It was rainy outside and I needed some tunes, so I went to my trusty Spotify app.
And when I went to the home page Y&T’s “In Rock We Trust” album was staring at me to press play.
And when the opening F#m chords started, I felt the same way I did back in the day when I first heard “Rock And Roll’s Gonna Save The World”.
I believe it will happen. While most artists now say yes to everything and that involves playing private shows for corporations or oil sheiks, music will one day be the saviour. Wait, its already happened in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure”, and how “God Gave Rock and Roll” to everyone.
Then again when Dave Meniketti started singing about kings and queens and presidents and Arab sheiks trying to take the world in hand, and fighting over chunks of sand, I wasn’t sure if it was 1984 or 2019. Not much has changed except that you don’t need to fight when you’re rocking right.
But the lines that resonated with me, are how we have the power to lift our voices up and scream.
So why aren’t we doing it?
Our ABC Newsroom got raided today by the Federal Police all because they didn’t like a story the station ran a few years ago on Afghanistan and our military abuses. And no one has raised an eyebrow. By tomorrow, its forgotten news. We cycle through things so fast that nothing lasts.
Then the drum intro starts for “Life, Life, Life” and bands like Slaughter built their career of writing songs like this. But Y&T were first. They were first at everything except mainstream success. And you can tell they wanted it, because they started chasing the mainstream between 1987 and 1991.
The lyrics of a bloody scene as a missile rushes in and the sound of the world coming to an end could have come from a thrash metal release. But this is Y&T.
That pre- chorus lyric of “it’s too late” captures the melody and the urgency of the era perfectly because even though the politicians are voted in by the people, they don’t work for the people. They work for whoever pays them.
Meniketti also told us to “Pull our head out of the sand” and “Break the chain of command”. 35 years later, we still haven’t listened. The chain of command has gotten even more out of reach, while we took the lies hook, line and sinker and spiralled into debt and became enslaved into the system. And so many of us will just say, well I guess that’s life, life, life.
“Masters and Slaves” continues the trend.
That harmony lead in “I’ll Keep On Believin” gets me coming back to the song, just to hear it. And Great White took the music from “Break Out Tonight”, changed the lyrics and called it “Rock Me” to platinum success.
And while side one was political in nature to a certain degree, side two kicks off with bondage and relationships at the forefront in “Lipstick and Leather”. Personally, the music is rocking and heavy and more serious lyrics would have suited it a lot better.
But when the riff from “Don’t Stop Runnin’” kicks in, I was re-hooked. Although I don’t relate to the lyrics that bassist Phil Kennemore wrote, the chorus got me hooked and I transposed my own message to the song, to just keep on going, chasing my dreams and living my life on my terms and not anyone else’s. Of course the song, is not about that, but hey, we all form our own unique connection.
And side two continues the theme about relationships, with “(Your Love Is) Drivin Me Crazy” (has a great intro/verse riff), “She’s A Liar” (forgettable) and “This Time” (a great ballad which was a big hit in the City Of Thunder Bay) .
For the record, “This Time” has got some pretty cool guitar playing, from the intro arpeggios to the lead breaks and how can you not like the big major key chorus.
And then I was “Over The Edge” with Hurricane, the band which featured the younger brothers of Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot in a role reversal. Robert Sarzo played guitar and Tony Cavazo played bass. I really liked this album. It’s got a perfect blend of rock, metal overtones and pop like sensibilities to connect.
“I hope tomorrow I will be stronger than today” is the lyric line which connected. Bravado is a big thing in male culture. We can’t show weakness, we can’t act like a sissy, we need to be strong and life has a funny way of making sure we are in situations we’re we show weakness.
And that harmony lead from Robert Sarzo nails it and then he goes into shred like mode.
The first version of “I’m Eighteen” I ever heard was here, on this album. “I get confused every day” is the lyric which I like, because, as you get older, you need to start making real choices, and I didn’t have enough information to make those choices, but I still made them, and man I was confused. But as the song goes, I’m eighteen and I like it.
“I’m On To You” has a simple groove and riff which gets me. The lyrics, don’t really do anything for me, but hey, this was the thing with 80’s bands that irked me; they would move between songs of rebellion, to songs about relationships and it wouldn’t flow. But the lead break was enough to get me listening and pressing repeat and the vocal melodies in the Chorus, you got to admit deserved a higher spot on the charts.
“Messin’ With A Hurricane” rocks melodically and I like the lyric line about scratching for what I got and how no one is going to take it away, cause if they mess with me, they are messing with a hurricane.
“Insane” showed how insane the band was to include it, but “We Are Strong” made up for it with its Boston like influences.
“Life is tough sometimes and it tries to get you down” and it always will, because from our first breath, we are fighting to stay alive. And that guitar solo from Sarzo, mimics Sambora’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” guitar solo and even the chord progressions are all pretty similar to songs which had a co-write by Desmond Child.
That palm-muted, fast picked opening line was enough to get me interested in “Spark In My Heart”. ‘I’ve got to be myself, learn to be a man”, along with “pack up my fears and leave them all behind” are the lyric lines which connected.
It’s a coming of age of when you need to separate from the family, the comforts of home and walk your own path. Hell, my Dad, didn’t talk to me for months when I moved out, yet, it was okay for him to cross an ocean and come to another country in order to “walk his own path”.
“Shout” should have been the closer. “You got to shout out to the world” and “don’t let anyone stand in your way” is the message. It was brilliant, and deserved to be heard.
Kelly Hansen on vocals is excellent and his talents have taken him all the way to Foreigner, a gig he has held since 2005. Robert Sarzo nailed it on guitar on this album, but was replaced by Doug Aldrich for the next album (which I purchased, but was pissed off because Sarzo was not on it) and is part of the band in its current incarnation. Tony Cavazo is underrated and in the shadows of his more famous brother, and Jay Schellen at that time was one of the finest hard rock drummers around and very underrated.
And the message for the day folks is don’t get comfortable and keep on running to find your own path, your own voice and to use that voice when you need to.