Being different was a uniqueness when I was growing up and it was the space heavy metal and rock musicians occupied. It was us vs. them mentality. The “them” was always a moving target. It could have been teachers, parents, police officers, neighbours or anyone else that did the wrong thing.
I grew up in a time where heavy metal music and long hair was frowned upon, where a person with a sleeve of tattoos was considered to be a freak in a circus show. Society bullied us. You couldn’t get a “real” job if you had piercings.
Music is best when it’s created and led by the outcasts, those artists that sit on the fringes. Record Labels and suits believe they know best, because all they care about is profits. When Quiet Riot exploded with Metal Health in 1983, it took everyone by surprise, but not the metal fans. Suddenly, our favourite form of music was becoming a mainstream commercial behemoth.
As soon as the bands started to find an audience that connected with their message, money started to roll in from large record label advances and tour revenue. Suddenly, everyone’s afraid to lose friends. Our favourite bands suddenly tried to have a career instead of destroying their career. All of those rough edges that made our heroes unique got polished off. And by the end of the Eighties, we had every band sounding the same, trying to cash in on the MTV Bon Jovi/Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Whitesnake/Guns’N’Roses formula.
But we still have 1983, when a lot of the bands recorded albums to build careers on. We still have 1983, when the record store section had one section called METAL and all of the bands fitted in.
Welcome to Part 3 of my 1983 saga.
It’s a few months late and if you want to revisit Part 1, click here.
If you want to revisit Part 2, click here.
Quiet Riot – Metal Health
“Metal Health” holds a special place in the canon of 80’s metal and hard rock and so it should for it’s the first album of that sound and culture to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. In doing so, a band that got rejected a hundred times in the late seventies, pushed The Police from the top spot.
I never owned any Quiet Riot music until the mid-nineties, when I picked up their 80’s albums, along with the Randy Rhoads era at second-hand record stores and record fairs. So the only music I had from Quiet Riot in the 80’s was the video clips, that I recorded onto a VHS cassette tape staying up late at night. “Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Bang Your Head”, “Mama Were All Crazee Now” and “The Wild And The Young”. That was it.
And it was two songs in constant rotation on music television that sold this album. “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Bang Your Head”.
Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
The opener and the united metal head soundtrack, when we all believed in the same form music and didn’t segregate into little factions that the record labels like to call “Genres”.
“Bang your head, metal health will drive you mad”
The whole musical structure is tasty but that chorus riff has enough power to crush the power chords from Malcolm Young.
I’m like a laser 6-streamin’ razor
I got a mouth like an alligator
I want it louder
I’m gonna rock ya till it strikes the hour
It’s clichéd and a thousand bands had similar themes. You were either a long-haired rocker or a black t-shirt metal head standing up against the establishments so you could listen to the music you love. And we congregated to the churches of the record stores and the arena’s, to show our love and appreciation to this godly music.
Cum On Feel The Noize
A lot of the metal fans had no idea this was a cover. Hell, I didn’t when I first heard it. We didn’t own a lot of music back then. Only the credits on the album (if you owned it) would have told you it was a cover, or the reviewer of the album would mention it.
So you think my singin’s out of time
It makes me money
I don’t know why
A lot of the bands in the 80’s didn’t have the most technically gifted singers. It was more of a lifestyle than a job. DuBrow was not the best singer on the planet, yet he became he star.
So cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We’ll get wild, wild, wild
All the boys wanted to rock and roll with the girls.
Don’t Wanna Let You Go
It’s got potential musically, but lyrically, DuBrow serves up crap.
Musically it’s good, but the lyrics let it down.
Run For Cover
It’s a speed metal song and musically I love it.
How good is the whole solo section?
It starts off with the frantic drums, then the lead guitar kicks in, then the whole band joins.
Let’s Get Crazy
What came first, “Fight For Your Right” from the Beastie Boys or “Let’s Get Crazy” from Quiet Riot?
While “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” reached no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Quiet Riot’s “Let’s Get Crazy” is virtually unknown.
The riffs are identical and the vocal melodies are more or less pretty close.
Lookin’ for some action, want a mean machine
Gettin’ hot ‘n’ nasty, climbin’ in-between
Both songs are great and a perfect indication of how music is the sum of our influences. But in today’s world, these songs are perfect for a plagiarism claim.
