Archive for The 1980s

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

 

 

 

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Book Review: Bruce Dickinson An Autobiography

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2018 by 80smetalman

Welcome to my second ever book review. The first one was three years ago so I figured it was time I do another. Okay, it’s because I write more than I read but this particular book definitely needs a comment or three on. My total reaction to “Bruce Dickinson, An Autobiography” was, “I wish I could write like that.” Bruce has a distinct writing style that definitely entertains as well as it informs. When recounting his life, he doesn’t do the normal David Copperfield crap with dates and list of his life’s events. Instead he gives those accounts through his own eyes in a very amusing way which at times while reading it made me wonder if I should pack up writing.

Iron Maiden

Naturally, I read the book to hear about his life with the great Iron Maiden and yes, there are some wild accounts there. However, his life before and outside of Maiden was just as intense. Reading about his childhood, his father was a bit of a Delboy Trotter, (a character from the famous British sit-com “Only Fools and Horses), in the sense that he was always acquiring and running different businesses, often at the same time. At one point, he owned a hotel but sold used cars from the front of it. I point this out because I think Bruce’s childhood experiences contributed to his eccentricity.

Bruce Dickinson

How he became a pilot was also a very good and interesting read. He started on a twin engine plane and by the end, he was piloting huge passenger jets. Then there is how he started his brand of beer, “The Trooper.” However, the part that I found most interesting was during his solo career. His account of his concert in war torn Sarajevo and all what he and his band had to go through, the check points, the fear of getting fired on, to be able to perform was absolutely mind blowing. Talk about guts but then it was those guts that helped him beat cancer very recently. How he describes what he went through while battling this disease is harrowing and it’s only right that he gets full marks for overcoming it.

Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography is a cracking read from start to finish. He keeps the reader entertained while at the same time giving them insight into his wild and wonderful life. Plus there are a few surprises along the way as long as events that I didn’t know about but not surprised about. I bow to the superior writer here.

Reading the autobiography has further convinced me that Bruce Dickinson deserves a knighthood. Therefore, I call on all British readers to clink the link and sign the petition.

https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

On a different note, though I have retired from festivals, I will still go for single days. This year, it looks as if I must go to Bloodstock on the Sunday because Queensryche are headlining and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider is also on the bill for that day.

Next post: Starship- Knee Deep in the Hoopla

I don’t feel worth to post a link to Rock and Roll Children for this post.

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Night Ranger- Seven Wishes

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2018 by 80smetalman

The release of Night Ranger’s third album, “Seven Wishes” confirmed to me what I already knew, Night Ranger were not heavy metal. This didn’t stop the unknowing from continuing to label them as such and it made me grind my teeth at times. The first single, “Sentimental Street” was all the proof one needed. That song is supposed to be a power ballad, I use that term loosely because it is heavily over synthed. All that did was take me back to their more superior power ballad, “Sister Christian” which wasn’t so. Just a fine use of the piano. On the other hand, while I have always believed that Night Ranger was never heavy metal, they definitely weren’t a top 40 band either, in spite of having several songs in the top 40. The best label to give Night Ranger would be melodic hard rock.

I thought that now I’m back from my client holiday, I’d treat you to at least one photo from it. This is the fog lifting off Lynmouth Harbour.

Back to the “Seven Wishes” album. While many metalheads dissed this album back in 1985 and I admit, the first single nearly put me off. Fortunately, I had known for years never to judge an album on one single, so I took the plunge. In spite of what was said about Night Ranger at the time, this album still rocks in many places. Additionally, unlike singles from their first two albums, none of the songs remind me of Rick Springfield. Unlike, “Sentimental Street,” the guitars dominate more than the keyboards, the only exception might be the title track. Even then, there is a fab guitar solo on it as with all the songs, the talents of the guitar duo of Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson are put to maximum use. More proof that I’m mellowing a little with age, I like “Sentimental Street” more now than I did in 1985.

Actually, “Seven Wishes” is an album of two halves for the most part. Part one is the more keyboard oriented songs and singles. “Four in the Morning” was the second single and though not as keyboard oriented, the whole song screams “Single for radio!” Saying that, “I Need a Woman” really cooks and if you only listened to the first five songs, might seem slightly out of place. However, the album goes total rock on the second half of the album. “This Boy Needs to Rock” starts things off perfectly and the rest of the album follows through. “Interstate Love Affair” is my vote for hidden gem on the album. I just love that intro and the way it rocks to the mind blowing guitar solo. Yep, it gets my vote. The closer, “Goodbye” is, in my not so humble opinion, a better power ballad than “Sentimental Street.” Better still, it’s the best song to end the album on a high.

