1979 was a year of transition. While some bands were on their last legs, some were just starting to find their own.
Led Zeppelin were coming to an end while Thin Lizzy was on the ascendancy. The Scorpions had bigger things waiting with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Winds Of Change” while Fleetwood Mac and Bad Company delivered stellar albums that unfortunately got compared to their previous mega gazillion selling albums.
Aerosmith became a shell of the band they were with “Night In The Ruts”, while Motorhead after a few up’s and downs with record label crap, got lumped in with the NWOBHM movement starting off and started their brief commercial rise.
Uli John Roth left Scorpions and created Electric Sun, but in all honesty he should of stayed with Scorpions, while a supergroup of “musicians who all had small record deals” got together and called themselves Survivor. “Eye Of The Tiger” was a few years away, but you get to hear a band allowing their influences to shape their sound.
Basically, all the bands on this list just kept on creating, regardless of their status on the record label commercial tree. Because that’s why people get into music, to create. Not because copyright terms are forever or because some label said I will give you money to create.
Here is the playlist.
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door
For me, Jimmy Page is the main songwriter in Led Zep, much the same way, James Hetfield is the main songwriter in Metallica. And when the main songwriters goes missing, the final output is not so good. Case in point, Metallica and “St Anger” and Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door”. In Zeps case, Jimmy Page was battling heroin addiction and was totally unreliable.
Wikipedia tells me that the album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during its recording. Frontman Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son, Karac Plant, died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Jimmy Page was strung out on heroin and John Bonham on booze.
The story and drama behind the album makes you want to listen to it and to find something to like.
In The Evening
The Middle Eastern influences kick off the song and it’s enough to hook me in. And when the whole band comes in, Page keeps it simple, outlining the synth chords with a repeating guitar line.
Then at 4.28 it changes to a ballad, which is cool because 8 albums in, Led Zep is still trying to be progressive with their song structures, before ramping it back up around the 5 minute mark.
Fool In The Rain
The song could do with some editing, but then again, when the bands controlled the music they produced without any record label interference, this is what normally happens. A band rolls the tap, feels the groove, jams out a song and suddenly it’s on the vinyl.
I wasn’t sure if I was listening to Phil Collins or Led Zep. The beauty of Zep was the many different styles of music they incorporated, without being accused of selling out.
The synth riff that kicks off the song is epic. No wonder, EVH was so keen to incorporate the synth into Van Halen. As a guitarist, you can make simple guitar riffs, sound really complex on the synth. Not too sure what Plant is singing but the music is enough to make me like it.
There is a cool section from about 3.30 to 4.30 which is progressive and so far removed from the mainstream. But at 10.32, the song could also have been edited down.
All My Love
I dug this song from the first time I heard it. It’s written by Plant and Jones and the vibe/groove of the song connects from the beginning.
And man, that vocal line from Plant is emotive as he references his loss in the same way Clapton did in “Tears In Heaven”.
Scorpions – Lovedrive
If Zeppelin, Metallica, Jovi, Acca, Motley and so many other bands have their whole collection on Spotify why can’t the Scorpions be on it. I kid you not, most of their big albums are not on Spotify Australia (it’s maybe on Spotify in other parts of the world, but us Aussie’s still have to deal with geo-restrictions).
From memory, I really enjoyed the two Michael Schenker co-writes in “Coast To Coast” and “Holiday”.
Out of sight equals out of mind. Eventually people will just move on to something else.
Like Thin Lizzy.
Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend
This was album number 9 for the Lizzy. I didn’t end up hearing this until well into the 90’s and the only reason why I picked it up at a record fair was because Gary Moore stayed in the band long enough to record. In saying that, it didn’t take long for Moore to walk out on the band in the middle of another tour, like how he did in 74 and 77.
My first Lizzy album was “Thunder and Lightning” because it had Sykes on it, and again this purchase was a few years after the 87 album blew up all over the world.
Do Anything You Want To
The drum and bass intro was enough to get me going and when the harmony guitars kicked in, I was sold. It’s written by Phil Lynott and man, he can write a good lyric.
There are people that will investigate you
They’ll insinuate, intimidate and complicate you
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in and that everybody else is too busy betraying you so they can get ahead.
