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

1985 – Part 12

I was always on the lookout for bands that were not part of the mainstream magazine press when it came to metal and rock music.

Waysted – The Good The Bad The Waysted

It’s Pete Way from UFO but Paul Chapman on guitars steals the show. His riffs and leads are excellent. Fin Muir on vocals has a bit of UDO in his style and the grit he brings, works.

“Hang Em High” brings the heavy blues rock to the 80’s with a bit of a George Lynch style inspired verses. The vocals bludgeon their way and it’s the perfect anti-hero to the MTV stars of the day.

“Hi Ho My Baby” delivers the classic rock sound of the 70’s, more Free like, but people would say it’s more like AC/DC.

“Heaven Tonight” takes a bit of Journey from the piano department to deliver the songs foundation, but the song rocks away for a ballad, with a Rod Stewart like vocal and Chapman on guitar delivers the riffs and the melodic leads.

Check out the arpeggio intro to “Manuel” and when it kicks into overdrive, its melodic rock heaven and the last 90 seconds is a section which reminds me of the piano riff in “Love To Love” and the guitar solo. It’s perfect, allowing UFO to influence the new.

“Rolling Out The Dice” sounds like a song The Cult would write in a few years’ time.

“Land That’s Lost The Love” could be one of the best UFO songs that didn’t appear on an UFO album. Chapman delivers a verse riff straight from the gutters of the Sunset Strip, but the Chorus, is classic UFO, a vocal melody which is catchy over a guitar melody. Make sure you check out the lead break from Chapman.

Overkill – Feel The Fire

I liked the logo as it was a tweak on the Iron Maiden font. But I never got any of their stuff in the 80’s because my budget was limited, they virtually got no promotional push in Australia, which meant their albums wouldn’t be in stores and they had a lot of competition.

“Raise The Dead” is pure speed metal. The band is labelled as one of the earlier thrash pioneers, but thrash is a generic term.

Check out the main verse riff and see if you can name the song that inspired it?

“Rotten To The Core” blasts out of the gate like “The Four Horsemen”. A classic and still part of their live show today.

Check out the lead break to “There’s No Tomorrow”. Its guitar hero worthy from Bobby Gustafson.

“Hammerhead” has a riff in it, that Metallica would use on “Disposable Heroes”. And the lead break again from Gustafson is shred’a’licious. The title track “Feel The Fire” is another favourite. It’s got riffs and leads and it will get you playing air guitar. There is a section which is almost “Over The Mountain” like.

Nasty Savage – Nasty Savage

It’s funny how metal musicians got labelled as drunks, drug takers, anti-social and what not. But everyone seems to forget that most of the musicians of bands who had deals but never made it big were serious players.

Nasty Savage live in some weird world of speed metal, hard rock and technicality.

1985 was probably the last year when genres didn’t matter and artists incorporated so many different musical elements into their music. Afterwards, labels would hear bands like Nasty Savage and tell them to change their style to suit a genre which they created and could market.

On Metal Blade, signed by Brian Slagel after their 1984 demo “Wage Of Mayhem”, started doing the rounds on the underground circuit.

“No Sympathy” has this dramatic ominous symphonic music for 50 seconds, before the intro riff kicks in. It’s more technical than the speed metal of early thrash metal. Mercyful Fate comes to mind immediately.

“Gladiator” is more of a hard rock tempo, with a head banging riff. Vocally, Nasty Ronnie is more theatre like, mixing, King Diamond falsetto’s with baritone chainsaw barks. If you like polished hard rock style vocals, then this isn’t for you.
I read a live review in which Nasty Ronnie even smashed a TV set on his head.

At 2 minute the song changes feel before it moves into the solo.

Other tracks are “Fear Beyond the Vision” (listen to the ball busting falsetto’s in the Chorus) and the garage sounds of “Metal Knights”. Check out the lead break in this one. Guitarists Ben Meyer and David Austin have shown, four songs in that they are ambitious and progressive in their song writing.

“Dungeon Of Pleasure” has a great intro riff. “Psycopath” has an intro which is just bass and drums before the harmony melody of the guitars comes in. And then it goes into this demented and chromatic riff.

Lizzy Borden – Love You To Pieces

I judged Lizzy Borden on their logo that they would be like Venom. I know it’s a terrible comparison. So when I pressed play and I heard the hard rock and heavy metal riffs with a vocal style which was more hard rock than anything, I was like goddamn, I’m never judging things by their cover again.

Lizzy Borden is maybe the pre-cursor for Ghost.

Check out tracks like “Council For The Cauldron” for the Iron Maiden like riffs and the melodic lead breaks.

“Psycopath” has this “Friday On My Mind” style feel, just a bit more metal like and some extra additions to make it different. “Love You To Pieces” is a heartfelt ballad about you know, ripping up your loved one into pieces.

And the piece d’resistance is “American Metal”. It more or less sums up the different types of guitar riffs from the metal bands. There are riffs influenced by EVH, Rhoads/Lee, Crosby/DeMartini and Tipton/Downing.

220 Volt – Mind Over Muscle

I heard these guys well into the first 2000’s decade. I really like their merge of early Scorpions, NWOBHM and acts like UFO, Deep Purple and Rainbow. Think of how Europe sounded on their first two albums before “The Final Countdown” merged with Malmsteen’s metal opus “Marching Out”. It’s melodic, its metal, its rock and it works.

This album continues the great work set up on their self-titled debut in 83 and its follow up, “Power Games” in 84 and the song “Power Games” appears on this album and its one of my favourite tracks on this album.

Stand out tracks apart from “Power Games” are “Electric Messengers”, “Secret Dance (Xymania)”, “Blessed By The Night”, “Halloween” and “Mind Over Muscle”.

Crank it and check out the guitar playing.

Faith No More – We Care A Lot

How good is that bass and drum groove from Billy Gould and Mike Bordin to kick off “We Care A Lot”?

Then the keys from Roddy Bottum come in and Mr Jim Martin brings in riffs, here and there to decorate. Vocalist Chuck Mosley does his street rap and street singing style which works for me, over the progressive song structures created by the rest of the band.

Then Mr Martin wrote a nice acoustic classical/flamenco piece called “Jim”.

“Why Do You Bother” also has those drum and bass grooves with the keys over it, which makes the unique Faith No More sound.

“Pills For Breakfast” has a metal like riff and groove which gets me to pick up the guitar and learn it. They didn’t have time to write lyrics. So the music takes it away. And tracks like “As The Worm Turns” and “New Beginnings” have some great musical moments.

And this brings to end the 1985 series after 12 posts. I am off to the year 2000, for the thirteenth and last post of that series.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

1985 – Part 11

Exciter – Long Love The Loud

The fantasy style album covers always get me interested.

