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

1984 – V – Grace Under Pressure

If you are curious here are parts one, two, three and four of the 1984 series.

Pretty Maids – Red Hot And Heavy

I didn’t hear this album until the early two thousands. I had “Future World” on LP, however any other release by the band was available via an expensive IMPORT price of $50 to $70 Australian. And then Napster came along, and then Audio Galaxy, LimeWire and cloud sites like Rapid Share. Suddenly, people’s music collections were available everywhere and at any time.

For this album there was no dropping the needle, it was all about putting on my headphones, plugging them into the computer and pressing play to the mp3 tracks, lined up WINAMP.

It kicks off with what I know as the “Excalibur” theme, and others know as ‘O Fortuna’.

“Back To Back” and “Cold Killer” have cool riffs and show off their NWOBHM influences.

“Red Hot and Heavy” shows off it’s Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Scorpions influences.

“Waitin’ For The Time” and “A Place In The Night” are AOR Melodic Rock to a tee.

And that’s why I always enjoyed the albums from “Pretty Maids”. Like Dokken and Y&T, they lived somewhere in between heavy metal and hard rock and melodic pop.

Rush – Grace Under Pressure

Ernest Hemingway said “Courage is grace under pressure.”

And when you are pushing towards the mid 80s, Rush showed true courage in delivering another album full of synth rock. Hell, talk about courage, some songs don’t even feature any bass guitar.

“Distant Early Warning” has a keyboard riff which sounds excellent played on a distorted guitar.

“Afterimage” is my favourite track and “Red Sector A” has this riff from about the 1.10 mark, which makes me press repeat on this track.

This is also the track which has no bass guitar

“Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?”

And its these first three tracks which still get played to this day.

The Alan Parsons Project  – Ammonia Avenue

The album came out in February 1984 and it was meant to capitalize on the platinum success of “Eye In The Sky”. And although it went Gold, the album was seen as a failure. MTV was a game changer and if you looked like a studio band, you didn’t stand a chance with a new empowered generation of rock and metal heads.

But to me there are always a few cool tracks on APP albums which I can relate to.

On this one, “Let Me Go Home”, “Dancing On A High Wire” and Pipeline” are stand outs.

Chris DeBurgh – Man On The Line

Chris DeBurgh doesn’t get enough credit as a Rocker because his ballad, “Lady In Red” was so huge, it dwarfed everything else he released. Then again, each album he did release always had more ballads than rockers.

“The Ecstasy Of Flight (I Love The Night)” is the song which stood out for me and I remember hearing it on a music video show and taping it.

Midnight Oil – Red Sails In The Sunset

They write songs about Australia, our environment, our history, our culture and our attitudes.

And it resonated and connected with people.

“Kosciusko” and “When The Generals Talk” are the standouts here.

Meatloaf‘s “Bad Attitude” didn’t have anything earth shattering on it, but the title track and “Surfs Up” are derivative versions of previous Meatloaf songs and are a cool listen.

Billy Squier – Signs Of Life

It all comes back to the “Rock Me Tonite” video.

Cheesy; yes, terrible idea; yes, but did it really kill Squier’s career because in the 80s there was a lot of cheesy bad videos for artists.

Squier like many others had some success early on and then struggled to duplicate it. Twisted Sister comes to mind immediately and so does Quiet Riot. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have good songs, it’s just the audience had moved on.

“All Night Long” is excellent while “Reach For The Sky” has a feel and groove borrowed from The Police and Gotye used a similar groove and feel for “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Quick call the lawyers.

“Hand Me Downs” borrows from “Long Way To The Top” in the verses. Quick call the lawyers again.

Don Henley – Building The Perfect Beast

“The Boys Of Summer” was everywhere and what a song. I didn’t hear the rest of the album until the late 90s. Other tracks which stand out to me are “Not Enough Love In The World”, “Driving With Our Eyes Closed” and “Land Of The Living”.

