Archive for rockabilly

Great Soundtracks of 1984: Streets of Fire

Posted in 1980s, films, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by 80smetalman

Unlike “Footloose” the soundtrack to the film “Streets of Fire” went with virtually unknown or less known artists, at least for the time. It would be six months to a year before I would hear about The Fixx. The only others I had heard of were Ry Cooder and The Blasters and I’ll get to them in a minute. Stevie Nicks does write and sing backing vocals on the Marilyn Martin track, “Sorcerer” but for the most part, the artists were virtually unknown to me at the time. However, I would take this soundtrack over that of “Footloose.” Quiet Riot, Foreigner and Sammy Hagar weren’t quite enough to tip it past “Streets of Fire” in my eyes.

Before I get onto the soundtrack, let me provide a little background about the film, which was slammed mercilessly by most critics. The 23 year old me in 1984 thought this film was okay. I mean it was the 1980s where one shot from a gun could set off multiple massive explosions and men settled their differences with sledgehammers. What wasn’t there to like? However, as I grew older, I realized how surreal the movie was almost bordering on the ridiculous.

“Streets of Fire” is about a famous rock singer named Ellen Aim who gets kidnapped by a motorcycle gang, led by a guy named Raven played Willem Dafoe, while performing a gig in her home town. Without going into great detail, Ellen is rescued by former boyfriend Tom with the help of an ex-army girl named McCoy played by Amy Madigan. After many explosions and action sequences where they receive aid from an all black doo-wop band called the Sorrells, Tom and Raven have their predictable show down at the end. First with the fore-mentioned sledgehammers and then with fists. Therefore, Dafoe gets his ass kicked twice. Other little details include Rick Moranis, playing the usual nerd but this time it’s in a serious role as Ellen Aim’s manager and current boyfriend. His best line in the film is, “It’s the shits.” He says it several times and his performance, while good, never made me think that doing “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” was a bad career move. The best performance was by Amy Madigan who did receive a nomination for best supporting actress, so I’m not just saying it because Mrs 80smetalman is a huge Amy Madigan fan.

Amy Madigan as McCoy

Rick Moranis as Ellen Aim’s manager. “It’s the shits.”

Willem Dafoe as Raven. Note the pvc dungarees.

Okay, the film wasn’t Oscar material but that doesn’t stop it from having a rather cool soundtrack. When it first came out, MTV plugged the film by constantly playing the video from the first single, Fire Inc’s “Tonight Is What it Means to Be Young.” I do really like the song which was probably why it didn’t go anywhere in the charts. The most successful song as far as chart success was “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman. It is a good song but the irony here is that in the film, the song is performed by The Sorrells. Back in 1984 many people were amazed that a song performed by a black quartet in the film was actually sung by a white man. I think it’s great we’re more wiser about these things nowadays.

Dan Hartman

The Sorrells in Streets of Fire

While all the songs I’ve mentioned are good ones, for me, it’s the rockabilly songs that make this soundtrack. The two tracks by The Blasters are the best songs here and “Hold That Snake” by Ry Cooder gets the bronze. All three of these tracks are just really damn cool and the soundtrack wouldn’t be nearly as good without them. For the record, the song by The Fixx, while good as well, didn’t have me wanting to check out future material without hearing it first.

So, is “Streets of Fire” a bad film with a really cool soundtrack? Well, it’s not a bad film, but it does have a killer soundtrack.

Next post: Great and Not So Great Movies of 1984

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1508165794&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Queen- The Works

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2017 by 80smetalman

Here is a perfect example of why I never buy or not buy an album on account of one song. When the first single from Queen’s album, “The Works,” came on the radio, my response was “What the hell?” I thought “Radio Ga Ga” was several steps down from what I had loved about Queen throughout my teenage years of the 1970s. The conclusion I was starting to draw was that they were departing from the harder rock music I enjoyed and were selling out to the synth pop of the 1980s. Fortunately, I didn’t let one bad song close my mind so I didn’t miss the rest of this cool album.

I have always had this sneaking feeling that Queen knew exactly what they were doing. “The Works” might open with the mentioned single which might alienate some of their hardcore fans, therefore, they followed up “Radio Ga Ga” with the hard rocking second track, “Tear It Up.” After the first ten seconds of rocking out to that song, you are completely thinking, “Radio Who?” Then if the hard rock of “Tear It Up” isn’t enough to grab you, Queen hit you with a very Queen sounding “It’s a Hard Life.” This song is Queen as they have always been as it follows the script of all the great classics. “Man on the Prowl” is a very likable rockabilly song in the vein of the famous, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” I love the little piano bit at the end. “Machines (Back to Humans) is a very progressive sounding tune. While there are elements of hard rock, there are some very quirky sounding keyboard sounds on the song, some of them sounding like a robot. Plus there is the famous harmonizing from the band. This is my favourite track on the album because Queen do hear what they have always done best. Incorporate several different musical genres into one song. On my first listen and the many subsequent listens after, by the time my favourite track was at its conclusion, I had totally forgotten “Radio Ga Ga” was even on the album.

