We keep marching forward and what seemed important once upon a time may be irrelevant tomorrow.
My physical music collection (LP, Cassettes, VHS videos, magazines and CD’s) seemed important once upon a time.
In one of the houses I lived in, I even had my physical music collection locked in a room, in the middle of the house, that was alarmed. That’s how important my physical music collection was. Actually I still have my physical in a place that’s pretty secure. But those physical copies just don’t hold the same value as they once did. Those feelings and opinions I had about holding a physical copy got totally ignored by the future. I still love music, but it’s all about access for me. Even back when I started buying music, I never woke up in the morning and said to myself I need to go out and buy some music. I always said, I want to hear, this song or that song.
In 2017, I can look back at 1983 and sort of loosely trace what the world would become with the internet. Back then, the magazines and the TV music channels started to push us to listen/watch to what was the “hit” of the day. A lot of music consumers forgot about the album and started to take in the popular. This led to many consumers missing out on what was important or useful.
Because if the aim was to write pop songs, the writer normally dumbs it down and leaves out the “message” of the song. It’s an exchange that needs to be made for attention. But if every music fan looks into their music catalogues, they will see the soundtrack of their life is not made up of the Chart Hits. As the saying goes, popularity doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means it’s popular.
“Blizzard Of Ozz” is popular today and known as one of the best-selling Ozzy albums on par with “No More Tears”. The truth is “No More Tears” sold more quickly while “Blizzard Of Ozz” percolated and kept on breaking through to a new audience for two reasons. New fans of Ozzy went to check out his back catalogue and new guitar players went to check out the influential albums of Randy Rhoads.
Anyway, here is part 8 of my 1983 historical review and here is the Spotify playlist for it.
The Revölution By Night – Blue Öyster Cult
There is a saying that the most common way to deal with the future is to try to predict it. The techies have morphed this saying to be, “The most common way to deal with the future is to invent a small part that’s big enough to make a difference”. And I believe Blue Oyster Cult was trying to do just that with “The Revolution By Night”. To me, the album is a new wave/hard rock mash-up and it works for a few songs and not for others. If only other bands got creative and experimental and innovative. But then again, being experimental doesn’t always lead to dollars and dollars is what the record labels are after.
Bruce Fairbairn is on hand to produce, before his massive “Slippery When Wet” success.
Take Me Away
It has a cool groove, a new wave rock riff that just works for me, cool vocal melodies and a pretty progressive solo middle section. But it has no attention from listeners. It’s co-written by Eric Bloom with Aldo Nova.
Strange shapes light up the night
Never seen them though I hope I might
Don’t ask if they are real
The men in black, their lips are sealed
It’s way before the “Men In Black” movies.
I turn my hopes up to the sky
I’d like to know before I die
Memories will slowly fade
I lift my eyes and say
Come on, take me away
Umm, I don’t think many of us did say to the sky for it to take us away.
Eyes On Fire
It kicks off like a piano jamming and then it goes to melodic rock AOR heaven. It’s got all the check boxes ticked for a bonafide hit, but it wasn’t to be. It’s written by Gregg Winter who is from Long Island and contributed several songs to one of Blooms side project. “Eyes of Fire” was written for that project and when it ended, it became a Blue Oyster Cult song.
But she don’t look at me
With eyes on fire
Glowing like coals in the night
Burning with love and desire
The album is always referred to “the album didn’t do go Gold in the U.S after the success of the previous two albums.” And sales equalled success once upon a time. No wonder people at the top are struggling to comprehend listens = success.
The Hurting – Tears For Fears
I got this album in 90’s and again via the second-hand record/book shop.
“Pale Shelter” stuck out straight away and “Memories Fade” (with that drum/bass groove) was a close second. The main singles like “Suffer The Children”, “Mad World” and “Change” didn’t really connect and still don’t.
It’s basically a rock track recorded as a new wave pop song.
And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I wanna be is
Completely in command
So true. There is always someone who wants to be in charge of the relationship.
