Archive for Rolling Stones

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Keel- Lay Down the Law

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2018 by 80smetalman

I’m now back in the UK and after getting over my worst ever case of jet lag, it’s back to business as usual here on 80smetalman’s Blog. Obediently following my list of albums for 1984, upon my return, the next one up just happened to be “Lay Down the Law” by Keel. This was one where back in the day, I listened to a couple of times and thought, “It’s okay,” before putting it to one side and hardly bothering with it since. As a result, the question as to whether I would be of the same opinion thirty plus years later came into play now.

Now, I know you’re all waiting with baited breath right now to know whether or not I am of the same opinion. Well, the answer is that the album is still just okay, although on some listens it manages to claw its way into the ‘Good’ region in my mind. In dissecting the album, let me start with the not so positives. First, there’s the opener, “Thunder and Lightening,” which is at the bottom of the best song rating list on the album. I think Keel try to hard to be that “We’re going to come out and kick your ass” type band with it. Unfortunately, they do not convince me. The other not so positive is the power ballad, “Princess of Illusion.” Now I know that many glam type metal bands have their token ballad on every album and maybe this was what the band was going for here. However, it will not even come close to any of my favourite power ballads.

Keel’s strength is playing straight ahead heavy metal. Fortunately, they do this rather well on the remainder of the songs. The title track and “Speed Demon” do well to make you forget the opener and that momentum is only slightly killed by the power ballad. Fortunately, the best song on the album comes right after it. “Born Ready” is Keel doing straight forward metal at it’s very best and I have to say that they should have followed that format all through the album. The following track, “Metal Generation,” does follow on very nicely.

“Till Hell Freezes Over” is  an attempt to emulate Dio or the Ronnie James Dio era of Black Sabbath. It’s starts out like it’s going to be another power ballad but before I think, “Oh, not again,” the song goes up two gears into more straight ahead metal. While it’s not quite equal to what Ronnie would have done, it’s a pretty good effort on Keel’s part. Besides, it has the best guitar solo on the album. “Tonight You’re Mine” takes things back to more familiar territory although the song is more speed metal here. Then they close with another brave effort, a cover of the Rolling Stones classic, “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” Covers can be rather hit or miss and in this case, Keel put a good metal touch on the song. Would Mick and Keith approve? That’s up to them. I do like the bit at the end where Ron sings a little of the title track before advising the listener of their Miranda rights.

My honest conclusion on “Lay Down the Law” is that Keel weren’t sure what they wanted to be with the album. They try different things on different songs and some work while others don’t. If I could have advised them back in 1984, I would have told them to stick with the straight forward metal because that’s what they seem to do best.

Track Listing:

  1. Thunder and Lightning
  2. Lay Down the Law
  3. Speed Demon
  4. Princess of Illusion
  5. Born Ready
  6. Metal Generation
  7. Till Hell Freezes Over
  8. Tonight You’re Mine
  9. Let’s Spend the Night Together

Keel

Ron Keel- guitar, vocals

Marc Ferrari- lead guitar, backing vocals

Bryan Jay- lead guitar, backing vocals

Kenny Chaisson- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Marks- drums, backing vocals

If I were giving marks, I would give Keel a B- for their debut album. “Lay Down the Law” does have some points they should not have touched but there was some definite potential here. Would they follow on this? That question will be answered when I visit future Keel albums.

Next post: Autograph- Sign In Please

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Bloodstock 2016: Friday- Twisted Sister

Posted in 1980s, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2016 by 80smetalman

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Having stood in virtually the same spot for nearly five hours and having to endure things like crowd surfers and mosh pits opening nearby, I was ready for the main event. It wasn’t all bad. I did get to rock out to Behemoth, Venom and Corrosion of Conformity and Venom did give me a present before they left the stage. Now, as I was waiting for the band I would have moved mountains to see, especially since it was the farewell to the UK gig, I couldn’t wait for Twisted Sister to get on that stage!

A nice gift from Venom, I managed to pick one up off the ground.

A nice gift from Venom, I managed to pick one up off the ground.

Let me cut straight to the chase, Twisted Sister were full of surprises this night. The last two times I saw them, they opened the show with “Come Out and Play” and the two other times before, it was “Stay Hungry.” I’m not sure which song it was the first time I saw them in 1983 but it might have been this one. They opened with the first track from their “Under the Blade” album, “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can’t Hurt You”) and both the crowd and I went nuts. Afterwards, they kept the momentum going with “The Kids are Back” rapidly followed by “Burn in Hell.” It was a great way to start the show.

