Archive for punk

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 1984: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

Posted in Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2017 by 80smetalman

Maybe U2 were trying to follow in the lead of Blackfoot in the sense that after three albums, release a live album. The difference here is that the three Blackfoot albums are all considered classics while the same can’t be said for the three U2 albums. Now don’t get me wrong, I like all three of these albums, “Boy,” “October” and “War.” However, the first two didn’t propel them to stardom the way “War” did. “Boy” turned my head in their direction but when I mentioned U2 to others, I mostly got blank stares. “October,” on the other hand, is U2’s best kept secret. Not a lot of people seem to know too much about the album but I’ve always liked it. “War” goes without saying, it made the band a worldwide name. It is on the back of “War” that the live “Under a Blood Red Sky” album was released.

When most people think of this live album, they automatically assume it’s from the filmed concert “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky,” it’s not. The songs are live but recorded separately from concerts in Colorado, Boston and Germany. Furthermore, the filmed concert is nearly and hour and a half long while the album consists of just eight songs and is just over thirty-five minutes.

Ironically, the album starts with the best known song from the “October” album, “Gloria.” Probably a good opener as any for U2 at this stage of their career. What’s more, the next two songs are off the “Boy” album but then, “I Will Follow” is my all time favourite U2 song and it’s played very well. The crowd really get into it and if I had been there, I would have too. The fourth song, “Party Girl,” doesn’t appear on any of the albums but it’s still okay. Remember, back in 1983, U2 were still hungry and making their mark on the music world and all of the songs reflect that on the album.

It’s not until song five we get anything from the “War” album and that is the phenomenal “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” My second favourite U2 song and the way it’s played here is pure magic. Next is another good song from the debut album in the form of “The Electric Co.” For me, it’s played just as well live as when I hear it on the “Boy” album. Were there studio fixes here?  I can’t say. The last two songs from “War” take the album out brilliantly. First is the fantastic “New Year’s Day” and there is no better song for them to close a concert with than “40.” When I saw them in 1985, they would close the show with that song and it was mind blowing. I have to say that “Under a Blood Red Sky” takes me back to another time and almost seemingly another U2 because they were actually good but it hadn’t gone to their heads yet.

Track Listing:

  1. Gloria
  2. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  3. I Will Follow
  4. Party Girl
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  6. The Electric Co
  7. New Year’s Day
  8. 40

U2

Bono- lead vocals, guitar

The Edge- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, bass on “40”

Adam Clayton- bass, guitar on “40”

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

“Under a Blood Red Sky” may not go down as one of the greatest live albums in history but it’s still a good album. Especially if you like U2 when they were more hungry and less with the ego.

Next post: Julian Lennon- Valotte

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 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

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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.

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

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Great Punk/Metal Albums of 1983: Suicidal Tendencies

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by 80smetalman

stend

In the mid 1980s, there would be the full coming together of punk and heavy metal. They would even have a love child called thrash as many of these new bands would site influences from both. However, if there was one album that could be identified as the one who spear headed this union, it would have to be the 1983 debut album from Suicidal Tendencies. While the album is labelled hard core punk on wikapedia and by other so called experts, millions of metal heads have taken this band and this album in particular into their metal bosoms. I, for one, would be responsible for unleashing it onto unsuspecting British students in 1986. Not that they ever complained.

There are no complex reasons as to why Suicidal Tendencies is widely accepted by both the metal and punk followings. The opening song answers any questions right off the bat. It starts out as a hard core frenzy that would have people banging themselves about in a mosh pit only to slow down in order for the listener to take in Mike Muir’s genius lyric writing. In fact, it’s the lyrics on many of these songs that make this album so brilliant. So instead of rambling on about it in paragraphs, I thought I’d do something different and share.

I Shot the Devil- Opens with “I shot Regan!” After Lebanon, I wanted to do that myself. Closing lyrics: “I shot Regan and I’ll do it again and again and again.” 

Subliminal- “Mind control the easiest way, sponsored by the CIA. It’s a weapon you can not see, it’s propaganda subliminally. They’re fucking with me, subliminally.” 

Institutionalized- “My mother started screaming Mike, Mike and I said what’s wrong mom? She said what’s wrong with you? I said nothing mom, I was just thinking. She said, “No, you’re on drugs!” No, I’m okay mom, I was just thinking why don’t you get me a Pepsi? She said, “No, you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs, normal people don’t argue that way.” I said, “Mom, will you get me a Pepsi please?” All I wanted was a Pepsi and she wouldn’t give to me. All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi and she wouldn’t give it to me.” 

I Saw Your Mommy- “I saw your mommy and your mommy’s dead. I saw her lying in a pool of red. Chewed off toes on her chopped off feet. I took a picture because I thought it looked neat. But the thing I liked seeing the best was the rodents using her hair as a nest. I saw your mommy and your mommy’s dead.” 

I Want More- “Working like a maniac give yourself a heart attack on the minimum wage.” 

Suicidal Failure- “I took all my mother’s sleeping pills, jumped off a tall bridge. I drank three kinds of poisons, drove my car off a ridge. I gave myself a bag, put a noose around my head. I overdosed on heroin but I’m still not dead. I’m a suicidal failure, I got to have some help. I’ve suicidal tendencies but I can’t kill myself.” 

In between these songs are some short, to the point punk/thrash songs that would be a favourite in any mosh pit today. Another reason why metalheads love this album is there are some metal snobs out there who think punk musicians aren’t up to standard. Yeah, I know. One can’t fault any of the musical work by the band on the album. It’s all good and why even the metal snobs love it.