You don’t give me love
God damn love. We are in it, we are out of it, we seek it, we find it and the cycle repeats until our time comes to check out of life.
That bass/drum groove is played throughout the song and it’s progressively addictive.
There’s only need
I love your need
So much I’m losing me
Relationships are like this. One partner’s light sometimes gets lost in another partner’s light. And they do it willingly, without really knowing it’s happening. So when it all goes to hell, what’s left.
Engulfed by you
What can I do?
When history’s my cage
Look forward to a future in the past
We all look back into the past and see it in a different light today. Like it was better. Do we really want to go back to an era without the internet, only three TV stations and all the rest that goes with the era.
Mercyful Fate – Melissa
Isn’t it funny how Mercyful Fate ended up on the Filthy list in the U.S and lead vocalist King Diamond had no idea he or his band was on the list. Goes to show the Filthy 15 list had a zilcho effect on the artists involved.
The “Evil” intro reminds me of “The Four Horseman” intro and then other sections of the song remind me of Metallica. Did Lars have a demo copy of an EP that had this song?
I was born on the cemetery
Under the sign of the moon
Raised from my grave by the dead
I was made a mercenary
In the legions of Hell
Now I’m king of pain, I’m insane
It’s structured like a blues verse and it tells a story like a blues song. The words form a visual in the mind.
You know my only pleasure
Is to hear you cry
I’d love to hear you cry
I’d love to feel you die
I never took lines these seriously. It’s art. It’s no different to a graphic painting or a horror movie. You can look at it, appreciate it or be disgusted by it. Lyrics are the same.
Love the musical section from 2.48 to 3.32 along with the vocal melody. And that lead break fits the song to a tee. It includes Thin Lizzy style harmonies that segues into an UFO inspired blues rock lead.
Curse Of The Pharaohs
The “Curse Of The Pharaohs” intro reminds of the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro, which reminds me of “The Power And The Glory” intro from Saxon, which reminds me of two Ted Nugent songs called “Out Of Control” and “Stranglehold”, which reminds me of “Welcome To Hell” from Venom, which reminds me of “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue, which reminds me of “Young Girls” from Dokken, which reminds me of “Tell The World” from Ratt. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.
All that’s needed is a person who didn’t create anything to own the rights of one of those songs and start suing all the others for plagiarism.
Away out in Egypt in the valley of kings
Where the mummified pharaohs
Pretend dead in their sleep
Again, the scene is set with story-telling lyrics.
Don’t touch, never ever steal
Unless you’re in for the kill
Or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs
The long-held belief that anyone who disturbed the tombs of the pharaohs ends up dead.
Into The Coven
The intro is baroque to a tee. Then the riff comes in as the drums build it up and once the whole band is in, the music and the groove of the song makes me want to snap my desk in half.
Howl like a wolf
And a witch will open the door
Follow me and meet our high priestess
Come, come into my coven
And become Lucifer’s child
You can see why Mercyful Fate was on the Filthy list. Even though the band only had a limited audience in the U.S at the time, the lyrics in this song went against the Bible belters beliefs. Suddenly, challenged by artists preaching for the fallen one, the Bible belters built up a coalition of Senators to fight this evil.
Undress until you’re naked
And put on this white coat
Take this white cross and go to the middle of the ring
Again, art is art. How many movies have people watched with a scene like the above and not cared much about it?
The harmony lead break was used by Metallica as inspiration for another lead break.
“Melissa” has a great intro. You can hear where Metallica got the idea for an intro lead in “Fade To Black” over the Pink Floyd inspired riff. Influences and homages lead to new little creations, which will become future influences. And I’ll pre-empt that other artists had lead breaks over an arpeggio riff before Mercyful Fate, but those artists weren’t a large influence to early Metallica in the way Mercyful Fate was/is.
The section from about 2.40 to 3.20, you can say the section influenced “Aerials” from SOAD. It’s that good that it appears again from about the 5.30 mark to the end.
