Archive for soft rock

Rest in Peace Olivia Newton-John

Posted in 1979, Books, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2022 by 80smetalman

The world is morning the passing of Olivia Newton-John. She was a great singer, actress, entertainer and few other things rolled into one. Back in the 1970s, her music was more country leaning, crossing over to mellow out rock. In 1978, she made her film debut as Sandra in the film “Grease,” one of the top grossing films of all time. It’s not my favourite film but I fully applauded her in it. It was after “Grease” that she caught my attention with her album, “Totally Hot.” Olivia decided to shed her goody two shoes image and this album went more rock. It’s the only album of hers I posted here and you can read it below.

If you read the comments in the post, you will see that I was accused of being misogynist because I went back to my then 17 year old self when the album came out and remembered that Olivia had put on a little weight after “Grease” and looked good for it. I did apologize to the commenter for my crystal ball not working. If I had known when I wrote the post in 2012 that I would cause offense in 2021, I wouldn’t have commented on her weight. Whatever the case, a true musical legend has left us and gone to the great gig in the sky and let us remember her for that. This is my all time favourite ONJ song.

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Robert Palmer- Heavy Nova

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2022 by 80smetalman

Coming off the huge success of his previous album, “Riptide,” Robert Palmer was back and in fine form with “Heavy Nova.” Getting right to the point here, I think that the reason why Robert was so successful in the late 1980s was the versatility of both albums. There is something in many of the songs which had mass appeal. Take the first single from the album, “Simply Irresistible.” It starts with with an acoustic intro which wouldn’t be out of place on a metal album. Furthermore, while there are synths on the song, they don’t dominate. The same with the guitar. It’s definitely there but not dominating as it would in a metal song, although the guitar solo in the middle is killer. What I like about it is that you can’t pigeon hole it and the combination works really well.

Three of the next four songs follow the path set down by “Simply Irresistible.” They walk the fine line between hard rock and synth pop with out fully stepping into the either territory. Saying that, I do like the bassline on “More Than Ever” and there is some African influence in “Change His Ways.” The odd song out in this string is “Disturbing Behaviour.” This is more of a rocker and I can envision a metal band playing it. All they needed to do was turn the guitar up a few more octaves and it would be killer. Still, it gets my vote for hidden gem.

In the second half of the album, Robert goes more rat pack or so it seems. He sounds like he could be either Andy Williams or Nat King Cole on the track “It Could Happen to You.” Then again, the song was originally written in 1943 and fair credit to him, it shows that he can sing outside his comfort zone and make it sound good. Okay, we don’t know for sure if he could sing thrash metal but who cares? Then there is the more popular single, (at least to me), on the album, “She Makes My Day.” I remember this one better than “Simply Irresistible” even though it’s a ballad but again, we get further proof of Rob’s versatile singing voice. It also helps he has some great musicians behind him.

Track Listing:

  1. Simply Irresistible
  2. More Than Ever
  3. Change His Ways
  4. Disturbing Behaviour
  5. Early in the Morning
  6. It Could Happen to You
  7. She Makes My Day
  8. Between Us
  9. Casting a Spell
  10. Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming
Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer- lead and backing vocals

William Bryant- keyboards

Mishna Schneider- keyboards

Jeff Bova- additional keyboards

Richard Gibbs- additional keyboards

Garth Hudson- accordion, additional keyboards

Tom T-Bone Wolk- accordion

Eddie Martinez- guitar

Dennis Budimir- additional guitar

John Grey- additional guitar, additional percussion

Frank Blair- bass

Barry ‘Sun John’ Johnson- additional bass

Dony Wynn- drums

Rikki Fataar- additional drums

Dom Um Romao- percussion, additional backing vocals

Robyn Lobe- additional percussion

Chuck Findley- trumpet

Luka Belak- violin

Clare Fischer- stings

Rick Danko- additional backing vocals

B.J. Nelson- additional backing vocals

I bought “Heavy Nova” for my then wife as a birthday present in 1989 and for some reason, she didn’t play it much around me. Maybe she thought it wasn’t my cup of tea and she could have been partially right at the time. However, I do appreciate this album much more these days.

