Archive for soft rock

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2017 by 80smetalman

Forget Toy Story, forget his controversial 1977 hit, “Short People,” my favourite Randy Newman song has always been “I Love LA,” which is the opening track on his album “Trouble in Paradise.” Released in 1983, this album didn’t come to my attention til the following year, courtesy of MTV, which is why I’m posting it here.

Alert, “Trouble in Paradise” is not an album for hardcore metalheads. Randy has always been a piano player and a very good one to say the least. His chops can be heard all throughout the album. However, there is one guitar solo on it. It appears on the track, “The Blues,” and is played by Steve Lukather of Toto fame. An additional bonus to this song is that he duets with Paul Simon on it and both do a fine job.

Many of Randy Newman’s songs have an air of humour about them. With this album, “Same Girl” and “My Life is Good” are good, funny tracks and I have always been tickled by some of the lyrics in “Miami.” “Miami, Blue day, best dope in the world and it’s free.” However, he has a serious side. To my knowledge, the track “Christmas in Capetown” was the first song to talk about the Apartheid in South Africa. He deserves full kudos for that. “Real Emotional Girl” is more of a serious ballad as well.

Many guest artists appear on “Trouble in Paradise” including the two who appear on the track, “The Blues.” Of all the tracks, I do love the backing  vocals from Jennifer Warnes, Wendy Waldman and Linda Ronstadt on “I’m Different.” For me, while Randy is his normal self on the song, it’s the backing vocals from these three ladies who really make this song shine for me. Definitely the second best track on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. I Love LA
  2. Christmas in Capetown
  3. The Blues
  4. Same Girl
  5. Mikey’s
  6. My Life is Good
  7. Miami
  8. Real Emotional Girl
  9. Take Me Back
  10. There’s a Party at My House
  11. I’m Different
  12. Song for the Dead

Randy Newman

Randy Newman- vocals, piano

Steve Lukather- guitar

Jennifer Warnes- vocals

Don Henley- vocals

Larry Williams- horns

Steve Madalo- horns

Jon Smith- horns

Ralph Grierson- piano

Neil Larson- piano

David Paich- keyboards

Michael Boddicker- keyboards

Nathan East- bass

Jeff Porcaro- drums

Larry Castro- percussion

Paulinho Da Costa- percussion

Christine McVie- backing vocals

Wendy Waldman- backing vocals

Lindsey Buckingham- backing vocals

Bob Seger- backing vocals

Linda Rondstadt- backing vocals

Rickie Lee Jones- backing vocals

Paul Simon- vocals on “The Blues”

Waddy Watchell- guitar

I won’t say that “Trouble in Paradise” is a great album to mellow out to but it does have its moments there. While Randy Newman is not as zany as Weird Al Yankovic, there is a good deal of humour if you listen for it. It’s a good album just to sit back and enjoy.

Next post; The Cars- Heartbeat City

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Jackson Browne- Lawyers in Love

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 20, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Jackson_Browne_-_Lawyers_in_Love

Proof of my Swiss cheese memory. I remember the album from Jackson Browne, “Lawyers in Love” quite well in 1983. However, it took me listening to this album after so many years to realize that during my tour of 1980, I missed out his then album, “Hold Out.” Thing is, I liked that album too and fondly remember the song “Disco Apocalypse” because it was talking about the death of disco, or at least that’s what I thought. Maybe it was just the fact that none of the songs on the mentioned album stuck out like the title track on “Lawyers in Love” did for me in 1983. It was the lyrics in the second verse that have lingered in the back of my mind for over thirty years.

“God sends his spaceships to America, the beautiful
They land at six o’clock and there we are, the dutiful
Eating from TV trays, tuned into to Happy Days
Waiting for World War III while Jesus slaves
To the mating calls of lawyers in love”

“Lawyers in Love” is more of a light rock sound. It doesn’t veer too far away from his best known single and my personal favourite, “Running on Empty.” While none of the songs reach the level of “Running on Empty,” there are still some good songs on it. “Tender is the Night” may give the impression that’s it going to be some sort of ballad, but the song does have a great hook with the guitar. It’s one of those songs you want to sing along to while you’re driving in the car or carrying out some mundane activity. It makes such tasks less so mundane. “Downtown” is a pretty cool song too. I have to say that while none of the songs are ones to bang your head to, there was enough of a rock hook to reel me in on just about all of them. The best rocker is probably the closer, “For a Rocker.”

