Welcome to the final blog post of my devotion to the year known as 1983.
David Bowie – Let’s Dance
Even Bowie, a pop artist in general, was accused of selling out by critics with this album. But Bowie wasn’t stupid. He knew he needed to have songs that could become video hits. MTV was rising faster than expected and if the 70’s rockers wanted a chance to play in the 80’s, they needed video hits. The album is co-produced by Nile Rodgers and it features a young guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan.
“Modern Love” and “China Girl” are two such pop songs that also work well in a rock/melodic metal setting.
Pink Floyd – “One Of The Few” from The Final Cut
I didn’t like the album when it came out and I still don’t like it today.
However, “One Of The Few” has a cool guitar riff that still stands the test of time for me. Wikipedia tells me, it was a left over cut from “The Wall” sessions called “Teach”. The only problem with the song is the length. It’s only a 1 minute and 12 seconds long and to me it shows the level of laziness Pink Floyd got too after the mega success of “The Wall”.
Roger Waters covers the vocals, the acoustic guitar and the synthesizer on the track.
Savatage – Sirens
Early albums have a certain raw innocence. According to Wikipedia, the albums was recorded and mixed all in one day (it’s all they could afford), with most of the songs prepared no more than a week before the recording session.
The title track about female sirens waiting to feast on men lost at sea is a perfect example. It’s heavy however it shows enough of the progressive fusion style that would appear on later Savatage albums.
Bryan Adams – Cuts Like a Knife
He co-wrote one of the heaviest Kiss songs in “War Machine” with Jim Vallance. His work ethic of writing songs for other artists, and releasing new music yearly led to the mega smash “Reckless” in 1984. Those hit’s don’t happen out of the blue or by releasing product every 2 to 3 years. They happen due to creativity and being constantly in the marketplace. Quantity creates quality.
“Cuts Like A Knife”
Drivin’ home this evening
I coulda sworn we had it all worked out
But you didn’t have it all worked out. You have those arguments, then you make up and you feel like it’s all okay, but the other half knows it’s time to move on.
“What’s It Gonna Be” is cool musically, but the lyrics don’t work for me and they don’t do the music justice.
Asia – Alpha
“Alpha” sold a lot but it was still seen as a failure by the record label because it didn’t match the sales of the debut album a year before. For me, even though Steve Howe was in the band, he wasn’t really part of the song writing, so you don’t hear his progressive jazzy bluesy fusion vibe in the songs. Song writing overall is carried out by John Wetton and Geoff Downes and it’s pop rock all the way.
And for a bunch of guys who played in progressive bands in the 70’s, Asia was a perfect re-invention of their talents into a pop rock entity.
It’s like a REO Speedwagon song merged with the groove/chord progression from “Stand By Me”. I dig how it sounds musically and melodically, but man the lyrics just don’t connect.
The Heat Goes On
This song reminds me of an Aldo Nova or Billy Squier song. I dig the melodies and music, but not the lyrics.
As soon as I heard the start of the song I thought of Marillion, but Asia came first. Then the song morphs into a pop rock tune.
For you the tables turned full circle now
And all those people you call friends
See who defends you when you’re down again
Don’t count on money-spinners then
The truth is no one defends you when you’re down. Everyone is serving their own interest.
Open Your Eyes
Lyrically the song is about a model living in a model material world and wilfully blind to what life and the world has to offer. In saying that, the song does have some cool lines.
Open your eyes
And see the world that stands before you now
So true. Open your eyes people and see what stands before you.
Do your own research. Read far and wide and listen to arguments for and arguments against your views.
Because one thing in life is certain.
And then you will ask yourself, what percentage of your life you devoted to experiencing what life has to offer instead of living in the tribe and the tribe mentality.
Uriah Heep – Head First
Uriah Heep is another 70’s act that had to re-establish itself in the 80’s MTV world. So it was no surprise the band delivered a very pop sounding 15th album. Yep, fifteenth album.
Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake are in the band, which Daisley left after the recording to rejoin Ozzy Osbourne. I guess money talks and the offer was just too good to refuse. The other Ozzy connection is keyboardist John Sinclair, who would start to appear on Ozzy albums from 1986’s “The Ultimate Sin” and onwards.
The problem with this album is the label. It went into liquidation a month after its release.
“The Other Side Of Midnight”
It’s written by the band as in Mick Box, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, John Sinclair and Peter Goalby.