Next post: Big Country- Peace in Our Time

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Great Rock Albums of 1988: Tanita Tikarim- Ancient Heart

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 11, 2022 by 80smetalman

It was said in 1988 and I eluded to it in my post on Tracy Chapman, that Tracy opened up a path for female folk singers. I can’t say for sure it was the case but one such singer to come through in regard to it was British singer, Tanita Tikarim. Some people even called her a British Tracy Chapman but I think that was a little off the mark. Tanita had her own voice and style and you had to look deeper into her songs to glean the messages behind them. Still, that wasn’t a bad thing because I liked Tanita as much as I did Tracy.

Her debut 1988 album, “Ancient Heart,” brought forth four singles. The best known of these was “Good Tradition,” which went to number ten in the UK charts. While this screams, “pop single,” it’s easy to see why to see the song had such mass appeal. The blend of instruments and her upbeat tempo make the song cool.

The other singles weren’t as successful at least in the UK. “Twist in My Sobriety” only made it to #22 in the charts but it was most successful song for her internationally. Critics said the song was too depressing and the message behind it was unclear but I don’t agree. It might have been sung in a somber manner but but Tanita has the voice and style to pull it off. However, the other two singles, “Cathedral Song” and “World Outside My Window” failed to break the top forty. Now as you know by now, I don’t really care about things like that and I actually like “Cathedral Song.” It’s a straight forward folk song about two swimmers finding love in a summer setting. “World Outside My Window” is more pop oriented but it does lack the energy of “Good Tradition.”

You know by now, and I’m not alone in doing so, but I look beyond the hits on an album, always in search of the hidden gem. I’ll get to the gem in a second but the runner up is “I Love You,” which has some good soft rock. It’s a love song but at the same time not one. The predecessor, “Sighing Innocents,” is the hidden gem. When I hear it, I picture myself in a smoke filled cafe, yes, I know you can’t smoke in them these days, with Tanita on stage singing into the mike. Like “I Love You,” it is a great folk tune with a message.

She does change things up with “For All These Years.” A horn is heard in the background which gives it a more haunting edge. The song is about two lovers aged 17 and 16 who don’t know how to express that love. But if you want contradiction, the track “Poor Cow” is about a person not wanting to celebrate their birthday but it’s done in a upbeat manner. The guitar in “He Likes the Sun” is a throwback to 1970s progressive rock reminiscent of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Halfway through the song, things change and she rocks out a bit. The change works because one second you’re kicking back digging the vibe and then get abruptly woken up. The shock doesn’t last long but you definitely rmember it. It’s also runner up as hidden gem. “Valentine Heart” is an excellent piano ballad.

Being in the folk rock vein with social conscience, the metal hating UK newspaper, The Sun, came out against her. It’s music critic stated that Tanita sounded like a bullfrog when she sang. True, she does have a deeper voice and maybe she wouldn’t make a great metal singer but her voice fits her musical style very comfortably.

Track Listing:

  1. Good Tradition
  2. Cathedral Song
  3. Sighing Innocents
  4. I Love You
  5. World Outside Your Window
  6. For All These Years
  7. Twist in My Sobriety
  8. Poor Cow
  9. He Likes the Sun
  10. Valentine Heart
  11. Preyed Upon
Tanita Tikarim

Tanita Tikarim- vocals, guitar

Additional Musicians:

Mark Isham- trumpet, flugelhorn

Paul Brady- mandolin

David Lindley- violin

Marc Ribot- guitar

Rod Argent- keyboards

Brendan Crocker- guitar

Pete Beachill- trombone

Mitch Dalton- guitar

Martin Ditcham- percussion

John Georgiadis- violin

Keith Harvey- cello

Noel Langley- trumpet

Malcolm Messiter- oboe

Helen O’Hara- violin

Brendan O’Reilly- violin

Phillip Todd- saxophone

Peter Van Hooke- drums

Clem Clempson- guitar

Mark Creswell- guitar

Ian Jewel- viola

Rory McFarlane- bass

Wow, that’s a lot of musicians! I’m surprised Steve Lukather didn’t play on the album.