You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I’m saying, it’s true
It’s the same war cry as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” war cry from the mid 80’s.
People that despise you
Will analyse then criticise you
They’ll scandalise and tell lies until they realise you
Are somebody they should’ve apologised to
Don’t let these people compromise you
I like to hang with people, talk about things we like and exchange ideas. And sometimes I listen to people who don’t have a clue about anything and they just won’t shut up. And then there are people who know everything and they just won’t shut up. And in amongst these groups are people who want to break you, spread lies about you, criticise you or shake you down.
You’re not that puppet on a string
You can do everything
But a lot of people don’t believe they can. Culture and society fosters a fixed mindset and after so many years of being conditioned to follow, it’s hard to believe that you are able to lead.
Elvis is dead
The king of rock and roll is dead
It’s fitting that the song ends with these words as Elvis’s death was still fresh in 1979. And it’s fitting it ends with him, because in the end he did what he wanted. He sang black man music when he was told not to sing it. He danced and moved in a provocative way when he was told not to. He went into movies when he was told to stick with music. He stopped making movies and went back to music when he was told to stick with movies. He did a Vegas residency when he was told to go on tour. The king of rock and roll did what he wanted to do.
Toughest Street In Town
It’s written by Scott Gorham, Lynott and Gary Moore.
Outside the window the neon flashes
In the morning light
Down on the sidewalk there’s a woman with a problem
But she don’t know how to fight
She’s destitute and broken down
She softly whispers, is there no one around
And no one hears the sound
Her knees give way and hit the ground
This is the toughest street in town
Growing up in the 80’s, there was no internet. We lived apart and you knew the people in the street, in the town and maybe some other people in another town. Long distance phone calls were expensive and people sent letters to relatives in Europe.
A lot of us felt there was something bigger, more exciting out there, so we wanted out. And then we had peers who were more than happy to sell narcotics or work in the steel mill.
But the streets were tough.
Tough in the sense, that people would bash you just for the sake of bashing you as new immigrants adjust to life in a new world, with different cultures. But everyone got on as everyone had jobs.
Then when the banks and the copper mill started closing, the drug dealers and hookers moved into the main street. Suddenly, you had a seedy side. And the drug dealers brought with them all the addicts from every nearby town, who would urinate and defecate in front of shop doors, pass out in parks, break into houses and just be general troublemakers. And suddenly we had homeless people in the street and suddenly we had homeless people dying.
It’s just another black spot
Where far too many people have died
It’s just another graveyard
And there’s not too many people left alive
It was a black spot, but the place is being re-born. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. It’s location is excellent and it has one of the best beaches in NSW.
Waiting For An Alibi
Another Lynott composition that kicks off with a funky bass line and some cool harmony guitar lines.
Valentino’s in a cold sweat
Placed all his money on that last bet
Against all the odds, he smokes another cigarette
Says that it helps him to forget he’s a nervous wreck
Before “Cold Sweat” there was “Waiting For An Alibi”. Lynott loved to spin a tale about gambling. Of course the music is totally different. While “Cold Sweat” was a metal gem, “Waiting For An Alibi” is like a funk rock song.
Got To Give It Up
This one is written by Gorham and Lynott and I like the way it starts, with a simple strum of a chord and the chorus vocal line. Then when the distorted guitars kick in, how can you not play air guitar.
Tell my mama and tell my pa
That their fine young son didn’t get far
He made it to the end of a bottle
Sitting in a sleazy bar
He’s singing from experience. It’s about himself, but he’s spinning a story around it.
I’ve got to give it up
I’ve got to give it up
He knows he’s got to quit but he cant. The people around him, will not let him.
I’ve been messing with the heavy stuff
For a time I couldn’t get enough
But I’m waking up and it’s wearing off
Junk don’t take you far
It didn’t take him far. It was only a matter of time before the junk creeped up and took him out.
And how good is that outro lead break.
Get Out Of Here
This one is written by Lynott and Ultravox vocalist, Midge Ure.
I used to be a dreamer
But I realise that it’s not my style at all
In fact it becomes clearer
That a dreamer doesn’t stand a chance at all
Get out of here
Get out of here
We all wanted to leave our towns behind and head for the bright lights in the city. These days, kids don’t want to leave home. They are comfortable and comfort is a problem.
