All of these album I came across much later than 1985. Some even well into the 2000’s and courtesy of torrents.
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad
I never got into em at the time nor did anyone I hanged with, talk about em. But the 2000’s gave me access to their music and man, there is a lot of good stuff on their albums.
Like “Nervous Man” on this album. The riff would have subconsciously inspired Hetfield for “Cyanide”. “For The Sake Of Heaviness” sounds like a Dokken cut without the melodic vocals. “Aftermath” sounds like a cut that Crimson Glory would write in a year’s time. Then again Evergrey’s first album had cuts like this.
Saxon – Innocence Is No Excuse
Saxon are one of my favourite acts. A lot of fans hated the albums on the EMI label, but it’s those albums that made me a fan. The switch from Carrere was going to happen eventually as the band wasn’t getting their royalty cut.
“Rockin’ Again” feels like a Def Leppard cut. I was hooked as soon as the clean tone arpeggios started. “Call Of The Wild” starts off with a classic fast riff like the old albums, but once the verses kick in, its melodic metal baby.
“Devil Rides Out” has a verse vocal melody that is reminiscent of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken. “Everybody Up” has a riff that reminds me of the one riff to rule them all.
“Broken Heroes” has been a favourite for a while. “Give It Everything You Got” has that LA Sunset Strip vibe that a band from Pasadena brought to prominence.
And if you want to read a review that puts it nicely, head over to HMO.
Kix – Midnite Dynamite
I love the “Sin City” feel to kick off “Midnite Dynamite”. And the pre-chorus is totally different, more in the vein of Def Leppard with open string arpeggios and a melodic rock hook. Then the Chorus moves into a Judas Priest like riff. And that my friends, is why Kix became a band I like.
Main songwriter Donnie Purnell had a unique way of blending a lot of different influences into a cohesive hard rock track. On this album, he teamed up with Bob Halligan Jr for 7 tracks. The title track being one of em. And if you don’t know who Bob Halligan Jr is, then you’ve never listened to Kiss, Helix, Judas Priest, Bonfire or Icon.
Then there is “Bang Bang (Balls Of Fire) which has Kip Winger contributing a song writing credit with Purnell and Halligan Jr. It’s melodic rock.
“Walkin’ Away” is a synth heavy ballad with a great arena rock chorus. It could appear on a Duran Duran album and not be out of place. “Scarlet Fever” is the embryo to “Blow My Fuse”.
And 3 years later, Kix would really hit the top with the excellent “Blow My Fuse”. But that’s for a different year in review.
Icon – Night Of The Crime
Eddie Kramer produced it. Ron Nevison mixed it. Mike Clink assisted the mix.
Capitol Records spared no expense in making sure this album had everything it could have to make it. Bob Halligan Jr song writing contributions are all over it. Six of the songs are either written or co-written by him.
It’s melodic rock. Like all of the current Frontiers artists. Kerrang readers voted this album number 3 in an AOR list. Only “Journey –Escape” and “Michael Bolton – Everybody’s Crazy” were in front.
Unfortunately Capitol had no idea how to market the band.
Well they had no idea either, as the album brings to mind Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Dokken, Night Ranger, Europe, Coney Hatch and Y & T.
The first two Halligan Jr cuts “Naked Eyes” and “Missing” establish that his album is going to be an AOR behemoth.
A favourite is “Danger Calling” at track three, a cut written by Halligan Jr and Icon guitarist Dan Wexler. This song could have appeared on a Judas Priest album and not be out of place. And the AOR rock continues with the Wexler and Stephen Clifford cut, “(Take Another) Shot At My Heart”.
“Out For Blood” is written by Wexler and co-guitarist John Aquilino. It has a two minute and ten seconds “acoustic guitar/electric guitar solo” moment like those Shrapnel Records. Then the song begins.
But the best song is “Raise The Hammer”. It’s written by Halligan Jr. The intro/verse riff is one of the best Judas Priest riffs that Tipton and Downing didn’t write. Then that Chorus. You’ll be singing it. Bonfire took this melodic metal style and sound and ran with it a few years later.