While I won’t call Tanita Tikarim a British Tracy Chapman, she also helped breathed a bit of fresh air into a stale music industry back in 1988. Like Tracy, she proved that there could be a good alternative to metal or synth pop.

Next post: Michelle Shocked- Short, Sharp, Shocked

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Great Rock Albums of 1988: Tracy Chapman

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2022 by 80smetalman

With music seeming to go into the bubblegum pop of Stock, Aiken and Waterman camp or to heavy metal and even metal was beginning to fragment in 1988, Tracy Chapman’s self titled debut album breathed much needed fresh air into the music scene. She didn’t need all the modern synthesizer gadgets or heavy electric guitar power chords. Just basic instruments, a fantastic singing voice and songs which had great messages and accurately described the times. It was no wonder she shot straight to superstardom.

Some thought a metalhead like myself wasn’t supposed to like Tracy’s music. Furthermore, one woman I dated for a little while was quite surprised that a man would actually like her music. Both philosophies are total rubbish! But just in case, I had a quick look down and all the bits are still there. My counter is what is there about Tracy not to like? Like I said, her music is straight to the point and her fine voice conveys her social observations going on in 1988.

It’s the messages behind her songs which I really like. “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” is a call for social change. It looks behind the smoke screen which was created by the American media machine and it makes you think. Some think the track, “Across the Lines” was a dig at apartheid in South Africa but it also highlighted the growing racial tensions in America and how nothing there becomes a problem until it hits middle class white suburbia.

Let us not forget the ultra number one hit, “Fast Car.” It’s about two young lovers escaping their sad surroundings and heading for a more promising life in the big city only to find that nothing had really changed and all the man had to offer was his fast car. A really disturbing track is the a cappella “Behind the Wall.” It’s about a woman suffering from domestic abuse but the police don’t seem to bother or can’t do anything because it’s a domestic issue. The lyrics are harrowing.

There is a calypso vibe to “Baby Can I Hold You.” This sounds like a genuine love song but there was no law that every song had to be a social or political commentary. That same vibe continues on with “Mountains O’ Things.” Tracy states she will be dreaming and the laid back rhythm makes this easy to do. On the subject of vibes, I get a Dire Straits one on “She’s Got Her Ticket.” Okay, the song sounds reggae but the lead guitar hooks had me checking the credits to see if Mark Knopfler had played on the song.

She goes back to more political lyrics with “Why?” and that’s another aspect of the album I love. Tracy’s songs stirred up some fear in the establishment. One critic poo-pooed this and “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” on the grounds that Tracy was too good for left wing altruism. Even the right wing heavy metal hating UK newspaper, “The Sun” came out against her lyrics. Tracy was singing from her heart and what I believe is that then serving president, Ronald Reagan, had spent his entire presidency vilifying the 1960s and here come this black woman singing in the style that made protest music relevant back then. I think the establishment was a little scared.

Ronald Reagan

“For My Lover” is about a young wife trying to provide for her family while her husband is in jail and at the same time, trying to raise the bail money. It’s another moving song commenting about the times and is the climax to the album. The two remaining tracks are easy listening tracks which you can just float away to. A great way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
  2. Fast Car
  3. Across the Lines
  4. Behind the Wall
  5. Baby Can I Hold You
  6. Mountain O’ Things
  7. She’s Got Her Ticket
  8. Why?
  9. For Her Lover
  10. If Not Now
  11. For you

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman- vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, percussion

Ed Black- steel guitar

Paulinho da Costa- percussion

Denny Fongheiser- drums, percussion

Jack Holder- electric guitar, organ, piano, sitar, dulcimer, dobro

Steve Kaplan- harmonica, keyboards

Larry Klein- bass

David La Flamme- electric violin

Bob Marlette- keyboards

Tracy Chapman not only brought something different to the music scene of 1988, she brought a revolution of her own with her debut album. Once again, we had some simple, no nonsense music which conveyed thought provoking messages which both trendies and metalheads liked. She also paved the way for others, which I will be covering in the next few posts.