So Exciter is basically the NWOBHM, played faster, with a lot of double time drumming, alternate picked guitar riffs and banshee wails.

And as I’m nearing the last three songs, all of the previous songs have bled into each other, apart from the first song, the instrumental “Fall Out”.

But then when I was about to give up, “Born To Die” started, a slower groove and more like a hard rock cut with a chorus hook that reminds me of “Balls To The Wall”.

“Wake Up Screaming” moves around my headspace, like a doom metal cut. The bass groove in the first verse is excellent. Vocally, the banshee wails have gotten just too much and they detract a lot from the music.

“Feel The Knife” sounds like “Neon Nights” but I reckon Adrian Smith was influenced by its simplicity for “The Wicker Man” many years later.

Check it out.

Vicious Rumours – Soldiers In The Night

The guitar playing on this is excellent.

The instrumental song “Premonition” is less than a minute and it’s perfect. And of course, it had to be Vinnie Moore.

For those who don’t know, “Mind’s Eye”, Vinnie Moore’s first solo release in 1986, is one of those essential guitar instrumental albums that people of the genre should own.

And in his time so far he worked with other artists the main ones being Alice Cooper and for the last 15 or so years, he’s been the guitarist in U.F.O.

The band is on Shrapnel, so you get an idea that there’s going to be a lot of guitar.

“Ride (Into The Sun)” could have come from the “Kill Em All” album, while “Medusa” could have come from “Shout At The Devil”. Over the riffs, Moore burns his way through the Dorian and Aeolian scales.

“Soldiers Of The Night” could have been a Judas Priest cut and “Murder” could have come from the “Diary Of A Madman” album. “March Or Die” feels like a “Ride The Lightning” cut and “Blitz The World” is like a Motorhead cut, think “Overkill”.

And then there is “Invader”, which is Vinnie Moore’s “Eruption” full of classical lines, arpeggios, volume swells which sound like a violin and all the other guitar techniques like tapping, legato lines, fast picked alternate lines, string skipping and anything else he could find.

Finally, “Blistering Winds” sounds like a song from the “Bark At The Moon” album.

In other words, the band merges all these different hard rock, metal, NWOBHM, speed metal and LA Metal styles into a cohesive album. The great Martin Popoff mentioned em in “The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties”.

And in the same way that “Steeler” and “Alcatrazz” were used to launch Yngwie Malmsteen, Vicious Rumours was used to launch Vinnie Moore.

Black N Blue – Without Love

Geffen tried really hard to break the band to the masses. Apart from teaming the band to work with outside writers, they also got Bruce Fairbairn to produce. Bob Rock is there as well as an engineer/mixer and so is Mike Fraser as an additional engineer.

“Rockin’ On Heaven’s Door” written by Jamie St. James and Tommy Thayer kicks off the album, a light metal cut, influenced by “Lick It Up” in the intro, before it gets rocking into an AC/DC style groove. And the Chorus, man I swear Bon Jovi used it for “Edge Of A Broken Heart”. Maybe Bruce Fairbairn recommended it to Jovi.

“Without Love” is a co-write between Jaime St. James and Jim Vallance. It’s written for the charts and the hearts of the teens.

“Stop The Lightning” brings back the St. James and Thayer partnership, so you get more guitars and more rock.

“Miss Mystery” is basically a pop song. A co-write between St. James, Thayer and Vallance. It could have come from a Bryan Adams album.

“Bombastic Plastic” has this “Stormbringer” like riff which is cool, but the song is so/so. “We Got The Fire” has Mike Reno on backing vocals and it sounds like a Loverboy cut on steroids.

Magnum – On A Story Tellers Night

I got into the band in the late 80’s and worked backwards. This is their fifth studio album, the first one on Polydor after parting with the notorious non-royalty paying Jet Records.

From the opening guitar riff of “How Far Jerusalem” I was hooked. And then the vocals from Bob Catley came in, a cross between Steve Walsh from Kansas, Paul Rodgers from Bad Company and his own style.

“Just Like An Arrow” is a pop song dressed up with metal guitar licks and power chords. Listen to how guitarist Tony Clarkin makes it all work. “On A Storytellers Night” starts off with some chords on the keyboards, a calm before the melodic rock takes over.

“Before First Light” has a Van Halen riff. Can you guess it?

“Les Morts Dansant” has a major key riff that reminds me of a Don Henley song, but when it kicks in to distortion, it reminds me of those 70’s acts like Sweet, Slade, Styx and Angel.

Other songs to check out are “Two Hearts”, “Steal Your Heart”

Running Wild – Branded and Exiled

These guys always had riffs which I liked. Nice head banging riffs.

To know what I mean, check out the main riff to opening track “Branded And Exiled”. Or “Realm Of Shades”.

The guitar lead break on “Realm Of Shades” is also worthy, starting off with a memorable harmony before it moves into separate solos.

“Fight The Oppression” is a Metallica cut from the “Kill Em All” album. “Marching To Die” is Scorpions, just a bit harder and faster.

Vocally it’s raw and the drumming is very metronomic, but hey, no one said that Running Wild is a pop act.

And the series is nearing completion. I have one more post for 2000 (the twelfth post) and one more for 1985.

1977 is already finished up within 10 posts.

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

1985 – Part 10

Supertramp – Brother Where You Bound

Album number 8. It’s also the first album without original member Roger Hodgson, which left Rick Davies as the main songwriter and singer.

According to A&M Records, the album went Gold, but the RIAA hasn’t certified it as yet.

The glory days of the band were behind them.

And then I heard “Brother Where You Bound”, the title track. At 16 minutes and 30 seconds long, it’s a tour de force, with Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham on rhythm guitar and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on the guitar solos.

During the intro, there is an ominous keyboard synth droning while politician speeches are intermixed with readings from George Orwell’s “1984”.

Its self-indulgent in some sections, it reminds me of ELP, The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd and other jazz rock fusion artists. But a ballsy move, regardless.

King Kobra – Ready To Strike

I always saw the ads for King Kobra but my finances limited my purchases. So in the 2000’s I finally listened to the full albums from em.

King Kobra are Mark Free (now known as Marcie Free) on vocals, David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda on guitar, Johnny Rod on bass and Carmine Appice on drums.

“Ready To Strike” opens the album with mournful arpeggios and a classical inspired guitar solo before it kicks in to a head banging riff.

“Hunger” is a Kick Axe song.

How good is the intro?

Free starts his chant while the toms and guitars are in synchronicity. It reminds me of the “Rock Star” movie with Mark Wahlberg.

“Shake Up” has a similar intro to “Hunger” but that’s about it. This one is a melodic rock cut, virtually unknown. Carmine Appice’s drumming is thunderous in the intro and his rolls between bars are perfect.

