Y&T – Black Tiger
1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound.
The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums. He obviously knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.
It was a perfect combination, merging the hunger and melodicism of Y&T with the producer of the moment. Norman has stated that he wanted to do the “Meanstreak” record however, he believed that Y&T were mad with him, so they got Chris Tsangarides instead.
The sad harmony guitars from “Forever” introduce the album via “From The Moon” and then “Open Fire” kicks it off.
The ultimate song for the stage. It has elements of Deep Purple in the rhythm section. It’s very derivative of “Highway Star” from Purple, and Meniketti does a mean Sammy Hagar impersonation. It’s your typical, waiting for the weekend to let your hair down and have a good time song.
“Don’t Wanna Lose You” is up next and musically it’s very melodic. Polar opposites to the AC/DC vibe of “Open Fire”.
The super melodic and groovy “Forever” is up and the whole melodic rock movement is built upon this song. It’s the best cut of the album by far.
“Winds Of Change” could have been the best cut, but man the lyrics don’t do the song justice. Musically, Y&T did ballads / slow rockers the best. I would even put it out there, that the popular power ballad moniker could have originated with Y&T.
Winds of change
I know that “Barroom Boogie” and “Black Tiger” are known as essential Y&T songs. For me, other bands did those kind of songs better. Y&T is a favourite and a big influence to me because of how they did the melodic songs.
It was after the “Black Tiger” tour with AC/DC that Ozzy and Sharon approached Meniketti to join his band.
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
The band had come a long way from that Melody Maker 1979 ad for a second guitarist that said;
“Iron Maiden (Based In East London) want 2nd Guitarist capable of tight fast harmonies, tasty chordwork and the occasional ripping solo. Must have good gear and be a fast learner. Only dedicated, image conscious people need apply. We’re still semi-pro as yet, so no breadheads please”.
So I looked up what breadhead meant and it is a person who is motivated by, or obsessed with, making money. And in essence, that is the truth. Great everlasting music is never created by people who are obsessed with money. Great everlasting music is created by people who have a need to create and a story to tell. The ad is all class by Steve Harris.
And I was struck by the power of Steve Harris, to make things happen. One person, with a vision, excellent execution and a desire to stay the course can achieve success. He got rid of members when they didn’t execute properly or strayed from his vision. After each band member change, he moved on. To bigger and better things.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is my favourite Maiden cut. However the best version of the song is the live version on “Live After Death”. It was the first Maiden album I got (on double cassette), and I played it over and over and over again. The speed is also a bit quicker and it works well for the song. Plus who can forget Bruce yelling “Scream for me Long Beach”.
So when it came to purchasing the full “The Number Of The Beast” album, I was very late to the party.
How come no one believes in a riff anymore?
Once upon a time, songs stood on the shoulders of the guitar riff and “The Number of The Beast” is full of those riffs.
“Children Of The Damned” is a damn good song. Structurally it is brilliant.
He’s walking like a small child
But watch his eyes burn you away
“22 Acacia Avenue” is all class for a song about a brothel. The “Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills” need no introduction.
Selling them whiskey and taking their gold
Enslaving the young and destroying the old
But the album and all of its everlasting glory belongs to “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.
I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
‘Cause at 5 o’clock, they’ll take me to the gallows pole
The sands of time for me are running low
Death row ain’t a good place to be.
As the guards march me out to the courtyard
Somebody cries from a cell “God be with you”
If there’s a God, (then) why has he let me go?
What a powerful line. It brings back memories of James Hetfield’s man at losing his mother in “The God That Failed”.
Frankie Miller – Standing On The Edge
One of the best bluesy singers that no one even knows. This 1982 album is one of those recordings that I picked up in a discount bin for $5 and played over and over and over again. Then I forgot about it, until the internet made me search him up again and I was still blown away by the album.
“Danger Danger” is the reason why this album became a classic for me.
There is a movie called “Thunder Alley”. I watched that movie a lot. You could say I was a fan.
The story of the movie is about a hard rock band that tries to make it in the music business. In between, people need to choose between a normal job and the rock and roll dream. They need to decide if the drugs and party lifestyle is for them. And in the end, what they think they have achieved is nothing because as they climb the ranks of the gatekeepers, each gatekeeper wants to bring in their own favourite musicians into the band. And it was in “Thunder Alley” that I heard the song “Danger Danger”.
I was hooked.
It’s a Frankie Miller composition. The album would also have co-writes with a certain Andy Fraser, who was in a band called Free once upon a time and a long time friend of Frankie. The album is pretty solid and how Capitol Records managed to fuck up the promotion of the album is beyond me.
There is a review of the album at Martin Leedham’s WordPress site. You can find it here.
Stay tuned for 1982 – Part 4.