like “Stairway” or “Whole Lotta Love,” he still shows he can wail on the guitar. It’s just with The Firm, it’s not as pronounced like it was with his former band. “Money Can’t Buy” is a fine example.

Proof that Rodgers, Page, Franklin and Slade were determined to forge their own path in the rock world is their cover of the Righteous Brothers classic, “You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” The coolest part in the song is Jimmy’s guitar solo supported by Tony on the fretless bass, good stuff. Also, Paul’s vocals are as good as ever on every song on this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Closer
  2. Make or Break
  3. Someone to Love
  4. Together
  5. Radioactive
  6. You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
  7. Money Can’t Buy
  8. Satisfaction Guaranteed
  9. Midnight Moonlight

Paul Rodgers- lead vocals, guitars

Jimmy Page- lead guitar

Tony Franklin- bass, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals

Chris Slade- drums, percussion

Does anyone have a time machine I could borrow? If so, I would like to go back in time and say to all of those people who rejected The Firm back in 1985 because they didn’t sound like former bands, “Look, they’re not like Bad Company or Led Zeppelin, get over it!” Because their first album shows what they can do on their own.

Next post: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band- Tough All Over

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Triumph- Thunder Seven

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2018 by 80smetalman

Just when I thought that 1984 was becoming all metaled out towards the very end of the year, along comes a great album from Canadian greats, Triumph, to continue the metal mayhem that was that year. By then, both commercial radio and MTV was starting to suck, so when the first single, “Spellbound” came blasting over the airwaves on Thanksgiving Day, I was truly psyched. I was already a Triumph convert by then thanks to their previous albums, “Never Surrender” and “Allied Forces” so I welcomed the new “Thunder Seven” album with open arms and ears.

“Spellbound” is my second favourite Triumph song of all time. I just love how Rik Emmett uses his guitar on the song and the harmonizing on the chorus, just great. There are keyboards but unlike the trend in the 1980s, they simply support and not take over the song. Full marks to Mike Levine, he does a good job with them. With the keyboards in that great song, one might be tempted to think that Triumph had gone the same way as their fellow Canadians, Rush, had done earlier in this year. Trust me, they don’t.

Not many songs do what they say in the title but the second song does “Rock Out and Rock On!” Not really much more I can say about it than that, except it’s a cool track. Then, I really do like the cowboy type vibe on “Cool Down.” I don’t know if the song really is about cowboys but what I do know and like is how Rik lays down some really cool guitar work on it. “Follow Your Heart” was the second single from “Thunder Seven” and everything about the song says “single.” It’s a slightly lighter than the other songs but you can still feel Triumph’s energy with it.

The rockingest song and my vote for hidden gem is definitely “Time Goes By.” While this song is harder than “Spellbound,” there is some great harmonizing vocals on it as well. Another song that has Triumph being at their best, especially Emmett’s guitar solo. Following “Time Goes By” are two songs which are less than two minutes, the first one being an acoustic instrumental, done well. The second, sounds like a church choir but it does show the vocal ability of Rik Emmett and Gil Moore in a different light. Their vocal abilities also come through very well on the next track, the ballad, “Killing Time.” However, things pick up with the penultimate rocker, “Stranger in a Strange Land” before going out an a mega high with the blues based instrumental, “Little Boy Blues,” where once again, Rik shows his guitar prowess.

Track Listing

  1. Spellbound
  2. Rock on Rock Out
  3. Cool Down
  4. Follow Your Heart
  5. Time Goes By
  6. Midsummer’s Daydream
  7. Time Cannon
  8. Killing Time
  9. Stranger in a Strange Land
  10. Little Boy Blues

Triumph

Rik Emmett- guitar, vocals, synthesizers, bass pedals

Gil Moore- drums, vocals, percussion,

Mike Levine- bass, keyboards, synthesizers, bass pedals, organ, clavinet

It was great to see that when people thought that metal was fizzling out in 1984, Triumph kept things going with this great album.

Next post: Hanoi Rocks: Two Steps From the Move

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1984: Deep Purple- Perfect Strangers

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2018 by 80smetalman

Destiny brought them back together again. At least that was the big advertising plug for the “Perfect Strangers” album from the newly reformed Deep Purple. Back in the day, this album split opinion among many metalheads. Older ones like me, (I was 23 then), embraced this album immediately. However, there was some dissent from many teen metalheads at the time. Some even said that Deep Purple never should have reformed. To them, “Perfect Strangers” was a disappointment.

Let me add my theory to why teen metalheads might have been disappointed with the album. See, all these youngsters ever heard about in regards to Deep Purple was the classic “Smoke on the Water.” For many, this was their only experience with the legends. Therefore, they expected the entire album to be like that classic and when Deep Purple showed their more progressive rock side, which they do on the album, these youngsters were put off.

My experience with Deep Purple, although late, was full on. Of course, I knew of “Smoke on the Water” but I also enjoyed their more progressive songs like, “Wring That Neck” and there’s my favourite, “Woman From Tokyo” which incorporates both the prog and hard rock they were famous for. While none of the songs on “Perfect Strangers” quite match up to my fave, they do a rather good job of fusing their progressive and hard rock sounds. I think what these young people didn’t understand was that the band couldn’t help but add a little prog rock into their music when they had one of the best keyboard players of all time.