Musically and melodically the song is good, but the lyrics are a mess about a man who is sneaking and creeping in the shadows, watching some woman he’s going to take on the other side of midnight.
“Lonely Nights” is written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and it appeared on Bryan Adams album from 1982. Isn’t it interesting how massive Bryan Adams was in terms of song writing during this period. “War Machine” from Kiss. Yep that was Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance as well.
I hear every word you’re saying
They’re all lies
Like “The Other Side Of Midnight”, it’s written by the band and while it’s pretty cool musically (it’s basically a speed metal song), lyrically it’s a mess about red lights on the highway which morphs into the red light district and suddenly he’s on his knees, unable to keep away.
It’s another song written by the band. Musically its good and even the lyrics are pretty cool about racing cars in the streets.
Axe – Nemesis
Remember “Rock ‘N’ Roll Party In The Streets”. It’s from Axe’s 1982 album “Offering”. A very catchy song from a band called “Axe”. And that my friend’s is the problem. The name “Axe” didn’t really market the band to its full potential. The band had a pop sense of melody that was pretty cool, however the band name painted a picture of a band void of melody and focused on mythic kings and queens.
Young hands reaching
For the goal they can’t attain
Leaders and corporations want us to serve. They don’t want us to think and have our own ideas and viewpoints. But every human being on Earth is born to be curious. We seek information because we want to know. And the more we know, the more we question. But being curious and seeking useless information can also keep us distracted, scrolling through our social media feeds or watching stupid YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft or something similar.
“I Think You’ll Remember Tonight”
I ain’t special, baby, I’m just a man
Who don’t look quite as good as I used to
I been around, baby, I understand
You can see by my face all the wars that I been through
Experiences are what life’s about. They create our stories and fill up our diary pages.
It’s a simple moody number that could have come from a Pink Floyd album.
They told me what was right and wrong and they
Harped upon it much too long for my taste
The faceless “they” could be teachers, parents and other institutions that want to create slaves with a hive mind mentality.
They told me how it used to be
Expecting everyone to see through their eyes
At some point in time in the 80’s, school stopped being about learning the basics and expanding your mind, to becoming a factory producing like-minded individuals who see the world through the eyes of the institution. The media companies who we once looked for truth also became platforms to brain wash people to see the world in the eyes of their billionaire owner.
Axe was touring with Mötley Crüe in 1984 when their guitarist was killed in a vehicle accident. Another member was badly injured and the band broke up after the accident.
Michael Bolton – Michael Bolton
Bolton was a rocker first and a balladeer later. He was in a hard rock band called Blackjack with Bruce Kulick between 79/80, so it was no surprise to see Bruce Kulick on lead guitar when Bolton went solo. Even Bruce’s bro, Bob Kulick makes an appearance. Another favourite guitarist of mine, Al Pitrelli replaced Kulick for the tour which was cancelled after four shows.
The way this song starts off with the keys, I could swear it influenced the whole melodic rock movement.
The guitar solo on this song is also from Bolton himself. Yep, good old crooner Bolton can play a mean guitar. Lyrically, Bolton talks about how he told a lady he loves her and she didn’t tell him the same back.
“She Did the Same Thing”
Bob Kulick plays rhythm guitar on this, while Bruce Kulick takes the lead guitar spotlight. Musically and melodically the song is good. Lyrically it deals with a woman who burned a friend and Bolton is telling that friend, yep, she did that same thing to me. It’s Shakespearean all the way (as I insert a laughing out loud emoji).
“Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go”
As soon as the riff kicks in, it reminds me of Bad Company/Free for some reason.
Bob Kulick also plays rhythm guitar on this song while Bruce Kulick takes the lead guitar spotlight again and even Aldo Nova gets a credit, playing the synth. Lyrically this song deals with not being able to let someone go because of the history. But Bolton knows he should because the relationship is over.
U2 – War
It was well into the 90’s that I finally heard this album. I knew “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Years Day” from the video clips and they are to me, the only good songs on the album which also worked great as hard rock tunes.
“Broken bottles under children’s feet, bodies strewn across the dead-end street”, from “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”
“Under a blood red sky, a crowd has gathered in black and white, arms entwined, the chosen few, the newspapers says, says it’s true”, from “New Year’s Day”
Divinyls – Desperate
The song “Boys In Town” was all over the TV and the radio. It’s vocalists Chrissy Amphlett’s take on a young woman having a good time with the neighbourhood boys, until she suddenly sees the life she’s created, which she wants to escape from.
“Boys In Town”
I was always driving home
All the boys in town
But they never telephoned
Get me out of here
Chrissy Amphlett (RIP) was a powerhouse front woman. She was as aggressive as the men and led the Divinyls with an abandonment of a punk rocker. Add to the mix her stormy relationship with her song writing partner and band mate Mark McEntee, which further fuelled the angst.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “Here Comes The Rain Again” and “Who’s That Girl” are great pop songs that worked well in a rock/metal context when covered. Hell, Marilyn Manson gave “Sweet Dreams” a new lease of life with his gothic industrial re-interpretation.
Spandau Ballet – True
Being the long haired lout I was, I hated the way this band looked, but man they could write a good pop tune that worked well in a rock context. “Pleasure”, “Gold” and “True” are such songs. Great to re-interpret on guitar for a rock setting and it was interesting learning sax solos for lead guitar.
Elton John – Too Low For Zero
Elton John along with Bernie Taupin wrote pop songs that worked well as rock songs. “Kiss The Bride” and “I’m Still Standing” are two such songs I covered in various bands I was in.
Jim Steinman moved from Meatloaf to Bonnie Tyler. Big production, big songs and a lot of piano lines ripped off from classical music. But the best song on this album is “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” a cover of a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. For me, it was the first time I heard the song and it made me seek out the original.
Yes – 90125
This is album number 11 and the band is a very different beast from its Seventies incarnation. Actually Yes broke up in 1981 after the “Drama” tour. The band at the time was Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Trevor Horn, and Geoffrey Downes.
Bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White formed Cinema with guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin. Actually producer Mutt Lange (who used Rabin as a session muso) introduced Rabin to Squire and White. Original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye who had left Yes in 1971 joined soon after and was let go not long after. Trevor Horn tried as singer, but was unsuccessful and ended up as their producer. Original Yes singer Jon Anderson, returned to record the lead vocals, leading Cinema to change their name to Yes.
Meanwhile Steve Howe and Geoffrey Downes co-formed Asia. And both hands had massive success with their albums. I guess you can’t keep good musos down.
“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is a massive song. Even though the song is listed as being written by the band, the basic idea and monster intro riff came from Rabin.
Give your free will a chance
You’ve got to want to succeed
There are differing viewpoints on who wrote what lyrics for this song and maybe these differing viewpoints is what makes the song so good.
“Changes” is another song from Rabin’s demo tape and it’s a progressive tour de force that moves between King Crimson style prog merged with the old Yes into something from “The Police” like “Message In A Bottle” and when the chorus comes in, it’s pop rock. As Wikipedia tells me, the song was written by Rabin during a “depressed time”, after a potential solo album deal with Geffen Records fell through as they wished for him to join a band and play more “like Foreigner”.
I’m moving through some changes
I’ll never be the same
Something you did touched me
There’s no one else to blame
Is the “YOU” the label or a person?
Regardless, we make changes or go through changes because something happened. And the something could come from an institution, a corporation, an entity or a person.
“Our Song” has one of those intros reminiscent of those summer teen flicks.
It gives us a reason
That good remedy
Music has magic
That stuff of syncopation
It’s a cool lyric. Musicians to me, write songs which reflect us back to ourselves. The way they feel about music is how music lovers feel about music. Music gives them a reason, it gives us a reason. They see it as a remedy and we also see it as a remedy. They believe music has magic and we also believe music has magic, otherwise how else would you describe the sounds.
“City of Love”
Wikipedia tells me that “City of Love” was inspired by Rabin’s visit to Harlem in New York City while on his way to a rehearsal with Foreigner. His taxi arrived at the wrong address and to a more dangerous part of the area.
Street corner wonder lust
Beckoning the good guy
Take this, get that
Have a good time
Yes I wonder what was on offer at the street corner.
Good timing has its good price
One trick and you’re stuck with the dice
How they jive and jingle
When you’re their sacrifice
It’s easy for a fun situation to turn bad. It’s easy for people to score, but will that score cost them their life. The war on drugs started in the 70’s. The Colombian cartels made it global and suddenly Governments all over the world wanted a piece of the billion dollar pie. And new agencies got formed to stop the drugs and they are failing. There are more drugs on the streets today than there ever was.
And there it is.
1983 has come to a close. I guess 1984 is next.