Any speculation that Twisted Sister’s set was going to be dominated by their most successful album, “Stay Hungry,” evaporated very quickly. They played a good mix from their first four albums and I thought they sounded better than ever. If this was their farewell performance, they were certainly going out on a high, an astronomical high! A few songs in, Dee Snider, probably one of music’s best when talking to the audience, explained about this being Twisted Sister’s farewell show. He did point out the likes of The Scorpions, KISS and Ozzy, all of whom said they were retiring only to return two years later. Dee promised that this was definitely the band’s last tour, the skeptic in me says time will tell. Anyway, they followed his words up with my all time favourite TS song, “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.”

Continuing on with their domination of Bloodstock with that great mix of songs, (I’ll provide the full playlist further on down the post,) Dee again addressed the crowd in his usual manner. This time he was more serious as he highlighted all the great losses heavy metal has had in the recent years. Starting with the legend, Ronnie James Dio, he then went to point out the band’s on personal loss with AJ Pero, who passed away last year. Here Dee introduced Mike Portnoy and thanked him for stepping into AJ’s place. After which, he told about the two most recent losses, Jimmy Bain and of course Lemmy, thanking Lemmy for his role in getting Twisted Sister noticed. Tributes were payed to all four with the most appropriate Twisted Sister song to do it with, “The Price.”

Metal Twisted Sister style rocked the arena for several more minutes with Eddie Ojeda and Jay Jay French hammering out solos, Mark Mendoza beating another bass to death, Mike Portnoy’s drumming and Dee Snider’s vocals and crowd chat. It all seemed to end too soon and Twisted Sister appeared to close out by playing a great Rolling Stones classic, “It’s Only Rock and Roll” and I loved it.

Of course, they came back for an encore, starting with the song I thought they might have opened with and then went into a great song from the first album, have a guess, the answer’s further down. It was after the second song that all four of the original members each spoke to the crowd thanking them for all their dedication over the years. Starting with Mark and then Eddie, but as usual, I thought it strange he hadn’t said much before, Jay Jay brought up a very good point. Using the example of X-Factor, he says how the winners thank everyone for their support for fifteen weeks. He was totally right when he said that fifteen weeks was nothing when compared to bands like Judas Priest and KISS as well as Twisted Sister who have been going strong for forty years or more! Stick that one Simon Cowell. Always to have the last word, Dee thanked everyone, especially Mike Portnoy and explained that Mike had been personally chosen by AJ to replace him if the need should ever arise. No one would have thought it would have been under the most tragic of circumstances. With that, Twisted Sister brought an end to a great night with the best song possible, “SMF.” When they left, I’m sure the 15,000 or so who saw them felt they got their money’s worth.

Playlist:

My memory sucks so the order may be slightly out

  1. What You Don’t Know (Sure Can’t Hurt You)
  2. The Kids are Back
  3. Burn In Hell
  4. Destroyer
  5. Knife in the Back
  6. You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll
  7. The Fire Still Burns
  8. I Wanna Rock
  9. Under the Blade
  10. The Price
  11. I Believe in Rock and Roll
  12. I Am I’m Me
  13. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  14. It’s Only Rock and Roll

Encore

  1. Come Out and Play
  2. Shoot’ em Down
  3. SMF

Photos from this historic night

Twisted Sister come out and play

Twisted Sister come out and play

Jay Jay and Mark in support while Eddie cranks out a solo

Jay Jay and Mark in support while Eddie cranks out a solo

Dee showing he still got the vocals while Mark beats his bass to death

Dee showing he still got the vocals while Mark beats his bass to death

Jay Jay's turn for a solo

Good lighting as well as music

Jay Jay's turn for a solo

Jay Jay’s turn for a solo

The fire still burns

The fire still burns

TS at the best ever

TS at the best ever

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And here

And here

The grand finale

The grand finale

I am making a promise here which all of you can hold me to. If Twisted Sister change their minds and do come back again, I will not go see them. Not because of any lies but because I believe they couldn’t do any better than what they did on this night. For me they went out on an ultimate high.

Note: My memory isn’t the greatest and though I took notes of the entire weekend, shit for brains here lost the notepad so my memories may be slightly off. If any of you reading this were there, I would love to read about your versions of this piece of history.

Next post: Saturday

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategcipublishingroup.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: Rolling Stones- Undercover

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Undercoverstones

If the Rolling Stones 1981 album “Tattoo You” was a move away from the band’s disco albums (at least I thought so) of the late 1970s, then the 1983 “Undercover” album moved them even further away. Saying that, when I first heard the album’s first single “Under Cover of the Night,” I thought it was a bit of a dirge. It did take me a couple of listens to get used to it. By then, the second single, “She Was Hot” came out and was, in my humble opinion, much better than its predecessor. Unfortunately, memories of the song will be forever in twined with the cheesy video for it. That was one drawback with MTV, good songs could be ruined by bad videos that stick in your mind but anyway.