“Breakin’ Out” reminds me of Y&T. Its high energy and the drumming of Appice in the verses has this “Radar Love” shuffle, which Tommy Lee also used in “Kick Start My Heart” a few years later.

One thing about King Kobra that would have worked against em is their choice of song titles.

“Tough Guys” is a perfect example.

Musically and melodically the song is excellent, but the title is terrible and the lyrics about “the world’s greatest lie being that tough guys don’t cry” are a miss.

“Second Thoughts” is typical of the melodic rock being played during this period. Think of “Tears Are Falling” from Kiss.

Raven – Stay Hard

They stormed the U.S a few years earlier and then watched all the bands who opened for them get bigger, while they stayed within their cult audience.

So album number 4 is also their first for Atlantic.

“On And On” is excellent musically and “Restless Child” sounds like an UFO cut. These two cuts stand out because they have this mainstream feel to them which I like.

Instrumental closer “The Bottom Line” has the riffs and little melodic leads, but the horn section was a bad idea.

The writing was on the wall.

Rough Cutt – Rough Cutt

This band was more famous for the members who departed it and the management team of Ronnie James Dio and Wendy Dio than their music.

In version 1, they had Jake E Lee on guitars and Claude Schnell on keyboards. Well, Lee would join Ozzy and Schnell would join Dio.

Version 2 had Craig Goldy on guitars and Chris Hager joined from Ratt. Well, Goldy would take the spot left vacant by Vivian Campbell in Dio.

And finally they had enough stability, a record deal and their debut album.

Produced by Tom Allom. If you own a Judas Priest album, you will know who he is.

“Take Her” had a committee of songwriters in Chris Hager, bassist Matt Thorr, vocalist Paul Shortino, drummer Dave Alford, previous guitarist Craig Goldy and Ronnie James Dio.

There is a misplaced cover of “Piece of My Heart”.

There is another cover called “Never Gonna Die” from Australian band, The Choirboys, who had a hit with it in Australia. Shortino misses the energy that Gable brings to it.

“Dreamin’ Again” sounds a lot like a Dio cut from “The Last In Line” album. This one is written by Alford, Hager, Thorr, Shortino and Wendy Dio. It moves between a slower tempo acoustic verse into a distorted Chorus with harmony vocals. The lead break is also guitar hero worthy. It has melody, shred, harmonies and pentatonic lines.

“Black Widow” opens up Side 2. Its written by Amir Derakh, Alford, Thorr, Shortino and W. Dio. I can’t stress how much this sounds like a Dio cut. The feel and tempo is slow driving, the way Dio likes it. The song title is overused and it doesn’t do the music justice.

Actually overused rock titles became a big problem for rock and metal bands.

Like “Kids Will Rock”. The title has been used before, and they even borrowed from “The Kids Are Back”.

Then you have song titles like “You Keep Breaking My Heart” “Dressed to Kill” and “She’s Too Hott”.

It’s probably a good reason why albums like “Slippery When Wet”, “Appetite For Destruction”, “Hysteria”, “Dr Feelgood” and the Black album, broke out in a big way, with the main singles having titles unique enough to separate them from the generic.

Amir Derakh on guitars has a few song writing credits and he is the one who had a pretty interesting career. While most of his guitar contemporaries had retired in the 90’s, Amir was the guitar synthesizer player in the rock band Orgy.

Coney Hatch – Friction

It’s not on Spotify, which is a pain as the album is solid and a great piece of melodic hard rock.

They were on Mercury/Polygram.

Bon Jovi hadn’t broken big yet, but when they did break big in under a year, the label would put the rest of their roster on the backburner.

How good is that pulsing bass riff on “This Aint Love”?

It lays the foundation for whatever riff the guitarists wanted to do and to be honest it wouldn’t be out of place on an AC/DC album.

“She’s Gone” is pure AOR Melodic rock and I like it, especially that small lead break after the Chorus. Even the main lead break is pretty cool.

“Wrong Side Of Town” reminds me of an Y&T cut and god damn, the bass is prominent and pulsing on this song as well.

How catchy is the guitar riff to “Girl From Last Night’s Dream”?

And give the solo section a listen as well.

“Coming To Get You” has a 10 second intro that reminds me of “Dog Eat Dog” from AC/DC before it moves into a more generic Zeppelin like riff.

Then there is “Fantasy”, another melodic rock riff which is memorable.

“He’s A Champion” brings back the hard rock edge of the opening song “This Ain’t Love”. This time the riff reminds me of “In The City” from Joe Walsh.

“State Line” and “Burning Love” close off the album. One is a fast rocker and the closer is a hard rocker with a melodic rock chorus.

Such a good album and virtually unknown in Australia.

Since 1977 is done and dusted, back to 2000 for Part 11.

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

1985 – Part 9

Exodus – Bonded By Blood

I didn’t hear this until the Napster era. I wanted to hear it a long time ago because it was Kirk Hammet’s origin band, but every time it came to deciding what to spend my money on, this wasn’t it.

“Bonded by Blood” was originally titled “A Lesson in Violence”, but had its name changed when a suitable cover idea could not be found. The song “Impaler” was originally to be featured on this album, but it was abandoned when Kirk Hammett took the main riff with him to Metallica and used it for “Trapped Under Ice”. The song however was resurrected on the “Tempo Of The Damned” album released in 2004.

And the thrash metal acts which came from San Francisco, there was a lot of crossover of riffs, similar to the LA Sunset Strip crossover. The way the riffs flow on this album I expected to hear Hetfield’s or Araya’s or Mustaine’s voice. They are almost interchangeable.

Paul Baloff as a vocalist was different. He snarled, growled, spat and screamed his way through songs with his chainsaw like delivery. I got it, understood it, but I wasn’t a fan of it.

Anthrax – Spreading The Disease

I like Anthrax because they played hard and fast and had groove and melodic vocals. This is Joey Belladonna’s first album with them, having replaced Matt Fallon who replaced Neil Turbin.

After the blistering speed of “A.I.R”, its back to traditional metal with “Lone Justice”, my favourite track on the album. “Madhouse” continues the traditional metal vibe but with a lot of groove and at 32.5 million streams it’s their Spotify star.

“Stand Or Fall” is a speed metal track and with Belladonna’s delivery, it can be classed as the embryo to power metal. And it still sounds to me that they are singing “Sand The Floor” instead of “Stand Or Fall”.

The 1.18 minute intro to “The Enemy” is desk breaking stuff. “Armed And Dangerous” is armed with acoustic guitars and a tonne of melody for about 1.20 and then it explodes. “Medusa” has one of those head banging riffs which is synonymous with heavy metal.

Loudness – Thunder In The East

If you want your Loudness treatment, head over to mikeladano and read his reviews.

“Thunder In The East” is not on Spotify, so I had to head over to YouTube to hear it in full as I’ve only heard “Crazy Nights” from this album. It still amazes me how some music is missing from Spotify and other streaming services.

