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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Chicago- 17

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

I’d like to thank Rich for this one. If he hadn’t posted about Chicago’s 11th album from 1977, I would not have remember that the band had a really good album in 1984. Thank you Rich for jogging my memory here. Once my memory got into full swing, I remember that there was a song on this album I really liked. That was the opening track, “Stay the Night,” which I remember most because of the very amusing video got played quite a bit on MTV during the summer.

Reflections from my old age, I now realize that Chicago deserves more credit for “17” than what they actually received. There were two camps in 1984. Most bands were either going down the synth pop road or heading in a more harder direction. Chicago didn’t go down either road. Instead, they stuck with the same formula that made them so successful throughout the 1970s. Their fusion of soft rock and jazz influences work just as well on this album as they had on all of their previous ones. That is precisely why Chicago was my ‘not guilty pleasure’ in the mid 1980s.

Proof of what I’m talking about can be traced to the success of “17.” There were four singles, including my favourite track mentioned above, the best known of these was the ballad, “Hard Habit to Break.” Sure, it’s no where near a heavy metal power ballad but it’s a good song anyway. Just as successful was the track “You’re My Inspiration” which did just as well in the singles charts as “Hard Habit to Break.” The fourth single is probably the hardest rock song on the album, “Along Comes a Woman.” Guitarists Bill Champlin and Chris Pinnick deliver on the guitar on the track and the other instruments do well in support. It has a definite catchy vibe and that makes it my second favourite track. Of course, it wouldn’t be me if there weren’t any non single songs on the album to like. “We Can Stop the Hurting” takes the prize here as it is a definite reminder that Chicago were not about to compromise with their sound. “Remember the Feeling” does come closer to being a power ballad as there is some hard guitar in the background and a fairly decent solo on it. With some really great tracks to close, this album was just like anything you found on any Chicago album throughout the band’s history.

Track listing:

  1. Stay the Night
  2. We Can Stop the Hurtin’
  3. Hard Habit to Break
  4. Only You
  5. Remember the Feeling
  6. Along Comes a Woman
  7. You’re My Inspiration
  8. Please Hold On
  9. Prima Donna
  10. Once in a Lifetime

Chicago

Peter Cetera- bass, lead and backing vocals

Bill Champlin- guitars, keyboards, lead and backing vocals

Robert Lamm- keyboards, lead and backing vocals

Lee Loughnane- trumpet

James Pankow- trombone, horn arrangements

Walter Perazaider- woodwinds

Chris Pinick- guitar

Danny Seraphine- drums

The reason why I considered Chicago to be my not guilty pleasure from the 1980s was down to the fact that by then, I was a total metalhead. Chicago are definitely not metal but I’ve always liked their softer version of rock, especially in the 70s. So there was no reason why I shouldn’t have carry it over into the next decade.

Next post: Roger Hodgson- In the Eye of the Storm

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1507309311&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Hit Wonders of 1984 and Another Significant Songs

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

Its that time again where I look at some of the one hit wonders of the year I am visiting. There were some interesting ones in 1984 with others who were wrongly considered such by the so called mainstream public. Some great heavy metal acts fell under this misbelief. So without further ado, let’s start with what was the most successful hit, “Missing You” by John Waite.

John Waite

What I couldn’t believe was that after doing a bit of research, that John Waite had a pretty impressive discography. However, the only song I and many others will remember him for would be this great soft rock ballad that went to number one. Although many metalheads wouldn’t admit it back then, they did like it. It can be found on quite a few soft rock compilation albums.

Dwight Twilley

The next one comes from American songwriter Dwight Twilley. He had been around for years as I have learned but he is best known for his 1984 top 20 hit “Girls.” This mid tempo rock tune takes me back to the time when the build up to the metal explosion in 1984 was just about to happen. I haven’t heard this song for years but listening to it for the purposes of research was very pleasant. I wonder if this one is on any compilation albums.

Dog Police

In 1984, MTV had a monthly segment called “Basement Video.” The premise was six videos from unsigned artists would be played and the winner would go onto the grand final. In January, a video from a Memphis Tennessee outfit called Dog Police won with their self titled single. I even phone up and voted for it. What I remember about them was that upon the introduction to the video it was said that Dog Police wanted to become the Frank Zappa of music video. Unfortunately, that never happened and they only finished fourth in the grand final. Still, it’s a great video and song.

Rick Derringer

All I know for sure with this next one was that I first heard the song  “I Play Guitar” by Rick Derringer in 1984 when I saw the video for said song. I loved it straight away! Now, I’m not sure if this song actually came out in this year but because 84 was when I first heard it, I’m including it here just because it’s such a kick ass song. Before this, I had only heard how great a guitarist Rick was but this song proved it. And because I can’t find the official MTV video on Youtube, you get this really cool live version.