A shot from the video for "She Was Hot." Cheesy or not?

A shot from the video for “She Was Hot.” Cheesy or not?

One thing about the Rolling Stones over the decades was that if I didn’t buy an album myself, someone I knew would and eventually I would listen to it. That’s what happened with “Undercover.” I listened to it and I liked it. “Undercover” takes the Rolling Stones even further back to their roots. This album is more hard rock than anything that they had put out in years, at least I thought that back in 1983. After the two singles are done and dusted at the beginning of the album, the third track, “Tie You Up” starts the hard rock off in earnest. And goes on that path for the next two songs. Then comes the track, “Too Much Blood,” which for me is a song of two halves. At first, I thought the jazz infusion, with the horns was nicely done. Then somewhere in the middle, it begins sounding like a dance track making me think they hadn’t totally gotten over the disco thing.

“Pretty Beat Up” also has horns and a bit of a rock/jazz fusion and the best part is that it doesn’t become a dance tune anywhere I can hear. For me, the best is saved for last. “Undercover” goes out on a real high with the last three tracks. All of them are hard rockers and sound like the Stones of the 1960s that I grew up on. If anything, it is these closing songs that has kept me coming back to the album after so many years.

Track Listing:

  1. Under Cover of the Night
  2. She Was Hot
  3. Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)
  4. Wanna Hold You
  5. Feel On Baby
  6. Too Much Blood
  7. Pretty Beat Up
  8. Too Tough
  9. All the Way Down
  10. It Must Be Hell
Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger- vocals, harmonica, guitar

Keith Richards- guitar, lead vocals on “Wanna Hold You”

Ronnie Wood- guitar, backing vocals

Bill Wyman- bass, percussion, piano on “Pretty Beat Up”

Charlie Watts- drums

It has been said that “Undercover” is one of the weaker albums by the Rolling Stones. I never agreed with that or really cared, I just liked it.

Next post: John Cougar Mellencamp- Uh Huh

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Frank Formica- A True Metal Fan

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by 80smetalman

Hi everyone, it’s been awhile and let me just say that I am having a great time here in New Jersey. In the past ten days, I’ve eaten Cap’n Crunch for breakfast nearly every day and I think I’ve consumed enough Yuengling to make up for the eight years I’ve gone without it. Of course there’s the local cusine, I couldn’t go without at least eating one Philly cheese steak. When I return to the UK on Friday, I will be introducing the country, well Gloucestershire anyway, to the game of beer pong. But the best thing about my time in NJ is the chance to meet up with long time no see good friends.

Frank and Me

Frank and Me

The great thing about friends, as far as music goes, is that they are always introducing one another to new music and the latest offerings from artists they have in common. Back in the golden days of heavy metal, the 1980s, my metal friend Frank Formica was always discovering new metal and playing it for the rest of us. Frank  almost singlehandedly introduced me the thrash and enlightened me to the musical offerings of Metallica and Anthrax. On the flip side I introduced him to Kreator and The Killer Dwarfs and together we experienced the Stormtroopers of Death when we saw them live in New York. That concert will live in both our memories as the insaneist one we’ve ever been to and there were many others. Frank was clearly an inspriation behind my love for heavy metal back then.

Frank as Alice Cooper

Frank as Alice Cooper

Nowadays Frank runs a karaoke show called Veteran Cosmic Rocker named after a song from a Moody Blues album I visited earlier this year. In order to get gigs, it’s not total heavy metal although, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if it was. I went to his show last night at a bar called The Riverside, near Mays Landing, NJ. First, I never knew he could sing that well as he belted out a few classic Alice Cooper ditties in line with the Halloween theme. He also sang several Rolling Stones classics like “Sympathy for the Devil” and his girl friend helped get the party started by singing a few more mainstream tunes like the song by Pink which creates a pun here. The biggest surprise, however, was when Frank introduced his friend who had come all the way from England and that he was going to sing some heavy metal. He proceded to sing some Judas Priest, although I can’t for the life of me remember which one, “Detroit Rock City ” by KISS and to end the night on a good note, he sang “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica. I felt very honoured that he sang those songs for me.

Frank in action

Frank in action

After a slow start, the night took off and overall things went pretty well. Since half of the clientelle was made up with members of the Tough Guys MC, there wasn’t going to be a mad rush to the microphone but several ladies made more than one trip up and entertained the crowd. Did I go up to the mike? You must be kidding, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket which is why I have always been more of an appreciator of music rather than a purvyeor.