YouTube actually showed the labels and publishers what the people want when it started. Access to music and they also wanted to upload their catalogues, so others could listen and comment and so forth. And what we have is some bastardised version of that with Content ID.

This album from the outset reminds of Bonfire and their “Fireworks” album which came a few years after. Produced by Max Norman, it has all the bells and whistles of a quality production.

Akira Takasaki brings out his metal riffs. “Crazy Nights” kicks it off, but “Like Hell” is so like Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” that it quickly became a favourite. And in the lead break, Takasaki leverages Malmsteen for the fast shred and Rhoads/Lynch tapped solos from “Flying High Again” and “Tooth And Nail” for the tapping sections.

“Heavy Chains” starts off with a clean tone arpeggio riff with a melodic lead over it. I’m always a sucker for these kind of songs as they move from these clean tone intros into an aggressive epic song. The vocals from Minoru Niihara are excellent. And the song is more power Viking metal than the Nordic bands. The whole interlude and lead break is worthy of your attention.

“Get Away” blasts out of the gates and so far it’s a four punch knockout. Especially when Takasaki goes into his “Burn” from Deep Purple inspired solo.

“We Could Be Together” is traditional heavy metal with Niihara delivering a Steve Perry like vocal in the verses and then going all falsetto in the pre chorus and chorus. Perfect.

And the album doesn’t really let up on the high quality song writing, with “Run For Your Life” kicking off side B, especially that palm muted arpeggio riff in the Chorus and it ends with the ballad “Never Change Your Mind”.

Alcatrazz – Disturbing The Peace

Alcatrazz with Malmsteen was like Rainbow. Alcatrazz with Vai was like Rainbow with alot more fusion added.

“God Blessed Video” kicks off the album and you hear the old Rainbow influences with the Vai fusion in the music.

“Mercy” is excellent musically, but Bonnet’s lyrics are a mess with killing queens in Africa and India or something like that. But check out the lead break from Vai.

“Wire And Wood” has Vai starring in the first 30 seconds. “Desert Diamond” again has Vai starring in the intro, using the guitar like a sitar. Musically the song is excellent. “Stripper” is speed rock in the vein of “Highway Star”. “Painted Lover” has a riff that has appeared in a DLR song here and there.

Lee Aaron – Call Of The Wild

This album surprised me. It’s a brilliant piece of melodic rock.

Bob Ezrin is there as keyboardist and executive producer. Bob Halligan Jr has a co-write with Mark Ribler on the song “Line Of Fire”. The very underrated John Albani is on guitars and is one of the main songwriters on the album.

“Rock Me All Over” and “Runnin’ From The Fire” are a lethal 2 punch knockout.

And then there is “Barely Holdin’ On”. It’s written by a songwriter called Joe Cerisano and man the lyrics.

Growing up, you were taught to believe
That everyone was created equal in the master plan

Everything is about control. Go to school and study so you can memorise everything and pass the tests because you have a great memory. Then you get a chance to work. The higher your education, the better the pay. Well it’s a load of B.S

Oh I’m sick an’ tired of waiting for tomorrow
Promising me the world.. that I’ been hoping for..
Oh I wanna live, an’ I wanna feel
The things in my life, that I’ been searching, for.. so long….

Build your own dreams people and not someone else’s. It’s easier said than done.

The Bob Halligan Jr cuts, “Line Of Fire” and “Beat Em Up” are underrated songs.

“Paradise” is so Scorpions, its perfect. This track is written by Aaron, Albani with Dick Wagner. And those lead breaks after the solo, so Boston like and yet so Scorpions like.

“Danger Zone” continues with the melodic guitar leads and hooks.

Warlock – Hellbound

“Hellbound” is like a Motorhead meets Deep Purple “Highway Star” cut. Musically its ferocious and of course Doro Pesch on vocals is brilliant. And there is a “Burn” like solo which got me interested.

“All Night” is one of those fist pumping anthems. The embryo to “All We Are”.

“Out Of Control” has a traditional metal riff in the verses and a super melodic chorus with clean tone arpeggios over a distorted riff.

“Time To Die” sounds like “Stay Hungry” from Twisted Sister and I love it. And the good riffs keep on coming with “Shout It Out”.

April Wine – Walking Through Fire

It’s not on Spotify but it’s on YouTube.

A contractual obligation to the band’s record label, to whom they still owed one album. The album is a mixture of AOR melodic rock gems, hard rock and blues rock because of the different songwriters involved.

“Wanted Dead Or Alive” is written by Jeff Cannata and Michael Soldan. It has a keyboard riff which is AOR Heaven. Cannata and Soldan released this song with their own band, Arc Angel back in 1983. The U.S press dismissed the band as Boston/Kansas clones, while Europe took to em.

And then CBS dropped em.

The AOR Rock continues with “Love Has Remembered Me” which is written by vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn.

“Open Soul Surgery” is written by Jim Vallance and it has a Robert Palmer “Addicted To Love” feel in the verses crossed with “All Right Now” from Free. “All It Will Ever Be” is written by Goodwyn and it sounds like a pop song that I cant remember right now but nevertheless I like it.

And just like that, the album came out and the band was done.

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

1985 – Part 8

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.

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

1985 – Part 6

Fates Warning – The Spectre Within

I picked up their first three albums really cheap in the early 90’s via a second hand record shop. The youthful exuberance approach to song writing is clear, with extravagant structures and riff-a-ramas in each song. Better albums and songs would come later however those songs would not be possible if they didn’t get these early albums and the styles out of the way. Put simply, this is Fates Warning, sounding heavier, faster and more complex.

The band is also different to the band that I would come to like. John Arch is on vocals, Victor Arduini and Jim Matheos are on guitars, Jim Arch is on keyboards, Steve Zimmerman on bass and Joe DiBiase on drums.

“Orphan Gypsy”, musically is an underrated progressive metal cut. If it appeared on a Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer album, it would be seen as a classic. Lyrically, the melodies are hit and miss, but the music is a thrash-a-thon. “Without A Trace” has an intro riff which could have come from Malmsteen’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” before it morphs into a galloping riff like Iron Maiden.

But its “The Apparition” which fuses their Maiden influences (especially “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”) with their other influences which really gets my attention. Even the vocal delivery, could be said to inspire Midnight from Crimson Glory.

Musically, the piece d resistance is “Epitaph”. It sounds like its inspired by “Heaven And Hell” from Sabbath. And at 12 minutes long, it has different movements and moods and it’s a great way to close the album. This song is a giant leap for progressive metal. 

Vocally, John Arch, is a tenor, a cross between Geoff Tate and Dickinson, with a bit of Robert Plant, Rob Halford falsetto and King Diamond chucked in for good measure. But his choice of melodies are a bit of a let down on some of the songs.