Naff song of 1984

Tracey Ulman

In the eyes of most of the world, Tracey Ulman is a brilliant comedy actress. I love her wit. But in 1984, she put an album and MTV treated the world to the single from it, “They Don’t Know.” I had the misfortune of hearing it on the car radio a couple of months ago. The song is totally naff, with a 1960s pop feel and even the guitar solo sounds naff. Don’t worry, I won’t inflict it upon you, my readers, but rest assured, I am glad that she stuck to comedy. The rest of the world is probably glad too. However, I can identify with her sense of humour with the title of her album “You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.” I have this habit of picking out numbers like that.

Next post: Music News of 1984

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=1504721323&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great(ish) Rock Albums of 1984: Rod Stewart- Camouflage

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Rod Stewart has always been a top forty artist in my book. He’s had a string of hits over the past four decades, some of them I actually liked, especially during the 1970s and 80s. I confessed to this fact when I visited his 1982 “Tonight I’m Yours” album some time ago. One of those singles I like happened to be the single, “Infatuation,” from the 1984 album, “Camouflage.” The song does venture  towards the new wave/hard rock borderland and even more so with the guitar solo by Jeff Beck. That brings me to the video for the song. Rod continues his string of cheesy videos that started with “Young Turks” where everyone is dancing on the hoods of cars and carries on with “Infatuation. In this video, Jeff Beck pops up in the hotel room from out of nowhere to play his solo. I understand that Mike LeBrain has had the same problem. Whenever he stays in a hotel room, Jeff Beck shows up. To quote a title from another song on “Camouflage,” some guys have all the luck.

After the opener, “Infatuation,” things go downhill pretty fast. While, I applaud Rod Stewart for a decent single at first, with the next track, I’m ready to place a bounty on his head for his act of sacrilege. He covers the Free classic “All Right Now” and it is a totally synthed out version. If he had kept to the script set down by Free, his voice would have carried the song but with all the synthesizers, I have to say, “No Rod!” But that’s not the only cover he has destroyed. On track four, he sings a cover of the Todd Rungren classic, “Can We Still Be Friends.” Like “All Right Now” there’s nothing wrong with his voice on the song but again, the synthesizers ruin it for me. While this sacrilege isn’t as bad, it’s still bad enough that even Jeff Beck’s guitar solo can’t save it.

Jeff does improve things with a solo on the track after, “Bad For You.” This one is more in line with the opener and sounds quite good. “Heart is On the Line” is one of those pop sounding songs that isn’t bad but it’s not one I want to listen to over and over. “The title track is much more sharper. Rod’s voice takes control of it and therefore the synths that appear on it are only in the background. Plus there’s a good use of horns adding a bit of diversity. Had Jeff belted out a solo on it, it might have been my favourite track. The closer, “Trouble” typifies how unbalanced “Camouflage” is. The keyboard intro makes you feel it’s going to be a cool prog rock song only to fade away into a ballad. Now, Rod has always been able to sing a good ballad and does so here but the intro leaves me disappointed with the rest of the song.

Track Listing:

  1. Infatuation
  2. All Right Now
  3. Some Guys Have All the Luck
  4. Can We Still Be Friends
  5. Bad For You
  6. Heart is On the Line
  7. Camouflage
  8. Trouble

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart- vocals

Jeff Beck- guitar

Jim Cregan- guitar

Robin LeMesurier- guitar

Michael Landau- guitar

Jay Davis- bass

Tony Brock- drums

Kevin Savigar- keyboards

Michael Omartian- keyboards, percussion, backing vocals

Jimmy Zavala- harmonica

Gary Herbig- saxophone

Jerry Hey, Chuck Finley, Kim Hutchcroft, Charlie Loper, Gary Grant- horns

Was “Camouflage” great? I tend not to think so, however, it could have been so if there weren’t so many synth versions of classic rock songs. The songs that are good are but others let the album down. It seems here, he was comfortable being a top forty singer.

Next post: Roger Waters- The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

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 1984: Peter Wolf- Lights Out

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by 80smetalman

It’s funny how sometimes when a singer leaves a band, both that singer and the band, with their new singer, put out an album around the same time. Is it coincidence? Rivalry? Answers on a post card please. I guess we’ll never know. All I know is that in 1984, after singer Peter Wolf left the J Geils band, the band released the album I visited in the last post and Peter Wolf came out with his debut solo album, “Lights Out,” at the same time.

Listening to the opener, title cut and biggest single from the album, I am reminded why I probably stayed away from the album. The video for “Lights Out” got a fair amount of play on MTV at the time but it also got played a lot in dance clubs although that song was better than most of the stuff played in such places. That song never did anything for me and it still doesn’t.