Next post: Tanita Tikarim- Ancient Heart

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Shy- Excess All Areas

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2021 by 80smetalman

Back in the 1980s, Kerrang had section in the magazine called “Wimpwire,” where they would feature a “softer” metal band. It is here that I discovered the band Shy. Upon hearing their album, “Excess All Areas,” I tended to agree with Kerrang placing them in the section. There is a heavy keyboard sound on most of the songs but at the same time, there are power chords to be heard. Unlike some metal bands who tried to incorporate keyboards and synthesizers at the time, Shy does it very well.

Let’s start with the not so positive, it’s not really a negative. “Excess All Areas” is definitely a product of it time. There was the let’s turn up the keyboards a little more in the misguided belief that it would be more commercial successful. However, with the benefit of historical hindsight, we know that the idea didn’t work well with a lot of bands. Metalheads thought such bands were trying to go synth pop while the trendies heard the power chords and thought it was too metal. That is my conclusion as to why Shy didn’t get the recognition it deserved.

What I like about Shy was that they were really good musicians. I know I mentioned the keyboards but keyboardist Paddy McKenna plays them very well. His keyboard intros on the tracks “Emergency,” “Talk to Me” and the power ballad, “Just Love Me” are absolutely phenomenal. Furthermore, his work on the other tracks are no less such. The same can be said for guitarist Steve Harris, (no it’s not the bassist from another band playing guitar here). He plays a blinder of a solo on “Can’t Fight the Nights,” most notably but he too shows what he can do elsewhere on the album. Lead singer Tony Mills has the pipes for sure. He doesn’t have to go falsetto or anything like that but he just gets down to business on the songs. Roy Stephen Davis is more than capable on bass and the same for drummer Alan Kelly. The pair of them do form a formidable rhythm section.

Don’t get me wrong, while I said that the album has that, ‘dated effect” and while most don’t stand out, the songs are all decent. One song which really does is “Break Down the Walls.” Everything I said about the band counts double on the track. You get good, dependable vocals, a steady rhythm section, cool keyboard fills and some power chords and a brilliant guitar solo. That’s definitely the track and the fact Don Dokken co-wrote it with the band might have helped. Other good tracks is their cover of the only Cliff Richard song I like, “Devil Woman,” “Young Heart” and “Under Fire,” which is the hardest rocking track on the album. My conclusion that Shy had it in them to really rock out but bowed to the commercial pressure of the time because there was the potential for this album to have been colossal.

Track Listing:

  1. Emergency
  2. Can’t Fight the Night
  3. Young Heart
  4. Just Love Me
  5. Break Down the Walls
  6. Under Fire
  7. Devil Woman
  8. Talk to Me
  9. When the Love is Over
  10. Telephone
Shy

Tony Mills- vocals

Steve Harris- guitar

Paddy McKenna- keyboards

Roy Stephen Davis- bass

Alan Kelly- drums

Another band that seemed to have vanished into obscurity after the 1980s but there must have been something about Shy for me to remember them after all these years. They definitely had the tools to make it bigger but “Excess All Areas” made them a product of the time.

Next post: Montrose- Mean

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Foreigner- Agent Provocateur

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2018 by 80smetalman

While in 1985, most of the world was excited about Foreigner releasing their first studio in nearly four years, I was a little skeptical. My skepticism was based on the logic that my final memories from Foreigner “4” was their famous ballad, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and when my introduction to the new “Agent Provocateur” album was another ballad, I concluded that Foreigner had gone the way of REO Speedwagon and was simply content to achieve commercial success through ballads. No matter how good everyone thought “I Want to Know What Love Is” and it is a good song, I had prematurely drawn the conclusion that the new album would be mainly ballads and that Foreigner had foregone their hard rock roots which had brought them so much success in the past.

Fortunately, my sister did buy the album and gave me a listen to it and my skepticism was removed. Let me be frank, in my mind, “Agent Provocateur” comes nowhere close to classics like my personal favourite, “Double Vision,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad album. True, there are more ballads on here than I would have liked, the previously mentioned single and “That Was Yesterday,” another song which brought Foreigner top 40 success. Plus, “Growing Up the Hard Way,” while not a ballad is over done with the synthesizer and I can’t help thinking how much better that song would have been if there was a stronger power chord from a guitar on it. However, there is evidence a plenty on “Agent Provocateur” to show that the band hadn’t totally forgotten where they came from.

