UFO – Misdemeanor
I was always on the fence when it came to UFO in the 80’s without Schenker, however I always tried to get access to their music.
It’s studio album number 12 and no one really expected the band to return after they called it quits during the disastrous tour supporting “Making Contact”.
But music is a lifers game and Phil Mogg is a lifer. He spent some time in LA and through his association with Shrapnel boss Mike Varney, he came across guitarist Atomik Tommy M. His real name is Tommy McClendon and after UFO he spent time with Brian Wheat and his band Soulmotor plus a few other LA bands.
So Mogg decided to form a NEW band, with Atomik Tommy M and bassist Paul Gray, who played on the “Making Contact” tour. Another UFO bandmate in Paul Raymond joined on keys and drummer Robbie France completed the line-up.
They started writing and Chrysalis Records was interested to sign them. But the catch was, they wanted to sign them as UFO and not as a new group.
Experienced producer Nick Tauber was tapped to produce. Thin Lizzy and Marillion are two bands that come to mind when Tauber’s name is mentioned. And of course problems came about during the recording process over contracts and payments. Drummer Robbie France left before the recording started and was replaced by former Magnum drummer Jim Simpson. And Paul Raymond quit the band during their US tour in support of this album.
One thing that really stands out is the synths in the songs, which makes this sound like a modern album, more in the vein of a couple of Canadian acts like Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite. And that’s not a bad thing. Also each lead break from Atomik Tommy M reminds me of Bruce Kulick and how he got a lead spotlight on the synth heavy Kiss songs in the mid to late 80’s and totally nailed each spotlight.
I remember the website Ultimate Classic Rock rating this as the second worst UFO album. This is what they said;
“By 1985’s ‘Misdemeanor,’ UFO, like many of their classic-rock peers, had been tragically infected by ‘80s studio disease: a grotesque but common affliction that covered its victim in sonic warts like synthesizers, triggered snare drums and squeaky guitars. At the time, UFO’s prognosis was bleak (unless you were a Starship fan!) but the band recovered from these ailments in due time.”
A Mogg and Gray cut called “This Time” starts the album with a memorable synth riff and a solo section which reminds me of Boston at the start and then some shred kicks in.
“One Heart” and “Night Run” are written by Gray, Mogg and Tommy McClendon. They are your typical AOR style of songs. So far removed from UFO’s 70’s sound and output, but artists do grow and change and sometimes they change because they are trying to fit in and remain relevant and sometimes they change because the members change.
“Mean Streets” is a song in which the guitar takes centre stage and its totally worth the wait. That riff is nasty, there’s a sense of danger to it. And it’s a co-write with Tommy McClendon.
“Name Of Love” is another co-write with McClendon, so it’s no surprise that it kicks off with a hard rock guitar riff, before it morphs into a Honeymoon Suite style of song. And how good is the lead break?
“Blue” and that outro with the finger tapped solo. It’s the shining light for me on a Mogg and Gray cut.
“Heaven’s Gate” has a crazy intro (which is brought back into the song in the outro) and a guitar solo which is guitar hero worthy. It has melody and it has speed and Bruce Kulick comes to mind. It’s also written by McClendon and Mogg.
This album is often ignored or despised or it’s a cult favourite. I enjoyed the mainstream AOR rock approach and even though it was meant to be a NEW band, there are still some classic sounding riffs in here.
The Alan Parsons Project – Stereotomy
Named after a word from an Edgar Allan Poe book, which means “the cutting of existing solid shapes into different forms”, and on this track its used as a metaphor for fame and how artists are shaped and cut to meet the demands of fame.
I like TAPP because AP uses different singers and his albums have a playlist/mixtape feel.
And how good is the title track?
It’s a cross between The Police, Journey and Loverboy. Lead vocals are handled by John Miles, who already had a successful progressive rock career up to this point.
“Beaujolais” is basically The Police with vocals by Chris Rainbow nailing that Sting vibe.
“In The Real World” has John Miles on vocals again and musically it could have come from an Autograph album.
“Where’s The Walrus?” is an instrumental that could have come from a Beverly Hills Cop movie.
“Light Of The World” reminds me of Marillion, like those synth led ballads. It has Graham Dye on vocals, from the English progressive rock band Scarlet Party.
And the album closes with “Stereotomy Two” with John Miles on vocals again.
Molly Hatchett – The Deed Is Done
This album is way to underrated.