Loverboy – Loving Every Minute of It

If you listened to rock music, there is no way that you would have not heard of Loverboy and their songs. This is their first album to not feature Bruce Fairbairn in the producers chair, and Tom Allom was hired.

The album is not on Spotify Australia which irks me, but hey, YouTube has it.

Mutt Lange is on hand to write the big hit, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It”. This dude couldn’t do nothing wrong for a long time.

Jonathan Cain from Journey is on hand to co-write the soft rock influenced “This Could Be The Night” with Paul Dean, Mike Reno and Bill Wray.

Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are on hand to write “Dangerous”, a melodic rock classic.

The riff in “Friday Night” is to my liking. This one is written by Bill Wray, Paul Dean, Davitt Sigerson and Patrick Mahassen.

And the lyric, “Friday Night, I just got paid, no sleep till Monday”. Truth right there, folks.

The good songs keep coming, with the hard rocking “Too Much Too Soon” and the ballad like “Destination Heartbreak” (with its heartbreak emotive guitar solo). But it’s the Lange penned title cut that moved units.

Heart – Heart

This album was massive in the U.S with 5 plus million in sales and a who’s who of songwriters behind it. Not sure if that was the intention of the Wilson sisters or the label, but the addition of songs from outside writers enhanced the band. 

“If Looks Could Kill” is a perfect opener. There is a “Live In Memphis” release on Spotify which is recorded in 1985 for a radio broadcast, and this opens it. Its raw rock and roll without all the studio polish and perfect. It’s written by Jack Conrad and Bob Garrett. And Conrad played bass in The Doors after the death of Jim Morrison and became a songwriter later on.

“What About Love” is a cut written by Sheron Alton, Brian Allen and Jim Vallance. I like the verses more than the Chorus. “Never” and “All Eyes” are written by Holly Knight and Gene Bloch, along with Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis. “These Dreams” is written by Elton John’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. It was a hit, but it’s not on my radar.

“The Wolf” (the side 1 closer) and “Shell Shock” (the side 2 closer) are written by the band with Sue Ennis. Both songs are aggressive and loud and I like em, but they wouldn’t push the album past the 5 million mark in sales. 

DLR – Crazy From The Heat

Roth got a lot of money to go solo, but the real solo album would come with “Eat Em And Smile”, then again, that album also had a lot of cover songs on it as well, so the real solo album, free of covers was “Skyscraper”.

For “Crazy From The Heat”, I own it on cassette and LP, but I never play it.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

The title makes me laugh now, but in the 80’s it was badass. Even the band name referenced my favourite movie, “Warriors”. They had the whole dystopian metal look happening, and that intro riff, used in a million songs, but so effective in this song. 

And vocalist Paramore McCarty is one hell of a vocalist. If you haven’t heard Warrior, then you would have heard his singing with Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 2017, he resurfaced with the band “Radiation Romeos” and released an album on Frontiers. If the name sounds familiar, well it appeared in the lyrics of the song “Atomic Playboys”. Musically, it sounds very similar to the song.

And when you want to talk about connections, Robin Crosby from Ratt kick started his career by getting him to sing in his pre-Ratt bands and getting him noticed. 

And Joe Floyd is an excellent guitarist/songwriter. If you’ve seen a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford album, well he is listed in the production credits as either a mixer or engineer.

Immortal enemy, has come to challenge man / Secret science out of control

Who knew the immortal enemy is a virus. We cannot eradicate it, so we need to learn with it.

We are fighting for the earth

But no one is listening. As long as money rules the game, the Earth suffers.

Blood and corruption, hideous crimes / Lying leaders, controlling our minds

It feels like the rich and powerful don’t have to answer to anyone. Rules don’t apply to them. Then you have the news outlets who no one seems to fact check, also spreading lies like our elected leaders.

“Defenders of Creation” starts off with a riff that reminds me of “It’s Not Love” by Dokken. What came first, we will never know.

Leatherwolf – Endangered Species

In Europe it was released as “Leatherwolf” and in America it was released as “Endangered Species”. To confuse matters even more another self-titled album was released in 1987, which is different to this one.

But it was “Streetready” released in 89 that really got me interested in the band and I couldn’t find any of their early stuff at that point in time. But many years later, the internet made sure I did.

And this album is not on Spotify Australia but it’s on YouTube.

Musically, it’s metal the way I know it from a band trying to find where they fit into things. The tracks I like are “Endangered Species”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Leatherwolf”. But better songs would come after.

Mr Mister – Welcome To The Real World

Like Loverboy, but lighter in rock and roll. Like Marillion, but more poppy. Like Toto and their Africa period. Like U2 but not big on the social conscience lyrics.

That’s basically how I described em.

And there was no denying “On Broken Wings”. It was everywhere and I liked it. 134 million streams on Spotify demonstrates how big it is. And maybe because it reminded me of U2, I gravitated to it.

“Kyrie” is another song which still does the rounds at 33 million plus streams. This one reminds me of “Africa” from Toto and Marillion and I like it.

The labels tried their best to break up the band by offering vocalist Richard Page the vocalist gig in Toto to replace Bobby Kimball and then to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago.

But Page refused both offers.

In the end, this album (their second) was its biggest.

Once album number three “ Go On” stalled in sales a few years later, the writing was on the wall. Guitarist Steve Farris left in 88 and the remaining members went to work on album number 4 with session guitarists.  This was ready for release in 1990 but the label refused to release it and that was that. 

John Fogerty – Centrefield

I had no idea at the time the troubles he had with the labels and his old CCR songs but there was no denying that John Fogerty is a star. And the songs, “Vanz Kant Danz” and “Mr Greed” sum it up nicely about his struggles.

That opening lick in “The Old Man Down The Road” gets the foot tapping. Its instant and memorable. “Rock and Roll Girls” transports you back to those 60’s movies, hanging out on the boardwalk. “Mr Greed” is a blues rock slap down of his former label boss and the title track is a 12 bar blues romp. 

And that’s a wrap for 1985 part 6, and I’m off to 1977 for part 6.

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

1985 – Part 5

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business

My relationship with Megadeth started with the “Rust In Peace” album in 1990. That was a wow moment for me, in relation to song construction, guitar playing and pushing the boundaries of thrash metal even further and more progressive.

So I started collecting more Megadeth albums. “So Far So Good So What” and then “Countdown To Extinction” was released. Then I went back to “Peace Sells” and then “Youthanasia” came out.

Then I went back to the debut, and it was the mid 90’s. And I thought it was average. I couldn’t hear a song that I liked but each song had sections/riffs which got me interested. And it infuriated me.

I suppose that’s what you get, when you spend half of your $8K recording budget on drugs and alcohol and then had to fire the producer because you couldn’t afford him, which meant you had to produce the album.