Fortunately, there are far better songs on “Lights Out.” The very next track, “I Need You Tonight” has a more traditional J Geils Band sound and the succeeding track is a little of the same. Then there is the rather spooky sounding ballad, “Gloomy Sunday,” which has a 1940s feel to it. It does show that Peter’s voice has some versatility to it. A better single for me would have been “Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go.” This has a more catchy commercial vibe to it and I bet you could dance to it if you’re into such things.

One big question that arises from the album is: Was Peter Wolf in a competition with Randy Newman as to who could get the most big names to accompany on their album? You only need to see the list of people on this album to discover what I mean. Heck, he even gets Mick Jagger to duet with him on the track “Crazy” and it sounds good. Possibly my favourite track on the album. I don’t know who of the many guitarists on the album does the guitar solo but it’s well done. My guess is that it’s Adrian Belew but don’t quote me on that. It could be The Cars guitarist Elliot Easton but to me, it doesn’t sound like his style, I could be wrong and usually am.

Track Listing:

  1. Lights Out
  2. I Need You Tonight
  3. Oo Ee Diddley Bop
  4. Gloomy Sunday
  5. Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go
  6. Crazy
  7. Poor Girls Heart
  8. Here Comes That Hurt Again
  9. Pretty Lady
  10. Mars Needs Women
  11. Billy Bigtime

Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf- conga, vocals

Robin Beck- vocals

Mick Jagger- vocals

Adrian Belew- guitar

Peter Bliss- guitar, backing vocals

Tony ‘Rocks’ Cowan- guitar

Alan Dawson- percussion

Elliot Easton- guitar

Eddie Gorodetsky- vocals, narration

Yogi Horton- percussion

Michael Jozun- bass, flute, guitar, percussion, horns, keyboards, backing vocals

Will Lee- bass, vocals

Leon Mobley- conga, conductor

P-Funk Horns- horn section

Rick Peppers- guitar

Randy Ross- guitar

G E Smith- guitar

Maurice Starr- bass, guitar, vocals

Ed Stasium- guitar, percussion

Rusty the Toejammer- scratches

Gordon Worthy- bass, conga, keyboards, vocals

I think that the theme of Peter Wolf’s “Lights Out” album is versatility. No two songs are the same yet at the same time, the album seems to flow. Whether its the more commercial sound of “Poor Girls Heart” to the humourous “Mars Needs Women” to the more blues funk closer “Billy Bigtime” there’s something here that everyone will like.

Next post: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

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 Metal Albums of 1983: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

Posted in 1980s, Books, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2017 by 80smetalman

heaven_waftt

When my household finally got MTV in the final month of 1983, one video I remember seeing getting a good amount of airplay was the one for the song, “Rock School” by Australian rockers, Heaven. The song itself was okay although at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the horns in it. What I did enjoy was the actual video. It cast the band as your typical high school hoods causing havoc at their school. My favourite part was when they whip the high school football team in a rumble. I think that was the highlight for many metalheads at the time.

Now, I am not anti- American football or school sports. After all, I officiate the game here in the UK and when I went to the states two and a half years ago, had the opportunity to officiate a high school junior varsity game. What I am opposed to is the mentality in schools that a boy isn’t anything unless he plays football and that football prepares a young man for life. It was around this time in the US that schools began pushing sports over learning and treating the jocks as mollycoddled gods. There is an instance in “Rock and Roll Children” about this when two football players try to pick on one of the character’s friends and a fight starts. When the smoke clears, the teachers, the PE teacher especially, seem to be more sympathetic to the football players’ side of the story. The PE teacher simply wants to dismiss the metalheads’ story and only a more fair minded teacher stops him. Trust me, things like this happened in school back then and probably still do so now. So, it would have amused many a metalhead in 83 to see one of their bands duffing up some football players.

Scenes from the video for "Rock School."

Scenes from the video for “Rock School.”

As for the rest of the album, “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” let me say that it is pretty much a good rocking album. The single, “Rock School” blends in well with the rest of the album. The opener and title track is quite good and the second track, “Love Child” pretty much goes hand in hand with the same hard, feel good vibe. Without a doubt though, my favourite track on the album has to be “Hard Life.” This is just a great standard rocker! Heaven just goes all out on it and it has the best guitar solo on it so double bonus points there. The closer, “Sleeping Dogs,” is a powerful rocker too and I don’t think it should be the closer. Maybe one of the two before it would have been better but who’s to say. “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is damn fine album.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Angels Fear to Tread
  2. Love Child
  3. Scream for Me
  4. Don’t Mean Nothing
  5. Rock School
  6. Madness
  7. Hard Life
  8. She Stole My Heart
  9. You
  10. Sleeping Dogs

heaven_b

Allan ‘Eddie’ Fryer- vocals

Kelly- lead guitar

Laurie Marlow- bass

Mick Cocks- rhythm guitar

Joe Turtur- drums

I wonder how many people who were living in 1983 actually remember seeing the “Rock School” video on MTV. Believe me, it was on quite a lot then and some people probably have Heaven down for one hit wonders. The “Where Angels Fear to Tread” album makes them much more than that.