Like the UFO or Phil Mogg solo album, this is a band bringing in contemporary and modern sounds of the time into their music. It would have upset the hard core fans but that doesn’t mean it didn’t rock. And one band comes to mind listening to this album, ZZ Top and their albums, “Afterburner” and “Eliminator”.
“Satisfied Man” sounds like it came from those ZZ Top albums and a certain song called “Sharp Dressed Man”. Regardless, I like it.
“Backstabber” could have been written by Gene Simmons for a Kiss album.
“She Does She Does” has the riffs, the brass sections and it’s party time, about a baby who has the looks and the moves.
I feel like “Stone In Your Heart” might have influenced Desmond Child or Desmond Child might have influenced Molly Hatchett, as I hear his song writing style with Bon Jovi.
“Good Smoke And Whiskey” is another track that could have come from the “Eliminator” album. It’s perfect.
“Heartbreak Radio” is back to their traditional Southern Rock and Blues sound but it’s a Frankie Miller cover who is one of the best soul rock blues singers ever.
“Straight Shooter” is dripping in blues rock attitude and a favourite. And album closer “Song For The Children” is probably one of the best Led Zep III instrumental cuts that Jimmy Page didn’t write, with its acoustic arpeggios, strumming and delicate medieval like lead.
Tear For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair
I hated the album cover. It’s a picture of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. My metal and rock brain couldn’t compute how I could like the tunes made by these dudes. Talk about a bias, hey. I didn’t even want to hold it in my hand at the record store because it was gonna lose me some street cred with my mates.
But the songs.
Man, they could write songs. And that’s what is important to me.
“Shout” kicks it all off and then it’s followed by “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. The lyrics touch on everything that is real and topics that are still relevant today.
Nikki Sixx even took inspiration from “Shout” for “Primal Scream”.
There is some fluff on here, but “Head Over Heels” redeems the album, which makes up the holy trinity of songs to push this album into the stratosphere.
All up, 8 songs and most of em don’t follow your average pop formulas, with extended intros or interludes or outros.
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
There was no escape from this album.
Mark Knofler delivered on this one, staying true to his bluesy rock and roll pop influences to satisfy his core and bringing in some contemporary and modern sounds and riffs to pull in a whole new generation of fans.
“So Far Away” doesn’t really forecast the monster that would invade the airwaves and MTV. That track is called “Money For Nothing”.
Did he write it as a sledge to Motley Crue and he even called em, Yo-Yo’s?
That riff, the only way to play it is with your fingers. Don’t even attempt to use a pick, because it doesn’t even come close to capturing the feel, sort of like “Smoke On The Water”. Blackmore plays that intro with his fingers.
And if “Money For Nothing” didn’t grab ya, the sweet sounds of the 60’s boardwalks would with “Walk Of Life”. But that’s not all, the sweet notes of the saxophone kick off “Your Latest Trick” and I couldn’t turn it off. If the album ended here, I would have been happy.
Then “Ride Across The River” begins and the groove just hooks me in. Hearing this song again today, reminds of the songs that Gotye created. It has these kind of grooves. Just listen to all of the midi key riffs.
The closer and title track, “Brothers In Arms”, how good is it?
The feel, the guitar licks, the folky feel and the way it percolates. This is writing to please oneself and not to please a chart. And when this kind of writing happens, it crosses over and translates to many.
Aerosmith – Done With Mirrors
According to legend, this album did huge numbers in Thunder Bay. In Australia we didn’t even know it existed as Aerosmith’s comeback was tied with “Permanent Vacation”.
“Let The Music Do The Talking” kicks off and it’s loud, it has groove, it has slide guitar and Steve Tyler is bringing out his rock and roll blues. Plus it’s a re-recording from Joe Perry’s solo album released a few years before.
“My Fist Your Face” has an intro that sounds like it belongs on a 70’s Sabbath album, but from the verses it’s your typical Aerosmith song.
“She’s On Fire” is my favourite. That slide acoustic guitar riff is excellent, and while Kramer and Perry and everyone else claim the record is uninspired and terrible, there is no denying the quality of the riffs here. Then again, when you a have history of guitar store riffs in your discography, these ones might seem like off cuts.
And since Led Zeppelin wasn’t making any new music, then its Zep sounding cuts on albums from other artists that would satisfy the Led Zep fans. Like this one.
Well that’s a wrap for another 85 post and over to 77 we go for Part 8.