Deep Purple try to explain to their listeners that they had progressed from the days of “Smoke on the Water.” The closing track and my pick for hidden gem, “Hungry Daze,” states this clearly with the lyrics:

“We all came out to Montreax, but that’s another song.” 

The opening track, “Knocking At Your Back Door” pretty much shapes the entire album. You have some killer guitar work from Blackmore, great keyboard wizardry from Lord, Ian Gillan’s vocals were as sharp as they had been ten years earlier and the bombarding rhythm section of Glover and Paice holding all together. It’ s a great song to begin the album with. Things just go on from there with the slightly harder “Under the Gun,” then the more progressive “Nobody’s Home”  which shows off Jon Lord’s best keyboard work and the more bluesy sounding “Mean Streak.

One of my biggest regrets after writing “Rock and Roll Children” comes with the title track. When I saw Deep Purple live in early 1985, there was a phenomenal light show accompanying the song. I loved how the lasers shot across the length of the Philadelphia Spectrum making different patters with the notes. I don’t think I did it justice in the story. It was the first single and an okay song. “A Gypsy’s Kiss” remind me of the old DP classic, “Burn” with Ritchie belting out a blinder of a solo as well as the trade-off with Jon Lord where guitar and keyboards go back and forth. Okay, there are two hidden gems on this album.

In regards to the other gem, I don’t think “Hungry Daze” should have been the closer on the album. It’s a good track but everything about the penultimate track, “Wasted Sunsets” screams closer! Just listen to the opening guitar solo and the way Gillan’s voice just takes over before relinquishing again to another blazing Blackmore solo. The slower blues beat with it bears even more witness that it should be a closer. Hell, even the title suggests it! Other than this track misappropriation, “Perfect Strangers” was a good album for them to come back on.

Track Listing:

  1. Knocking At Your Back Door
  2. Under the Gun
  3. Nobody’s Home
  4. Mean Streak
  5. Perfect Strangers
  6. A Gypsy’s Kiss
  7. Wasted Sunsets
  8. Hungry Daze

Deep Purple

Ian Gillan- lead vocals

Ritchie Blackmore- guitar

Roger Glover- bass

Jon Lord- keyboards

Ian Paice- drums

Was 1984 the right time for Deep Purple to return? I’ve always thought so. I admit, “Perfect Strangers” isn’t exactly “Machine Head” but it’s a good album. The musicianship of the five members is outstanding, proving that there’s more to them than “Smoke on the Water.”

Next post: Venom- At War With Satan

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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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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Rodger Hodgson- In the Eye of the Storm

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2017 by 80smetalman

A friend, in 1984, announced that Supertramp had a new album out. I had to inform him that it wasn’t the case. Instead, thanks to the single, “Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy), getting a fair amount of airplay on radio, I could tell him that former Supertramp guitar/vocalist Roger Hodgson had released his first solo album. One point to me, I think. Besides, my friend was a total Duranie and very anti- heavy metal.

I still feel the same way about Roger’s debut album, “In the Eye of the Storm,” now as I did back then. It could have been another Supertramp album. It became abundantly clear to me that Roger was the driving force behind the band and with his solo album, it was pretty much the same. Not that it’s a bad thing because it’s not. I’ve always liked Supertramp’s version of 1970s progressive rock. Nice keyboard work laced with some guitar done very creatively over rather long songs. I have this memory of Supertramp songs usually being in excess of five minutes, except for a few of the ones released as singles. It is the same on Roger’s album. Four of the seven songs are over seven minutes long and one is just a second below six. In a musical world where synth pop was emerging, I thought it was great to still hear some good progressive rock.

Though unusual for me, I have to say that “Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy) is my favourite track. I liked it enough when radio cut huge chunks out of the song for airplay so the full eight minute plus version was even better. The entire progressive rock arsenal went into making this one. Some great keyboards with bouts of both acoustic and electric guitar with Hodgson’s unmistakable vocals. It all adds up to a great song. Of course, there are other nice songs too. I do like “In Jeopardy” as it is more classic Supertramp. “Hooked on a Problem” is an interesting one. The introduction reminds me of the classic, “The Logical Song” but transforms into sounding like a carnival. I would be repeating myself if I dissected every song, except for “Lovers in the Wind” which does nothing for me personally and credit where due, Roger definitely chose the right song for the closer.

Except for where noted below, I thought it was cool that he got Michael Shrieve of HSAS fame to play drums on the album, Roger plays all of the instruments himself on the album proving what a fine musician he is.

Track Listing:

  1. Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy)
  2. In Jeopardy
  3. Lovers in the Wind
  4. Hooked on a Problem
  5. Give Me Love, Give Me Life
  6. I’m Not Afraid
  7. Only Because of You

Roger Hodgson

Roger Hodgson- vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums on “Hooked on a Problem” and “Lovers in the Wind”

Michael Shrieve- drums, except on tracks 3 and 4

Ken Alldaryce- harmonica, backing vocals

Jimmy Johnson- fretless bass on “Lovers in the Wind” and “Only Because of You”

Claire Diament- female vocals on “Only Because of You”

Scott Page- saxophone on “Hooked on a Problem

Thinking back, I now realize that there was more great progressive rock back in the mid 80s than I allowed myself to believe. This debut album from Roger Hodgson is indisputable evidence of that.

Next Post: Soundtrack to Footloose

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