Archive for The 1980s

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1985: Joe Lynn Turner- Rescue You

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2019 by 80smetalman

220px-joelynnturner-rescue_you1

Not long ago, I heard an English friend of mine refer to Joe Lynn Turner as ‘that American pretty boy who replaced Graham Bonnet in Rainbow.’ True, Joe Lynn Turner is American and back in 1985, many ladies found him very fanciable, my sister was ga ga over him. However, the man also possesses a very good singing voice and it was only natural that after Ritchie Blackmore dissolved Rainbow to rejoin Deep Purple that Joe would put out a solo album. The result was his debut album, “Rescue You.”

Joe Lynn Turner was a victim of the 1985 belief that synthesizers were the way forward for music back then. Many of the songs on the album seem to be over dominated by it and on some of those things, I have always thought that they should have been turned down and the guitar turned up. Then the album would have been a real rocker. Don’t get me wrong, “Rescue You” is in no way an 80s synth pop album, there are some good rocking moments and on some tracks like the title track and the opener, “Losing You” you can definitely hear a bit of the old Rainbow on it. While the guitar on the title track is present, it is often obscured by the keyboard and for that song, I can’t help thinking how much I would be head banging away to it if the keyboards weren’t so dominant.

Being a typical wishy-washy Gemini, (I don’t really believe that zodiac stuff), I think there are some tracks where the keyboards do work. The prime example here is the big single from the album, “Endlessly,” which was good enough to get to 19 in the singles charts while at the same time having metalheads shaking their heads and accusing Joe of going too commercial. The keyboard intro also works on “Feel the Fire” but as the song progresses, I again think they should have taken a back seat because this is another song that could have been great if the guitars had been turned up more.

In spite of all my ramblings of too much keyboard, there are some tracks where Joe hasn’t lost touch with his hard rock roots. While the keyboards still exist on “Get Tough,” the song does rock and he also demonstrates that he has the pipes for such songs. This is another song that takes me back to his Rainbow days. In fact, the second half of the album is definitely more rock than the first. “Eyes of Love” is a fine example of this, it has a great guitar solo, but if you want concrete proof, the best track is the closer, “The Race is On.” This is the hidden gem because it just rocks with little interference from keyboards. With all my contradictions about guitars and keyboards on “Rescue You,” the one constant throughout the entire album is Joe Lynn Turner’s voice. Pretty boy or not, he has always had a great singing voice and deserves credit for it.

Track Listing:

  1. Losing You
  2. You Hearts
  3. Prelude
  4. Endlessly
  5. Rescue You
  6. Feel the Fire
  7. Get Tough
  8. Eyes of Love
  9. On the Run
  10. Soul Searcher
  11. The Race Is On

jlt

Joe Lynn Turner- vocals

Alan Greenwood- keyboards

Chuck Burgi- drums

Bobby Messano- guitar, bass, backing vocals

The problem in 1985 was that the music industry was convinced that music had to have synthesizers to be any good. This belief had an effect on “Rescue You” for Joe Lynn Turner. Despite his great singing voice and the good quality of the tracks on the album, I can’t help thinking how much better some of the tracks would have been if there was less keyboard and more guitar.

Next post: Phantom, Rocker and Slick

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: ZZ Top- Afterburner

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2019 by 80smetalman

It’s back to the grindstone for the new year so in my case, it’s back to the tour of the golden decade of heavy metal. While, it wasn’t planned, I realized that it might be cool to start the new year off with a post from an album from one of the all time greats, ZZ Top.

Thinking back to 1985, when I heard the first single from the “Afterburner” album, “Sleeping Bag,” I have to admit that I wasn’t too impressed. For me, that song was too synth pop and was too quick to accuse ZZ Top of selling out and abandoning their Texas boogie blues sound and wanting to sound like Duran Duran. Many other people I knew were of the same opinion. Fortunately, like I’ve said so many times throughout the history of the blog, one song doesn’t make an album. Slowly but surely, reports came in that the rest of the album wasn’t all synth pop and that Top hadn’t completely forgotten where they had came from. What convinced me that this was the case was the second single, “Rough Boy.” Even though some of Billy Gibbons’s great guitar work was shortened for the sake of radio friendliness, I realized that the reports from others were indeed correct.

Thinking about “Rough Boy,” the full length version on the album is even better from what radio had to offer. True, the song is a bit of a ballad but if ballads had guitar solos like this one, then what’s the problem? I will also not debate that there might be some synth pop sounds on “Afterburner” but for the most part, there is plenty of what ZZ Top had been famous for before hand. “Stages,” which was also released as a single and “Woke Up With Wood” bear testimony to that. If these tracks don’t convince you then “Can’t Stop Rocking” certainly will. This is a straight forward hard rocker that comes close to being a metal tune. Dusty Hill does the vocal duties here and he sounds fantastic and that leaves Billy to work more of his guitar magic and the result is pure magic.

The second half of the album carries on where the first half left off. “Planet of Women,” (I would have loved to have gone there in 1985), gets my vote for hidden gem. It’s as hard rocking as “Can’t Stop Rocking” but what carries past the line for me is Billy Gibbons. His solos are just a little bit better on this track. Things continue in this vein for the rest of the album with “I Got the Message” but “Velcro Fly” does mark a slight return to synth pop, except Billy’s guitar solo is first rate. Then we get to the last two tracks where the links with the previous mega successful “Eliminator” album come through loud and clear. Penultimate track, “Dipping Low (In the Lap of Luxury) reminds me very much of “Give Me All Your Loving,” not a bad thing. The closer, “Delirious,” reminds me of “Bad Girls,” which was the closer from the “Eliminator” album. Maybe the band planned it that way because when the album closes, you are convinced that ZZ Top haven’t sold out and remain the band that they have always been.

Track Listing:

  1. Sleeping Bag
  2. Stages
  3. Woke Up With the Wood
  4. Rough Boy
  5. Can’t Stop Rockin’
  6. Planet of Women
  7. I Got the Message
  8. Velcro Fly
  9. Dipping Low (In the Lap of Luxury)
  10. Delirious
zztop

ZZ Top

Billy Gibbons- guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals

Dusty Hill- bass, keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocal on tracks 5 and 10

Frank Beard- drums

In conclusion, ZZ Top did not sell out with the “Afterburner” album. In fact, though I wasn’t impressed when I first heard it, “Sleeping Bag” has been growing on me more. It just proves how great this band has always been.

Next post: Joe Lynn Turner- Rescue You

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh God! It’s Starting Already

Posted in Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by 80smetalman

Three days into 2019 and already two tragic deaths. First, I read about former Dr Hook singer, Ray Stewart, famous for his eye patch, passed away quietly in his sleep at his home in Canada. He was 81. Dr Hook was famous for soft rock hits in the 1970s such as “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” and “Sharing the Night Together.” My personal favourite Dr Hook tune can be accessed at the bottom of this post.

Ray Stewart

The second passing comes from the world of wrestling, which I was a big fan of in the 1980s. Former WWE commentator and interviewer ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund passed away in Florida today. He was 76. I remember his unique commentary and interview style which will never be duplicated.

Gene Okerlund

Rest in peace Ray Stewart

Rest in peace Mean Gene Okerlund

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Cougar Mellencamp- Scarecrow

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

With both heavy metal and synth pop polarizing a lot of musical tastes in 1985, many people claimed that they just wanted to hear some straight forward, old time rock and roll. For a lot of these people, the “Scarecrow” album from John Cougar Mellencamp gave them just that. I can’t really disagree with that thought. While I was firmly seated in the heavy metal camp back then, I still appreciated the no frills rock the album provided. It’s probably why the album made it to number two on the album charts.

For the singles enthusiasts, “Scarecrow” netted five of them, all of which got inside the top thirty. This provides further evidence that many Americans wanted this type of straight forward rock. Because that is basically what the album is full of, eleven good no frills rock tunes. Okay, maybe the second track doesn’t qualify as such but the other ten for sure. The singles “Small Town,” “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “R.O.CK. in the USA” are still remembered and enjoyed today. All three are good steady rock tunes. Less remembered however, is my personal favourite, “Rain on the Scarecrow.” This dark song highlights the tragedy of American farmers at the time as many of them were going bankrupt and having their farms repossessed by the banks. I’m tempted to go into a political rant here but I’ll desist. What “Rain on the Scarecrow” did do for me was make me take John seriously as a song writer.

Not being one to judge an album by its singles, I can safely say that the rest of the album holds up well. Even though “Justice and Independence 85” and “Minutes to Memories” were never released as singles, they still made it onto the Hot Tracks Chart and I can see why. Furthermore, John’s more topical songwriting features in the former of the two and continues with “Face of a Nation” where he sings about the poverty and homelessness that was happening in the mid 1980s at the time. What I conclude here is that John Cougar Mellencamp’s more developed songwriting combined with straight forward rock, which a lot of Americans were craving for at the time, combined to make “Scarecrow” probably his best album at the time.

Track Listing:

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow
  2. Grandma’s Theme (In the Baggage Coach Ahead)
  3. Small Town
  4. Minutes to Memories
  5. Lonely Ol’  Night
  6. The Face of the Nation
  7. Justice and Independence ’85
  8. Between and Laugh and a Tear
  9. Rumbleseat
  10. You Gotta Stand for Somethin’
  11. R.O.C.K. in the USA

John Cougar Mellencamp

John Mellencamp- guitar, lead vocals, harmonica on Small Town

Larry Crane- guitars, backing vocals

Kenny Aranoff- drums, percussion, tambourine, backing vocals

Mike Wanchic- electric guitar, backing vocals

Toby Myers- bass, backing vocals

John Cascella- keyboards

Rickie Lee Jones- vocals on “Between a Laugh and a Tear”

Sarah Flint- backing vocals on “R.O.CK. in the USA”

Laura Mellemcamp (John’s Grandmother)- lead vocal on “Grandma’s Theme”

Mimi Mapes- backing vocals on “Minutes to Midnight”

A. Jack Wilkins- saxophone on “Justice and Independence 85”

Richard Fanning- trumpet on “Justice and Independence 85”