The keyboard led “Frozen Tears” (another Halligan Jr cut) reminds me of Toto.
“The Whites of Their Eyes” has this Lynch meets Scorpions style riff, which a band like Leatherwolf would take and run with a few years later. “Hungry for Love” is your typical “Fallen Angel” lyrical theme with a catchy chorus and metal verse riff.
“Rock My Radio” closes the album. It’s got some decent guitar work, a driving beat and a derivative but catchy, harmony chorus you will like.
Phenomena – Phenomena
This project was awesome. Formed by record producer Tom Galley and his brother, Mel Galley fresh from a stint with Whitesnake.
It’s another melodic AOR rock classic and it’s a who’s who of artist on the tracks.
The first track, “Kiss Of Fire” is written by Richard Bailey (the keyboardist from Magnum) and Tom Galley. It has Glenn Hughes on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums, Neil Murray on bass, Richard Bailey on keyboards and John Thomas (from Budgie) on guitar. And it’s a great melodic rock song to start the way.
“Still The Night” is from the Thrall/Hughes project (written by Pat Thrall and Paul Delph) from a few years before and again, it has Glenn Hughes on vocals, Ted McKenna (MSG) on drums and John Thomas/Mel Galley on guitars with Robin Smith (songwriter and studio muso on various sessions) on the keys. This song is a favourite.
“Dance With The Devil” is written by Richard Bailey, Mel Galley and Tom Galley. Glenn Hughes wails away on vocals, while the band is rounded out by Cozy Powell on drums, Neil Murray on bass, Richard Bailey on keyboards and John Thomas/Mel Galley on guitar. There is a mean fiddle melodic riff which sounds like Kansas.
“Phoenix Rising” is written by Bailey and the Galley brothers. The band this time around is Hughes on vocals, Powell on drums, Murray on bass, Mel Galley on guitar and Bailey on keyboards.
I love the way this starts off with a clean tone guitar playing arpeggios and keys adding effects. It sounds like a soundtrack to a Christopher Nolan movie.
“Who’s Watching You” is written by Tom Galley and Mel Galley. It has McKenna on drums, Galley on guitar, Don Airey on keyboards, Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals. As soon as the riff kicks in, I’m all in.
“Hell On Wings” is written by the Galley brothers with Bailey. The band is Murray on bass, Powell on drums, Galley on guitar, Bailey on keys and Hughes on vocals. It’s got this harmony lead in the start that screams Thin Lizzy.
“Twilight Zone” is written by Bailey and Tom Galley. The band is Murray on bass, Powell on drums, Thomas and Galley on guitars, Bailey on keys and the mighty Hughes on vocals. The intro lead hooks me, the verses lose me, the Chorus loses me, but the music keeps me interested.
Helix – Long Way To Heaven
Helix are severely under-represented on Spotify. This album is not on it. But YouTube has it.
It’s on Capitol Records, the same Capitol that had Icon and Bob Halligan Jr working together and the same Capitol that had a reputation as a label which didn’t really know how to promote their metal and rock acts.
“The Kids Are All Shakin” could have appeared on an Autograph album. It’s a perfect major key radio rock anthem.
Mr Bob Halligan Jr makes an appearance again in the song writing department, with “Deep Cuts The Knife” a co-write with Paul Hackman and “Ride The Rocket” a co-write with Brian Vollmer. I should have called this post the Bob Halligan Jr post.
As soon as the arpeggios kick off “Deep Cuts The Knife” I was hooked. Then the vocal melody started and I was all in. This song is a perfect piece of melodic rock.
The intro to “House Of Fire” is brilliant. Then the fire bell starts ringing, the riffs kick in and it’s time to rock and roll. Hackman and Vollmer wrote a classic here. “Christine” is typical of 1985. So many songs had the similar major key riff. “Turn On The Radio” comes to mind immediately and I’m all in because of the similarity and familiarity.
How good does “Without You (Jasmine’s Song)” start off?
It’s a perfect AOR track and that Chorus remains me with long after the song is finished.
Well that’s a wrap for another 85 post, so off to 1977 for part 7.