Archive for Special Forces

Great Rock Albums of 1983: 38 Special- Tour de Force

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2016 by 80smetalman

38_Special_-_Tour_de_Force

“Tour de Force” proves what I probably said about albums by 38 Special in previous posts. Each new album is not as good as the ones before. Going back to the very first 38 Special album I listened to, “Rockin’ Into the Night” was outstanding, their best album ever. The next one, “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” was an excellent album and “Special Forces was somewhere between good and very good. However, the 1983 “Tour de Force” album was just good.

Another thing which I have said in the past was my belief that if the single opens the album, then the album may not be up to much because that has always been a trick of one hit wonders. In the case of this album, the first three tracks are the singles that were released on the album. Of those three, the middle one, “Back Where You Belong,” is the best. That song is more the 38 Special I had come to know and love back then. A good opening hard riff with a cool guitar solo, full marks there. Saying that, “If I’d Been the One” is a decent enough song but I’ve never been impressed with the third track, “One Time for Old Times.”

Here is a case where instead of one song not making an entire album, it’s two. I won’t include “Back Where You Belong” because it is a great song. However, after those three singles, things definitely turn up a few notches for the good. “See Me In Your Eyes” starts to return things to a normality with 38 Special and then “Twentieth Century Fox” is a complete rocker. The exact same thing can be said for the tracks that follow on after that. “Long Distance Affair” and the closer, “Undercover Lover” are fine rocking tracks with the latter song, when it closes out the album, leaves you with an all’s well that ends well feeling towards the album.

I must also add that “I Oughta Let Go” is more of a Southern boogie number which proves that at this time, the band hadn’t completely abandoned their Southern Rock roots. But my brain has me wondering if the decline in each album is down to cause and effect. With “Rockin’ Into the Night,” Donnie Van Zant sings lead on five songs and Don Barnes three and one cracking instrumental. On the ensuing albums, the number of Van Zant leads lessen and Barnes sings lead on more. On “Tour de Force” Donnie Van Zant only sings lead on three songs with Barnes the other six. Now, I’m not knocking Don Barnes, he is a great vocalist and I should have included him in my list of great rhythm guitarists but Donnie Van Zant definitely brings an energy to the songs he sings. So, I wonder that if they kept it as it was on the first album, there wouldn’t have been such a noticeable decline. Oh yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it remains true on “Tour de Force.” Jeff Carlisi is a very underrated guitarist.

Track Listing:

  1. If I’d Been the One
  2. Back Where You Belong
  3. One Time for Old Times
  4.  See Me in Your Eyes
  5. Twentieth Century Fox
  6. Long Distance Affair
  7. I Oughta Let Go
  8. One of the Lonely Ones
  9. Undercover Lover
38 Special

38 Special

Don Barnes- lead vocals, guitar

Donnie Van Zant- lead vocals

Jeff Carlisi- lead guitar, steel guitar

Larry Junstrom- bass

Steve Brookins- drums

Jack Grondin- drums

Carol Bristow- backing vocals

Lu Moss- backing vocals

Jimmy Markham- harmonica

38 Special were at a cross roads at this point in time. I remember tearing my hair out trying to convince my friend that they were not a top forty band and that they were a cool Southern Rock band like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. I’m not sure if he ever believed me but while this album may lead one to think that they had sold out, there is enough on this good album to show that hadn’t.

Next post: Rolling Stones- Undercover

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: 38 Special- Special Forces

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

38_Special_-_Special_Forces

Before 2015 gets too far down the road, I must pause a second to reflect on an honour bestowed on me back in 2014. As a result of my post on Triumph’s “Allied Forces” album, I was given honourary Canadian citizenship by one of my Canadian readers. It may not seem like a big thing to some, but whenever I get any sort of honour bestowed on me, it is a big thing to me because it means that people actually like what I write. So thank you for the giving me this honour.

Whilst still reflecting on the old and new year, I made an interesting observation over the holidays. During the festive period, I consumed several bottles of The Trooper, the beer brewed by Iron Maiden. During my time in the States, I got to do likewise with many bottles and cans of Yuengling. Maybe it’s me but there seems to be a remarkable similarity in the look and taste of the two beers. I wonder if Bruce Dickinson came to America and somehow stole the recipe for Yuengling and is now using it in The Trooper. One can only speculate. I’ll have to research my theory further by drinking more of both.

The Trooper

The Trooper

Yuengling

Yuengling

Southern rock hit its highest point in 1981 but it hadn’t descended down the summit in 1982. There were still Southern Rock bands making some great albums and getting their songs played on the radio, even up North. One of them was 38 Special whose single “Caught Up in You” from the 1982 album “Special Forces” got into the top ten in the pop singles charts. I have said many times before that I normally didn’t pay too much attention to the singles charts but whenever I see that a good rock or metal band I like has a song that gets in there, I find it a cause for celebration.

Hit single aside and “Caught Up In You” follows the trend in 1982 of leading off the album, the rest of the album is the brand of Southern Rock I have always liked about the previous 38 Special albums. There are some great riffs in the likes of “Back on the Track” and “Breakin’ Loose” as well as some great rhythm and harmonies on the tracks “Back Door Stranger” and “Take ‘Em Out.” As usual, Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes do a magnificent job with the vocals on the album singing the songs that play to their strengths. The track I find most fascinating, though, is “Chain Lightning.” It starts off with an acoustic riff and at first sucks you into thinking of a possible ballad but then the guitars slam in and the song totally rocks out. Jeff Carlisi reminds me on the song why I consider him very underrated among guitarists. And if you think “Chain Lightning” sounds good on record, you should hear it played live. I got that opportunity in 1984 and it was totally kicked ass. They do sneak another single in and I have to admit, I prefer “You Keep Running Away” to “Caught Up In You” even if chart history dictates otherwise. I have never considered “Special Forces” to be a totally mind blowing as “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” or “Rockin’ Into the Night,” it isn’t really that far below them. A good solid album that kept Southern rock in the spotlight in 1982.

Track Listing:

1. Caught Up in You

2. Backdoor Stranger

3. Back On the Track

4. Chain Lightning

5. Rough Housing

6. You Keep Running Away

7. Breakin’ Loose

8. Take ‘Em Out

9. Firestarter

38 Special

38 Special

Don Barnes- guitar, lead and backing vocals

Jeff Carlisi- lead guitar

Larry Junstrom- bass

Steve Brookins- drums

Jack Grondin- drums

Donnie Van Zant- lead and backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Jimmy Barnes- harmonica, harp

Terry Emery- piano

Steve McCray- keyboards

Lu Moss- backing vocals

Carol Bristow- backing vocals

38 Special achieved the double in 1982 by putting out a great album and breaking the top ten in the singles charts. This was a a great time for the band but what nobody saw back in that year was that the one achievement would have a detrimental effect on the other one with their future albums and attitude towards music.

Next post: Blackfoot- Highway Song, Live in London

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 1981: Alice Cooper- Special Forces

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

220px-Acforces

Like the Thin Lizzy album in my previous post, this was another album by an established superstar of 70’s rock that passed me by back in 1981. I vaguely remember that Alice Cooper had an album out at the time and I even more vaguely remember that it was called “Special Forces” but that’s all I can remember. I never listened to it until now and if wasn’t for my fellow blogger mikledano, I wouldn’t have even done that. So, thank you Mike for enlightening me about this album.

Perhaps I can use a similar excuse to Alice for not experiencing this album back in 1981. He doesn’t remember writing or recording “Special Forces” or his next two albums due to being drunk all the time. Okay, I wasn’t drunk all the time even though the military bullshit was taking its toll on me at the time and I briefly became what is known in the military as a shitbird. But now that I have listened to it, (I got to thank youtube for that) I realise that I missed a rather good album. If Alice Cooper was drunk at the time, it might have been a good thing because “Special Forces” has some amusing songs played in well established hard rock fashion. “Vicious Rumours,” “The Prettiest Cop on the Block” and “Don’t Talk Old to Me” are all catchy, enjoyable songs. “You’re a Movie” and “Skeletons in the Closet” are just as amusing but more new wave in their sound. Still, they’re both decent songs and the one that stands out for me is “Seven and Seven Is.” For me, that song reminds me of the Alice Cooper that I came to love in the 70’s.

Track Listing:

1. Who Do You Think We Are

2. Seven and Seven Is

3. Prettiest Cop on the Block

4. Don’t Talk Old to Me

5. Generation Landslide 81(Live)

6. Skeletons in the Closet

7. You Want It, You Got It

8. You Look Good in Rags

9. You’re a Movie

10. Vicious Rumours

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper- lead vocals

Duane Hitchings- guitar, keyboards

Mike Pinera- guitar

Erik Scott- bass

Danny Johnson- guitar

Craig Krampf- drums

“Special Forces” proves that you can put out a decent album while you’re drunk and have no recollection that you did. Now, I ¬†could write the cliched “Imagine what he could have done if he was sober” line but I don’t think it really applies here. “Special Forces” was one of those surprise albums that make me ask myself, “Why didn’t I listen to this sooner?”

Next post: Blue Oyster Cult- Fire of Unknown Origin

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

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