With a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor, the year is set for 1985.
Here we go.
Bon Jovi – 7800 Fahrenheit
JBJ hates this album as none of the songs get played live anymore. But to the fans who were there before “Slippery When Wet”, they either like it, understand it or ignore it.
For me, the band needed to get this album written as it pushed the melodic rock/metal sound from the debut to the limit, so a new clean slate was needed.
Check out the melodic guitar work of Richie Sambora on tracks like “The Price Of Love”, “Only Lonely”, “The Hardest Part Is The Night” and “Always Run To You”. And when it comes to balls to the wall riffing, “Tokyo Road”, “In And Out Of Love” and “King Of The Mountain” showcase that AC/DC vibe. The only track I don’t like is “Silent Night”.
Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
I heard “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” on a “Headbangers Heaven” compilation and I became a fan because of the riffs.
“Soldiers Under Command” (the track) is a metal tour de force. That intro riff, influenced by Judas Priest is excellent. “Makes Me Wanna Sing” is another song influenced by Judas Priest and their song “Running Wild”. Then again, so is Maiden with “The Wicker Man” intro riff.
“First Love” is a cool ballad. Probably one of their best ones, but it doesn’t get the dues it deserves because bigger cheesy ballads came after which got some MTV love.
“Waiting For A Love That’s Real” reminds me of “Faithfully” from Journey and “Purple Rain” from Prince, but in a rocking way. And the lead break in this song is guitar hero worthy.
“Surrender” is one of my favourite tracks. It’s got this progressive metal/power metal vibe in the vocals.
The riffs are excellent.
Y&T – Down For The Count
I played this album a few days ago for my boys. They are 15 and 14. And they started pressing “like” and saving songs to their playlists. Songs like “Summertime Girls”, “Anytime At All”, “Hands Of Time” and “In The Name Of Rock”.
I guess there is something about this album that makes 14/15 year old teens like it.
From a guitar point of view “Hands Of Time” stood out straight away and I still like it.
And the band that we knew as Y&T was on their way to breaking up. Leonard Haze would depart after this album and Joey Alves would depart after their 87 “Contagious” album. The fan base would also move on and there wasn’t enough new fans replacing the ones moving on.
Night Ranger – Seven Wishes
“Midnight Madness” is my favourite Night Ranger album, but “Seven Wishes” really tried to compete with it.
After this album, Night Ranger never captured that attitude and energy they had on the first three albums. And you know the saying, your attitude determines your altitude.
The guitar solos on “Seven Wishes” are wow. “Faces” has an awesome synth inspired chorus. “Four In The Morning” has an addictive vocal melody and the guitar leads, man, if they don’t get you playing air guitar, please check yourself for a pulse.
“If “I Need A Woman” was recorded by Robert Palmer, it would have been number 1.
“Sentimental Street” and the solo from Brad Gillis. Triple A, all the way.
“This Boy Needs To Rock” gets that rocking vibe happening again and another guitar solo that makes me play air guitar.
“Night Machine” has some cool guitar riffage and another Triple A lead break.
And I don’t know why these Night Ranger albums are not on Spotify. It’s the dumbest move ever to withhold em, unless you are in dispute with the label about what you should be paid.
Rush – Power Windows
Even if you don’t like the music, you would like the stories in the lyrics.
“Big Money” goes around the world, spreading greed and consuming all. “Big Money” weaves a mighty web and draws the flies. In “Grand Designs” there is so much poison in power.
The “Manhattan Project” tells us about a weapon that would settle the score and how the big bang shook the world at the Rising Sun.
“Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world, than the pride that divides when a colourful rag is unfurled” is classic Neil Peart from the song “Territories”.
In “Middletown Dreams”, dreams transport the ones who need to get out of town.
Accept – Metal Heart
Critics panned it, but hey, who listens to critics. The record label told them it’s a dud because it didn’t reach or outsell their previous efforts. But it’s my favourite Accept record.
“Metal Heart” has this open string riff, which defines the song. Lyrically, it’s 1999 and the human race needs to face some mysterious truth, like “judgement day” style, man versus machine.
Even when Metal bands tried to be serious or sound serious they still ended up sounding comedic.
With the Beethoven licks in the solo, you either like it or hate it.
“Midnight Mover” is basically Scorpions. The arpeggio lick/riff in the intro gets me interested. The single note riffs with pinch harmonics in the verse keeps the interest going. And even though the Chorus sounds very AOR, it’s still heavy metal.
Finally the lead break.
Wolf Hoffman doesn’t get the guitar hero crowns he deserves.
“Up To The Limit” is basically AC/DC. The bass from Peter Baltes just rolls along in the verses, while Hoffman and Fischer play staccato like power chords.
“Wrong Is Right” is basically Judas Priest. That verse riff could have come from the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.
“Screaming For A Love Bite” is a terrible title for a song, but I suppose that’s what makes it memorable. I’ve always enjoyed it when metal bands take major key riffs and put them into their mix. In keeping with themes of other bands, this one could have fitted nicely on a Journey album, even a Night Ranger album.
And like that Side 1 ends, with no filler whatsoever.
Side 2 kicks off with the very AC/DC sounding “Too High To Get It Right”. And how can you not like it, especially that gang like vocal in the Chorus.
“Dogs On Leads” is so underrated and also in the vein of AC/DC. The bass just rumbles while Hoffman plays jangly chords before it kicks into overdrive. Again, the gang like vocals are so loud, they remain with me long after the song is finished.
“Teach Us To Survive” sounds like it came from a Pink Panther movie. Jazz fusion metal.
Artist’s used to do this on albums before, like write a song that was a bit out there, but still rooted in metal. Then when albums became a two to three year cycle, it changed. Suddenly artists either played it safe and stayed true to what came before or they went completely different for the whole next album, not just for a track or two.
“Living For Tonite” has this pulsing bass, guitar and drum groove.
How can you not like it?
“Bound To Fail” is basically a power metal tune in the intro, but when the verses roll around, it’s got that blues rock swagger in the Chorus that Guns N Roses would bring to the masses on “Welcome To The Jungle”.
Again, how can you not like it?
And that’s a wrap for 1985, Part 2.
See you in 1977.