Track Listing:

  1. Suicide’s an Alternative
  2. Two Sided Politics
  3. I Shot the Devil
  4. Subliminal
  5. Won’t Fall in Love Today
  6. Institutionalized
  7. Memories of Tomorrow
  8. Possessed
  9. I Saw Your Mommy
  10. Fascist Pig
  11. I Want More
  12. Suicidal Failure
Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies

Mike Muir- lead vocals

Grant Estes- guitar

Louiche Mayorga- bass, backing vocals

Amery Smith- drums

When I introduced the album to my new friends in the UK, they pretty much spent the rest of the year singing or quoting lyrics from “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized.” That is the profound effect this album had on them. It had the same effect on anyone, punk or metalhead, who heard it. Suicidal Tendencies didn’t know it at the time but their debut album was a cornerstone in joining the camps of these two genres.

Next post: Lee Aaron’s First LP

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 1983: Men At Work- Cargo

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Men_at_Work_-_Cargo

Let me clarify something I wrote when I posted about Men At Work’s debut album, “Business As Usual.” I stated that Men At Work was the closest I got to mainstream music back in the 1980s. That was definitely the case in 1982 however, after refamiliarising myself with their second album, which I find superior to the debut album by the way, and thinking about music in 1983, I have to agree to the premise that this band wasn’t really mainstream. Still, they were the closest I got to it.

One reason why the “Cargo” album might be considered mainstream was that it had three successful singles on it. “Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive” was a very fun catchy tune and I love the paranoid feeling that “Overkill” provides. I’ve had days when I feel exactly like that. However, my favourite all time Men At Work song is the single “It’s a Mistake.” Its release couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Call it kharma or deja vu but hearing a good anti war song right after coming out of the marines was unbelievable. The video of the song provided the proper punchline. Even without all that, I still would have found it a good song.

From the Men At Work video: It's A Mistake

From the Men At Work video: It’s A Mistake

Call “Cargo” what you will, post punk, new wave or even mainstream, none of it stops this album from being a good, fun album. There also elements of reggae in it as well, I site “Settle Down My Boy” and “Blue For You” as evidence,  so in my mind, all of those combinations make it anything but mainstream. I sort of like it when people aren’t able pigeon hole certain bands. With “Cargo” there is something for everyone to like. Hell, I even noticed a bit of a hard rock-ish sound on “High Wire.” What’s more, Men At Work incorporate a brilliant sense of humour on their songs, something I always like. That’s expecially the case with “I Like To.” Therefore, my conclusion is while “Cargo” by Men At Work may not be the hard pounding metal album I was liking more and more in those days, it was still a very enjoyable album.

Track Listing:

  1. Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive
  2. Overkill
  3. Settle Down My Boy
  4. Upstairs in My Room
  5. No Sign of Yesterday
  6. It’s a Mistake
  7. High Wire
  8. Blue For You
  9. I Like To
  10. No Restrictions
Men At Work

Men At Work

Greg Ham- flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals

Colin Hay- guitar, vocals

John Rees- bass, backing vocals

Jerry Speiser- drums, backing vocals

Ron Strykert- guitar, vocals

Men At Work might have been the closest I ever got to mainstream music back in the 1980s but they certainly weren’t mainstream. Good musicianship, fun and catchy music and lyrics and a sense of humour was why I liked the “Cargo” album.

Next post: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Modern English- After the Snow

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-After_the_Snow_-_Modern_English

Originally, my plan was to post the “After the Snow” album from British post punk, new wave band, Modern English, after the album from INXS. My reason was because back in 1983, I would often confuse the two bands. Worse, I would further confuse INXS’s single “Don’t Change” with the big single from this Modern English album, “I Melt With You.” Both bands sound very similar and it is possible that Modern English could have had a song on the “Rock Star” soundtrack.

I have come to the conclusion that one reason why Modern English never got the success they may have deserved was down to my beef with the 1980s. Too many people wanted to put their music into categories or genres. “After the Snow” offers a mixed bag of musical styles that makes categorizing them difficult. Track two, “Life in the Gladhouse,” is a more progressive rock song while the very next track, “Face of Wood,” might be a candidate for the “Rock Star” soundtrack. However, the track that makes my point is the one after that, “Dawn Chorus.” This song sounds like Jim Morrison came back from the dead and joined The Cult. The guitar intro at the beginning of the song definitely sound like the named band, whose albums I will be visiting a little more down the line and the vocal style could almost be Jim. Saying all that though, I really like the song as I do all of the ones on the album.

Some critic of the “After the Snow” album claims that the single “I Melt With You” is not indicative of the rest of the album. Well it certainly does stand out from the other songs but I think it goes well with the album. It provides a different turn and keeps you from getting to familiar with the album. I like the fact that you don’t know what to expect with each song and if you listen to it without stressing out over what category it should be put in, then the album becomes that much more enjoyable.

Track Listing:

  1. Someone’s Calling
  2. Life in the Gladhouse
  3. Face of Wood
  4. Dawn Chorus
  5. I Melt With You
  6. After the Snow
  7. Carry Me Down
  8. Tables Turning
Modern English

Modern English

Robbie Grey- vocals

Gary McDowell- guitars

Stephen Walker- keyboards

Michael Conroy- bass, violin

Richard Brown- drums, percussion

“After the Snow” by Modern English goes against the 1980s belief that you had to put a band into a category in order to appreciate. Their mixed bag of hard rock, post punk, new wave and progressive rock all goes well on this album. Listen to it with that in mind and you’ll definitely enjoy the album.

Next post: Journey- Frontiers

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Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London