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

1982 – Volume 7: Everything Dies, That’s A Fact

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky
Alan Parsons is one of those unsung heroes that a lot of people don’t really know about.

In 1968, a then 18-year-old Alan Parsons had his first engineering credit on “Abbey Road” from The Beatles. Proper sound engineers are responsible for the sound capture and there was no better at it, than Alan Parsons.

From there, he went on to work with Paul McCartney, The Hollies and his piece d’resitance was Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. He was the engineer on “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. So the sounds you hear on that album, the sounds that went into 30 million houses around their world, owe a lot to Alan Parsons.

After the success of “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, Parson’s was offered the chance to work on “Wish You Were Here”, however he declined it because he wanted to get his own project going.

How many people today would decline an offer like that to follow a path that financially could be worse off, but creatively satisfying.

So The Alan Parsons Project was born with producer Eric Woolfson (RIP). Both of the guys met at Abbey Roads studio.

The studio sounds Parsons captured with the bands he engineered would end up on his project.

Which brings me to “Eye In The Sky”, his 1982 release. For a studio band, “Eye In The Sky” is their sixth album, which goes to show that there was a demand for their music. All up 10 Alan Parsons Project albums were released and achieved combined sales of more than 40m copies.

Eric Woolfson was also a successful rock musician, but no one knew of him. He wasn’t in the magazines or on MTV, but he had a very successful career compared to the MTV heroes of the 80’s. And for him, it all started off by doing session piano work in the 60’s which led to a song writing publishing contract which led to a production gig at Abbey Road Studios and so forth.

How cool is the Eye of Horus cover, which instantly brings back memories of “Powerslave” from Iron Maiden.

“Sirius” (Instrumental) leads into “Eye In The Sky”
If “Sirius” sounds familiar to sporting fans, well it should. It was used by the Chicago Bulls to introduce their team during the Michael Jordan era. Wikipedia also tells me that “Sirius” was used by the New Orleans Saints as their entrance music for Super Bowl XLIV. The Kansas City Chiefs also used it during kick-offs.

It then leads into “Eye In The Sky” which is the most well-known song from the album. Maybe you could call it a “hit” song without it being a hit on the charts, but a hit with listeners of the band. Eric Woolfson is doing lead vocals on it.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind

“You’re Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned”
It has funk/soul/R&B singer Lenny Zakatek doing lead vocals. Zakatek was the lead singer with Gonzalez who had the worldwide disco hit, “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”. From 1974, he started to work with The Alan Parsons Project, a collaboration that would span 8 albums and 24 songs.

If I’m wrong and you are right
Then I will light your darkness with confusion

“Psychobabble”
It has Elmer Gantry on vocals or otherwise known as Dave Terry. I remember reading a story about a group of musicians who got hired by Fleetwood Mac’s manager to impersonate Fleetwood Mac for a U.S. tour in the Seventies. Well, Dave Terry was one of the members. When the ruse failed, front man Dave Terry and guitarist Graham “Kirby” Gregory formed Stretch and had a hit song with the Kirby penned, “Why Did You Do That Thing?”

But I don’t care, it’s all psychobabble rap to me

“Mammagamma (Instrumental)”
Is typical of the Pink Floyd like instrumentals Parsons and Woolfson create. I love it.

“Old and Wise”
It has Colin Bunstone on vocals. Remember the song “She’s Not There” from the Sixties by the rock band The Zombies. If you do, that’s Colin Bunstone on vocals. One of many singles and projects he was involved in.

And, oh, when I’m old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me

Damn right. As you get older, you realise that you are not immortal and suddenly “the end” means more than all of those other wrongs you have suffered. You get a different perspective.

Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
It’s a pretty bleak folk record. Springsteen recorded it at his home in Colts Neck, New Jersey. There was no E-Street Band. It was him and a four-track PortaStudio tape recorder.

“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact,”
That lyric from “Atlantic City,” defines the tone of the album. The character in the song went from having a job and trying to save, to withdrawing everything he had, hitting the road to Atlantic City and then when he was low on cash he agreed to do a little favour for a friend.