Another thing which turned my ear more to Jackson Browne was he was getting more political with his music in the 1980s. In 1983, on account of my experiences in the marines and when I came out, I was getting more politically aware and paying more attention to such songs. “Say It Isn’t True” is probably the best example of this. While Jackson was called naive by some for this anti- war song, it made a statement. It didn’t make me go out and attend no nukes rallies but it made me think, as did the title track. But that’s just me.

Track Listing:

  1. Lawyers in Love
  2. On the Day
  3. Cut it Away
  4. Downtown
  5. Tender is the Night
  6. Knock on Any Door
  7. Say It Isn’t True
  8. For a Rocker
Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne- lead vocals, guitar

Craig Doerge- synthesizer, piano

Bob Glaub- bass, organ

Ross Kunkel- drums

Billy Payne- organ on “On the Day”

Rick Vito- lead guitar, vocals

While I was headbanging most of 1983 away, Jackson Browne’s album “Lawyers in Love” provided a light break in the action. It’s a good album to just listen to. Not a headbanger but has plenty of cool hooks that appealed to metalheads like me back in the day.

Next post: Joe Jackson- Night and Day

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: Don Henley- I Can’t Stand Still

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2015 by 80smetalman

Don_Henley_-_I_Can't_Stand_Still

Sometimes I wonder if musicians who are in a band and then put out their own solo albums aren’t faced with an agonizing worry on how their albums are to be received. If the album sound too much like that of their band, they are accused of just putting out the same album with different musicians. On the other hand, if they venture too far from that band’s sound, they are criticized for being too diverse or if the album sounds somewhat commercial, selling out. People of little or no experience of heavy metal have accused both Ozzy and Bruce Dickinson of doing the former in spite of the fact that when you listen to those albums, there are notable differences  in the sound between Ozzy and Black Sabbath as well as Bruce and Iron Maiden. No pleasing some people I suppose. Having heard many a solo album, I think the one album that best successfully strides the line between these two extremes is the solo album by Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn, “Soldiers and Sailors on Riverside.” It is my favourite melodic rock album of the 2000+ era and while there are some moments where you can hear the Tyketto influence, he definitely does his own thing without totally diversing and it sounds very good. Therefore, I wonder if back in 1982, I wonder if Don Henley had such a worry when he released his first solo album following the demise of The Eagles.

dv-ssor

It took me a couple of listens to “I Can’t Stand Still” before I finally remembered how good it is. Fortunately,  I am more musically open minded than I was in 1982 and that helped me appreciate it even more. While the influence of Henley’s days with The Eagles is definitely there, he puts his own spin on things. It’s not “Hotel California” but it was wrong of me to expect it to be. The closest songs that come to that on “I Can’t Stand Still” are the tracks “You Better Hang Up,” “Nobody’s Business” and “Them and Us.” As far as The Eagles go, I have always believed that Henley’s voice was best suited for their ballads and this is certainly proven with the two ballads on this album, “Long Way Home” and “Talking To The Moon.” Ironically, it is the single from the album where Don puts his best personal stamp. “Dirty Laundry” may sound like new wave synth pop to the untrained ear but it is definitely his song and the guitar solos are the best on the album. The following track and probably my favourite, “Johnny Can’t Read,” gets the same sort of work from Don. What amazes me the most about “I Can’t Stand Still” is the sheer number of musicians Henley gets to play on the album with him. I mean, he practically used all of Toto at some point on the album.

Track Listing:

1. I Can’t Stand Still

2. You Better Hang Up

3. Long Way From Home

4. Nobody’s Home

5. Talking to the Moon

6. Dirty Laundry

7. Johnny Can’t Read

8. Them and Us

9. La Eile

10. Lilah

11. The Unclouded Day

Don Henley

Don Henley

Don Henley- drums, lead vocals, keyboards

Ras Baboo- percussion, timbales

Derek Bell- harp

Kenny Edwards- bass, guitar

Steve Foreman- percussion

Bob Glaub- bass

Louise Goffin- vocals, gut string guitar

Andrew Gold- keyboards

Max Gronenthal- vocals, gut string guitar

George Gruel- vocals

Garth Hudson- synthesizer

Maren Jensen- vocals, gut string guitar

Danny Kooch Korchmar- bass, guitars, synthesizers, backing vocals

Ross Kunkel- drums

Steve Lukather- guitar

Paddy Maloney- whistle, ulliean pipes

Jeff Porcaro- drums, moracas

Steve Porcaro- keyboards

Timothy B Schmidt- bass, guitar, vocals

Leland Sklar- bass

JD Souther- acoustic guitar, gut string guitar

Benmont Trench- keyboards

Waddy Watchel- electric guitar

Ian Wallace- drums

Joe Walsh- lead guitar

Max Williams- drums

Bill Withers- vocals, gut string guitar

Warren Zevon- vocals, gut string guitar

Don Henley made an impressive start out of the blocks in his solo career with “I Can’t Stand Still.” While he doesn’t completely abandon his past, he isn’t afraid to be his own person with the album and once that conclusion is arrived at, it makes the album that much more enjoyable.

Next post; Glen Frey- No Fun Aloud

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Great Rock Albums of 1980: Toto- Hydra

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 3, 2013 by 80smetalman

Toto_Hydra

I still do not agree with Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World fame when he listed “Anything by Toto” as number two in his list of “Top Ten Party Killing Songs” in his book “Extreme Close Up.” Saying that, there are quite a few others in that list I wouldn’t agree with either, but that’s not the point. In no way is the single “Hold the Line” from the first album a party killer. The closest any song comes to be a party killer is “99” from this album, “Hydra.” While it wouldn’t kill the party, that song would signal to me that the party is beginning to wane. That could be said with many of the songs in the album.

Okay, “Hydra” is not an album I would use to get the party into full swing but that in no way makes this a bad album. The first four tracks, or side one if you listen to it on cassette or vinyl, is more suited to softer rock and yes, “99” is one of those four songs. It isn’t until the fifth song, “All Us Boys” that Toto have any inclination to go heavy in the way of “Hold the Line” and the only other song that is similar to “All Us Boys” is “White Sister.” The rest of the album is a more mellow sound with ballads like “Loraine” and the closer “A Secret Love.” However, all of the songs are done very well and credit where due, Toto are all very good musicians and this helps to make this album into what I call, a good late night listen.

Track Listing:

1. Hydra

2. St George and the Dragon

3. 99

4. Loraine

5. All Us Boys

6. Mama

7. White Sister

8. A Secret Love

Toto

Toto

Bobby Kimball- lead and backing vocals

Steve Lukather- guitars, vocals

Steve Pocraro- keyboards, electronics, backing vocals

David Paich- keyboards, lead and backing vocals

David Hungate- bass

Jeff Pocraro- drums, percussion

“Hydra” may not be a party enhancer but it is definitely not a party killer. It’s more of a chill out in your room type of album and the musicianship of Toto makes it a very good album in which to do that.

Next post: A series of announcements

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Little River Band- First Under the Wire

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 10, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-FirstUnderTheWire

This has always been my impression of the Little River Band and this album. It was the album you play on your car cassette deck, (remember they didn’t have CD’s back in 1979) on you way home from a good night out. You have a lady in the car with you, could be your girlfriend or maybe you got lucky with that girl at the end of the bar, no matter. Anyway, you put this album on because it’s a good mood enhancer. The soft rock tones won’t scare the lady off but it has enough of a hard edge to let you know that you’re not selling out and going to buy an Air Supply album next time you’re at the stores.

One of the ironic things about “First Under the Wire” is that one of the hardest tracks on the album, “Lonesome Loser” is probably one of their most successful singles. I won’t go as far as to say that it’s a headbanger, but there are some pretty impressive guitar licks in the song. This is the other thing about the Little River Band, although they are classed as soft rock, there are some impressive guitar solos in a good number of songs. This is true with the other hard(ish) song, “Hard Life.” The rest of the album has that late night mellow out feel with a little bit of a jazzy rock vibe. The other single, “Cool Change” is an example and is a good song if you ever find yourself out to sea in a small boat.

Track Listing:

1. Lonesome Loser

2. The Rumour

3. By My Side

4. Cool Change

5. It’s Not a Wonder

6. Hard Life (prelude)

7. Hard Life

8. Middle Man

9. Man on the Run

10. Mistress of Mine

Little River Band

Little River Band

Glenn Shorrock- vocals

David Briggs- lead guitar

Greaham Goble- guitar

Beeb Birtles- guitar

Barry Sullivan- bass

Derek Pellici- drums

Mal Logan- keyboards

So if you want something to either mellow out to or to get your partner in the mood, then album might just do the trick. It is a soft rock album but there are moments of hardness to it. An enjoyable album.

Next post: Led Zepplin- In Through the Out Door

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Fleetwood Mac- Tusk

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by 80smetalman

After more than two years since Fleetwood Mac had made what many called the album of the 70s’ “Rumours,” the follow up album “Tusk” was released. Because “Rumours” was such a big album, many listeners were expecting another blockbuster album. Being one of those people, I was at first rather disappointed when I first heard “Tusk.” The album lacked the  great rock outs such as “Go Your Own Way” and “The Chain,” which is still my favourite bass line of all time, that were on the “Rumours” album. “Tusk” presented itself as a more mellower easy listening album.

It took me a couple of listens, but eventually “Tusk” began to grow on me. There are quite a few good songs on it like “Not That Funny” and “Think About Me” and while it might not be an album I would listen to on the way to a metal concert, it is one that I would listen to coming home late at night from one. The softer rock on this album is still of a good quality.

Track Listing:

1. Over and Over

2. The Ledge

3. Think About Me

4. Save Me a Place

5. Sarah

6. What Makes You Think You’re the One

7. Storms

8. That’s All For Everyone

9. Not That Funny

10. Sisters of the Moon

11. Angel

12. That’s Enough For Me

13. Brown Eyes

14. Never Make Me Cry

15. I Know I’m Not Wrong

16. Honey Hi

17. Beautiful Child

18. Walk a Thin Line

19. Tusk

20. Never Forget

Fleetwood Mac

Stevie Nicks- vocals, keyboards

Lindsey Buckingham- guitars, vocals, piano, harmonica

Christine McVie- piano, keyboards, accordion, vocals

John McVie- bass

Mick Fleetwood- drums, percussion

While its not as magnificent as the highly recognised “Rumours” album, “Tusk” is still a good album nonetheless. You may not bang your head away to any of the songs, but it’s a good listen when you need to wind down or other related activities. This album was one of the most expensive albums to make at the time and it is believed that because Fleetwood Mac were at the height of their popularity, the ego factor got involved in making this album. I don’t know about all that, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.

Next post: Blondie- Eat to the Beat

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Dire Straits

Posted in 1978, 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by 80smetalman

The first time I heard the Dire Straits song, “Sultans of Swing” I was in the marines listening to it with a bunch of my marine buddies. One of them stated, “It’s Bob Dylan” and another added, “And he’s got Clapton backing him up on guitar.” While I would have loved to have seen such a calloboration, I am satisfied with knowing that Dire Straits is the closest I will ever get to it. Besides, Mark Knopfler  is a much better vocalist than Dylan and on this album he plays guitar almost as good as Clapton.

In spite of the fact that “Sultans of Swing” reached number four in the US charts, this first album by Dire Straits is definitely not a one song, the rest filler album. There are many great tracks that shows the guitar talents of Knopfler and supported by the rest of the band. Of course, the forementioned song is my favourite Dire Straits song of all time but there are some other good tracks on the album as well. It’s the later tracks that do it for me like “Soutbound Again,” “In the Gallery” and “Wild West End.” However, the entire album is a good soft rock listen with some fantastic blues guitar licks compliments of Mark Knopfler.

Track Listing:

1. Down to the Waterline

2. Water of Love

3. Setting Me Up

4. Six Blade Knife

5. Southbound Again

6. Sultans of Swing

7. In the Gallery

8. Wild West End

9. Lions

Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler- lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar

John Illsley- bass, backing vocals

David Knopfler- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Pick Withers- drums

I didn’t get to hear this album until 1980 and I have always concluded that it was just one of those albums that came out when I was in boot camp in the summer of 79. Furthermore, in 1985, when everyone was raving about “Brothers in Arms,” I automatically thought back to this album and remembered that it was more genuine offering than the more commercially produced one in the mid 80s. This is the album I will always associate most with Dire Straits.

Next post: Cheap Trick- Dream Police

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