Opening track, “Tooth and Nail” dispels any ideas that “Agent Provocateur” is going to be an album of ballads. It does its job of hooking the listener and is a good steady rock track. Even though the next three tracks after are the ballads and synth pop singles, one doesn’t lose interest as that opening tracks gives hope that there is more like that on the album. “Reaction to Action” does exactly that and it has the best guitar solo on the album. Therefore, it’s awarded the hidden gem for the album. I have a theory about the track “Stranger in My Own House.” I theorize that Lou Gramm and Mick Jones worried that people like me would think this album would be chuck full of ballads, so they recorded this song with that in mind. “Stranger in My Own House” is a good hard rocking track, probably the hardest on the album with another cool guitar solo. But I think they try too hard to be hard rock with Gramm doing more screaming than singing. While it’s a cool track, I want to say to Lou, “Relax man, you don’t have to prove you can still rock.”

“A Love in Vain” may return to the ballads but there is some good keyboards work on the track and a little guitar making a good 70s style progressive rock sounding song. Maybe that one should have been released as a single as it’s better than it successor, “Down on Love” which was. This one, while not bad, has too much of an 80s synth pop sound for me. “Two Different Worlds” is a definite ballad and it sort of combines the previous two tracks without the synth pop which is replaced with a decent guitar solo. That leaves the closer, “She’s Too Tough,” and though it brings the album full circle, the song reminds me too much of the Kenny Loggins single, “Danger Zone.”

Track Listing:

  1. Tooth and Nail
  2. That Was Yesterday
  3. I Want to Know What Love Is
  4. Growing Up the Hard Way
  5. Reaction to Action
  6. Stranger in My Own House
  7. A Love in Vain
  8. Down on Love
  9. Two Different Worlds
  10. She’s Too Tough

Foreigner

Lou Gramm- lead vocals, percussion

Mick Jones- guitar, synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals

Rick Wills- bass, backing vocals

Dennis Elliot- drums

Like with Heart, the question here is, “Was Agent Provocateur” a sell out album for Foreigner?” Okay, they did have a number one single on it and while I might not think so, many other people out there did and it’s probably why it didn’t sell as big as some of their previous. My belief on the lack of sales was that Foreigner were trying to be all thing to all people and in a 1980s society which like to put things into nice neat categories, that didn’t sit well.

Next post: Marillion- Misplaced Childhood

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Pat Benatar- Tropico

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2018 by 80smetalman

Some of the same accusations I hurled at Starship on their “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” album were also hurled at Pat Benatar when her “Tropico” album came out. Those accusations were that she had abandoned her hard rock roots and sold out and became a top 40 artist. Like I said last post, the label ‘sold out’ was banded about quite a lot back in 1985 against many artists both fairly and unfairly. The question here is: Did it apply to Pat Benatar?

Honestly, at first, I was in agreement that she had. Then again, I was one of those who banded the phrase about quite liberally. After all, I had grown up and rocked out to her first four hard rocking albums. Then to hear the softer, more keyboard oriented “Tropico” album, I was rather disappointed. Like so many, I expected Pat to go rocking on forever. But was this album a sell out? Returning to it over the years with a much more informed and open mind, my answer is an emphatic “NO!”

First of all, while this album is certainly much softer than its predecessors, it is in no way 80s top 40 synth pop. If anything, Pat goes more progressive rock here with the keyboards tastefully done. Full marks should be given to Charlie Giordano here, he does a masterful job on the keys throughout the album. While there are no real power chords on the album, Neil Giraldo still works his guitar magic on the album. Most of the guitars sound acoustic and the even the electric guitars are toned down but Neil still lets you know he hasn’t gone away. My only lamentation was that there isn’t any of his great guitar solos on it and that in my opinion, causes the album to suffer a little. However, what is omnipresent throughout is the unmistakable voice of Pat. Yes, “Tropic” may not be as musically fierce as her other offerings but her voice still shines on each and every track. Then again, she could sing any form of music and make it sound great.