The Riverside or for non- Americans, a typical American bar

The Riverside or for non- Americans, a typical American bar

Many factors have contributed to making me the metalhead I am today. One of the more major ones was my friend Frank Formica who opened my eyes to all sorts of heavy metal. If it hadn’t been for Frank, I would not have been able to write “Rock and Roll Children” and I suspect those who have read it have already figured out that I based the Frankie character in the story on Frank. I’m sure we all have friends who influenced us musically and for me, there was no one better than Frank.

Next post: Black Sabbath- The Mob Rules

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 Metal Albums of 1981: Anvil- Hard ‘N’ Heavy

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Hardnheavy

After listening to “Hard ‘N’ Heavy,” the debut album from Canadian metal outfit, Anvil and thinking back to the documentary made about them four years ago, I find myself asking, “Why didn’t they make it into the big time?” This album alone should have catapulted them into the stratosphere of music, it’s that good. My gut reaction is my belief that Canadian metal was largely ignored back then with the exceptions of Rush and Triumph but was that really the case? My mind is still grappling with the question but in any case, whenever any of the great metal albums from 1981 are mentioned, “Hard ‘N’ Heavy” definitely deserves to be among them.

If I still had one of those radio/cassette alarm clocks and had this album on cassette, then I would have would have woken up every morning to the opening track, “School Love” and not just because it starts with a school bell. I love what comes after, the killer sound of guitar, bass and drums that meld together to make the song. Of course, after “School Love” woke me up, I wouldn’t be able to do much else because I would have to head bang away through its entirety. What impresses me with many of the songs is that Steve ‘Lips’ Kudrow is a far better guitarist than what I have given him credit for. There are some killer solos on “Hard ‘N’ Heavy.” “AC/DC” (which is not a tribute to the band of the same name), “At the Apartment,” Oh Jane” and “Bondage” all immediately come to mind here.

There are a good many songs that would sound even better if metalized and there are a couple of Rolling Stones songs that qualify here. But what Anvil have done with “Paint It Black” on the album is something truly phenomenal. They just didn’t metalize the song, they ultra metalized it. Another aspect that the band has always done well in my mind is add a certain sense of humour to a lot of their songs. That humour is apparent in all of the songs here while all the time, taking nothing away from the style that makes Anvil a true metal band.

Track Listing:

1. School Bells

2. AC/DC

3. At the Apartment

4. I Want You Both (With Me)

5. Bedroom Game

6. Oooh Baby

7. Paint It Black

8. Oh Jane

9. Hot Child

10. Bondage

Anvil

Steve ‘Lips’ Kudrow- vocals, guitar

Dave Allison- guitar, vocals

Ian Dickson- bass

Robb Reiner- drums

Whoever first said that Anvil are the greatest band never to have had a break gets total agreement from me. I can only wonder why they didn’t make it to the great heights achieved by so many other bands in the 80s. “Hard ‘N’ Heavy” is a fantastic metal album and deserves its place among so many of the other great metal albums from 1981.

Next post: Girlschool- Hit and Run

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Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1981

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2014 by 80smetalman

Originally, this post was going to be a promotion for an unsigned band whose demo has happened to come into my possession. When I told the band I was going to write about them, they were going to send me a picture of themselves but since that hasn’t happened yet, I’m afraid it will have to wait till next time. So instead I will post about the one hit wonders that graced us in 1981.

Joe Dolce

Joe Dolce

NO this isn’t a wind up! I am including “Shaddap You Face” by Joe Dolce among the one hit wonders. Yes, the song was a total wind up but Mr Dolce was probably laughing all the way to the bank. Besides, I have a more mercenary reason for putting it here. See, my ex wife was a big fan of Ultravox back in the 80s and in 1981, their hit “Vienna” was destined for the number in the UK charts. However, this strange song by Joe came along and usurped the top spot. My ex has never forgiven him for that and although we’re on amicable terms now,  the thought does bring a sinister smile to my face.

pacman

This might seem a wind up too but if you were around in 1981, you will remember Pac Man. This was the game to play at video arcades and it caught on so much that a group named Buckner and Garcia made a song about it. “Pac Man Fever” was very cheesy to say the least, the lyrics prove that. So, why am I including it here? The answer is that, “Pac Man Fever” gets my vote for being the worst song with a cool guitar solo. That’s the only reason why I liked it. After all, I never played Pac Man that much; instead I was getting my initials down on the top ten lists on Bezerk.

Bezerk

Bezerk

Climax Blues Band

Climax Blues Band

My British readers are now jumping up and down in sheer anger for calling the Climax Blues Band one hit wonders. I know they had much more success in the UK and were still going strong ten years after their only US hit “I Love You” was in the charts. Back in 1991-2, I used to work at a factory down the road from the famous Royal Standard pub in Walthamstow, London and I would see the band posted on the board outside for a Saturday night gig on several occasions. But, “I Love You” was the only song I would remember them for, especially as it’s one I can associate with yet another dancer at The Driftwood. I can never remember her name though.

Quarterflash

Quarterflash

Now it’s the turn of American readers to blow a gasket, especially those in the Northwest but I have always considered Quarterflash to be one hit wonders. After a little research, I saw that they had some other hits but that was in early 1982 and I was on my second tour overseas. Other songs didn’t make it across the Atlantic and like the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend,” Quarterflash’s greatest hit, “Harden My Heart” was also blasting out of juke boxes in cafes in Toulon, France. This is the best of the songs I have mentioned so far, it is a true rock song. Back then, some were calling lead singer Rindy Ross, the next Pat Benatar. I wouldn’t go that far but Ross did have an excellent voice.

Kim Carnes

Kim Carnes

Always sounding like she had a frog in her throat, Kim Carnes dominated the US and other countries’ singles charts with her most famous hit, “Bette Davis Eyes.” Like Quarterflash and the Climax Blues Band, there is much scope for debate as whether or not she should be a one hit wonder. She has many song writing credits to her name including songs for David Cassidy, Kenny Rogers and Barbra Streisand, I know not real rockers. That’s why I was glad that this song tended to be slightly more rock.

We can sum up that the songs from one hit wonders in 1981 went from the ridiculous to the serious. Two of the ones mentioned here evoke the John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious” approach but the the ones that were are definitely good songs in their own right.

Next post: Hopefully- Another Band That Should be Signed

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Great Rock Albums of 1981: Rolling Stones- Tattoo You

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-TattooYou81

Once again, the more astute among you may or may not have noticed that through my tours of both 1978 and 1980, I didn’t visit the two albums released by the Rolling Stones in those years. To many, this might sound very strange because the Rolling Stones have been one of the stalwarts of rock for over half a century now. Throughout the 1960s and 7os they put out a huge number of songs and albums that will continue to live on throughout rock history. There are even some songs that would sound great metalised. So why didn’t I visit the 1978 “Some Girls” album and the 1980 “Emotional Rescue?” For me, the answer is quite simple. I thought both of those albums were too disco for my liking. The 1981 album “Tattoo You,” in my humble opinion took them back to their roots. The album sounded like the Stones of old and they finally remembered what had made them so great.

“Tattoo You” is a two part album in a sense. The first six songs are all cool rockers, the first of which is the big single “Start Me Up.” When I first heard that song on the radio, I was convinced that the Rolling Stones had come back. Normally, I get concerned when the single opens an album because that’s usually the ploy of one hit wonders but I have to say, it works well for “Tattoo You.” That song is a good one to wake you up on a Wednesday morning. (Note: War Pigs by Black Sabbath is reserved for Monday mornings.) If you think that you can take a breath after “Start Me Up,” you can’t because “Hang Fire,” the second track has the same effect. The next four songs all have the same effect and I love the hard blues rock sound of “Black Limousine.” I don’t know if it’s Ronnie Wood or Keith Richards who play the solo on that song, but it is well done.

The remainder of the album goes into a more bluesier sound although not as hard as “Black Limousine.” “Worried About You,” “Tops” and “Heaven” are all in this vein  as is “No Use In Crying.” These songs wind the album down to the more mellow closer “Waiting on a Friend” which seems to close the album out very well. I remember hearing that song blasting out of cafe juke boxes when I was in Toulon, France in May of 1982. What the album does accomplish for me is the fact that it’s a massive improvement from the previous two.

Track Listing:

1. Start Me Up

2. Hang Fire

3. Slave

4. Little T & A

5. Black Limousine

6. Neighbours

7. Worried About You

8. Tops

9. Heaven

10. No Use in Crying

11. Waiting On a Friend

Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger- vocals

Keith Richards- guitar

Ronnie Wood- guitars

Bill Wyman- bass, synthesiser on “Heaven”

Charlie Watts- drums

After doing a little historical research, I was surprised to discover that the bulk of this album was out takes and previously unreleased material. Whatever the case, it worked and re-established the Rolling Stones as a serious force in rock.

Next post: The Go-Go’s- Beauty and the Beat

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