I’m-a rockin’ in the mornin’ and in the night
I’m gonna find a mama makes me feel right
For the other songs, I preferred the Randy Rhoads version of “Slick Black Cadillac” and while “Thunderbird” is mentioned as a tribute to Randy Rhoads, I believe it wasn’t really written to honour Randy. I believe the song was written before Randy’s death and it was just a cash grab from DuBrow or the label to capitalise on it. Seriously, DuBrow has the lyrics, “leave your nest baby” in the song.
Every album after, got worse and eventually DuBrow left Quiet Riot and Paul Shortino was in. But the debut of the 80’s version of the band stands as a testament to paying your dues.
Def Leppard – Pyromania
Def Leppard doesn’t exist in the world of iTunes and Spotify except for a few re-cut versions of some of the classics.
The reason is money.
The record label wants to pay Def Leppard a royalty based on vinyl sales for streaming, however Def Leppard believe they should be paid at the higher licensing rate. And the labels are paid a monza to license the music they hold the copyrights on but then pay the band a royalty on sales and listens. Def Leppard said FU to the offer and because of it, we have no classic Lep on Spotify.
In 1983, there was “Pyromania” and everything else. The Lep’s wanted to be on top of the pop charts. That was their mission. The rise was slow but gradual. If you like rock and metal music, you would like this album. If you liked pop and other forms of music, you would still like this album. And the people responded in the millions, with sales breaking through the million barrier all over the world.
There is a great write-up over at the teamrock.com website which I have taken some sections from.
The “Pyromania” story begins with “High’N’Dry”. The album and the tour didn’t do anything spectacular in the sales department.
“That album didn’t do what we all hoped it would. And touring the UK was a complete waste of time. We were pulling in 400-500 people in 2000-seat theatres.”
Def Leppard was then given a supporting slot on the European Leg “Point Of Entry” tour by Judas Priest. But they never had a chance to make an impact, coming on second after Accept and their “Balls To The Wall”. The tour finished in December, 1981 and by February 1982, the band had most of the songs written for their third album.
As the article over at teamrock.com states;
Some of the songs were brand new, built from a stockpile of riffs the band had worked through after the “High ‘N’ Dry” tour. But they also remodelled a couple of older songs that hadn’t made the cut for “High ‘N’ Dry”: “Medicine Man” was beefed up and renamed “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”, and a previously unfinished track, described by Joe as “a dual-guitar pop song”, was finally completed, and titled “Photograph”. Aside from drummer Rick Allen, every band member contributed to the writing, as did Mutt Lange, who co-wrote all of the album’s 10 tracks. Guitarist Pete Willis wrote the riff to “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”. Their other guitarist, Steve Clark, a Jimmy Page fan, created the Zeppelin-styled epic “Billy’s Got A Gun”. Rick Savage came up with the express-train rocker “Stagefright”.
Recording began in March, and money was tight. The band was in debt to their record company to the tune of £700,000, and each band member was on wages of £40 a week.
A cold hard fact on the realities of the recording business and their creative accounting is the debts bands incur. It was this “money is tight” situation that led to Pete Willis getting the boot from the band and Phil Collen joined. However, as the article states;
Elliott is keen to stress the importance of Pete Willis’s contribution to Pyromania. The guitarist co-wrote four of the album’s 10 tracks, including Photograph, the key hit single. And despite his run-ins with Mutt Lange, Willis also played the rhythm guitar parts on every track. Phil Collen joined the band for the final stages of recording, when they returned to London for overdubbing and mixing at Battery Studios. Collen played solos on five of the tracks, with Steve Clark taking the other five.
The album finally hit the streets in January 1983. But.
In the UK Pyromania was still selling slow. It peaked at No.18. And after a showcase gig at London’s Marquee club on February 9 the band’s British theatre tour drew disappointingly small audiences. Joe called it “The Nobody Cares Tour”. In America, however, it was a different story.
MTV put the songs “Photograph,” “Foolin’” and “Rock of Ages” on constant rotation. So did the other video shows. And in all honesty they looked geeky compared to the American bands but with the help of Mutt Lange, they blew up the rock/metal paradigm. Suddenly rock and metal bands changed the way they recorded. NWOBHM bands started to sing more melodically and with backing vocals. They had too, if they wanted to survive in the new world.
“Pyromania” takes its pop rock cues from Journey’s “Escape”, Loverboy’s self-titled debut, Foreigners “4”, Reo Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity”, .38 Special’s “Special Forces” and Boston’s larger than life Chorus’s from their self-titled debut released in 1976 and the follow-up “Don’t Look Back” released in 1978. The rock and swagger comes from AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Queen’s and Led Zeppelin’s 70’s output.