As for the songs, I didn’t want to admit it back then but I have always kind of liked the first single, “We Belong.” It’s is anthem type song that although not a rocker, is still cool. However, I still can’t take to the second single, “Ooh Ooh Song.” Then there’s the hidden gem on the album. That honour goes to “The Outlaw Blues.” That song is the closest Pat comes to her previous material but it’s not a rocker. Just a good song. “Love in the Ice Age” and “Suburban King”  are good songs too.

Track Listing:

  1. Diamond Field
  2. We Belong
  3. Painted Desert
  4. Temporary Heroes
  5. Love in the Ice Age
  6. Ooh Ooh Song
  7. The Outlaw Blues
  8. Suburban King
  9. A Crazy World Like This
  10. Takin’ It Back

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- vocals

Neil Giraldo- guitars, harmonica, percussion

Charlie Giordano- keyboards, percussion

Donnie Nossov- bass, backing vocals

Myron Grombacker- drums, percussion

A long time ago, I took back all the things I said about Pat Benatar selling out on the the “Tropico” album. Yes, it’s different and I still prefer her earlier hard rock albums but this one is still good.

Next post: Van Zant

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Great???? Rock Albums of 1985: Starship- Knee Deep in the Hoopla

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2018 by 80smetalman

Originally, I wasn’t going to post about this album. When I first heard tracks from the newly named Starship, (formerly Jefferson Starship) I thought, “OMG, how the mighty have fallen.” You see, from 1976-84, Jefferson Starship was my favourite band. Their albums during those years charted my own personal musical journey. The early albums from the mid to late 1970s, “Red Octopus,” “Spitfire” and “Earth” were much more progressive and considered by many to be mellow out rock. I never disagreed with this. However, there were even occasions on those albums, especially “Spitfire,” where they demonstrated they could rock out. That thought followed me into 1979 and then the early 80s where their albums, “Freedom At Point Zero,” “Modern Times” and “Winds of Change” were much more hard rock and I fully embraced the new sound as my own musical tastes were going harder.

Looking back to the past, some might argue that the 1984 “Nuclear Furniture” album was a sign of things to come with the Starship. It went back away from the total hard rock sound of the previous three albums but not as progressive as their 1970s ones. It had a more emerging 80s synth pop sound on some of the songs but not enough for me not to like it. Besides, the lyrics of many of the songs were more politically aware, something else I was getting into, so that album was okay. However, it was at this time rhythm guitarist and founding member Paul Kantner left the band and that would change the total dynamics of the band, starting with a law suit over the Jefferson moniker. If you remember when I posted about Paul’s passing, I stated that it was usually the songs he penned I liked the most on the albums.

In 1985, Starship appeared with the “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” album. I was curious and then I heard the first single, “We Built This City” on the radio and that was it. The lyrics might sing, “We built this city on rock and roll” but to me, a more accurate line would have been, “We built this city on top 40.” That song, established Starship as a top forty band with that song soaring in the charts. The second single, “Sarah,” was little better. The only thing that redeems it is Craig Chaquico hammers out a tidy guitar solo on it. But for the most part, I came to the conclusion in 1985 that Starship had sold out! Now, that label got banded about quite a lot back then and we can debate the semantics of it forever but what I did know was that I did not like their new sound.

Examining “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” further, it continues to be a top forty oriented synth pop album. Definitely not for me in 1985 and though I might have mellowed with age, it still doesn’t do it for me. The only songs which capture any interest for me are three of the middle ones, “Rock Myself to Sleep,” “Desperate Hearts” and “Private Room.” Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot fame sings backing vocals on “Rock Myself to Sleep” and that is the best song on the album for me. “Private Room isn’t too far behind but the rest of the album, with the possible exception of “Hearts of the World (Will Understand), doesn’t do it for me, even with Craig’s guitar solos.