Next post: Ozzy Osbourne- Bark at the Moon

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: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet Project

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Starflet3pq

Here’s another album that would have passed me by hadn’t been for MTV. The single from Queen guitarist Brian May’s album, (yes I know it’s really an EP) “Starfleet Project” was never played on radio, at least not on my local station in New Jersey and this was before it degenerated into a top forty station. I remember the video for “Starfleet.” It looked like something out of “The Thunderbirds” with the puppets and stuff. The science fiction theme to the video added to it. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the video but I loved the song and thus, had to get the EP.

From the video to "Starfleet"

From the video to “Starfleet”

Now you have probably noticed that the album is from Brian May and Friends and boy did Brian choose the right friends to help him record this. He got Eddie Van Halen to accompany him on the guitar and Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon fame to do the honours on the drums. Those names right there should tell you that what you are about to hear is totally going to blow you away and they do.

There might only be three songs on the album but they are three memorable ones, plus the fact that the shortest of these three is still over seven minutes made “Starfleet Project” an album in my book back then. Starting with the title track, it is the more commercial of the three. Brian shows that he knows his way around a keyboard a little bit but he still does some great guitar work on the song. I had always suspected from his Queen days that he could sing and he clearly shows it here.

Track two is the more bluesy “Let Me Out.” Here, May and Van Halen really start to go to town with the solos. They are so good that I can never remember what Brian wants to be let out of. However, it’s the third track that takes you to Neptune and beyond. Here we have the two mentioned guitar greats paying tribute to another guitar god, Eric Clapton, with “Blues Breaker.” When that happens you are guaranteed nothing short of guitar heaven. For nearly thirteen minutes, Brian and Eddie go back and forth trading off guitar solos, each one as good as the last. There is a short break in the action for a bit of ivory tinkling from Fred Mandel but things go back to the blistering solos. This song alone makes the entire album a must have.

Track Listing:

  1. Starfleet
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Blues Breaker
Brian May

Brian May

Brian May- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums

Phil Cohen- bass

Freddie Mandel- keyboards

Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Starfleet”

Queen might have been taking a hiatus in 1983 but Brian May wasn’t. He went well above and beyond and showed his true talents on this album.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Infidels

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.80smetalman.wordpress.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: Men At Work- Cargo

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Men_at_Work_-_Cargo

Let me clarify something I wrote when I posted about Men At Work’s debut album, “Business As Usual.” I stated that Men At Work was the closest I got to mainstream music back in the 1980s. That was definitely the case in 1982 however, after refamiliarising myself with their second album, which I find superior to the debut album by the way, and thinking about music in 1983, I have to agree to the premise that this band wasn’t really mainstream. Still, they were the closest I got to it.

One reason why the “Cargo” album might be considered mainstream was that it had three successful singles on it. “Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive” was a very fun catchy tune and I love the paranoid feeling that “Overkill” provides. I’ve had days when I feel exactly like that. However, my favourite all time Men At Work song is the single “It’s a Mistake.” Its release couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Call it kharma or deja vu but hearing a good anti war song right after coming out of the marines was unbelievable. The video of the song provided the proper punchline. Even without all that, I still would have found it a good song.

From the Men At Work video: It's A Mistake

From the Men At Work video: It’s A Mistake

Call “Cargo” what you will, post punk, new wave or even mainstream, none of it stops this album from being a good, fun album. There also elements of reggae in it as well, I site “Settle Down My Boy” and “Blue For You” as evidence,  so in my mind, all of those combinations make it anything but mainstream. I sort of like it when people aren’t able pigeon hole certain bands. With “Cargo” there is something for everyone to like. Hell, I even noticed a bit of a hard rock-ish sound on “High Wire.” What’s more, Men At Work incorporate a brilliant sense of humour on their songs, something I always like. That’s expecially the case with “I Like To.” Therefore, my conclusion is while “Cargo” by Men At Work may not be the hard pounding metal album I was liking more and more in those days, it was still a very enjoyable album.

Track Listing:

  1. Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive
  2. Overkill
  3. Settle Down My Boy
  4. Upstairs in My Room
  5. No Sign of Yesterday
  6. It’s a Mistake
  7. High Wire
  8. Blue For You
  9. I Like To
  10. No Restrictions
Men At Work

Men At Work

Greg Ham- flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals

Colin Hay- guitar, vocals

John Rees- bass, backing vocals

Jerry Speiser- drums, backing vocals

Ron Strykert- guitar, vocals

Men At Work might have been the closest I ever got to mainstream music back in the 1980s but they certainly weren’t mainstream. Good musicianship, fun and catchy music and lyrics and a sense of humour was why I liked the “Cargo” album.

Next post: Night Ranger- Midnight Madness

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