More pop rock influences came from Slade, The Sweet, Mott The Hoople, T-Rex and David Bowie. The metal overtones come from Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Scorpions.
Joe Elliot once said that he wanted the power of AC/DC mixed with the variety of Queen for Def Leppard.
Rock Rock (Till You Drop)
Mutt Lange is digging in to his AC/DC “Back In Black”/“For Those About To Rock” and Foreigner “4” experiences with “Rock Rock (Till You Drop). It’s a sound and groove that Cinderella and Kix and many other wannabe acts would put to good use to build careers’ on.
Hold on to your hat, hold on to your heart
Ready, get set to tear this place apart
Don’t need a ticket, only place in town
That’ll take you up the heaven and never bring you down
Are they singing about the rock and roll show or the real meaning of what rock and roll meant back in the 30’s to the Black Blues artists of that era.
Women to the left, women to the right
There to entertain and take you through the night
So grab a little heat and come along with me
Cause you mama don’t mind, what you mama don’t see
It looks like the “rock” in this song is not the musical “rock” at all.
There is no denying the riff. It’s as good as any of the classic riffs that guitarists play in guitar shops and so forth. Structurally, the song goes all AC/DC style riffing in the verses and pop rock like in the Chorus.
I see your face every time I dream
On every page, every magazine
So wild and free, so far from me
You’re all I want, my fantasy
This is Def Leppard trying to bottle the magic of the song “Centrefold” in a rock/metal context or it could be just a stalk like anthem of someone Joe had seen in a magazine.
It’s got this Sweet “Action” vibe merged with metal riffage in the verses with a pop chorus.
You’re going for my head, you’re going down
Gettin’ good at being bad, you’re hangin’ ’round
A fun inspired asylum, toys for the boys
Love on the rocks, forget-me-nots, you got no choice
Is it about groupies?
Too Late For Love
As soon as this song starts off, I swear I’ve heard it somewhere else. The Em – C – D, G – D, C – Em is instantly recognisable.
Somewhere in the distance I hear the bells ring
Darkness settles on the town as the children start to sing
And the lady ‘cross the street she shuts out the night
There’s a cast of thousands waiting as she turns out the light
The lyrics are interesting to say the least as they set up different scenes with each verse.
Die Hard The Hunter
Let’s welcome home the soldier boy (far away, far away)
No angel of mercy, just a need to destroy (fire away, fire away)
Let’s toast the hero with blood in his eyes
The scars on his mind took so many lives
You feel sad as soon as the Emadd9 clean tone arpeggios kick in and it gets even sadder when Joe starts singing “Let’s toast”. Then it goes into a riff that Queensryche used when they wrote “Revolution Calling”.
That section from 4.05 to 5.05 always gets me to stop what I’m doing and start paying attention.
The opener to Side 2, with that majestic guitar part.
“Foolin” was not my favourite song on the album, but hearing it almost 20 years, I realised the magic was in the arpeggiated intro and the eventual build up with the layered backing vocals singing “Is anybody out there?”. And I now dig it. It stands the test of time.
Lady Luck never smiles
So lend your love to me awhile
Do with me what you will
Break the spell, take your fill
On and on we rode the storm
The flame has died and the fire has gone
Oh, this empty bed is a night alone
I realized that-ah long ago
The music and the vocal melody are top-notch in this intro section.
Is anybody out there?
Does anybody wonder?
The backing vocals in this section are brilliant. We spend so much of our life looking into the past that we don’t see what’s right in front of us.
The lead break begins with a call and response. It reminds me of “Over The Mountain” from Randy Rhoads and Ozzy.
Rock Of Ages
The first time I heard em. My cousin Trajko had a lot of VHS tapes full of metal and rock music videos he taped from the TV stations or from friends. On a visit to his place, he dubbed me three of them. For those who grew up in the 80’s, we dubbed videos by connecting two videos together, so while one video played the image on the TV, the other video was recording it.
Yeah, it’s better to burn out
Yeah, than fade away
A rock and rollers creed.
Rise up, gather ’round
Rock this place to the ground
Burn it up, let’s go for broke
Watch the night go up in smoke
Rock on (rock on)
Drive me crazier
No serenade, no fire brigade
Just the pyromania, come on
This is the embryo of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and they take inspiration from Queen, by using songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites The Dust” as influences for the verse delivery/structure.