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk
“Rumours” sold 10 million copies.
So how do you follow it up?
You rack up production costs of a million and release a double album which is totally different to “Rumours”. In the process you sell 4 million copies of it and you are regarded as a commercial failure by the label.
The label then comes out to say, “we told them they were crazy for trying to push a double album” as the business was in decline and a few artists were propping up the labels. But the bands had the power in this era, and Fleetwood Mac, like Pink Floyd, did whatever they wanted and the label suits had to follow. This of course changed when the labels created MTV and it shifted power into the labels hands.
To me, it’s the Stevie Nicks tracks that connect.
“Sara” has a piano riff which is repeated all the way throughout the song. “Sisters of the Moon” has a chorus riff which is simple, but addictive. Buckingham is a veteran of colouring the tracks and if you don’t believe me, check out the minute or so outro of the song. It’s emotive and a delight to listen to.
“Tusk” is the other track I like written by Lindsey Buckingham and it’s the drum groove that connects with me. Most pop music today is built around simple drum grooves.
Bad Company – Desolation Angels
This album I didn’t hear until I purchased it from a record fair in the 2000’s.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy
A Paul Rodgers cut. I never heard the album when it came out, but I do recall reading how Bad Company had been written off and then bang, they came out firing with a modern sound and a catchy song.
I love the music and I love to see the crowd
Dancing in the aisles and singing out loud, yeah
Rock N Roll music became an escape from the daily grind of life. The people attended the shows and the acts lapped it up. And rock and roll grooved, like this song.
While Led Zeppelin morphed into a band with synths in 1979, Paul Rodgers channelled his own Zep spirits and recreated what Zep might have sounded like if they stayed within their roots.
Life is like
A merry go round
Riding up and down
Music takes you
And you’re gone again
Crazy circles never seem to end
Damn right. Music takes you on so many emotive rides. We went to the show to connect. Our memento was the ticket stub and maybe a t-shirt, which once upon a time could only be gotten on tour. Now people go to the show, to say there were there and to film it (like they are going to watch it back later).
Life is like
A game of chance
Some find riches
And some romance
Some find happiness
And some find sorrow
Some find it today
And some maybe tomorrow
Life it a nutshell. Each day is a game of chance. Well it’s meant to be. Maybe, we are too comfortable and in routine that we have forgotten to take chances.
Life is like
You aim for heaven
And you wind up in hell
To all the world
You’re livin’ like a king
But you’re just a puppet
On a broken string
So true. How many of us crash and burn trying to be someone we’re not.
Gone, Gone, Gone
Boz Burrell wrote this tune about his baby leaving him, and it’s got a nice distorted bluesy riff underpinning it.
And the beauty of the album so far is that each track sounds different from the one that came before it.
Paul Rodgers is now channelling what Santana should sound like. The first 4 songs are a knock-out punch combo.
I’ve been gone such a long time,
I never thought I would return,
Now I found myself standing in the rain,
Waiting for your key to turn, yeah, yeah.
You been on the road for so long, it’s not the same when you get home. People have moved on. Once you stop being around, you start to disappear.
Evil wind, passed me by,
Troubled waters, pay me no mind.
You’ve gone through a difficult situation to return home only to find the situation is even more difficult.
I have crossed the waters
That will keep them miles apart,
Now I know the time has come
To make a brand new start.
Acceptance of the situation and acknowledging it’s time to move on.
Aerosmith – Night in the Ruts
It was meant to be called “Off Your Rocker”.
It’s another album I heard well into the early 2000’s. It’s pretty poor to be honest. Joe Perry left midway through the recording, Steve Tyler struggled to complete lyrics and vocals due to his drug use. The label was putting pressure on them to write “another hit”. The band had blown their money up their noises and in order to generate more budget, they went on a tour while the album was half-finished, which led to crap performances and eventually Perry’s departure.
And you can tell that Tyler had nothing to offer.
“Remember (Walking in the Sand)” has a 12/8 groove that hooks me. The credits tell me it’s written by Shadow Morton and to be honest, I still haven’t researched who Shadow is.
“Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)” is a Tyler/Perry cut about a used rubber.
