Archive for top of the pops

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Pat Benatar- Wide Awake in Dreamland

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2022 by 80smetalman

You know you’re becoming domesticated when you hear about a new album from a television chart show. My introduction to the legendary Pat Benatar’s 1988 album, “Wide Awake in Dreamland,” came as a result of the single, “All Fired Up,” being played on the British show, “Top of the Pops.” At the time, it was a breath of fresh air after all the Stock, Aiken and Waterman bubble gum pop that seemed to be on the programme every week. What was more is that when I heard “All Fired Up,” I was glad that Pat seemed to be returning to her harder rock roots after some of the more keyboard oriented albums of the mid 1980s.

First of all, this album isn’t a complete rocker in comparison to her first three albums but as I said, it was a step in that direction. “All Fired Up” is a good example, it didn’t displace any of my older favourites but it was a good rock song. What I have come to appreciate more in my advancing years is that the album changes things up quite a bit. Second track, “One Love” is a great example of this. It is more of a ballad and her vocals are superb as always but there are some interesting guitar hooks and some overall good musicianship on it.

Rock returns on “Let’s Stay Together” and I will say here what I’ve said on practically every Pat Benatar album I’ve posted about. Neil Giraldo is an awesome guitarist who deserves more respect for his talent. However, it’s the middle of the album which really gets going. Actually, the rocking starts in the second half of “Don’t Walk Away” as the first half is more of a ballad. “Too Long a Soldier,” “Cool Zero” and “Cerebral Man” are all powerful rockers. Let me backtrack one second, “Too Long a Soldier” isn’t a rocker in the traditional sense but the haunting guitar with Pat’s voice go well in delivering a powerful message and Neil does hammer out a cool guitar solo, therefore, it gets my vote for hidden gem. The other two mentioned tracks are definite rockers and take me back to Pat’s early days with her rocking vocals and Neil laying down some cool solos. For me, this is the best part of the album.

While not as hard rocking, the final three songs are indeed interesting. A very prominent bassline carries “Lift ’em All Up” and some cool guitar and keyboard hooks provide great support. Pat delivers a strong message in the anti- child abuse song, “Suffer the Little Children.” This is more a ballad but her message is clear. The closing title track takes the album out in rocking fashion.

Track Listing:

  1. All Fired Up
  2. One Love
  3. Let’s Stay Together
  4. Don’t Walk Away
  5. Too Long a Soldier
  6. Cool Zero
  7. Cerebral Man
  8. Lift’em On Up
  9. Suffer the Little Children
  10. Wide Awake in Dreamland
Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- vocals

Neil Giraldo- guitar

Myron Grombacher- drums

Fernando Saunders- bass

Frank Linx- bass, backing vocals

Charles Giordano- keyboards

Kevin Savigar- keyboards

Bob Castro- percussion

Nick Gilder- backing vocals on “Don’t Walk Away” and “Cool Zero”

Carmen Twillie, Phyllis St. James, Maxine Water- backing vocals on “Lift ’em On Up”

While Pat Benatar never actually went anywhere, I thought it was great that she returned to her roots more with “Wide Awake in Dreamland.” This is a more developed and mature Pat Benatar in the musical sense but the album still rocks.

Next post: Robert Palmer- Heavy Nova

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Great Rock Albums of 1988: Tanita Tikarim- Ancient Heart

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 11, 2022 by 80smetalman

It was said in 1988 and I eluded to it in my post on Tracy Chapman, that Tracy opened up a path for female folk singers. I can’t say for sure it was the case but one such singer to come through in regard to it was British singer, Tanita Tikarim. Some people even called her a British Tracy Chapman but I think that was a little off the mark. Tanita had her own voice and style and you had to look deeper into her songs to glean the messages behind them. Still, that wasn’t a bad thing because I liked Tanita as much as I did Tracy.

Her debut 1988 album, “Ancient Heart,” brought forth four singles. The best known of these was “Good Tradition,” which went to number ten in the UK charts. While this screams, “pop single,” it’s easy to see why to see the song had such mass appeal. The blend of instruments and her upbeat tempo make the song cool.

The other singles weren’t as successful at least in the UK. “Twist in My Sobriety” only made it to #22 in the charts but it was most successful song for her internationally. Critics said the song was too depressing and the message behind it was unclear but I don’t agree. It might have been sung in a somber manner but but Tanita has the voice and style to pull it off. However, the other two singles, “Cathedral Song” and “World Outside My Window” failed to break the top forty. Now as you know by now, I don’t really care about things like that and I actually like “Cathedral Song.” It’s a straight forward folk song about two swimmers finding love in a summer setting. “World Outside My Window” is more pop oriented but it does lack the energy of “Good Tradition.”

You know by now, and I’m not alone in doing so, but I look beyond the hits on an album, always in search of the hidden gem. I’ll get to the gem in a second but the runner up is “I Love You,” which has some good soft rock. It’s a love song but at the same time not one. The predecessor, “Sighing Innocents,” is the hidden gem. When I hear it, I picture myself in a smoke filled cafe, yes, I know you can’t smoke in them these days, with Tanita on stage singing into the mike. Like “I Love You,” it is a great folk tune with a message.