“Loved To Deth” has this open string pull off riff that I like. “Killing Is My Business” is the NWOBHM movement on steroids and speed and other hallucinogens. The first 90 seconds of “The Skull Beneath The Skin” is groove metal mixed with speed. “Rattlehead” is so fast, it’s a speed metal anthem. 

Whatever Metallica was, Megadeth was going to be faster and more aggressive.

“Chosen Ones” has this “Jump In The Fire” style riff and it’s probably their slowest song. “Mechanix” is 4 minutes of relentless anger. And I’m sure everyone knows that this song became “The Four Horseman” when Mustaine was in Metallica. When he played it live with Megadeth at a Sydney concert he merged the two songs and it was a perfect homage to both.

And Mustaine didn’t want to sing, but after spending six months searching for a vocalist, he took on the reins. It was like Deja-vu as James Hetfield also didn’t want to sing, but did it due to a lack of suitable vocalists.  

Savatage – Power Of The Night

There is a Savatage before “Gutter Ballet” and a Savatage post the death of Criss Oliva for me.

This album is pre “Gutter Ballet” and it’s a band trying to find their sound and style. Max Norman is producing. 5 years before, he was doing Ozzy with Randy and 5 years later he would do Megadeth and Lynch Mob albums.

I like the intro riff to “Power Of The Night”. “Hard As Love” has a title which is a product of its time, but while this kind of title would have worked for Danger Danger or Bulletboys, it felt wrong with Savatage. But musically, its brilliant, catchy.

“Fountain Of Youth” is the embryo of what Savatage would become. The musical structure and different grooves would become more prominent on the albums that came after.

But the album is hit and miss in the lyrics department.

Kick Axe – Welcome To The Club

I picked up their first two albums in the 90’s because I saw that Spencer Proffer was involved.

They are a very underrated band from Canada and I like “Welcome To The Club” more than the debut album “Vices”.

“Welcome To The Club” is a different kind of track, rooted in hard rock, but those clean tone arpeggios give the song a very UK Pop sound. Then you have a song like “Feels Good Don’t Stop” which swings, grooves and rocks its way all the way while “Comin’ After You” feels like a Marillion song while “Make Your Move” is a hard rock song through and through.

How good is the intro to “Never Let Go”? And overall, I feel like I am listening to a Y&T cut merged with Triumph.

“Hellraisers” has some serious good riffage in the intro and verses.

“Can’t Take It With You” has those big “I Love It Loud” drums but the riffage and vocal melodies would have given birth to the recent Swedish Melodic Rock movement. It sounds like H.E.A.T built a career on songs like these.

“Too Loud… Too Old” sounds like an unchained and frantic VH song and it also reminds me of a blog I visit regularly called 2Loud2OldMusic.

The way the staccato bass rolls in “Feel The Power” gets the foot tapping. Check out those harmony leads as well.

And the album closes with a cover song, “With A Little Help From My Friends” but even though Lennon and McCartney wrote it, the definitive version is from Joe Cocker.

Keel – The Right To Rock

Gene Simmons is producing under his label Gold Mountain Records while Steve Riley plays drums on the album but left to join WASP.

The band had three songs written before they got sent to the studio (“The Right To Rock”, “Back To The City” and “Electric Love”), so they covered three Gene Simmons demos (“Easier Said Than Done”, “So Many Girls, So Little Time” and “Get Down”) and re-recorded three songs from the debut album (“Speed Demon”, “Tonight You’re Mine” became “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” and the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”).

I still like the intro to “The Right To Rock”, it’s perfect for the time.

“All of my life I’ve been fighting for the right to make my stand” and we are still fighting to make our stand. It will never stop.

“I’m gonna do it my way or not do it all” sounded so easy back then, but as you grow up, you start to realise that it’s not that easy to do things your way and still participate in society. In order to live, you need money and to get money you need to work. If doing things your way, generates money, great, if it doesn’t, then you need to work for someone else and suddenly you are not doing it your way.

“Back To The City” is interchangeable with their other songs and I really like the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”.

The verse riff of the Gene Simmons penned “So Many Girls, So Little Time” is pure heavy metal. “Electric Love” is melodic rock, with Ron Keel delivering a vocal line at 11. “Speed Demon” is pure NWOBHM with Ron Keel again delivering a vocal line at 11. There’s just 11 in his delivery and that’s it. 

“Get Down” is another Simmons cut which feels like a re-write of “I Love It Loud” but lyrically, its dumb. “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” is another cut inspired by the NWOBHM, with fast “Overkill” double kick drumming in the intro.

Even though the album is a mixture of new songs, re-recordings and Gene Simmons penned songs, Keel earned “The Right To Rock” after it.

Also if you’ve seen a Y&T cover on A&M Records, a Foreigner cover or some different posters around the Mad Max and Star Wars movies, then there is a pretty good chance you’ve seen the artwork of John Taylor Dismukes.

Autograph – That’s The Stuff 

Autograph were either loathed or liked. There was no in between.

I liked the first album “Sign In Please” and loathed the second album “That’s The Stuff” which really wasn’t the stuff.

And the second track “Take No Prisoners” is a rewrite of “Turn Up The Radio”. This is an album that is lacking in ideas and very hard to listen to.

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

1985 – Part 3

Here we are for Part 3 of 1985.

WASP – The Last Command

I always thought WASP was huge in the U.S, because they always appeared in magazines.

But they weren’t.

This album and the self-titled debut, got a Gold certification from the RIAA in June 1998, 14 and 13 years after their release. Maybe their claim to fame was due to the controversy of their song titles, lyrics and the overall decadence.

Regardless, WASP has a special place in my music life.

Those opening arpeggios for “Wild Child” hooked me in. And when Blackie tells us he rides the winds that bring the rains, I was interested and the Chorus about being a wild child, so turn the flames higher and be touched and loved.

Well, how can you not like it, even if it doesn’t make sense.

And the Vodka/Budweiser Swilling Chris Holmes breaks out a mean little lick from about 3.50 minutes which brings back memories of the “2 Minutes To Midnight” solo from Maiden, that slow little breakdown section before it picks up again into the intro riff.

How can you not like “Ballcrusher” about a vicious voodoo women who drank all of Blackie’s JD and stole his car?

“Fistful of Diamonds” is Blackie’s social song about the corruption of Wall Street and how the bankers/investors are tied in with the Governments. Because power rules the game. And the power is with the banks. It’s why the Government bailed out the banks when the GFC happened. And the banks gave themselves bonuses and had luxury parties while people lost their homes.

I like the intro to “Widowmaker”. The clean tone section sounds so doomy that when the distortion kicks in, it’s as bleak and dirgey like a Paradise Lost song.