What really angered me at the time and still does now is the reduction of Pete Sears to bass only. On those three early progressive albums, Pete shows his wizardry with the keyboards. I even equated him to the likes of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman back in the late 1970s. For further clarification, listen to the tracks, “Love Too Good” off the “Earth” album and “Sandalphon” from “Red Octopus” and I think you’ll be convinced. So, why in the hell did they relegate him to bass. Peter Wolf who plays keys on the album doesn’t hold a candle to Pete.

Track Listing:

  1. We Built This City
  2. Sarah
  3. Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight
  4. Rock Myself to Sleep
  5. Desperate Heart
  6. Private Room
  7. Before I Go
  8. Hearts of the World (Will Understand)
  9. Love Rusts

Starship

Mickey Thomas- lead vocals

Grace Slick- lead vocals

Craig Chaquico- guitar

Pete Sears- bass

Donny Baldwin- drums

Additional Musicians

Peter Wolf- keyboards

Les Garland- DJ voice on “We Built This City”

Kevin Dubrow- backing vocals on “Rock Myself to Sleep”

Another occurrence which annoyed the shit out of me back then was when I heard a Starship concert broadcast on the radio. During the concert, they played their classic hit “Find Your Way Back” from the “Modern Times” album. That song possesses the band’s greatest guitar intro of all times. However, when they played it at this concert, that great intro was all synthed out. For me, that was the final nail in the coffin and while I will always have great memories of Jefferson Starship, Starship can be left on the shelf.

Next post: Pat Benatar- Tropico

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://fkidshelves.ml/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

Great? Rock Albums of 1985: The Power Station

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2018 by 80smetalman

If I had been writing this blog thirty years ago, as the albums were coming out, this one off album from The Power Station would not have been included. Thinking back to then, when I heard the first single, “Some Like It Hot,” I thought, “No thanks.” To me it was just another synth pop song, only this one had a cool guitar solo. What also didn’t help was that the band featured two members of Duran Duran. In 1985, metalheads and Duranies were at odds with one another, so this was another reason not to like this band. However, throughout the many years, The Power Station have slowly grown enough on me that I was willing to include them.

On the subject of Duran Duran, I didn’t want to admit it back then but they were all talented musicians, John and Andy Taylor especially. It was only very recently I learned that they weren’t actually brothers. I will not take the fact they are so talented away from them but that doesn’t change the fact that they music that didn’t appeal to me. Anyway, what the Taylors did here was to get with drummer Tony Thompson from the band Chic and a lead singer named Robert Palmer and together, they put out an album that wasn’t too bad.

Another criticism aimed at The Power Station by metalheads back in 1985 was to do with the second single, the cover of T-Rex’s “Get It On (Bang a Gong).” Metalheads argued that they had totally butchered a classic T-Rex song but was that assessment fair? In my view, there are portions of this version of said classic that would have Marc Bolan spinning in his grave. Especially that woo-hoo-hoo part at the beginning. However, they do remain true to the basics of the song. The guitar comes through very clear and while not as good as the original, it still has me bobbing away to it when it’s played. Furthermore, it does have me wanting to include John Taylor in that ever expanding list of underrated guitarists.

Most of the remainder of the album is still too synth pop for me, even after all these many years. There are a good number of keyboard and brass players who contribute which makes it possible. It does have some flashes of more heavier rock. I like the intro and the guitar solo on “Communication” and their cover of “Harvest for the World” is nicely done. I could call that track more soft rock. However, going against the grain of the rest of the album is the track “Murderess.” This is a hard rocker, well it is in terms of this band but it does make the hidden gem the best song on the album. In spite of the fact that I still am not a huge Power Station fan but I can’t fault their musicianship either. These guys, especially John, were serious about music and the playing on it was top notch, credit where it’s due there.

Track Listing:

  1. Some Like It Hot
  2. Murderess
  3. Lonely Tonight
  4. Communication
  5. Get It On (Bang a Gong)
  6. Go to Zero
  7. Harvest For the World
  8. Still In Your Heart

The Power Station

Robert Palmer- vocals

John Taylor- guitar

Andy Taylor- bass

Tony Thompson- drums

At first, I thought it was a case of me mellowing with age but while I am more open and accepting of the Power Station these days, this album still doesn’t quite do it for me. Saying that, there are some good moments and the musicianship on the album is first rate.