She does change things up with “For All These Years.” A horn is heard in the background which gives it a more haunting edge. The song is about two lovers aged 17 and 16 who don’t know how to express that love. But if you want contradiction, the track “Poor Cow” is about a person not wanting to celebrate their birthday but it’s done in a upbeat manner. The guitar in “He Likes the Sun” is a throwback to 1970s progressive rock reminiscent of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Halfway through the song, things change and she rocks out a bit. The change works because one second you’re kicking back digging the vibe and then get abruptly woken up. The shock doesn’t last long but you definitely rmember it. It’s also runner up as hidden gem. “Valentine Heart” is an excellent piano ballad.

Being in the folk rock vein with social conscience, the metal hating UK newspaper, The Sun, came out against her. It’s music critic stated that Tanita sounded like a bullfrog when she sang. True, she does have a deeper voice and maybe she wouldn’t make a great metal singer but her voice fits her musical style very comfortably.

Track Listing:

  1. Good Tradition
  2. Cathedral Song
  3. Sighing Innocents
  4. I Love You
  5. World Outside Your Window
  6. For All These Years
  7. Twist in My Sobriety
  8. Poor Cow
  9. He Likes the Sun
  10. Valentine Heart
  11. Preyed Upon
Tanita Tikarim

Tanita Tikarim- vocals, guitar

Additional Musicians:

Mark Isham- trumpet, flugelhorn

Paul Brady- mandolin

David Lindley- violin

Marc Ribot- guitar

Rod Argent- keyboards

Brendan Crocker- guitar

Pete Beachill- trombone

Mitch Dalton- guitar

Martin Ditcham- percussion

John Georgiadis- violin

Keith Harvey- cello

Noel Langley- trumpet

Malcolm Messiter- oboe

Helen O’Hara- violin

Brendan O’Reilly- violin

Phillip Todd- saxophone

Peter Van Hooke- drums

Clem Clempson- guitar

Mark Creswell- guitar

Ian Jewel- viola

Rory McFarlane- bass

Wow, that’s a lot of musicians! I’m surprised Steve Lukather didn’t play on the album.

While I won’t call Tanita Tikarim a British Tracy Chapman, she also helped breathed a bit of fresh air into a stale music industry back in 1988. Like Tracy, she proved that there could be a good alternative to metal or synth pop.

Next post: Michelle Shocked- Short, Sharp, Shocked

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Def Leppard- Pyromania

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-def_leppard_-_pyromania

Here’s the album that was said to have gone multi-platinum in the US while only selling 17 copies in the UK, “Pyromaina” by Def Leppard. At first, I might have been inclined to believe that. When I went to the UK for four weeks in the summer of 1983, many English people I spoke to could only say they had heard of the band and some couldn’t even say that. Furthermore, none of their singles made the Top 40 in the UK charts so wouldn’t have gotten a mention on Top of the Pops. However, thanks to a tiny bit of research, I do know that “Pyromania” did get to 18 in the UK album charts.

Lots of exposure on MTV helped get Def Leppard the notice they deserved from American audiences. The videos to the first two singles “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” were really cool. In fact, the latter retained the all time MTV Friday Night Video Fight Championship for well over a year. Does anyone remember the Friday Night Video Fights? That’s for another time I guess. Video aside, “Photograph” is my all time second Def Leppard song, (number one hadn’t appeared by this time.) It’s just a great song in so many ways: the power chords, the harmonizing at the chorus and the guitar solo making a great concoction of a killer tune.

While released as singles, “Foolin'” and “Too Late For Love” didn’t achieve the chart status as the other two but they are also brilliant songs. I was gutted when I saw Def Leppard in 1986 and they didn’t play “Foolin.'” Like the Iron Maiden album I reviewed in the last post, the rest of “Pyromania” isn’t filler. “Rock, Rock til You Drop” is as good an opener as any. I also have a very warm spot for “Die Hard the Hunter” and think it could have been released as a fifth single. Love the guitar solo on it. With all this, it is no wonder why many people on both sides of the Atlantic considered “Pyromania” the album of 1983.

In spite of all the success the album has enjoyed, Def Leppard did have some challenges while recording it. During the recording, the rest of the band decided they had enough of guitarist Pete Willis’s alcohol problems and fired him. While Willis recorded all the rhythm guitar tracks on the album, Phil Collen was brought in to replace him and he recorded all the solos on the songs Willis was supposed to. Listening to the efforts on this album, I have to ask if we should include the guitar duo of Clark and Collen along with the greats of Tipton and Downing, Hanneman and King, Watson and Gillis to name a few.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock Rock Til You Drop
  2. Photograph
  3. Stagefright
  4. Too Late for Love
  5. Die Hard the Hunter
  6. Foolin’
  7. Rock of Ages
  8. Comin’ Under Fire
  9. Action! Not Words
  10. Billy’s Got a Gun

defl

Joe Elliot- lead vocals

Steve Clark- guitar

Phil Collen- guitar

Rick Savage- bass

Rick Allen- drums

Pete Willis- rhythm guitar

On amusing story I heard that when Def Leppard supported Billy Squier on tour in the States in 1983, many people left after Def Leppard’s set, leaving Billy Squier to play to a half empty arena. I’m not sure if this is true or not. ┬áMy sister saw them both, maybe she can shed some light on it. What I do know that “Pyromania” put Def Leppard on the world music stage in this year and rightly so.