Track Listing:

  1. Seven Wishes
  2. Faces
  3. Four in the Morning
  4. I Need a Woman
  5. Sentimental Street
  6. This Boy Needs to Rock
  7. I’ll Follow You
  8. Interstate Love Affair
  9. Night Machine
  10. Goodbye

Night Ranger

Jack Blades- bass, lead vocals

Jeff Watson- guitar

Brad Gillis- guitar

Alan ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald- keyboards

Kelly Keagy- drums, lead vocals

While Night Ranger aren’t heavy metal, they can’t be simply dismissed. Their brand of melodic hard rock is played very well as this album shows.

Next post: My Second Book Review

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: 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: Petra- Beat the System

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

In the summer of 1985, a friend of mine, who was a Born Again Christian, invited me to go see the Christian rock band Petra, in attempt to bring me back to the fold. Having nothing better to do, I went and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It didn’t matter that they were singing about religion nor was I in any way annoyed when they stopped halfway through their show to present a brief slide show on the missionary work they were doing in Africa. I thought Petra were good enough for me to give their album “Beat the System” a listen.

While I wasn’t disappointed with the album, I had to say that at the time, it wasn’t the hard rock I had heard them play live. “Beat the System” is more on the lines of progressive rock bands such as Survivor and Marillion and that’s not a bad thing at all. One song that backs up my assertion is the second track, “Computer Brains.” It is done in the 80s style of the time while not going as far as being synth pop. Saying that, I do wish the guitar solo had been a little louder on it because another memory I took from the concert was that Bob Hartman is pretty good on the six string. But you can’t fault the keyboard work on this and some of the other songs.

“Clean” is a more harder track, maybe the hardest one on the album. It would have been a blinder if they had turned up the guitars a bit more but it has a catchy vibe. Next comes the hidden gem, “It is Finished.” The song is about the crucifixion of Jesus but this song has all the tools, except one, to be a great prog-metal jam. It has some cool keyboard notes to intro and a great metal rhythm to bang your head to. Greg Volz’s vocals might be the best on the album here. Everything there almost, what holds it back from being a brilliant prog-metal tune is the absence of any guitar solo. That would have propelled it through the ionosphere. If I was a Sunday School teacher and wanted to teach about the crucifixion, I would have definitely used this song.

“Voice in the Wind” is an all right song but let’s skip to the big feature of “Beat the System.” In 1991, you might have heard a KISS song called “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” compliments of the movie, “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” Well Petra recorded this Russ Ballard written hit twice, the second time on this album. I don’t mean to anger KISS fans but I have to say that I prefer Petra’s version. KISS tried to make theirs sound to ballad-like and commercial. While Petra’s version seems more choppy, it works well. I’ll let everyone have a listen and decide for themselves.

The rest of the album is more of Jesus lyrics sung to some rather good progressive rock. The closer, “Adonai,” is a good an album closer as any. In the end, this is a good album and it proves that belief in a spiritual being has no bearing on how well anyone can sing or play music. “Beat the System” is simply good progressive rock.

Track Listing:

  1. Beat the System
  2. Computer Brain
  3. Clean
  4. It is Finished
  5. Voice in the Wind
  6. God Gave Rock and Roll to You
  7. Witch Hunt
  8. Hollow Eyes
  9. Speak to the Sky
  10. Adonai

Petra

Greg X Volz- lead vocals

Bob Hartman- guitars

Rhett Lawrence- synthesizers

John Lawry- synthesizers

Carl Marsh- keyboards, drums, bass

Did I come back to God as a result of Petra? No, but it wasn’t anything down to this cool band who have a great album and were cool to see live. What ended any desire to go back to the flock was the attitude of my friend and some of his “Christian” friends. Being a week after the great Live Aid, I had to hear these people put it down because the bands were all heathen rockers. One person said the bands should have given ten percent of their earnings to Africa. I wonder if this person gave that much of his. Damn hypocrite! That ended any idea of me burning my records and coming back to Jesus. Though, I feel I never really left him.

Next post: Kim MItchell- Akimbo Alogo

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=1537470169&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre