Archive for Streets of Fire

A Joint Post With Mike Ladano: Ranking Savatage Albums from Worst to First

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2022 by 80smetalman

After a successful joint post with 2Loud where we ranked Survivor albums from worst to first, I have decided to do it again, only this time with Mike Ladano. From our years of reading each other’s posts, we have learned that both of us are big Savatage fans. Therefore, it seemed mandatory that we write a joint post ranking Savatage albums from worst to first. The only difference is that this time, my sister Dawn and eldest son Jake are also offering their rankings as they are also big Savatage fans. It will be interesting to see which albums we agree on and how different our rankings are. So, enough of me rambling, here’s Savatage ranked from worst to first.

11, Fight For the Rock (1986)

It seems almost universally agreed that “Fight For the Rock” is the worst Savatage album, though I did point out the positives when I wrote about it. This album is too pop. Savatage were chasing hits and that’s the reason for this album. They do a cover of a 70s hit “Day After Day” but it lacks that Savatage metal influence. It is saying something when, at least in my opinion, the best song is a re-recording from the debut album.

10l Poets and Madmen (2001)

Here’s where some people might think I am a madman. First of all, this album is many steps above the one at the bottom, “Poets and Madmen” is a damn fine album. My only issue is that while there are some great tracks on the album, none of them would make my top ten list of Savatage songs. I have always considered the album the band’s last hurrah as it is their final studio album. “The Rumour” is my favourite track on the album and “Morphine Child” is also a great track. .

9. Guitar Ballet (1989)

Actually, it took a couple of listens between this one and “Poets and Madmen” to decide which got nine and which ten. “Guitar Ballet” won out for two reasons. One, Criss Oliva lays down some cool solos on it and two: it hosts my all time favourite Savatage song, “When the Crowds Are Gone” and the title track would make my top ten, maybe even five. What lets the album is that there are no real standout songs on the second side, “Mentally Yours” being the one exception. If the second side was as good as the first, I would have it higher in my rankings.

8. Power of the Night (1985)

When I wrote my post for “Power of the Night,” I said that I thought it was a rough draft for their breakout album which would come two years later and is ranked at number three. There are some very strong tracks on the album and the band’s hunger is plain to hear. In fact, there are no tracks I would consider weak, just maybe needing a bit more polish which would come on future albums. “Warriors” and “Necrophilia” are the best tracks here but hearing this album and the one which would come two year later, I am led to question further about what were they thinking with “Fight for the Rock?”

7. Handful of Rain (1994)

Credit to Jon Oliva where credit is due. “Handful of Rain” was the first album following the tragic death of guitarist Criss, Jon’s brother. It is reported that the band was in disarray following Criss’s death. It is said that “Handful of Rain” is the Savatage album not made by Savatage. What happened was that Zack Stevens still handled the vocals and they got Alex Skolnick from Testament to play guitar but Jon came out of retirement and performed the bass and drum duties. Even with all of that, a great album came out if it. The title track and “Taunting Cobras” are my faves but I also really like “Castles Burning.”

6. Sirens (1983)

I feel that it’s only fitting that the debut album, “Sirens” gets the middle spot. While I didn’t listen to the album until many years later, I can hear the potential behind the band. It is said that the album is split between the commercial route they could have taken, (we see where that went with “Fight for the Rock”) and the more metal route which Savatage is famous for. What I love about the album is the fact that Criss is let off the leash and hammers our some really great guitar solos, especially on the last two tracks, “Scream Murder” and “Out on the Streets.”

5. Streets- A Rock Opera (1991)

“Streets” is what it says in the title, a rock opera. Jon and Criss always wanted to make such a concept album and boy, what a great job they did here. The story is about the rise and fall of DT Jesus and the songs tell the story very well as well as the great musicianship which the band is famous for. There are some great standout tracks here like “Jesus Saves,” “Strange Reality” and my personal favourite, “Somewhere in Time.” I think my problem is that I lost the CD so it doesn’t get regular listens and Christmas is over. Maybe I can put it on my birthday list for June.

4. Wake of Magellan (1998)

“Wake of Magellan” is another concept album and it’s also a great one. It tells three stories, one about a brave attempt by a ship’s boatswain to save a stowaway from being thrown overboard. The second is the story of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin who died fighting the drug trade in her country. The final is the who the album is named after, Ferdinand Magellan, sails out into the Atlantic to give himself a glorious death. However, he sees a man drowning and saves him, therefore, regretting his decision and chooses life. Many great tracks adorn the album, the title track for one and “Complaint in the System.” “Blackjack Guillotine” and “Turns To Me” are also great tracks.

3. Hall of the Mountain King

I said when I posted about the album and I’ll say it again, “Hall of the Mountain King” was the breakthrough album for Savatage. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this album has ten great tracks, so many I won’t list them individually but my favourite is there for a listen. HoMK is the only album from the 1980s to make my top five but it definitely deserves its place. Jon”s refined shrieks of terror accompanied by Criss’s guitar make this album what it is.

