Archive for Rush

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by 80smetalman

Nearly everyone and their sibling says that the “Grace Under Pressure” album was the beginning of Rush’s synthesizer period. In reality, the band had started to go in that direction with their previous album, “Signals.” What was popularly believed at the time was that as a result of my favourite Rush album, “Moving Pictures,” some misguided persons heard songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” and called Rush a heavy metal band. Therefore, in reaction to that, they went for the more synthesizer sound to squash the stereotype. At first I believed it but now in my old age, I don’t really care if it was true at the time or not. I just like the album.

While Rush are not heavy metal, it doesn’t stop many metalheads like myself from liking them, a lot. In the opening pages of “Rock And Roll Children,” the main characters play “Grace Under Pressure” to mellow out a bit after an evening of heavy metal records. I have to admit, when I heard the first single, “Distant Early Warning,” I wasn’t too sure about them. Maybe they had sold out and gone commercial. I guess in my naivety, I expected them to continue in the same vein as my favourite Rush album. But believe me, “Grace Under Pressure” was no sell out and it was many levels above some of the other synthesizer music that was manifesting at the time.

What Rush did with “Grace Under Pressure” was take the emerging synth sound and made it into something of their own. I’ve said a number of times that all three members are talented musicians and together, they can create some fantastic music which all will enjoy no matter what camp you’re in. For me, sure I was slightly disappointed at first that the guitar takes a back seat on the album, but it doesn’t go away completely. You can clearly hear Liefson’s licks laying down the foundation along with Peart’s beat in support of Lee’s keyboard skills and vocals. I have always stated that Lee has been underrated as a keyboards player. As for Alex, he does nail solos on “The Body Electric”  and the closer, “Between the Wheels,” and I do like his intro on “The Enemy Within.” That has to be my favourite track on the album. Now, I won’t break down the album into individual songs because they all are good on their own and all compliment each other and that makes a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Distant Early Warning
  2. Afterimage
  3. Red Sector A
  4. The Enemy Within
  5. The Body Electric
  6. Kid Gloves
  7. Red Lenses
  8. Between the Wheels

Rush

Geddy Lee- vocals, synthesizers, bass

Alex Liefson- guitars

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

I think that “Grace Under Pressure” achieves what Rick, Frankie, Jeff and Bob were going for in “Rock and Roll Children.” They were looking something to just kick back and listen to. The album allows you to do that because that’s when you begin to hear and appreciate all the small intricacies contained there in and that’s when you know how good it is.

Next post: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Zebra

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2016 by 80smetalman

zebra_album

Don’t ask me how but for some reason, the debut album from the American hard rock/heavy metal band Zebra passed me by. I don’t remember it getting any airplay on local radio nor do I remember seeing any videos from them on MTV. If it hadn’t been for Rich at Kamertunes, I never would have heard of this band ever let alone get the opportunity to listen to the debut album. But thank God for Youtube as once again, it allows me to listen to another album I never heard before.

Now that I got to listen to this album thrice, I am now able to deliver a verdict on it. I always believe in starting with the negative or at least the less positive. I don’t feel that I missed anything major by not listening to the album way back in 1983. The album has a definite “it’s all been done before” feel to it. I can’t really say that there’s anything original about it. Furthermore, I think Zebra attempts to be all things to all people here. There’s snippets of progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal dotted all throughout and I’m sorry, the track “Slow Down” sounds too 1950s. I know the song was written in 1958 but there seemed little attempt to bring it up to date. I said it then and I’ll say it now, if I want the 1950s in the 80s or any decade, I’ll listen to the Stray Cats. Likewise, the closer, “The La La Song,” begins like an easy listening tune which spoils most of the song even though it goes a harder not long into it.

Now for the more positive. Overall, the album is pretty good. While I don’t think I missed anything by not buying it, if I had heard it in 1983, I still would have bought it. One can’t fault the efforts of the three men who make up Zebra. There are some really cool intros on tracks one, two and four and they are all decent to very good tracks, all hard rock. The only gripe is that possibly the opener, “Tell Me What You Want,” ends too abruptly. “Who’s Behind the Door,” I have to say impresses the hell out of me. I do detect a bit of Rush influence here and the vocals are ear catching. “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” does sound like classic 1970s progressive rock, sort of in the vein of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The musicianship is ace on this one and it is my favourite track on the album. The next track rocks pretty good as well with a good guitar riff. In short, the seven better tracks do cancel out the two unimpressive ones.

Track Listing:

  1. Tell Me What You Want
  2. One More Chance
  3. Slow Down
  4. As I Said Before
  5. Who’s Behind the Door
  6. When You Get There
  7. Take Your Fingers From My Hair
  8. Don’t Walk Away
  9. The La La Song
Zebra

Zebra

Randy Jackson- guitar, lead vocals, piano, Mellotron, synthesizer, percussion

Felix Hanemann- bass, backing vocals, keyboards, strings

Guy Gelso- drums, backing vocals, percussion

Zebra’s debut album came and went in 1983 and escaped my notice for thirty-three years. Now that I finally did, I liked what I heard from the debut album. However and I know I’m repeating myself here, I don’t think I missed anything super special.

Next post: Aldo Nova

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

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

 

 

 

 

80smetalman’s Choices for National Anthems

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by 80smetalman

National Anthems inspire love for one’s country. Every one I’ve heard definitely does that. Some are hard driving like the US, UK or Canada while others are more somber like Japan or Wales. Even Italy’s which reminded me of a parade or Spain’s which sounds like a sixteenth century dance still can inspire love for the country. However, most national anthems are over a century old and while there’s nothing wrong with that, since they still inspire nationalistic feelings, I wonder if more modern ones could be used. See, I have come to associate certain songs by certain bands with the country they come from and that has me thinking. Maybe these songs should be national anthems for their country.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd

USA: Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (I’m talking the full fifteen minute live version)

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

UK: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Rush

Rush

Canada: Tom Sawyer by Rush

Bonfire

Bonfire

Germany: Proud of My Country by Bonfire

TNT

TNT

Norway- Seven Seas by TNT

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen

Sweden- As Above, So Below by Yngwie Malmsteen

Hanoi Rocks

Hanoi Rocks

Finland- Tragedy by Hanoi Rocks

Golden Earring

Golden Earring

The Netherlands: Radar Love by Golden Earring

U2

U2

Ireland- Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2

Loudness

Loudness

Japan- Crazy Nights by Loudness

AC/DC

AC/DC

Australia- Highway to Hell by AC/DC

Note: For Brazil, it would definitely be something by Seputura and France would be a suitable song by Gojira.

While this is meant to be a little bit of fun, I’m sure some of you are cracking your knuckles and limbering your typing fingers to contribute some of your own suggestions. Well, I’m waiting.

Next post: The Scorpions- Blackout

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 One Hit Wonders of 1982 and Other Significant Singles

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by 80smetalman

My limited exposure to commercial radio during 1982 could be considered either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. While I didn’t think commercial radio totally sucked back then, there were some things played on it that I wasn’t totally impressed with. Sorry but “Tainted Love” only met with a lukewarm response from me and that was only because there was a dancer at the Driftwood who could work the song to her advantage. I suppose the best way to examine this is by looking at the one hit wonders from that year.

tt

As soon as I returned to the US in June after my second and final deployment to the Mediterranean, I was aware that all the bars were playing “Jenny- 8675309” by Tommy Tutone on their jukeboxes. I can’t say that I really rocked out to the song but the melody was very catchy and when the title was sung, it stuck in your mind. The melody is going through my mind right now. I once heard a live version of this song and it did sound a bit harder rock and if Tommy had recorded the song that way, I would have liked it even more.

The Pretenders

The Pretenders

All right already, I know that The Pretenders were not one hit wonders nor did they release an album in 1982. However, they did release one song and it was a killer one. “Back on the Chain Gang” is most definitely my all time favourite Pretenders song. This is the song where lead guitarist James Honeyman Scott really shines. He just riffs through the entire song and of course I won’t take anything away from Chrissie. Her vocals are as good as ever on this one. Maybe with a great song like this one, The Pretenders believed they didn’t need to make an entire album. Who’s to know?

