Legs Diamond – Legs Diamond
The cover is a great piece of art, with an electric guitar resting on the back of a bullet riddled car boot. A perfect drawing for a band named after a gangster.
This is their debut album, released on Mercury Records with Derek Lawrence producing. I’m pretty sure it’s the same Lawrence who did Angel and Kiss albums on Casablanca. And Mercury records didn’t know how to promote the album, nor did they give the album any budget for promotion.
“It’s Not The Music” kicks it off and it rocks hard. “Stage Fright” starts off with a riff that sounds like something that Rush would use for “Limelight” and a vocal line that Robert Plant would be proud of. But the style of the song is more Deep Purple.
“Satin Peacock” has a riff which is instantly memorable. Rumour has it that Gene Simmons liked the song so much, he wanted to record it for Kiss.
“Rock And Roll Man” is an interesting song, with riffs, a flute (yes, a flute) and a solo that starts off with fast open string pull off licks before it goes into the usual pentatonic stuff.
“Deadly Dancer” has a bass riff which can sink ships. “Rat Race” is a blues groove rumble in the verses and a metal like cut in the Chorus with a nod to some Deep Purple.
“Can’t Find Love” has a two minute synth like intro before the distortion blasts out of the speakers.
And the album is full of cuts that move between rock, blues rock and progressive rock.
They only made three albums during this period, before breaking up in 1980 and then reforming in 1984 after their first three albums started to become cult favourites. But that re-formation failed to capitalise on any of the MTV success that other bands started to receive.
Nazareth – Expect No Mercy
The Frank Frazetta drawings just kept on making appearances on metal and rock albums. And Frazetta also inspired other artists to make their own derivative versions of his works.
This is Nazareth’s ninth album in seven years.
Nazareth at this stage had more in common with the soon to be NWOBHM than what they were known for. And this album is a weird amalgamation of blues, rock, country, funk and metal. In other words it’s a typical 70’s album, when bands had diversity and weren’t scared to try things out.
Guitarist Manny Charlton by this stage was also in the producer’s chair.
The original cut of this album was rejected by the label on two occasions because of its heaviness. And man, those label heads would have been thinking, “what did we do here, allowing these guys to self-produce”. The songs that got left off appeared on another album as bonus tracks. I can’t remember which one.
And what a frantic song the title track is?
As soon it starts, it’s in your face. Its part blues, part speed rock and it sounds like nothing else at that point in time.
Then “Gone Dead Train” kicks in and it’s like a 12 bar blues song with some Rolling Stones chucked in. Then again, it’s written by outside writers in Jack Nitzsche and Russ Titelman and appeared on The Crazy Horse albums with Neil Young. In other word, a country rock song which has been Nazareth’d.
“Revenge Is Sweet” brings back the energy of “Expect No Mercy”.
Neil Young – American Stars ‘N Bars
The song, “Like A Hurricane”.
It’s deep in the album. I’m glad I stuck the course because the first few cuts didn’t get me interested.
As soon as the fuzzed out lead break started, I was hooked. And then Neil Young started to sing that lead break as the vocal melody. It’s in a minor key and so sad, while the Chorus is in a major key, providing some contrast.
Then the lead break starts and Young is bleeding the emotion out of the guitar, bending notes, missing notes, skipping strings, raking strings, making mistakes and then repeating small little three note licks. He’s in the zone and I don’t want the lead break to stop.
It comes back again, as an outro solo. And at 8 minutes long, I never got bored.
Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
Maybe it was The Eagles or a comparison to Bob Seger that got me to check out Jackson Browne.
This is a live album, not sure how much of it is live or re-recorded in a studio or how much crowd noise got added in the mix. Regardless, it’s a cool listen and if Jackson Brown and his band sounded like this live, then it was worth the price of admission. Then again, tickets went pretty cheap back in those days.
As soon as the first chords started to “Running On Empty”, I could hear what Springsteen would become in a few years’ time. Take a simple groove, jam it, embellish it with different vocal melodies and you have a song that you can’t get out of your head.