Some may argue that “I Want to Break Free” is on the line of that first single. I have to slap down such fools. True, there is a little disco back beat to it but May’s guitar is definitely present, especially when he does that solo. Yes, some people might have discoed down to it but I just listen to it. Saying that, it’s not the best track on the album, there are so many better ones. The next one in fact, “Keep Passing the Open Windows.” This is on the lines of my favourite track, but not quite to the same level. “Keep Passing the Open Windows” is my third favourite track. There’s some good Queen elements on here as well. BTW, “Tear It Up” is my second favourite. “Hammer to Fall” is a good rock out and it follows on very nicely. I do like May’s guitar solo on it. “The Works” ends on a interesting note. It’s a ballad type song, “Is This the World We Created.” It’s almost an anti- climax to the album but the band makes it work and end the album on a good note.

Track Listing:

  1. Radio Ga Ga
  2. Tear It Up
  3. It’s a Hard Life
  4. Man on the Prowl
  5. Machines (Back to Humans)
  6. I Want to Break Free
  7. Keep Passing the Open Windows
  8. Hammer to Fall
  9. Is This the World We Created

Queen

Freddie Mercury- lead and backing vocals, piano

Brian May- guitar, backing vocals

John Deacon- bass, rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Roger Taylor- drums, keyboards, backing vocals

Thank God, I never let one song on an album influence my decision to purchase it. If that was the case, I would have completely missed out this great album from Queen.

Next post: Tony Carey- Some Tough City

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: Dave Edmunds- Information

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by 80smetalman

Dave_Edmunds_Information_album_cover

Radio can be very misleading. In the summer of 1983, the single “Slipping Away” from Dave Edmunds’ “Information” got a considerable amount of airplay on radio. Then in the November, when I started my job working the Saturday and Sunday midnight to eight shift at a parking lot in Atlantic City, the radio seemed to play his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)” at least once during my first few shifts. Naturally, I assumed both songs were from this album, which I never bought for some reason. It was only when I did my preliminary research for the post that I discovered that “From Small Things” was actually on the album prior to this one. Shame, because I really liked that song but listening to “Information,” I am not disappointed too much.

Another historical point, back in the early 1980s, there was a brief heyday for what some would call “Rockabilly” music. Rock music with a country music style vibe but unlike Southern Rock, this genre doesn’t have the ferocity of it relative. That’s the category this Dave Edmunds seems to fall in and I would site the track “The Shape I’m In” as evidence. Saying that, he is still much more rock than the artist most known for rockabilly in the very early 1980s. Here’s my weird mind at work again but the whole rockabilly thing has made me think of her again. Juice Newton, who had several hits between 1981 and 83. Hell, she even covered a Dave Edmunds single, “Queen of Hearts” and her version doesn’t stray far from Dave’s musically. ¬†Confession time! In 1981 and 2, I had a serious crush on Juice Newton.

juice

Enough of Juice for now, let’s get on to “Information. The best way to describe this album is Dave Edmunds would be the result if The Ramones played country music. Each song starts out in the one, two, three go style that the Ramones were famous for throughout the 1970s. The best examples of this are “Don’t You Double” and “Don’t Call Me Tonight.” The latter song has a guitar solo in the style of Eddie Cochran, making it sound a quite fifties but it’s still well done. Dave Edmunds is very good at keeping the tempo going on every song. Another interesting track is “Feel So Right” which has that Ramones one, two, three start and goes into the rockabilly sound. However, as the song progresses, you are led to conclude that if you didn’t know that Jeff Lynne of ELO fame had produced the album, you would have discovered it for yourself with said song. Then again, the more I think about it, I can hear a little bit of Lynne influence on “Slipping Away.” These factors combined make “Information” another album I regret not buying back then.

The Ramones

The Ramones

Track Listing:

  1. Slipping Away
  2. Don’t You Double
  3. I Want You Bad
  4. Wait
  5. The Watch on My Wrist
  6. The Shape I’m In
  7. Information
  8. Feel So Right
  9. What Have I Got to Do to Win?
  10. Don’t Call Me Tonight
  11. Have a Heart
Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds- guitar, vocals

Geraint Watkins- accordion

Jeff Lynne- bass, synthesizer

John David- bass

Dave Charles- drums

Paul Jones- harmonica

Richard Tandy- synthesizer

I think this was another hidden gem from 1983 that didn’t get the respect it deserved at the time. Maybe because rockabilly was already in decline or because of its unique sound, it was too hard rock for trendies but not hard enough for metalheads. All I know is that I enjoy “Information” and I know I would have liked the album if I first listened to it back then.

Next post: One Hit Wonders of 1983

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

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