When the Chorus comes in after two verses, it’s well worth the wait. “Don’t Stop Believin’” from Journey also used this kind of song structure.
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, keep a-rollin’
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, rock ‘n’ rollin’
You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along with the chorus.
Comin Under Fire
This song is a must for any wannabe guitarist. It merges 70’s classic rock, with NWOBHM with Scorpions Euro Metal.
The intro alone has it all. Arpeggiated guitar lines hook you in and then the pedal point riff blasts through the speakers. When the verses come in, we are greeted with volume swells that outline the different chords.
Is it any wonder?
You got me comin’ under fire
Comin’ like thunder
You know you make me walk the wire
Like the pre-chorus of “Foolin”, the chorus of “Comin Under Fire” has excellent layered backing vocals. Lyrically, it’s not the best, but musically, it rules.
Billy’s Got A Gun
Never underestimate the ability of a song to paint a picture.
This is my favourite Def Leppard cut and it has so many good bits.
The verse bass riff reminds me of “Heaven and Hell”. The backing vocals are so layered, melodic and operatic. The overall drum groove reminds of “Kashmir”. And I guarantee you that Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton all had this album and paid particular attention to this song as the “Operation Mindcrime” album is very influenced by “Billy’s Got A Gun”.
Billy’s got a gun, he’s on the run
Confusion in his mind, the blind leads the blind
Yeah, Billy’s got a gun, he’s gonna shoot ya down
He’s got evil in his eyes, got a reason to despise
There’s danger in the air
It sets the scene of what Billy is about to do as he is hell-bent on revenge for doing time, for a crime, he didn’t commit.
In a world of black and white, they were wrong and he was right
A powerful lyric.
And you get an unbelievable solo and an ending that makes you press play again, so you hear the album over and over and over again.
As time marches forward, the greatness and power of this song is being forgotten. Not on my watch.
Europe – Europe
When Europe broke through into the mainstream in 86’ with “The Final Countdown”, the triumph seemed like it happened overnight. But the reality is so much different. And once word started to spread, people took notice and the band would never be the same.
But before “The Final Countdown”, there are two albums. The self-titled debut released in 1983 (and it’s not on Spotify) and 1984’s “Wings Of Tomorrow” (also not on Spotify).
There is always something unique and interesting to hear a bands early music. To me, it always captures a point in time when a band is free to write what they want and develop their style away from the mainstream and record label know it all’s.
The debut doesn’t have the sale numbers as “The Final Countdown” or “Out of This World”, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock as hard. Hell, it was finally released in Australia in the 90’s, which I picked up as a cassette.
To me, the album captures a form of classical inspired metal, drawing influences from U.F.O, Randy Rhoads era Ozzy, Scorpions, Accept, Rainbow and Deep Purple.
In the Future to Come
John Norum goes to town on this song. It’s guitar heavy and it’s littered with so many good things.
- A classical inspired intro that ends with double stop bends.
- Power chords over a galloping pedal tone.
- A shred like lead break.
Drummer on this album is Tony Reno, not Ian Haugland. And there is no Mic Michaeli on keys either.
So many years ago the people on this earth, they were laughing
They didn’t think of anything else than love and peace
But generations failed to see that they were causing trouble for the future
They didn’t know that one single war would continue to increase
For a young band, these are very social conscience lyrics.
Oh lord, where will it end
When tomorrow is gone
Oh lord, can we stop to pretend
That we can survive in the future to come
How much freedom do we really have when our governments are spying on us and we are so busy working we haven’t got time to think or care about the loss of our liberties?
Seven Doors Hotel
A piano riff rooted in classical music kicks the song off. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s a great riff that kicks in.
Seven Doors Hotel
One of seven gates to Hell
The seven seals to open before a judgement is released or the apocalypse begins.
Do always watch out for things
That you see but don’t understand
The Devil is there always somewhere
Ready to command
In Australia and the U.S, the use of the “devil” in lyrics would have caused some controversy. However, in Europe and it’s million churches, it looked like it was accepted.
The King Will Return
Another song with roots in classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.
The king will return with gold in his hands
But he didn’t return alive.
Children of This Time
It’s got the gallop that Iron Maiden put to good use in “The Trooper”. Again, the overall roots of the song is inspired by classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.
You are the children of this time
You are the bread and the wine
You are companions ’till the end
You’ve got yourselves to defend
Another song with social conscience lyrics, that has Joey Tempest asking people to be there for each other and support each other until the end. I really dig the lead break from Norum.
