Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1977 – Part 2

Here we are in 1977, for another set of albums that I had heard well into the 90’s. But, I did hear the single cuts that got played on radio or on music video programs.

UFO – Lights Out

Produced by Ron Nevison.

“Too Hot To Handle” is probably why Bad Company started to wane a little bit commercially, as UFO was doing Bad Company better than Bad Company was. Plus UFO had Michael Schenker on guitars, who at the time was the talk of the town, and revered as a “Guitar God”.

If you need any evidence, check out “Try Me”, which has one of Schenker’s best solos ever committed to tape. You need to stick with it, as it comes in the last 90 seconds of the song.

“Lights Out” inspired another classic track which I like in “More Than A Man” from Stryper. Both are F#m grooves and they both have a similar feel. Credit Pete Way for that F#m bass groove which inspired a generation.

“Gettin’ Ready” is pure Bad Company and a very underrated track. “Alone Again” has this “Paint It Black” vibe merged with The Beatles merged with ELO, and it’s cool how UFO covered it.

“Electric Phase” came from well of Joe Walsh and Mountain. That intro riff and the slide guitar in the verses from Schenker are brilliant.

“Love To Love” is one of Steve Harris’s favourite tracks. Europe also covered it for an acoustic album. Michael Schenker even used the guitar riff as the main riff for “Desert Song” which I used to called “Dessert Song” once upon a time.

And “Lights Out” is one of my favourite albums from the UFO era.

Kiss – Love Gun

Produced by Eddie Kramer.

How good is the cover from Ken Kelly?

Kelly’s artwork also graced a few other albums I am in possession of, like, the “Destroyer” album from Kiss, “Rising” from Rainbow, every Manowar album between 1997 and 2007 (which comes to 5 albums in 20 years) and in 2014, it came full circle for Kelly as he did the “Space Invader” artwork for Ace Frehley.

And how good is the riff to kick off “I Stole Your Love”?

And it as a derivative version “Burn” from Deep Purple. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.

“I remember the day that we met, I needed someone, you needed someone too”.

How good is that lyric about life and our need to connect?

“Christine Sixteen” shows how far society has changed. In 1977, it was okay to sing lyrics like these and in 2020 it’s an arrestable offence. Hell, what would Elvis Presley be classed as today, with his shenanigans with Priscila.

“Shock Me” reminds me of “All Right Now” from Free. “Tomorrow And Tonight” has this “BACK In the USSR” feel as it stomps its way through a twelve bar blues rock full of backing singers and honky tonk piano.

“Love Gun” kicks off side 2 and what a song. And if you’ve read “Face The Music” from Paul Stanley, he goes into detail how music is a sum of our influences, as he mentions a few of em for “Love Gun”.

The small solo at the end of “Hooligan” from 2:39 with Peter Criss singing “Ain’t nobody going to pull me down”. It’s perfect.

The main riff in “Almost Human” is a favourite and if you YouTube “Plaster Casters”, apart from the Kiss song, there is a documentary about a certain “plasterer” called Cynthia.

And for a Kiss fan, 1977 held another release in “Alive II”. From reading some of the interviews, it probably had more involvement and effort than the studio album that came before it. There are songs from a Japan show, a LA show and a NJ show, plus sound check songs and studio songs with various overdubs, involving other musicians plus added crowd noise and what.

In the words of “Austin Powers”, groovy baby. And the first “Alive” release I got into was “Alive III” and then “Alive IV” and they are my favourites.

Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick – In Color

They got a deal in 1976 with Epic Records and by the start of 1977, they dropped their self-titled debut and towards the end of the year, the follow up, “In Color”. At the time, both albums were classed as dud’s, but many, many, many years later (as Commandant Lassard from Police Academy would say), “In Color” is in the list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time from Rolling Stone.

So Jack Douglas produced the debut and Tom Werman produced the second. The productions differ on both albums. The debut is raw hard rock, while the second is more polished courtesy of Tom Werman’s layered production. And while the second album didn’t really do much in the U.S, in the place of the rising sun, it made the band superstars. They took their British influences, Americanised em and off they went.

The debut is a cross between punk rock, a bit of new wave which was still in its infancy around the world and rock and roll with blues, sixties pop and hard rock influences. In the 80’s, “Hanoi Rocks” reminded me of early Cheap Trick.

From the debut album, “ELO Kiddies” has a cool Chorus riff. “Taxman, Mr Thief” has an excellent guitar riff, a top vocal performance by Robin Zander and lyrical themes of working hard only for the taxman to get ya. Plus a pretty obvious lyrical influence from The Beatles song called “Taxman”.

“You worked hard and slaved and slaved for years, break your back sweat a lot, well, it’s just not fair”

“Oh, Candy” is a preview of the melodicism to come in the future. “He’s A Whore” is influential. The Ramones borrowed a riff from it, and the blueprint of Foo Fighters can be found in these early Cheap Trick albums. “The Ballad Of TV Violence” shows its nod to “Come Together” from The Beatles which is a nod to another song from Chuck Berry.

On the second album, “Hello There” is over as soon as it began, with an awesome melodic ending which should have gone longer. “Big Eyes” has this interlude riff which becomes the backing riff for the solo section, which I dig. “Downed” has this chorus that inspired some of the songs on “Generation Swine” from Motley Crue.