The McKenzie Brothers

The McKenzie Brothers

Okay, it’s not really a rock song, more of a comedy parody. But the single “Take Off” by the Canadian Comedy duo Bob and Doug McKenzie did break the top 40 in the US and I believe it went to number one in Canada! Maybe one of my Canadian followers can verify that for me. That fact alone qualifies them as one hit wonders in my reckoning although their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is fourth favourite Christmas song. Another reason this qualifies as a rock song is the fact that none other than Geddy Lee sings the backing vocals on “Take Off.” That makes the single that much better. Saying that, the McKenzie Brothers do have me on the floor with laughter when I hear it, so take off you hoser!

Hank Williams Jr

Hank Williams Jr

Having spent the better part of four years in North Carolina, I could not help developing a little appreciation for country music. When asked who are my favourite country artists I answer that one is David Allen Coe and the other is Hank Williams Jr. While, I like a lot of Hank’s material the song I like best came out in 1982. “A Country Boy Can Survive” is just brilliant! From the lyrics all the way to the small but noticeable hard rock vibe to it. In fact, Kid Rock puts his own metal spin on it but I still prefer the original.

There you have, four great singles from 1982, two from one hit wonders, one from an established great band and a country song that thrills this metal head. So, maybe commercial radio didn’t suck then.

Next post: The Soundtrack to The Wall

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/Metal Albums of 1982: Uriah Heep- Abominog

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2015 by 80smetalman

Abominog(album)

It’s another shame on me moment here on 80’smetalman. Uriah Heep were a band that I always wanted to check out but never got around to. I can’t even blame it on them being unknown in the US because they weren’t. Back in the late 1970s, when I belonged to one of those RCA record clubs, their albums were always listed for sale. Therefore, the fault totally lies with me.

I knew they were a hard rock band but that’s all I knew about them. The one song of theirs I have on a compilation, “The Wizard” is a brilliant song but I wouldn’t call it heavy metal. It took the 1982 album “Abominog” for me to discover that Uriah Heep should have been listed as one of my “Other Great Metal Influences.” At the very least, they should have gone into the “Honourable Mention” post because this album totally resonates heavy metal. In fact, I will go out on a limb and state that Uriah Heep belongs with Rush and Deep Purple as key players in the creation of progressive metal.

“Abominog” is a totally kick ass progressive metal album. It reminds me of everything I have always loved about heavy metal. There are some fantastic guitar riffs, complimentary keyboards, strong vocals and I can’t take anything away from their rhythm section either. Furthermore, I hear traces of bands like Dio, Autograph, Whitesnake, for sure in the track “Prisoner” and Hammerfall and I think there have been many a lesser known metal band who learned a trick or two from Uriah Heep who have been doing it since the early 1970s. So, I think I can say that many a band can trace their influences back to this band.

Track Listing:

1. Too Scared to Run

2. Chasing Shadows

3. On the Rebound

4. Hot Night in a Cold Town

5. Running All Night (With the Lion)

6. That’s the Way It Is

7. Prisoner

8. Persuasion

9. Sell Your Soul

10. Think It Over

Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep

Peter Goalby- lead vocals

Mick Box- guitar, vocals

John Sinclair- keyboards, vocals

Bob Daisley- bass, vocals

Lee Kerslake- drums

It has already come to my attention that Uriah Heep’s 70s material is even better than what’s on this album. I don’t doubt this but I am looking forward to my journey of discovery of a great band which almost passed me by.

Next post: Hawkwind- Church of Hawkwind

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: Rush- Signals

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

220px-Rush_Signals

Rush’s 1982 album “Signals” is almost another album in that year that escaped my attention. Fortunately, there was somebody in my platoon who was a huge Rush fan so thanks to him, I got to listen to this album. My first reaction to “Signals” was that it wasn’t as hard rock as some of the songs on their previous “Moving Pictures” album but it was an enjoyable album nonetheless.

In the eyes of many, “Signals” marked the beginning of Rush’s turn towards more synthesizer oriented music. While I won’t dispute that belief, I can say that some of the old Rush is still present in some of the songs. You just have to listen carefully. Alex Leifson’s guitar is definitely there underneath the keyboards of Geddy Lee.  Together, they make a definite statement for progressive rock not long before it gave way to more synth pop later in the 80s were quality musicianship wouldn’t count for much. What is good is that every song on this album follows along in this formula although I can say that Liefson does hammer out great guitar solos on tracks 2, 3 and 4. That’s probably why those songs stand out for me even though it was “Subdivisions” and “New World Man” that got the most radio airplay at the time. Those two songs probably deserved it anyway. If I were to compare this album to anything, it would be the second side of the “Moving Pictures” album and that’s definitely a good thing.

Track Listing:

1. Subdivisions

2. The Analogue Kid

3. Chemistry

4. Digital Man

5. The Weapon

6. New World Man

7. Losing It

8. Countdown

Rush

Rush

Geddy Lee- vocals, bass, keyboards, Moog Taurus pedals

Alex Liefson- guitars, Moog Taurus pedals

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

Whether or not you liked Rush or thought they sold out during what was now commonly called, “their synthesizer period,” you can’t fault this album. “Signals” in my mind, will always be considered a great progressive rock album.

Next post: Michael Stanley Band- MSB

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: Rainbow- Difficult to Cure

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Difficult_to_cure

Before I go into the meat of the post here, I think it’s best that I do a “then and now” brief. Nowadays, many young metalheads like my younger son don’t classify Rainbow as heavy metal and may even point to this very album as proof. There is plenty of evidence within the material on “Difficult To Cure” to back up that argument. However, before anyone gets the branding iron out, I think it’s only fair to mention the state of rock music back in the early 1980s. First of all, most anything that had a heavy guitar in the sound was considered heavy metal by radio stations and music magazines. That’s why Rush’s “Moving Pictures” album was considered heavy metal back then. More important is the fact that heavy metal was still in its youth. While great metal artists like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and so many others were stamping their mark on heavy metal, there was no definite definition of what heavy metal was and certainly no sub genres in the music. While Rainbow makes very good use of keyboards in their music, very evident on this album, they were certainly considered a heavy metal band back then, especially with a guitarist like Ritchie Blackmore and original vocalist Ronnie James Dio in the line up. With all that said, I’ll rest my case on the fact that I listed them as one of the great metal influences. If you want to trawl the archives, Rainbow was part eight in the series. God, with speeches like that, maybe I should go into politics.

Now to the album, I didn’t know until now that they had recorded an early version of their most successful hit, “I Surrender,” with Graham Bonnet before he left the band because he didn’t like the direction it was taking. Joe Lynn Turner was brought in to sing over the already recorded musical tracks and the result is obvious, “Difficult to Cure” is a very good album. As I have said several times before, I get a little nervous when the opening track to an album is the big single. However, the opening chords on “I Surrender” is attention grabbing and starts things off perfectly. But unlike one hit wonders who use their hit to open their album, the rest of “Difficult to Cure” can stand on its own. “Spotlight Kid” is definitely a good rocking song as is “Can’t Happen Here.” I knew there was something familiar about those two songs when I heard them and so I checked the “Anthology” album and found those two songs were on it. I shouldn’t have been surprised. “Magic”starts very progressively but Don Airey plays his keyboards masterfully on the song and Blackmore does his usual magic with the guitar, which superbly makes the song. “Freedom Fighter” is also a noteworthy rock song and the album finishes beautifully with the instrumental title track which was also Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I’ve heard the live version of the song and it’s totally mind blowing but I won’t take anything away from the version on this album. “Difficult to Cure” is a fine outing from Rainbow

Track Listing:

1. I Surrender

2. Spotlight Kid

3. No Release

4. Magic

5. Vielleicht Das Nachste Mal (Maybe Next Time)

 6. Can’t Happen Here

7. Freedom Fighter

8. Mid Tunnel Vision

9. Difficult to Cure

rainbow-prog1981

Ritchie Blackmore- guitars

Roger Glover- bass

Joe Lynn Turner- vocals

Don Airey- keyboards

Bobby Rondinelli- drums

With “Difficult to Cure,” Rainbow proved that keyboards can work in heavy metal. They had an influence all their own on heavy metal in its early days and continue to influence many progressive metal bands today.

Next post: Def Leppard- High and Dry

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