“Mia” is a Tyler piano song.
Motorhead – On Parole
Motorhead – Bomber
Motorhead – Overkill
All of these albums I heard well into the 2000’s. I was actually inspired to check em out, after seeing a Motorhead documentary on “Behind The Music” and the “Classic Albums” documentary on “Ace Of Spades”.
After so many false starts, Motorhead finally started rolling with album number 2. Lars Ulrich credits this song as his first introduction to double bass drumming.
Know your body’s made to move
Feel it in your guts
Rock ‘N’ Roll ain’t worth the name
If it don’t make you strut
All of the 70’s acts started off playing rock and roll/blues covers and somehow they ended up as metallers.
And how good is that outro for the last 30 seconds.
Shut up, you talk too loud
You don’t fit in with the crowd
I can’t believe you exist
I’ve crossed you right of my list
Lemmy wrote brilliant lyrics. Sometimes I marvelled at how simple, but effective they are. Check out his lyrics for some of the songs on Ozzy’s “No More Tears” album.
Tear Ya Down
I was talking to you all night long
Every line was a favourite song
Who hasn’t done that before?
Trying to pick up by quoting lines from the songs that you knew.
Too Late Too Late
It’s a bonus track.
Did someone say “Paranoid”?
Don’t cut no ice with me
You’re just a feeble con
I know what’s goin on
By 1979, The Lemster had skin in the game with more than a decade of trying to make it. He’s come across untrustworthy business people, especially those associated with the record labels or the live venues.
Album number 3 with a producer high on smack.
It’s about how Lemmy’s father left him and his mother.
He was poison
I wish my mother wasn’t his wife
Abandonment with our metal and hard rock heroes is real. Is this one of the main motivators to keep driving people to make it?
Stone Dead Forever
You’re a financial wizard, a top tycoon
A sweet lounge lizard, with a silver spoon
You know you never had it quite so good
Cos you didn’t know that you even could
But the time has come to pay
Turns out to have been a play
Whatever happened to your life?
Stone dead forever
It doesn’t matter what you have or all the wealth you have. You will die. It’s simple.
It’s basically a 60’s blues rock song and it’s originally from “On Parole” however it also appeared on the debut self-titled album.
“On Parole” was meant to be their first album but the label at the time United Artists didn’t like it and shelved it until December 1979 after the band had broken through with “Overkill” and “Bomber” released the same year on a different label.
Human greed destroys your sphere
And there’s no room for you out here
Electric Sun – Earthquake
Uli John Roth knew he was a good guitar player. The people around him, told him, so it was no surprise he left Scorpions and went solo. However, writing great songs that crossover and connect to a wider audience is another matter. But writing songs that would influence thousands of other guitarists, well, that’s what Uli John Roth is good at.
Cough, “All Along The Watchtower” cough, cough, choke, choke. Still, it’s a great listen and a nod to Dylan and Hendrix’s re-interpretation of Dylan’s song.
I guess he loved Hendrix so much, he was even involved with Hendrix’s girlfriend Monika Dannemann who unfortunately was found dead in a fume filled Mercedes Benz in 1996.
It’s a cool instrumental.
Survivor – Survivor
Check out the production team on Survivor’s debut album.
The producer is Ron Nevison. The engineer is Bruce Fairbairn. The assistant engineer is Mike Clink and one of the mixers assiting Fairbairn is Bob Rock. Every single one of them would go on to produce multi-platinum albums in the 80’s and early 90’s. And overseeing the whole thing is John Kalodner.
For those who don’t know, Ron Nevison produced the “Bad Animals” Heart album, Damn Yankees, Ozzy’s “The Ultimate Sin” and “Crazy Nights” from Kiss.
Bruce Fairbairn did “Slippery When Wet”, “New Jersey”, “Pump” and “Permanent Vacation” along with all of the Loverboy stuff.
Bob Rock did “Dr Feelgood” and the “Metallica” black album, while Mike Clink did “Appetite For Destruction” and “Rust In Peace” by Megadeth.
I remember reading a story in a newspaper after the Rocky IV movie came about and the guys in the band at the time talked about its origins and I was like, wow, this band is like a super group of artists who all had recording contracts with different bands on smaller labels who just couldn’t find their audience.