“I Want You To Want Me” has that “Radar Love” style drum pattern, and an undeniable melodic line, which merges the best of The Beatles into a hard rock ditty.

“You’re All Talk” came from the Mississippi Delta and the Texas Ranges, with its combination of blues and ZZ Top blues boogie. And if you listen closely to the verse riff, you will hear some ideas and concepts that would have inspired a young EVH to end up writing the classic “Hot For Teacher” verse riff.

Bad Company – Burning Sky

Album number 4, which dropped in 1977.

The title track, “Burnin’ Sky” has this pounding beat and that “Wishing Well” vibe from Free in the Chorus. In addition, it’s got a funky bass riff in the Verses, a Mick Ralphs flanged/phased solo and Paul Rodgers wailing away. This track sums up Bad Company to me, with each band members have a place in the song.

“Leaving You” and “Like Water” have good moments, while “Everything I Need” has so many similarities to “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “Louie Louie” and “I Need A Lover”.

See you back in 2000, for part three.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1977 – V1

All of these albums I got many years later. Actually all of my 70’s music came well into the 90’s

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

I knew the songs before I even heard the album. There was no way you could escape AC/DC.

“Dog Eat Dog”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be” and “Whole Lotta Rosie” were always on in car stereos and jukeboxes. The only tracks that were new to me, were “Go Down”, “Overdose” and “Crabsody In Blue” (which was substituted by “Problem Child” for the North American market.

And some of favourite AC/DC riffs are on this album, along with the lyrics, especially the social conscious themes of “Dog Eat Dog”. Plus for a blues based rock band, “Let There Be Rock” is an early precursors of speed metal.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell

In Australia, this album was still massive in the 80’s and it got even bigger in the 90’s when Meatloaf dropped Part 2. Like 25x Platinum like massive for Australia. And my favourite track (apart from the title track) is the ballad, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”.

It was also weird for me to read that another songwriter who is not part of the band solely wrote all the music.

I believe that the success of this album around the world is also down to the resilience that Steinman and Meat Loaf showed to get the album recorded, the band signed and eventually the album released.

Because the project started in 1972 and the songs got rejected because the label heads wanted to hear the typical “verse – chorus” arrangement, which as we know, Jim Steinman didn’t really abide by. Instead he relied more on the theatre/opera style of arrangements and the rest is history. In the US alone, the album is 14 x Platinum.

Queen – News Of The World

How do you follow up two successful albums with multi-tracked harmonies?

You go back to basics and rock out, which is exactly what Queen did with “News Of The World”.

There was no escaping “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” but my favourite track on this album is the John Deacon penned “Spread Your Wings”.

And a bonus mention for the Roger Taylor penned “Fight From The Inside”. Listen to it and you will hear how groovy and hard rock Queen could be. “American Woman” also comes to mind when I hear it. Slash said the guitar riff on this song is one of his favorites and it’s not even played by Brian May, but by drummer Roger Taylor, who also plays bass on the track.

Kansas – Point Of Know Return

I picked up the first five Kansas albums all in one swoop for less than $10. The covers got me interested and all I knew about the band was a few mentions by other artists in interviews from the progressive rock family.

That was it.

I had no idea about “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”. And I played “Point Of Know Return” first because the cover was the best of all em and the song titles interested me.

So I dropped the needle and listened and read the credits and lyrics and became a fan.

Musically it’s a fusion of so many styles, blended in with the distorted sounds of hard rock and a band in top form.

Without Wikipedia or any form of internet to guide me, I had no idea how successful this band was or how their songs became radio staples in America. But it didn’t matter to me, because it these kind of discoveries when you go record hunting that remain.

Rush – A Farewell To Kings

After I was exposed to “Exit Stage Left” I was hooked and I started to seek out the Rush records I could find at the used record shops as CD’s in Australia, were still selling for $30. At one stage they got to $38. Seriously, the recording industry really over estimated their value.

This is album number 5 and the follow up to “2112” which was their make or break album. This fertile period of Rush would last to “Moving Pictures” in 1981 and then the synths would take over for about six years before they brought back the three piece sound.

And as a prog fan, I am always into songs which have sections, so “Cygnus X-1” was on my radar, but I was surprised by “Closer To The Heart” and that arpeggio guitar intro.

Foreigner – Foreigner

No one knew Mick Jones until this album dropped. No one knew the pipes on Lou Gramm until this album dropped.

Released in 1977, no one was sure if disco was ending or rock was starting.

And the album has some songs which are forgotten, but they rock as hard as anything I have heard.

A song like “Starrider” would work on any Deep Purple/Rainbow/Whitesnake album. Even on an Y&T or Scorpions album.

“The Damage Is Done” has this outro solo ending that reminds me of Santana or even “Winds Of Change” from Y&T. “At War With The World” could have come from a Rush album. There is so much variety on this album. It’s a shame that the first two cuts ruled everything.

Did I mention that “Cold As Ice” is also on this album?

Check out the debut.

That’s it for 1977 Part 1 and now we go back into the future for 2000 Part 2.

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