Archive for Stray Cats

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Phantom, Rocker and Slick

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2019 by 80smetalman

phroslalbum

The biggest question I have been asking myself since 1985 is “Why didn’t Phantom, Rocker and Slick achieve greater success than what they did? For me, this was a great straight ahead, no frills rock album from a good tight band. The band possessed all the tools to be great. Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker proved they were a great rhythm section when they were in the Stray Cats and were just as formidable in this band. Additionally, Lee has a good singing voice that fits perfectly with the songs. Plus, guitarist Earl Slick shows he’s a great guitarist as he plays what I have always considered the best guitar solo of 1985, (see below). So, why not?

Apart from the album itself, I can also provide additional evidence that they sounded just as good live. I recorded their live performance on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, (who remembers that?). In fact, some of the songs they played sounded better live than what it did on vinyl. Again, I ask, “Why not?”

If people don’t remember anything else about Phantom, Rocker and Slick, the one song that they might remember is the hit, “Men Without Shame,” which got a considerable amount of airplay on local radio. I was hooked straight away the first time I heard that song, despite the fact the radio version of the single chopped a good chunk of the guitar solo out of it. Why do they do that? So, you can imagine how I reacted when I heard it in its full glory.

Some more critical people might criticise the album for sounding a bit the same. Yes, I would agree there are similarities between the tracks, “Sing For Your Supper,” “Hollywood Distractions” and “Well Kept Secret” but not enough to say they are all the same. All three are great straight ahead power rockers and all three members of the band are at the top of their game. Furthermore, Phantom and Rocker haven’t totally abandoned their time with the Stray Cats as evidenced in the 1950 ballad like tracks, “Time is On My Hands” and “No Regrets.” On the latter tracks, there is another killer guitar solo from Slick. That’s the other thing, I’ll go out on a limb and venture my belief that Earl Slick is a better guitarist than Brian Setzer was in the Lee and Jim’s former band. An additional bonus is that there is some strong song writing on the album. “Lonely Actions” is proof of this, so again, “Why not?”

Track Listing:

  1. Men Without Shame
  2. My Mistake
  3. What You Want
  4. Time is On My Hands
  5. No Regrets
  6. Lonely Actions
  7. Well Kept Secret
  8. Runnin’ From the Hounds
  9. Hollywood Distractions
  10. Sing For Your Supper

prs

Phantom, Rocker and Slick

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, backing vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, lead vocals

Earl Slick- guitar, backing vocals

The theme of this post is quite obvious by now. I am asking why didn’t Phantom, Rocker and Slick achieve greater success. Everything to do so was present in bucket loads. My only theory to it was that it was down to the categorising and polarisation of music back in 1985. There was no neat little box for trendies or metaheads to put them into and while the music on the album is well played, there is an element of fun to it and society back then wasn’t ready for it.

Next post: Brian Setzer- The Knife Feels Like Justice

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Zebra

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

zebra_album

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

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

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

Track Listing:

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

Zebra

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

Felix Hanemann- bass, backing vocals, keyboards, strings

Guy Gelso- drums, backing vocals, percussion

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

Next post: Aldo Nova

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

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

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Stray Cats- Built For Speed

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Built_For_Speed_cover

Internet didn’t exist back in 1983 and that is going to be my excuse for posting an album that came out in the middle of 1982 in 1983. A quick historical point here, it was the early 1980s when computer technology was becoming accessible to the common masses. I did do an introductory course in computers during my first semester at college in the Autumn of this year but that’s not important here. What is was the fact that back then, I had to rely on record stores, radio, word of mouth and a late night television show called “Video Rock” to learn about new music. Our house didn’t even get MTV until the December of this year! It was the mentioned television show where I first learned about the Stray Cats in the summer of 1983.

It was their 1950s look and sound that first got my attention. At a time where everyone was trying to be different, the Stray Cats actually were. While I wasn’t very impressed with the first single I heard, “Stray Cats Strut,” I did like the second one that reached my ears, “Rock This Town.” Even though, like most people, I got the impression they were in love with the fifties, I thought they were at least trying to be original at the time. Besides, with “Rock This Town,” they proved to me they were good musicians. Brian Setzer was a competent guitarist, (no Van Halen or Nugent but competent) and Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker work very well together as a rhythm section, a point I will certainly expand on when I get to 1985.

The Stray Cats’ album “Built For Speed,” pretty much sounds like the two songs I’ve already mentioned. They are firmly locked in the 1950s rockabilly sound reminiscent of Eddie Cochran or Bill Haley and the Comets, not a bad thing. Each song, with the exception of the slower “Lonely Summer Nights” possesses a catchy sound that draws you in. It might not get you to start fist pumping and banging your head but I did find myself wanting to snap my fingers along with them, which is saying something for someone with no natural rhythm. Apart from “Rock This Town,” the other songs which stand out for me are “Little Miss Prissy,” “Rumble in Brighton” and “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie.” All contain a strong dose of the elements that turned my ear to the Stray Cats in the first place. Not only was it something different at the time, what was different was done very well.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock This Town
  2. Built for Speed
  3. Rev It Up & Go
  4. Stray Cats Strut
  5. Little Miss Prissy
  6. Rumble in Brighton
  7. Runaway Boys
  8. Lonely Summer Nights
  9. Double Talkin’ Baby
  10. You Don’t Believe Me
  11. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie
  12. Baby Blue Eyes
Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Brian Setzer- vocals, guitar

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, percussion, vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, bass, vocals

Outside of this album, I have little experience of the Stray Cats. For me, their 1950s persona would only last for the one album. Their next album would pretty much escape my notice and in the years following, it would be their post break up projects that I would be more into. Saying all this, however, doesn’t stop “Built For Speed” from being a pretty good album.

Next post: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion

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