There is a pretty cool review of the album over at mikeladano.com
Dokken – Breaking The Chains
I didn’t get this album in 1983. I got it in the 90’s. Dokken was another band introduced to me in 1986 via a dubbed VHS copy of their “Unchain the Night” video and to be honest it was a great introduction.
“Into the Fire”, “Alone Again” and “Just Got Lucky” from “Tooth and Nail”, “Breaking the Chains” and “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams” and “It’s Not Love” from “Under Lock and Key” all appeared on it.
I was an instant fan and I started to notice George Lynch appearing in the guitar magazines I was buying at the time. Also that year, a badly dubbed copy of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” came my way and it interviewed people before a Dokken and Judas Priest concert.
Then “Dream Warriors” came out via the “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” movie and suddenly Dokken was on my radar of bands I needed to purchase. So my first actual purchase was the “Back For The Attack” album.
Even back in the 80’s we didn’t have any time. Lifestyles were different and we went out more than what we do today. Our music wasn’t really portable, so we didn’t take it with is. But when something great starts spreading by word of mouth, we find time. You can see how an accumulation of events via word of mouth and pirated video tapes led me to Dokken fandom. If there’s no word of mouth about your act, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Breaking The Chains
The riff is excellent and far removed from the L.A sound that was happening at the time. But what I remember most about this song is the tacky camera angles on the chain like strings on Lynch’s guitar, plus Don’s terrible lyrics.
“Breaking The Chains” had the title for another teen angst anthem however Don delivered very confused lyrics loosely based on heartbreak.
How can you take these lines seriously!!
Got this letter
From my baby
Who left me yesterday
Said she loves me
She’ll come back
She wants to try
But it was the 80’s and it was cool to be this tacky once upon a time.
In The Middle
This is more in the vein of the L.A sound.
In the middle
I dig the music, the vocal melodies, but not the choice of words.
Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
Another speed metal song. This one is written by Lynch, Croucier and Dokken.
Run out of breath
And I feel I’m moving too slow
Backwards and forwards
I don’t know which way I should go
You know the feeling. You worked hard all week and you spent so much time away from loved ones and things that you like. You get paid and nothings really paid off. Outstanding bills still remain and to top it off, your car broke down. And you ask yourself the question, “Did you live up to your promise?”
Live to rock
Rock to live
It’s all you got when
You’re down on the skids
Live to rock
Rock to live
One way or another
Survive until the end
Pop music, written by a committee of writers, rules the mainstream. But we live in a world of chaos. We have so much music on hand, we don’t where to start. Hell, we don’t even know what is out there most of the time. I dig this modern era, but in the 80’s it wasn’t like that. We had gatekeepers, self-appointed people who would act as filters. And the youth just wanted to rock. So we looked for artists who would inspire those passions.
“Live to Rock” is one of many songs that capture’s this feeling. It was an innocent era, with great ideals, before our heroes became busy chasing the dollars.
There is a reason why the 80’s produced acts who are still going strong and it’s called scarcity.
When we purchased an album, we stayed up all night listening to it. Even though it had one good song on it. Our view was, if we gave our money, we had to get a return on our investment because we knew we didn’t have any more funds to purchase new music for at least another fortnight (if we were lucky), so we had to listen to it.
Feeling it flow through my veins
Rock will never get old
Damn right. It’s always been there in the undertow. And in some era’s it’s the raging river.
Musically it’s excellent, but the lyrics are stupid.
In the car, slam the door, turn the key and I’ll be free
On that highway tonight
See what I mean.
Paris Is Burning
The original studio version didn’t cut it, so a “live version” was used instead. Live is not really live, as all of the tracks get re-recorded in a studio, along with the vocals. So after some doodling by Lynch that made me want to go back in time and unplug his guitar cable, good ol’ Mick Brown blasts the song off.
I don’t get the lyrics but I love the music and the vocal melodies. I just wished they used better words for the melodies.
The first two lines in the opening verse deal with getting out of his town, sort of like “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and then the verse finishes off with two lines about a woman who became so hard and cold. Check it out for yourself.
This town I’m in can’t take no more
Decadence and sin
You were my woman
Why’d you have to be so hard and cold
And then we are into a Chorus that again doesn’t make sense or have any logical flow.
Paris is burning
Want to see it from afar
Paris is burning
Want to get to where you are
But that was the 80’s and it was allowed.
Stay tuned for Part 4.