Well, I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus

Now I been looking for a job but it’s hard to find
Down here, it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well, I’m tired of coming out on this losing end
So, honey, last night I met this guy and I’m gonna do a little favour for him

And the whole album is littered with characters that did what they needed to do to survive and take care of their families. Like “Johnny 99” and the “Highway Patrolman”.

“Johnny 99”
Now judge, judge, I got debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holding’ my mortgage and taking’ my house away
Now I ain’t saying’ that make me an innocent man
But it was more’n all this that put that gun in my hand

There it is again, “I got debts no honest mane could pay line”. It was Johnny 99’s answer back to the judge as to why he did what he did.

“Highway Patrolman”
“I always done an honest job as honest as I could
But when it’s your brother, sometimes you look the other way”

“Mansion On The Hill” is the same as “Nebraska”.
There’s a place out on the edge of town, sir
Rising above the factories and the fields
Now, ever since I was a child I can remember
That mansion on the hill

There are winners and losers in life and then there are people just content with life. But the ones not content with life, want to be like those people living in the mansion on the hill.

“Used Cars”
Now, the neighbours come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car

It’s a brilliant lyric of the times and how that used car was cherished like it was brand new. You had to have lived that time to understand it.

“Reason To Believe”.

Still at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe

There it is, the glimmer of hope on a bleak album. Because regardless of the situation, we still find some reason to believe in the next day and in the future.

The next two entries in my 1982 list are songs.

Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – “Up Where We Belong”
It’s 1982 and Joe Cocker re-enters the public conversation. No one could escape “Up Where We Belong” a duet with Jennifer Warnes and the theme song to the Richard Gere/Debra Winger movie “An Officer And A Gentleman.”

As with all things Joe, it was a song written by a who’s who of writers, Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings. An original this time around, instead of a cover.

Some hang on to “used to be”
Live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our life, out there to find

Brilliant lyrics in the second verse. Even rock heads and metal heads couldn’t escape the song. I am also pretty sure that some power metal band covered it in the Nineties. It was one of those songs.

Moving Pictures – What About Me
The “Days of Innocence” was released in 1981 in Australia and 1982 in the U.S. I still haven’t heard the album it was on but I know the song well. It was released as a single in January 1982 in Australia and September 1982 in the U.S. Talk about windowing releases.

It was the second biggest single in Australia behind Survivors “Eye Of The Tiger”. It’s written by guitarist Garry Frost and Frances Swan Frost and like all hit songs from the past, it wasn’t even planned for the album.

I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more, than I’ve got…

There it is again, the wish for more. Stay tuned for Part 8. I never envisaged that my homage to 1982 would take so many iterations.

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Music

Andy Johns – Rest In Peace and Thanks For the Music

Does anyone remember the band Cinderella?  Tom Keifer had the best blues rock voice ever.  Andy Johns, produced and engineered their first two albums, Night Songs and Long Cold Winter.  Both albums where hits.  That was my first introduction to Andy Johns.  He nailed the glam hard rock sound for Night Songs and then he got he got the blues rock (Bad Company/Aerosmith) inspired sound that the band was going for on Long Cold Winter.

Then came For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge by Van Halen.  Ted Templeman was on board to record Sammy Hagar, as Andy Johns was too demanding for Sammy.  Eddie returning to his hard rock roots and Andy Johns on board to capture it.  It spawned the hit Right Know.

Majority of music lovers will remember the artists and the songs attached to them.  Key players in the history of recorded music are the producers, engineers and the mixers.  They are the ones tasked with getting the ideas of the artist recorded.  They need to please the artists and the record label at the same time.  They do not get the credit they deserve. Alan Parsons deserves more credit for his engineering role, especially on Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd.  Martin Birch should be credited as the god father of heavy metal and hard rock.  Andy Johns alongside him.

Rest in Peace Andy Johns and thanks for contributing to my soundtrack

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