So Melissa was a witch, killed by a priest and her followers are seeking revenge. Again, storytelling at its simplest and finest.
Genesis – Genesis
Phil Collins solo success was the prequel/catalyst for the pop stardom to befall Genesis.
It’s a great song as it builds consistently over a synthed out electronic drum machine loop until it merges with a real drum groove in the “We Will Rock You” style vibe merged with Phil Collins solo hit “In The Air Tonight”. And Phil Collins is on fire vocally. I also believe that the “Mama” he refers to is not his real Mama, sort of like how Mama is a nickname for Sharon Osbourne, so when Ozzy sing’s “Mama I’m Coming Home”, he’s really saying, Sharon, I’m coming home.
It’s got a feel good pop hook.
Truth is I love you
More than I wanted to
There’s no point in trying to pretend
I read on one of Seth Godin’s post that truth is real, it’s measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. So can “how much you love someone” ever be truth? To me it is not measurable, so it can’t be real truth, which means its truth in the eye of the beholder. It’s truth based on a belief. Sort of like how, if you believe that the music you are listening too is great, then it’s true. It’s a placebo and it works. I believe in nurture over nature. I believe that no one is born with gifts or is a prodigy. I believe that with the right practice, all of us can achieve greatness. And our beliefs give us joy. And it’s enough to make us do amazing things. But it’s not truth.
Men at Work – Cargo
Coming off their mega hit, “Down Under”, Men At Work delivered a social conscience album in “Cargo”.
It’s the standout track, with a sleazy saxophone lead.
I can’t get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be all right
Perhaps it’s just imagination
Laying in bed and unable to sleep leads to anxiety because our brains are so good at turning smoke into fires.
Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Over thinking things.
220 Volt – 220 Volt
220 Volt formed in 1982 and of course are from Sweden. CBS signed them on the strength of their own independent single release and by 1983 their self-titled debut hit the streets. This album is a great hard rock listen musically. It’s melodic and hard/heavy enough to satisfy the metal heads. It wasn’t as popular as other releases of the era however it doesn’t mean it isn’t quality.
I’ve tried so many times
To reach you by the phone
But your line is always busy
And I can’t get through
The song starts off with a platonic love relationship and due to constantly being ignored it ends up hateful.
How true are the verse lines above?
In the days when households had just one phone and service was far from perfect, the busy dial tone was a common thing.
The main riff is familiar and I am sure I have heard something similar in bands that came afterwards. The feel of this song reminds me of the John Sykes “Spellbound” era of Tygers of Pang Tang.
You broke my heart
When I needed you most
But you just turned and walked away
I thought that we
Could work out together
But you didn’t even wanna try
Once it’s broken, it’s broken. Move on, even if it hurts like hell.
I’m so restless, don’t know what to do
You suddenly have time and don’t know what to do with it.
The End Of The World
I swear Malmsteen would have had to be influenced by this band. The main riff in this song is similar to a lot of the songs on Malmsteen’s first three solo albums.
Think of these days
That we are living
And try to find out
What’s right or wrong
Your highest dream
Is peace everywhere
But there’s no chance
For that at all
Even in 1983, artists questioned the world they lived in. The every elusive “peace” is what everyone wants. But how can that be when our brains are designed to be negative in order to survive.
‘Cause the world is full of evil
And there’s nothing we can do
Yes the world is made to believe evil exists. Religion thrives on it and for democracy to survive, it needs an enemy. In my time, war has been a constant. When I did history at school, we studied the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the two World Wars.
From the 80’s, off the top of my head, we’ve had the Iran-Iraq war, Falklands War, Lebanon War, invasion of Grenada, Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Rwandan Civil War, Balkan Wars (Slovenia, Croatian and Bosnia), Algerian Civil War, Somali Civil War, Georgian Civil War, Chechen War, Afghanistan Civil War and Iraq War after 9/11. Add to the list, all of the uprisings, revolutions and even drug wars. Guess the world is full of evil.
It’s a good listen about boy finding girl who then finds out the girl he found can look into her crystal ball and see the future.
The time we had
Was the happiest part of my life
But you’re not gone
There will always be a light in my heart
He’s not ready to let go of the relationship.
Child Of The Night
Child of the night
You’re looking so lonely
Why did you ever leave home
A lot of people left school early and left home early, trying to find their place in life. Some did and others didn’t.
Stop and Look Back
You fight so hard
You wanna be a superstar
Dreamin’ daydreams of your own
You won’t be pleased
Until you reach the top
You won’t give up, never stop
What is the top when it comes to being a superstar? Some would say Metallica reached the top with the “Black” album. I would say yes to that for recorded sales, however from a live point of view, they are getting bigger and bigger. You would think the 5 year “Death Magnetic” World tour would be the top, but their show and tour looks bigger.
You’re ready now
To meet the big success
You worked so hard for many years
Let’s hope that you
Can stand the pressure
So your dream will come true
Will come true
Once people taste success, they try to recreate it, forgetting that their success originally came from being creative and not re-creative.
Woman In White
Musically, it’s impressive. Melodically it’s impressive. Lyrically, it’s not impressive about a woman in white who steals the light and guarantees satisfaction.
Marc Jordan – A Hole in the Wall
While the whole album is too light for my liking, “A Hole In The Wall” is a good crossover melodic rock song, similar to the Jersey Jovi sound that would appear on the debut in a years time.
Robert Plant – The Principle Of Moments
Basically, the stand out tracks for me on this disc, are the ones that continue in the vein of what Plant did with Led Zep. The other more drum machine stuff and new age synth rock doesn’t work for me.
One of the better ones written by Plant and Robert Blunt.
Lay down your arms
Oh, now baby let me sleep at night
Is Robert Plant saying shut the fuck up and let me sleep?
Words you been using, hurting me so
Someday you’re gonna regret
Way friends are talking, I guess you’ll never know
This battle ain’t been won yet
Interpretation of words is a relationship killer. How many apologies are started with the words “I didn’t mean to say”?
Fussing and fighting is leaving me sad
That’s not the way it should be
We argue over the rubbish, the toilet seat, the cleanliness of the house, what people said, why people said what they said, how come people didn’t say what they should have said or why you didn’t stand up for them. And then kids come along and the same arguments exist with a few new ones.
It’s basically a Led Zep track with reference to Page’isms’ throughout the whole song, but for me, it’s the groove and feel of the verses. It’s progressive and exotic and cool. Basically, it’s “an unsafe” style of verse for a musical world moving into an MTV world. It’s also written by Page and Blunt.
Dance through the coloured razzamatazz
Spin alone desert affairs
Reckless love is creeping on you
As usual Plant is cryptic as ever in his lyrics. I got no idea what razzamatazz, desert affairs and a creeping reckless love have to do with each other, but somehow, Plant makes it work.
It’s got the “Kashmir” riff in the verse. You know the riff I’m talking about. The one that moves up chromatically. Then in the verses, it feels like The Police and the solo break is like Dire Straits and “Sultans of Swing”.
And you said you’d never leave me
In fact you said you’d be my only one
I said you’d never grieve me baby
For things done when you are only having fun, fun.
It’s hard to keep a relationship going when you spend a lot of time away.
I don’t know, so you turned around and found another
And by the end of song, they had gone their separate ways.
One of the better ones and even though it’s got a drum machine, the guitar lines and the bass playing set up a moody song that would make Chris Issak proud. Plant as usual delivers a stellar vocal.
My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride as the cities fly by
And the taillights dissolve in the coming of night
And the questions, in thousands, take flight
A very un-clichéd look at life on the road.
1983 was a year that kicked off a lot of careers, however it also resurrected a lot of 70’s careers. And MTV was the airplane that accomplished it. While others complained about the gatekeepers, the unfairness, others who played the game got on board and reaped the rewards.