Black Sabbath – Mob Rules
“Mob Rules” was released at the same time as Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads “Diary Of A Madman” album. For both Sabbath and Osbourne albums it was a case of “what worked before, lets repeat it”. There is a book out by Mick Wall called “Black Sabbath: Symptom Of The Universe”, that mentions how it pained, Tony, Geezer and Ronnie to see Ozzy’s 2nd album doing so much better than theirs.
Martin Birch was on hand to produce and engineer again and it is also the first Black Sabbath album to feature Vinny Appice on drums, who replaced original member Bill Ward. “Mob Rules” was plagued with stories of drugs and arguments.
The arguments started after the success of “Heaven and Hell”. Warner Bros, offered Dio a solo deal, while also extending the Black Sabbath contract. The solo deal didn’t go down well with Iommi and Butler. In addition, during the mixing of the album, Iommi and Butler had a falling out with Dio due to some misinformation being spread from their engineer about Dio sneaking into the studio at night to raise the volume of his vocals. Dio was also not happy with how he was represented in the artwork. Eventually, it all proved too much and the solo deal Dio got proved the out.
“Turn Up The Night” is a derivative version of “Neon Knights”. Hell, it could have been on a Thin Lizzy album.
“Voodoo” is a derivative version of “Children Of The Sea” in its groove. It even tried to occupy the same space that “Children Of The Sea” did in the album sequencing.
“Sign Of The Southern Cross” is a derivative version of “Heaven And Hell” and “Children Of The Sea” combined and the foundation of the sound that would become “Dio”. The best on the album.
“The Mob Rules” feels like a derivative version of “Tie Your Mother Down” from Queen.
“Country Girl” feels like a Led Zeppelin track.
“Falling Off The Edge Of The World”, is a brilliant song as well, technically an early influence to what Iron Maiden and Metallica would achieve and build their careers on.
“Over and Over” is a derivative version of “Black Sabbath”, purely for its sludgy groove.
“Don’t live for pleasure, make life your treasure” ….. from “Sign Of The Southern Cross”
Thin Lizzy – Renegade
Since “Chinatown” proved to be a cult hit with the guitar team of Scott Gorham and Snowy Shaw the year before, like all of the other bands that released music in 1980, it was a case of “what worked before, lets repeat it” in 1981.
And each album, has a song or two that sell it, and in this case “Angel Of Death” and “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)” are the songs. Lynott does a brilliant job blaming the “Angel of Death” for the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust prophecies of Nostradamus.
“I’ve seen two world wars
I’ve seen men send rockets out into space
I foresee a holocaust
An angel of death descending to destroy the human race” ….. From “Angel Of Death”
“Nobody gives a break
When you’re down on your luck
Everybody’s on the take
When you’re down on your luck” ….. From “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)”
UFO – The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent
“Lonely Heart” has got this Springsteen vibe happening, but the song that I go to first, is “Profession Of Violence”. It’s got that Gary Moore “Parisienne Walkways” feel. If you haven’t heard “Parisienne Walkways”, trust me, you have heard it, because many years later, the song morphed into “Still Got The Blues” and Moore’s biggest hit.
“Down the halls of justice, the echoes never fade
Notches on my gun, another debt is paid” ….. from “Profession Of Violence”
Rainbow – Difficult To Cure
How good is “I Surrender” with that classical vibe, over a pop structure. Written by Russ Ballard, to me, Ballard was a musician known for writing good songs that other artists covered or made better.
“Can’t Happen Here” is one hell of a good song and a very underrated Rainbow cut. It has all the elements of a protest song, a good rock and roll vibe and all the guitarinisms that Blackmore is known for.
“Supersonic planes for a holiday boom
Rio de Janeiro in an afternoon
People out of work but there’s people on the moon
Looking for the future” ….. from “Can’t Happen Here”
“Spotlight Kid” is another classic Rainbow tune, this one about the trappings of fame and what happens when the crowds are gone. And what about that “Burn” like solo section.
“Jokers and women they hang ’round your door
They’re all part of the scene
Just like a junkie you’ve got to have more
It’s a pleasure machine” ….. from “Spotlight Kid”
Midnight Oil – Place Without A Postcard
An Australian political band, known around the world for their songs “U.S Forces” and “Beds Are Burning”. This is their third album, released in 1981 and like most of their albums, it is 75% filler, so it was no surprise that the “singles” are the album tracks that still resonate today.
“I’m an innocent victim, I’m just like you
We end up in home units with a brick wall view” ….. from “Don’t Wanna Be The One”
“Armistice Day” has a lyric that more or less sums up the bullshit weapons of mass destruction, twenty years later.
“I went looking for a war, but the only guns I saw
Never used in anger”
Lead vocalist Peter Garrett has a voice that you either like or hate. There is no getting used to his voice. Glyn Johns produced the album, however the band and Johns clashed frequently, and even more so, when the band refused to record more commercial pop songs for a U.S release.
Iron Maiden – Killers
It’s essentially a Steve Harris solo album.
Each album has a song that sells it. In this case, it is “Wrathchild”. That bass intro groove from Harris, makes you want to press repeat over and over again. Because I had the “Live After Death” album, and “Wrathchild” was on it, I had no real desire to spend my money on “Killers”. It wasn’t until the 90’s that I finally heard the full album.
“I was born into a scene of angriness and greed, and dominance and persecution” ….. from “Wrathchild”
“Prodigal Son” is another favourite and I dig that acoustic intro that sounds very similar to the intro that Randy Rhoads wrote for “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”.
“The devil’s got a hold on my soul and he just won’t let me be” ….. from “Prodigal Son”