Archive for Vertical Smiles

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Blackfoot- Vertical Smiles

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2017 by 80smetalman

Another great Southern Rock or in my view Southern metal band who went for a more commercial rock sound in 1984 was Blackfoot with their album, “Vertical Smiles.” Keyboards player Ken Hensley from Uriah Heep became a permanent member and guitarist Charlie Hargrett left over disagreements with the band and management. However, I have always believed Charlie’s departure to be fairly amicable because written on the album cover is “Special thanks to Charlie Hargrett for fourteen years of agony and dedication.”

The move to more commercial rock comes out in the very first song, “Morning Dew,” which was released as the album’s only single. I remember it getting limited airplay on radio. While I have always liked this song, it was certainly a departure from traditional Blackfoot. The keyboards lead into the song and it’s present throughout, although this isn’t a bad thing. I also love the military sounding snare drums complements of Mr Spires and Rick Medlocke pelts a good guitar solo on it. So there is a lot to like with “Morning Dew.”

Things go decisively harder for the next few songs after. “Living in the Limelight” is a pure belter and Medlocke’s signature vocals are present. The song rocks! The same can be said for “Get It On.” This too is a good rocker from the more memorable days of Blackfoot. The song in between them, “Ride With You” isn’t bad either. It’s just too much keyboards where some good guitar stuff should be and that lets it down a little. Then, the album slows right down with two power ballad type songs, “Young Girl” and “Summer Days.” It does show a more tender side to the band and both songs are done very well. Happily, things go back to more familiar ground with the blazing “A Legend Never Dies.” I have always thought “this is more like it.”  It proves that Blackfoot can effectively employ guitar and keyboard together in a song. But the most true old style Blackfoot track is the pen ultimate, “Heartbeat and Heels.” This song casts aside any doubt that Blackfoot have completely abandoned their past. It is the hidden gem on the album. I’ve never been too sure about the closer. You would think that any song titled, “In For the Kill” would be a hard rocker and though this song has moments, it doesn’t move me in for any kill. Still, it’s probably the best song to close the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Morning Dew
  2. Living In the Limelight
  3. Ride With You
  4. Get it On
  5. Young Girl
  6. Summer Days
  7. A Legend Never Dies
  8. Heartbeat and Heels
  9. In For the Kill

Blackfoot

Rick Medlocke- guitar, lead vocals

Ken Hensley- keyboards, backing vocals

Greg T Walker- bass, backing vocals

Jackson Spires- drums, backing vocals

Sherri Jarrell- backing vocals

Note: This was a band photo from the last album but I thought I’d use out it of respect for Charlie Hargrett

All in all, “Vertical Smiles” is a pretty decent album. True, they incorporate keyboards where a harder guitar sound should be in places but it’s not bad. The album does have good songs. Still, it’s not near the same level as their three famous albums, “Strikes,” “Tomcattin'” and “Marauder.”

Next post: Survivor- Vital Signs

To buy Rock and Roll Children go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1503603657&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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