Next post: I’m away on a client holiday with work so the next post won’t be until next week. When it is, it will be: Night Ranger- Seven Wishes

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538295806&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Dire Straits- Brothers in Arms

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by 80smetalman

The arrival of “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits in the summer of 1985 brought many different reactions to people. Back then, I couldn’t help but laugh at teens who thought they were the brand new sensation of the 1980s. More than one of these was completely dumbfounded when I told them that Dire Straits had been on the go since 1978 and had four prior albums. Old time followers though, upon hearing this album accused the band of abandoning their original sound and going too new wave. Some even went onto say that Dire Straits had sold out. I never thought that though I realize now that particular label got banded around too much.

“Money for Nothing” was the first big single from “Brothers in Arms” and it seemed to be on every time I switched on MTV. It also got lots of radio airplay and that was one piece of evidence used by hardcore followers to insist the band sold out. Further evidence was the fact that Sting sang accompanying vocals on the song. If you want to know my thoughts, (and you do want to know my thoughts), I never thought this song was a sell out. Furthermore, I thought Sting did a damn good job on the vocals and I have always loved the fuzz guitar throughout the song. Okay, it didn’t dislodge “Sultans of Swing” off my top spot for my favourite Dire Straits songs, it didn’t even make the top three, but it is a good song.

In fact, “Money for Nothing,” isn’t even my favourite song on this album! That honour goes to the next song on the album, “Walk of Life.” Sure, there’s a heavy keyboard sound on it but it wasn’t done in that choppy synth pop style. Got to give full marks to Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher on it, they play it very well. Plus the song just has a vibe that grabs me and has me nodding along to the melody. Maybe also the American sports themed video on MTV might have had some influence on me too.

Unfortunately, after the those two songs and a cool opener, “So Far Away” is a more traditional sounding Dire Straits song for me, the album goes a little downhill on the next couple of songs. While the sax playing of Michael Brecker on “Your Latest Trick” is very good, it doesn’t redeem the song to a point where I can say, “Hey, this is good.” Nor do things improve with the next track, “Why Worry.” Both of these songs could be put on an album called, “Dire Straits Does Elevator Music” for that’s what they remind of.

Fortunately, the album improves to more familiar Dire Straits territory after that. While there are still elements of elevator music on “Ride Across the River,” at least Mark Knopfler let’s his guitar do some singing on it and I do like the jungle rhythms in the background. Then for a complete change, there is a country music sounding acoustic guitar intro on “The Man’s Too Strong” before going into more Dire Straits sounding guitar rock. This track will have you saying, “This is more like it” and my vote for hidden gem on the album. However, it does get some stiff competition for that honour from the next track, “One World.” More of the old Dire Straits here and again, Mr Knopfler isn’t afraid to let loose on the guitar. Those two songs all lead to the end which is carried out very somberly but nicely by the title track.

Track Listing:

  1. So Far Away
  2. Money For Nothing
  3. Walk of Life
  4. Your Latest Trick
  5. Why Worry
  6. Ride Across the River
  7. The Man’s Too Strong
  8. One World
  9. Brothers in Arms

Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler- lead guitar, lead vocals

Alan Clark- keyboards

Omar Hakim- drums

John Illsley- bass, backing vocals

Guy Fletcher- keyboards, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Sting- vocals on “Money for Nothing”

Michael Brecker- saxophone on “Your Latest Trick”

Randy Brecker- trumpet

Malcolm Duncan- saxophone

Jimmy Maelen- percussion

Mike Mainieri- vibraphone, keyboards

David Plews- trumpet

Jack Sonni- guitar synthesizer on “The Man’s Too Strong”

It was on the tour for this album when I finally got to see Dire Straits live. It was a good show but and they played “Sultans of Swing”  as well as several songs from this album. There was a good mix of old and new followers there too. However, my big hang up about that evening was they didn’t play my number two and three DS songs, “Skateaway” and “Industrial Disease.” You can’t have everything I suppose. Still, no matter which side of the fence you sit on for “Brothers in Arms,” I have to say that it’s not a bad album.

Next post: The Power Station

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537988591&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre