Archive for soft rock

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Los Lobos- How Will the Wolf Survive

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2018 by 80smetalman

I think this is another case of my Swiss cheese memory. I could have sworn that my first encounter with Los Lobos was in 1985 but Wikipedia claims their first full album came out in 1984. It probably did and I didn’t actually hear of it until early 85. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. It doesn’t matter either way because Los Lobos was my first encounter with a style of rock some people called Tex-Mex. This is a infusion of country music from Texas and Mexican music. All I thought at the time was this is a nice piece of rock and roll.

My belief it’s rock and roll comes from the opening track, “Don’t Worry Baby.” This track sound very 1950s and I envision kids dancing around to it in Happy Days fashion. Still, it’s a good way to open the album. The second track, “A Matter of Time” is certainly more soft rock although I wouldn’t say it’s a ballad but it keeps things ticking over nicely. Los Lobos’s Mexican influence definitely shines through on the third track, “Corrido #1.” Again, it is very catchy and though I’ve never done it, it is an amusing song to play at parties. One could definitely dance along and shout “Ole!” with this one.

While the third track brought the Mex, the very next track brings forth the Tex. “Our Last Night” sounds classic country  and visions of people four-stepping and shouting “Yee-ha!” fill my mind here. The lead guitar sounds very country western. Things swing back to the Mex with “The Breakdown” but the 50s sound from the opening track is present too. The combination works and smoothly takes you to the drinking track on the album, “I Got Loaded.” Singing about getting drunk to a catchy 50s melody makes me want to bob along while taking swigs from a bottle. Can’t do it this time, I’m still on the wagon from Bloodstock. I love the sax solo at the end.

Mexico can certainly be felt with “Serenata Norteno.” This sounds like a fiesta and it is sung in Spanish but it’s a nice catchy little tune. A cool 50s sounding guitar solo opens the next track, “Evangeline” and sets the tone for the rest of it. The track cooks all the way through with another cool guitar solo in the middle. “I Got to Let You Know” is in the same 50s vibe but faster. Once I joked that the song was 50s thrash, though not quite that fast and the vocals are cleaner. Plus there’s a sax solo in the middle so you really can’t call it thrash. After the short instrumental, “Lil’ King of Everything,” Los Lobos save the best for last. Closing the album is the title track and first single. While all the mentioned influences are compacted into the song, it totally rocks! It has always been my all time favourite Los Lobos song. Like I said, it’s a great way to end an album.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Worry Baby
  2. A Matter of Time
  3. Corrido#1
  4. Our Last Night
  5. The Breakdown
  6. I Got Loaded
  7. Serenata Norteno
  8. Evangeline
  9. I Got to Let You Know
  10. Lil’ King of Everything
  11. How Will the Wolf Survive

Los Lobos

Steve Berlin- saxophones, percussion

David Hildalgo- lead vocals, guitar, steel trap, accordion, percussion

Conrad Lozano- bass, backing vocals, guitarron

Louie Perez- drums, backing vocals, bajo quinto

Caesar Rosas- lead vocals, guitar, mandolin, bajo sexto

Thirty-three and a half years ago, I very much enjoyed my introduction into Tex-Mex. Los Lobos put out a grand debut album.

Next post: The Hooters- Nervous Night

Note: I’m going away for five days on a much needed vacation so the post won’t be for about a week.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535658688&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Van Morrison- A Sense of Wonder

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2018 by 80smetalman

Here’s another example of how I was so focused on heavy metal in early 1985 that I didn’t fully appreciate a good non-metal album. I have to admit, back then I didn’t have much experience of the legend that is Van Morrison. My most memorable experience of him was his performance in the film, “The Last Waltz” where he sang with The Band. Other than that, what I knew of him was virtually zero.

While by 1985, I had become totally fed up with commercial radio, I have to thank it for this one. The single from the 1985 album, “A Sense of Wonder,” “Tore Down a la Rimbaud” got a considerable amount of airplay in the early part of the year. It was only after a few listens that I got past my “it’s not metal” mentality and realized that “Hey, this song is pretty good.” However, for some reason, I never bought the album, which was a bit of a shame because I missed out on a good one.

Wikapedia puts Van’s “A Sense of Wonder” album in the category of Celtic Soul. Well the man is from Northern Ireland and he does put his soul into the album so it’s hard to disagree with that label. Back then, I would have put it into either or both of the categories of soft rock or mellow out rock. It covers both. While the deafening power chords I was so into in 1985 and still am today are absent, one can’t fault the quality of the musicianship on it. Here’s another myth I believed about Van which this album has obliterated. I thought that he only sang because that’s what he did in “The Last Waltz.” But he plays guitar and piano and rather well judging from the instrumentals “Evening Meditation” and “Boffyflow and Spike,” the latter sounding like true Irish folk music.

While the single remains my favourite song on the album, the rest of the album keeps up as well. In my opinion, “Ancient of Days” could have been released as a single too because it’s almost as good. After the first mentioned instrumental, he goes very almost gospel soul softer though I think the title track goes on a bit too long for me. The second instrumental does pick things up a pace after and “If You Only Knew” keeps that pace going with “A New Kind of Man” closing the album out with a good feeling.

Track Listing:

  1. Tore Down a la Rimbaud
  2. Ancient of Days
  3. Evening Meditation
  4. The Master’s Eyes
  5. What Would I Do
  6. A Sense of Wonder
  7. Boffyflow and Spike
  8. If You Only Knew
  9. Let the Slave (Incorporating the Price of Experience)
  10. A New Kind of Man

Van Morrison

Van Morrison- vocals, guitar and piano

John Allair- organ

Bob Doll- trumpet

Tom Donlinger- drums

Pee Wee Ellis- tenor saxophone

David Hayes- bass

Chris Michie- guitar

Pauline Lazano- backing vocals

Bianca Thornton- backing vocals

The group Moving Hearts performs on tracks 6 and 7

I’m now a believer. Again, it could be me mellowing a tiny bit with age but I now appreciate how good the “A Sense of Wonder” album from Van Morrison really is. Perhaps I should delve into his discography a little more.

Next post: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- Southern Accents

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