In a 1985 that seemed to be polarizing musically, it was a relief to many that there could be straight forward rock around at the time. Not only would John Cougar Mellencamp release a top album, he would go on to arrange a benefit concert to help America’s bankrupt farmers but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: My Christmas Top Ten Revisited

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 Albums of 1985: Loverboy- Lovin’ Every Minute of It

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2018 by 80smetalman

Possibly one of the best musical surprises for me in 1985 came in the form of Loverboy’s album, “Lovin’ Every Minute of It.” After the more keyboard oriented previous album, “Keep It Up,” I thought that Loverboy were heading down the path of more commercialized rock. That meant that one night when I happened to have had MTV switched on and the video for the bouncy, hard rocking title track came on, I was pleasantly taken by surprise. The fact that they rocked things up a bit made me give this album a chance and I was impressed.

The first five songs of “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” are true rockers. Hell, the third song, “Friday Night” could be a heavy metal song with the way the guitar opens things and how the song progresses after. All I keep thinking was, “Well done, boys!” That track follows on nicely from its predecessors, which include the title track and “Steal the Thunder” holds its own in the hard rock stakes. Even when they go to a power ballad with “This Could Be the Night,” one doesn’t get to thinking that things will go commercial with this one. I have to confess, this is a good power ballad here. The rock party continues further with “Too Much Too Soon,” which is another song which could be taken for a heavy metal song, maybe even more than “Friday Night.” I will point out that Mike Reno does a great vocal performance on that one.

With all of the above said, “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” is an album of two halves. After “Too Much Too Soon,” keyboards enter into things. This is not a bad thing although some of the tracks do sound 1980s new wave. “Lead a Double Life” sounds like it could have been used in a mid 80s comedy film soundtrack. “Dangerous” sounds like it could have been a Night Ranger song. “Destination Heartbreak” is a ballad but not as good as the power ballad mentioned previously. What redeems them in my view is that Paul Dean’s guitar can be heard along with all the keyboards and he does rip some really good guitar solos on the songs. In fact, this album could be called Paul’s album due to the way he solos all the way through it. It is a major contributor as to way the album is so good.

Track Listing:

  1. Lovin’ Every Minute of It
  2. Steal the Thunder
  3. Friday Night
  4. This Could Be the Night
  5. Too Much Too Soon
  6. Lead a Double Life
  7. Dangerous
  8. Destination Heartbreak
  9. Bullet in the Chamber

Loverboy

Mike Reno- vocals

Paul Dean- guitar, backing vocals

Doug Johnson- keyboards

Scott Smith- bass

Mike Frenette- drums

In 1985, I stopped labeling Loverboy as a hard rock band who had sold out and gone commercial. While “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” was still a very successful commercial album, it went double platinum, it also proved that that success could be done without compromising musical integrity. So full marks to the band all around on that.

Next post: John Cougar Mellencamp- Scarecrow

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 Albums of 1985: Eric Clapton- Edge of Darkness

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2018 by 80smetalman

Blast Wikipedia! A few months ago, when I posted about Eric Clapton’s “Behind the Sun” album, I saw that in Eric’s discography, this 1985 “Edge of Darkness” album mentioned. Thinking, that it might be some little known live album, I decided to include it in my list of great albums of 1985. It turns out that Eric wrote the musical score for the British television series of the same name. At first, I thought, “Boy, do I feel foolish” but after several listens, I think it is still worthy of an 80smetalman post.

Basically, Clapton just went into the studio and did what he did best on the guitar. He just jams away through the six song EP which is only 19 minutes long. That’s no problem for me either because it is 19 minutes of pure guitar heaven. Listening to the opening title track, I am left to conclude that the television show was some horror/mystery/suspense programme. The way the guitar just lays down that sort of vibe, backed up by a piano which makes the entire song sound rather eerie. If that was what Eric was going for, he did a great job.

The rest of the album follows along in this vein. There are no fast hard rocking tracks here, just some mood effecting instrumentals. “Escape From Northmoor” stands out a little because of the use of keyboards building up the suspense. Furthermore, Eric’s guitar intro on “Oxford Circus” makes for a good change of pace and lets everyone know that he’s still a guitar God. I have come to the further conclusion that “Edge of Darkness” is a good album to just sit back, mellow out and get engrossed in the music.

Track Listing:

  1. Edge of Darkness
  2. Shoot Out
  3. Obituary
  4. Escape From Northmoor
  5. Oxford Circus
  6. Northmoor

Eric Clapton

There are no musical credits listed here so I assume that Eric Clapton played all the instruments himself.

One thing I have taken for granted over the years was how many great guitarists or their bands put out albums in 1985. There was Eric Clapton of course and Jeff Beck, plus when I hit the metal portion of 1985, will go on about Yngwie Malmsteen. On top of that, there were offerings from Mark Knopfler and Angus Young. I had also got the added bonus of seeing all of these, except Jeff Beck, live in this year and while Deep Purple’s album came out in 1984, I did see them live in early 1985 so Ritchie Blackmore must be added here too. What a great year it was.

Next post: Loverboy- Lovin’ Every Minute of It

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