2. Dead Winter Dead (1995)

Another great concept album focusing on the war in what was Yugoslavia which was going on at the time it was made. Listening to the tracks, I can hear why I think this is their best concept album, especially with all of those tracks. Criss Oliva might have no longer been with us but Al Pitrelli and Chris Cafferey do a great job in his place. Again, too many great songs to listen individually but my two favourites here both begin with “This.” The title track makes a good change up.

Edge of Thorns (1993)

There are several reasons why “Edge of Thorns” takes the number one spot. For one, this was the last album with Criss before his tragic death. It’s also the first album to feature Zack Stevens on vocals and his vocals gave the album the extra lift it needed. Of course the number of great tracks on the album has a lot to do with it as well although I still can’t figure out who Skraggy is and what’s so special about his tomb. A very personal reason why “Edge of Thorns” is number one is because the track “All That I Bleed” helped me get through the break up of my first marriage.

That was my list but now it’s time to share my sister’s and son’s lists.

My sister Dawn

Dawn’s List:

Note: she refused to rank Savatage’s first three albums as she feels they were unworthy.

8. Poets and Madmen

7. Wake of Magellan

6. Streets

5. Hall of the Mountain King

4. Guitar Ballet

3. Edge of Thorns

2. Handful of Rain

  1. Dead Winter Dead
My son Jake in the front. It’s also his third anniversary so will everyone please which him and his wife Grace a Happy Anniversary!

Jake’s List:

11. Fight For the Rock

10. Power of the Night

9. Sirens

8. Handful of Rain

7. Hall of the Mountain King

6. Wake of Magellan

5. Guitar Ballet

4. Edge of Thorns

3. Streets

2. Dead Winter Dead

  1. Poets and Madmen

That was the Savatage rankings from Dawn, Jake and myself and you can check out Mike’s rankings here:

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Great Soundtracks of 1984: Streets of Fire

Posted in 1980s, films, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by 80smetalman

Unlike “Footloose” the soundtrack to the film “Streets of Fire” went with virtually unknown or less known artists, at least for the time. It would be six months to a year before I would hear about The Fixx. The only others I had heard of were Ry Cooder and The Blasters and I’ll get to them in a minute. Stevie Nicks does write and sing backing vocals on the Marilyn Martin track, “Sorcerer” but for the most part, the artists were virtually unknown to me at the time. However, I would take this soundtrack over that of “Footloose.” Quiet Riot, Foreigner and Sammy Hagar weren’t quite enough to tip it past “Streets of Fire” in my eyes.

Before I get onto the soundtrack, let me provide a little background about the film, which was slammed mercilessly by most critics. The 23 year old me in 1984 thought this film was okay. I mean it was the 1980s where one shot from a gun could set off multiple massive explosions and men settled their differences with sledgehammers. What wasn’t there to like? However, as I grew older, I realized how surreal the movie was almost bordering on the ridiculous.

“Streets of Fire” is about a famous rock singer named Ellen Aim who gets kidnapped by a motorcycle gang, led by a guy named Raven played Willem Dafoe, while performing a gig in her home town. Without going into great detail, Ellen is rescued by former boyfriend Tom with the help of an ex-army girl named McCoy played by Amy Madigan. After many explosions and action sequences where they receive aid from an all black doo-wop band called the Sorrells, Tom and Raven have their predictable show down at the end. First with the fore-mentioned sledgehammers and then with fists. Therefore, Dafoe gets his ass kicked twice. Other little details include Rick Moranis, playing the usual nerd but this time it’s in a serious role as Ellen Aim’s manager and current boyfriend. His best line in the film is, “It’s the shits.” He says it several times and his performance, while good, never made me think that doing “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” was a bad career move. The best performance was by Amy Madigan who did receive a nomination for best supporting actress, so I’m not just saying it because Mrs 80smetalman is a huge Amy Madigan fan.

Amy Madigan as McCoy

Rick Moranis as Ellen Aim’s manager. “It’s the shits.”

Willem Dafoe as Raven. Note the pvc dungarees.

Okay, the film wasn’t Oscar material but that doesn’t stop it from having a rather cool soundtrack. When it first came out, MTV plugged the film by constantly playing the video from the first single, Fire Inc’s “Tonight Is What it Means to Be Young.” I do really like the song which was probably why it didn’t go anywhere in the charts. The most successful song as far as chart success was “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman. It is a good song but the irony here is that in the film, the song is performed by The Sorrells. Back in 1984 many people were amazed that a song performed by a black quartet in the film was actually sung by a white man. I think it’s great we’re more wiser about these things nowadays.

Dan Hartman

The Sorrells in Streets of Fire

While all the songs I’ve mentioned are good ones, for me, it’s the rockabilly songs that make this soundtrack. The two tracks by The Blasters are the best songs here and “Hold That Snake” by Ry Cooder gets the bronze. All three of these tracks are just really damn cool and the soundtrack wouldn’t be nearly as good without them. For the record, the song by The Fixx, while good as well, didn’t have me wanting to check out future material without hearing it first.

So, is “Streets of Fire” a bad film with a really cool soundtrack? Well, it’s not a bad film, but it does have a killer soundtrack.

Next post: Great and Not So Great Movies of 1984

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