Next post: Rainbow- Bent Out of Shape

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 1983: Bonnie Tyler- Faster Than the Speed of Night

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2016 by 80smetalman

Bonnie_Tyler_-_Faster_than_the_Speed_of_Night

When I first heard the big single, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from Bonnie Tyler back in 1983, I thought it was okay. Nothing spectacular, just okay. On some occasions, back then when I was in a bar where a top 40 covers band was playing or just had the same on the juke box, it was a welcome break from all the Michael Jackson stuff. In any case, the song wasn’t enough to make me go out and buy her album, “Faster Than the Speed of Night.” Recently, however, someone suggested that I post about it, so being a fair minded person, I gave it a couple of listens and am ready to deliver my verdict.

To be very honest, I don’t think I missed much by not purchasing the album, still if I had, I wouldn’t have beaten myself up over making the same mistake as when I bought the Chris De Burgh album. The album starts out well enough with a decent cover of the CCR classic, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Again, I say it’s a decent cover but it doesn’t make me want to put my CCR albums away and never listen to them again. I do have the title track to the album on a rock compilation CD. It doesn’t stand out from the other songs on that album but it does on Bonnie’s album of the same name. I like it more than her most well known hit, which I’ve already named.

The rest of the album is nothing is nothing spectacular. Like Credence, I still prefer Bryan Adams’s version of “Straight From the Heart.” The one thing I did pick up on and liked is that there are some good guitar sounds on this album. It redeems run of the mill tracks like “Goin’ Through the Motions” and “Tears.” Naturally, I had to look and see who the guitarist was and to my surprise, it was none other than Rick Derringer. That explained it all. It is Rick who manages to save what would have been a lackluster album.

Track Lsting:

  1. Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
  2. Faster Than the Speed of Night
  3. Getting So Excited
  4. Total Eclipse of the Heart
  5. Its a Jungle Out There
  6. Goin’ Through the Motions
  7. Tears
  8. Take Me Back
  9. Straight From the Heart

Bonnie Tyler

Bonnie Tyler

So, there’s my verdict on Bonnie Tyler’s album “Faster Than the Speed of Night.” It’s not the first album I would pick up after listening to Anthrax and Slayer in conjunction in order to give a melodic balance to things. I never rated Bonnie Tyler as a brilliant singer. There are a few of her songs I liked but this album doesn’t convert me into a Tyler fan.

Next post: Quarterflash- Take Another Picture

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 1981: Gillan- Double Trouble

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Double_Trouble_-_Gillan

Not content with putting out one great album in 1981, Ian Gillan and his band went out and released another one. “Double Trouble” was the follow up to the fantastic “Future Shock” album they released earlier in the year. What was different about “Double Trouble” was that it featured two LP’s, one was studio recordings and the second disc was all live recordings. It is also the first album with future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers as Bernie Torme was fired from the band when he did not want to participate in the playback TV performance of “No Laughing At Heaven” on “Top of the Pops.”

When you visit two albums that were recorded by the same band in a short time frame, it is very difficult not to compare and contrast the two. Therefore, I have to admit that of the two, I would say that “Future Shock” edges out “Double Trouble.” That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the latter album. It does go back to the more progressive sound of “Glory Road” but there’s nothing wrong with that and there is still some shining hard rock moments on it. “Sunbeam” comes to mind here. Furthermore, the live recordings of some of the past songs are excellently done and give me the regret of never having seen them live. “No Easy Way” is a good example of this. One thing I can say is that while there are many studio/live albums out there, “Double Trouble” is NOT one of those were the artist just thinks, “I’ll just throw in some live tracks here.” The live tracks are well preformed and the live LP is very well thought out. Full marks here for the entire album.

Tack Listing:

Studio LP

1. I’ll Rip Your Spine Out

2. Restless

3. Men of War

4. Sunbeam

5. Nightmare

6. Hadley Bop Bop

7. Life Goes On

8. Born to Kill

Live LP

1. No Laughing at Heaven

2. No Easy Way

3. Trouble

4. Mutually Assured Destruction

5. If You Believe Me

6. New Orleans

Gillan (from this album)

Gillan (from this album)

Ian Gillan- vocals

Janick Gers- guitars

Colin Towns- keyboards

John McCoy- bass

Mick Underwood- drums

Usually YouTube is very good at allowing me to listen to albums I never got the chance to back in the day, like all of the Gillan albums I’ve covered so far. This time, it was a bit of a struggle. YouTube wouldn’t play tracks, “I’ll Rip Your Spine Out” and “Nightmare” so I can only speculate they were as good as the rest of the songs here. Whatever the case, with two great albums in the same year, Gillan must have been riding high.

Next post: Journey- Escape

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