So what you hear on the debut album, is a band, finding their feet and letting music from their peers influence their sound and song writing.
The opening track “Somewhere in America” is written by Jim Peterik and man it sounds so similar to “Hurts So Good” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Hurts So Good” sounds so similar to nearly every 12 bar blues boogie that came before it.
I need a teacher who can use a pet
Give me a lesson in etiquette
If there is anyone who’d like to try
Maybe she’d like to come and teach me tonight
Are lyrics like this still acceptable today?
With so many movements, and with everyone having a voice via social media, people are too scared to voice an opinion in case they get vilified.
One more other thing worth mentioning here is that Jim Peterik would always talk to a “lawyer” if a song came out that sounded similar to something he wrote, but for some reason it was okay for him to write songs similar to what somebody else wrote. Me personally, I have no issue if songs sound similar, because most of them do. “Somewhere in America” and “Hurts So Good” are similar but one doesn’t take away the glory from the other.
There is a song that Survivor wrote or Jim Peterik wrote called “Is This Love” from 1986 that had a line “Is this love that I am feeling” and there is another little unknown song called “Is This Love” from Whitesnake that came out in 1987 which has a similar line. Jim Peterik went to talk to a lawyer, because according to Jim, he was the only one ever in the history of the world to have thought of that lyric line. But the fact that Bob Marly had a lyric line, “is this love that I’m feeling” in the 70’s is irrelevant. The fact that the term “is this love that I am feeling” appeared in novels since people started writing books is irrelevant.
Breathe. Relax. Move on.
“Can’t Getcha Offa My Mind” is track 2 and it’s written by Peterik and Frankie Sullivan with a big nod to Journey. Track 3, “Let It Be Now” is very similar to “Hold the Line” from Toto. Quick, call a lawyer. But in all honesty it’s a great track.
“As Soon As Love Finds Me” has a verse riff that Judas Priest would sort of use for “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” a few years after. Otherwise, it’s a cross between ELO and Bad Company to me.
And that’s why I love music, the many connections and links the songs make.
Side 2 opens up with “Love Has Got Me”, and it’s another track written by Peterik and Kiss comes to mind here in the verses while ELO comes across in the Chorus. “Whole Town’s Talkin'” is like it belongs on a Bee Gees album but with a stellar melodic guitar solo.
“Freelance” has a riff that I swear the 80’s LA bands used in every song. “Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)” is another Peterik cut with a brilliant acoustic guitar intro and the song just keeps on building. It has this climbing riff that sounds wicked. It probably didn’t set the charts on fire, but this song perfectly encapsulates an era and a time to perfection.
Overall, it’s a fun album with 35 minutes of quality material and to top it off, it didn’t even make a commercial dent.
“Rockin’ into the Night”, was written for this album, however Ron Nevison rejected it because it sounded like “Southern Rock”. So it was given to .38 Special and the song became a hit and it gave Jim Peterik another side business, writing songs for others, which of course displeased control-freak Frankie Sullivan.
Susan – Falling In Love Again
The album came out on RCA and there was a running joke that anything that came out on RCA would just go away. Susan (it’s a terrible name for a band by the way) only released one album and their sound is basically a cross between Badfinger and Cheap Trick.
The album is produced by Frank Aversa who I think is the same Aversa who would go on to be involved with Spin Doctors and their big hits.
I Was Wrong
It’s a Ricky Byrd composition and the riff from “It’s Not Love” from Dokken comes to mind and Dokken’s song came many years later.
A Little Time
It’s like Boston merged with the British 60’s rock movement. Guitarist Ricky Byrd shines on “A Little Time,”
I think George Michael would have heard “Power” and recreated it as “Faith”. There is a section in the song, that reminds me of how Candlebox sounded on their debut album.
Guitarist Tom Dickie would go on to form Tom Dickie and The Desires and release a few “New Wave’ sounding albums on Mercury while guitarist Ricky Byrd would join Joan Jett & The Blackhearts for their “I Love Rock N Roll” album and would continue being her lead guitarist until 1993, when Tony Bruno from Saraya took over.
Well that’s it for Part 3 of 1979.
Stay tuned for Part 4.