“Blind In Texas” is not my favourite WASP tune, but I do like its high tempo ZZ Top”isms”.

“Cries In The Night” makes me want to pick up the guitar and play it as it moves between acoustic and distortion.

Spencer Proffer was the “producer of the moment” for a few years because of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot and he was on hand to produce this album, going for crispness in sound.

John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow

How good is the “Rain On The Scarecrow” start?

“Small Town” resonated and was overplayed on radio.

“Lonely Ol’ Night” is excellent and so is the reggae appropriated “The Face Of The Nation”.

“Between A Laugh And A Tear” sounds like a cross between Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen done Mellencamp style.

“You’ve To Stand For Something” is the best song on the album for me. Lyrically, its excellent, dropping cultural references in each verse. And how much truth is in the Chorus.

“You’ve got to stand for something or you will fall for anything”.

And the album closes with “R.O.C.K In The U.S.A”, a track which transports your mind to the 60’s even though you didn’t live it.

Dio – Sacred Heart

The trilogy ends with the Mark 1 Dio band.

The first two were definitely a lot more fun than the third. ‘Sacred Heart’ was a very very difficult record to make for many reasons. I also think that musically it’s a little overly complex for the band. I think we started to kind of wander off course a bit.

I know that Jimmy and Vinny feel the same about that. It was a more difficult record to write and it was a more difficult record to record.

Ronnie was going through some very dark personal issues at the time; he was separating from his wife Wendy who was also the manager of the band. But Ronnie was in a very very dark place and he wasn’t easy to be around at that time. Ronnie was also producing the record…that made it exceptionally difficult for everyone involved. So that was a dark time.

Maybe that kind of clouds my being able to reflect objectively on that record, I don’t have great feelings for that record. But ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Last in Line’ are two great records. They were very easy to write, they were very easy to record.”
Vivian Campbell

Vivian Campbell would be fired mid-tour, replaced by Craig Goldy. This led to Campbell and Dio going after each other in the press. Campbell would then disappoint a lot of his fans (the same way Gary Moore did ) when he said that he hated all the three albums he did with Dio (the same way Gary Moore said he hated all of his rock records) but in the last few years, Campbell has made amends with his past and acknowledged his heritage.

“King Of Rock N Roll”, “Hungry For Heaven” and “Sacred Heart” are classic Dio songs.

“Rock N Roll Children” rivals “Rainbow In The Dark”. “Like The Beat Of My Heart” has a solo section that makes me play air guitar. “Just Another Day” has a classic up-tempo riff with a classic Dio vocal melody.

And to finish off, how good is the intro to “Hide In The Rainbow”. Another Kashmir like groove to close off an album with a shred-a-licious solo.

And the album is more mature and the arrangements a bit more complex, but it’s still a worthy album.

Vandenberg – Alibi

The last album before Adrian put the band on hold, joined Whitesnake for a decade, disappeared from the scene for about a decade and a half, then tried to resurrect Vandenberg and was told he couldn’t by his ex-bandmates, so Vandenberg became Vandenberg’s Moonkings and in 2020, its Vandenberg again.

“All The Way” kicks it off, with its arena rock riffs and chorus. The way Vandenberg decorates the verses, is Hendrix guitar hero stuff, moving between power chords, arpeggios, single note melodic lines.

Did the Def Leppard guys listen to “Once In A Lifetime” and then went away to write “Hysteria”? Then again these kind of progressions started to become common.

“Voodoo” has an intro and verse riff which reminds me of Michael Schenker. “Dressed To Kill” has a speed metal riff in the vein of Deep Purple’s “Speed King” and “Highway Star”.

“Fighting Against The World” is that classic Euro Rock I like which reminds me of the Uli Jon Roth “Scorpions” era. And Adrian, brings out the guitar hero in him for the lead break.

“How Long” is one of those ballads that moves between rock and classical in the arpeggios and chord voicings.

“Alibi” sounds like it came from the 70’s. Actually “Because Of You” from Storm Force has this same feel in the verses.

The very “Into The Arena” sounding “Kamikaze” closes off the album.

Marillion – Misplaced Childhood

They came into my headspace when Michael Portnoy from Dream Theater kept talking about em in a lot of interviews that he did in the early 90’s. And when I checked em out, Steve Rothery entered my life as an influence.

And this album is a monster.

The synth riff to kick of “Pseudo Silk Kimono” is haunting. And Fish is unique with his vocals and his lyrical phrasing/messages, something that Geoff Tate would take and run with as well.

“Pseudo Silk Kimono” moves into the beautiful strummed guitar for “Kayleigh”, before the arpeggios start and Fish starts singing “Do you remember?”.

And the lead break in “Kayleigh” is so melodic, melancholic and hopeful at the same time.

“Kayleigh” segues into “Lavender” with its major key piano riff.

“Bitter Suite” has this section from 3.45 which always gets me to pay attention when it comes along. “Heart Of Lothian” and “Waterhole” contrast each other between slow and fast tempo’s. “Lords Of The Backstage” sounds like a certain Rush song. And when the 9 plus minute “Blind Curve” begins, I am intoxicated by the various moods of the song and the album overall.

The U2 influenced “Childhoods End” just keeps adding to the variety of the album. And it’s a big reason why I like Marillion. The variety. You get a mix of so many different styles.

Helloween – Walls Of Jericho

The Helloween guys kept on saying that they were like Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden, only faster.

And they sure were.

Helloween came into my life because of the song “I Want Out” a few years later and that got me interested to check em out. This album came in various editions. The track listing on this one is from the 1987 edition. Hell, due to a manufacturing error, one of the sides on several cassette copies had the music of Celtic Frost’s “To Mega Therion” on it. And it confused a lot of people.

This is the only album to feature guitarist Kai Hansen on lead vocals as well.

“Warrior” starts off with the same machine gun noises and bomb explosions that Metallica also uses for “One” when they play it live.

The lead breaks in each of the songs are songs within songs compositions, moving between classical influences like Uli Jon Roth Scorpions era and Pentatonic/Modal influences like Michael Schenker UFO era, merged between Iron Maiden’s NWOBHM sounds. Just faster.

“Victim Of Fate” sounds like it came from an Iron Maiden jam session with riffs that remind me of “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And after 2 minutes of 150km speeds, the song slows down like a traffic jam. This part of the song is my favourite, as it starts to build up again.

And the lead break that follows gets me playing air guitar. Then it picks up again to a harmonized lead break.

Like “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And there is another open string harmony lead break to close the song off. But it didn’t, because with 40 seconds to go, a new lead break was created.

And by the end of the 6 minutes, a classic Helloween song is born and Power Metal with it.

“Cry For Freedom” has this haunting acoustic guitar riff to start it off. “Walls Of Jericho/Ride The Sky” starts off with a trumpet version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down” before a blistering speed metal riff kicks in (which is the start of “Ride The Sky”) to rival anything thrash related that Metallica was doing at that point in time.