As soon as the fingerpicked notes started for “The Road” I was interested. There is just a lot of good guitar playing in this song.
Then there is a cover song. “Stay”. It brings back memories of watching those movies set in the 60’s and early 70’s.
Eddie Money – Eddie Money
Eddie Money came on my radar via interviews with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in the late 80’s. His name was dropped a fair bit.
The opening track “Two Tickets To Paradise” just rolls along uneventful and then the Chorus comes crashing in and I’m hooked. 70’s melodic rock is so different to what came after as it’s rooted more in blues and country rock. This track could have been on a Bob Seger album and it would have worked. It could have been on an Eagles album and it would have worked.
Then the chords start to “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” and the groove gets me interested. “Shandi” from Kiss comes to mind.
The feel is different to the opening track because it’s a Motown cover (originally released in 1962 by Smokey Robinson) and done in Money’s bluesy soul vibe. The Beatles even covered this song on their second album, “With The Beatles”.
“Save A Little Room In Your Heart” continues the blues soul ballad vibe.
“So Good To Be In Love Again” has a vocal melody that is memorable, a piano riff that brings a Spanish like feel and guitar licks and leads to decorate the song nicely.
The riff to kick off “Baby Hold On”, if you just add distortion, some metal phrasing, you get a monster. If you add the feel to “Lose Yourself” from Eminem, you get that Eminem song.
How good is the intro riff and groove to “Don’t Worry”?
If it doesn’t get your foot tapping, check for a pulse.
“Got To Get Another Girl” sounds like the cuts that Richie Kotzen and Joe Bonamassa would end up writing many years later. A bluesy guitar riff with a blues soul rock vocal.
Jimmy Lyon on guitar is a star on this song and on the album overall. And it’s funny how Lyon and Money came to work together. Both were discovered by a Columbia exec and paired together by the same exec.
“Gamblin Man” closes the album, a typical blues rock song in the vein of Free and Bad Company. And for a debut, there isn’t much wrong with it.
Peter Gabriel – 1: Car
It’s not actually called “Car” but given that nickname because of the Strom Thorgerson cover that features a car.
Produced by Bob Ezrin and he knew how to get the best out of the musicians.
One song sent this album out into the world.
“Solsbury Hill”. It’s perfect.
The acoustic riff is instantly recognisable, the synth lines the same and that vocal melody from Gabriel, wow.
And it’s no surprise that Ezrin called in Steve Hunter who he used for Alice Cooper on the Welcome To My Nightmare album for the acoustic guitar playing. Robert Fripp from King Crimson also plays guitar on the album, while future Crimson band member Tony Levin is on bass.
“Modern Love” also rocks out of the gate.
“Slowburn” feels like a Sweet song. The solo hooks me and it’s no surprise that its done by Steve Hunter.
“Down The Dolce Vita” has a horn movie like section for the first 40 seconds, but then a rock funk cut explodes out of the speakers before it morphs back into the cinematic orchestral hits and back to the rock funk. There’s no way you can’t like it. Its progressive in the sense that it incorporates different sonics and genres.
“Here Comes The Flood” percolates until it explodes into a solo section from about 3.30.
And then that outro chorus section. Massive and powerful. These are techniques here that Ezrin would use for “Comfortably Numb” in a few years’ time.
Davie Bowie – Heroes and David Bowie – Low
Two albums in a year.
Of course, “Heroes” is a stand out here, and on Spotify it has reached close to 232 million streams. But I prefer the cover from “The Wallflowers” in the 90’s which isn’t on Spotify.
And nothing huge came from “Low”.
“Always Crashing In The Same Car” has this quirkiness which I like.
“Be My Wife” is excellent musically, so don’t let the terrible title mislead you. “A New Career In A New Town” feels like a country rock song, with a bit of 60’s pop chucked in. There is no singing, just music and the mood it creates.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Bowie, but man, when he wrote songs that crossed over, didn’t they capture the zeitgeist. If not by him, by the people who covered them. And his quirkiness and experimentation led to other artists taking inspiration from that to create their own special.
Well we go back to 2000 for part 9.