“Reptile” sounds like an unfinished demo from “Piece Of Mind”. Only faster.

“Guardians” is patient zero of the Power Metal pandemic. It has it all, the fast riffs, the soaring vocals, the progressive time changes in the solo section and the major key “battle cry” Chorus.

“Phantoms Of Death” sounds like the “The One Riff To Rule Em All” which is known as the “Two Minutes To Midnight” riff but it goes back to the 70’s because it was that common. And a harmony lead break which reminds me of “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. Only faster.

“Gorgar” has this head banging riff that reminds me of Accept. This is the song, which is the slowest on the album. And Wikipedia tells me that “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” is referenced here. Similar to how Accept referenced Beethoven in “Metal Heart”.

And you know the wrestler Chris Jericho who is also the singer in a band called Fozzy, well he took his name and wrestling manoeuvre from the title of this album.

And into the time machine we go for 1977 – Part 3.

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

1985 – Part 2

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.

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

1985 – V1

Two releases come to mind immediately for 1985, that I can never forget. They are “Live After Death” from Iron Maiden and “Come Out And Play” from Twisted Sister. I’ve written about these albums before and will probably keep on writing about them.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

It’s the best live album ever and my first proper exposure to Iron Maiden, as prior to this it was just the few video clips I taped from the music TV shows.

Because this was my first proper exposure, I got to hear Bruce Dickinson sing the DiAnno era songs before Paul DiAnno and I didn’t know it at the time, but the tempo of the songs had a small increase compared to the recorded versions. So when I eventually got to the first two albums, DiAnno’s voice (along with Blaze Bayley many years later) proved to be a struggle, but when Bruce did those songs live, wow.

P.S.

Maiden hit the bullseye again with the “Rock In Rio” release, especially the live footage in the DVD release. And on that “Rock In Rio”, Bruce Dickinson also gave the Blaze era songs a new life.

P.S.S.

Maiden did it again with “Flight 666” which is a great memento for me for the two nights I watched em perform the same set.

Twisted Sister – Come Out And Play

I just remember dropping the needle on this, laying in my bed, reading the lyrics of each song and looking at the graffiti art on the back cover.

So what was happening in the Twisted Sister department?

By the time this album hit, Twisted Sister was on an album per year cycle and while the “Stay Hungry” album was written during the recording of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, this one was written after the “Stay Hungry” tour.

And it didn’t sell as much as “Stay Hungry” and “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll”, because everyone were still buying those albums.

And just because the sale didn’t match the label expectations, it didn’t mean that this album is not a quality album.

But I wasn’t a fan of the singles like “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Cruel To Your School”. All of the other tracks definitely resonated and the bonus track “King Of Fools” is one of my favourite Sister tracks. But those two singles proved to be a bad decision.

And they didn’t soften their sound just because they made it with “Stay Hungry”. They came out all guns blazing with the title track and “The Fire Still Burns” is a speed metal classic.

Dee said to “join our cavalcade” and join I did.

P.S.

But the cavalcade that jumped on the ship with “Stay Hungry” didn’t all come back in 1985, but they would return ten fold in the 2000’s.

P.S.S.

One more album later in 1987 and the band would cease to be until the 2000’s.

Dokken – Under Lock And Key

It was the “Unchain The Night” video release which got me interested. My cousin Mega dubbed it off some other guy who dubbed it off some other guy. And I dubbed it off my cousin. The video sounded dodgy, with that white noise effect running in the background, due to it being copied so many times.

So I didn’t get this album until two years later, because the cover didn’t scream out “buy me” either.

There are songs which do sound like they are written for the charts, but its tracks like “Unchain The Night”, “Lightning Strikes Again”, “Will The Sun Rise” and “Till The Living End” which showcase the metal side of the band and still to this day, stand out as favourites. And when you add the rock tracks like “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams”, “Its Not Love” and “Don’t Lie To Me”, well, you have a pretty solid little album even though it was made from punch-a-thons, arguments and arm wrestles.

P.S.
Pilson likes this album, but in a recent interview he said that “Tooth And Nail” is his favourite. And he had a co-write in all of those tracks. The true unsung hero of Dokken.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Marching Out

One of the bands I was in, the co-guitarist was a devoted Yngwie fan. He would make fun at my tastes of guitarists because according to him, none of them came even close to the maestro level of Malmsteen. It was this elitism from him that made me hate Malmsteen at the start, but I also understood that in my journey to be a guitar player, I would need to check out some of the Malmsteen recordings.

And.

This is a good album.

Jeff Scott Soto on vocals brings it on songs like “I’ll See The Light Tonight”, “Don’t Let It End” and “Caught In The Middle” which he also co-wrote with the man known as the Fury. The other standout to me is “On The Run Again” which Malmsteen originally wrote while he was in Steeler with Ron Keel. At the time it was called “Victim Of The City”.

And I became a fan up to the “Fire And Ice” album. As soon as grunge hit and his albums were not available in Australia, he wasn’t on my radar anymore. I’ve heard a few albums since on Spotify and I can honestly say those 80’s and early 90’s albums are the go to albums for me.

P.S
Malmsteen would use JSS for one more album, “Trilogy”, and then many years later would diss him by saying that he (Malmsteen) came up with everything and JSS did nothing.

P.S.S.
Malmsteen is the fury.

Motley Crue – Theater of Pain

Only two video clips came out to support the album. And it was enough because the Crue generated enough controversy to remain in the press permanently.

“Louder Than Hell”, “Tonight”, the Bad Company sounding “Raise Your Hands To Rock”, “Fight For Your Rights” and “Save Our Souls” are some of my favorites.

Even tracks like “Keep Your Eye On The Money” and “City Boy Blues” are worthy tracks. So to me, there isn’t really any filler on this album. Actually I would put “Smokin In The Boys Room” as a filler track.

P.S

Was there really an imposter pretending to be Nikki Sixx during this period?

P.S.S.

Mick Mars, riffs away on this album and he’s playing is so underrated, it’s criminal. And Tommy Lee is a pocket drummer, something he doesn’t get enough credit for.

Ratt – Invasion Of Your Privacy

“Lay Me Down” and “You’re In Love” sold this album as the clips got a lot of TV time in Australia.

And when you drop the needle on it, you are greeted with a triple knockout punch. It kicks off with that LA Sunset riff for “You’re In Love” and it moves to “Never Use Love” and “Lay It Down”.

P.S.

The album came out too early as “Out Of The Cellar” was still selling a lot, so people would have had to choose between those albums. In other words, Ratt and their label cannibalized their sales.

P.S.S.

It’s a solid album.

And that’s it for 1985 part 1. Now I’m off to 1977.

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