It’s hard to believe that in 2019, I still listen to albums released in 1978, 41 years ago, but in the 80’s like 1986, I couldn’t fathom listening to music from 1945. And I still cant.
My eldest one, who is is 14, listens to 70’s music. Last night, “Free Bird” from Lynyrd Skynyrd was cranked. The middle child, who is 13, has been cranking “Sultans Of Swing”, “Aint Talkin Bout Love” and “Eruption” as they both fumble around the fretboard learning the songs on guitar. So the 70s are back baby.
Here is part one and now for Part two.
And here is the Spotify playlist.
Journey – Infinity
The wheel in the sky keeps on turning alright. Robert Fleischman was hired as the new vocalist before being un-hired and Steve Perry was in. Fleischman would resurface many years later as part of Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion.
This is Journey before the mainstream hits, but the start of what would become the commercial beast. And the bluesy Hendrix like “Lights” kicks it off.
How good is the guitar solo from about the 2 minute mark from Neal Schon?
“Anytime” sounds like an ELO/Eagles song merged with “Who Are You” from The Who. And I like it, especially when Schon comes to town with his bends and legato during the solo.
“La Do Da” comes from out of nowhere, a speed rock track, the anti-hero to the laid back Southern Rock vibe of the first three tracks.
“Patiently” is one of my favourite tracks from Journey, especially from about 2.10 and to the end. Listen to Schon wail with a bunch of sing along licks. And it’s progressive in its song writing.
And the piece d resistance is “Wheel In The Sky”. It hypnotised me to pick up the guitar and start learning it, from the opening notes. And Perry’s vocals are perfect, sorrowful and emotive.
How good is the intro to “Winds Of March”?
It’s like “Battery” from Metallica to me. And I am sure Dave Meniketti was listening and being influenced here, for “Winds Of Change”. Then it changes into a rocker from about 2.50 minute mark and I am tapping my fingers, and Schon begins to wail about the 3.50 minute mark and its beautiful and inspirational.
Whitesnake – Trouble
David Coverdale is rolling along with his post Deep Purple career. “Trouble” is known as the first Whitesnake album, however after the success of the 1987 album, the David Coverdale solo albums “White Snake” and “Northwinds” got re-released and some still see those as the beginning.
The album is a product of its era.
“Take Me With You” kicks off the album and it’s a blast. You just need to listen to it for the lyrics. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Slash was listening to this track, as it sounds like certain riffs made their way into “Appetite For Destruction”.
“Love To Keep You Warm” ended up as a lyric on the road to “Judgement Day”.
“Nighthawk (Vampire Blues) will never sound dated. It’s one of those tracks that sounded good in 1978 and it will still sound good in 2019. Greta Van Fleet should cover it.
“The Time Is Right For Love” is a good track that is relevant in any era and I thought it would have been re-recorded for a Whitesnake album in the 80’s, going into the 90’s, but after “Slip Of The Tongue”, Coverdale, dissolved Whitesnake to team up with Jimmy Page, and then when Page went back to Robert Plant for a side project, Whitesnake came back with Adrian Vandenberg and Warren DeMartini on guitars. (Takes a breath).
“Trouble” is very Bad Company like, and I like it, especially the lyrics, “on the road again, looking for a place to hide, everywhere I look, there is trouble, trouble always coming my way.”
“Free Flight” is a jazz fusion blues rocker that could have come from “Come Taste The Band”. And while it doesn’t contain the hits, the album does contain some serious riffage and jamming, which I dig.
Judas Priest – Stained Class
This album was really ignored by the media and the fans, until the 80’s satanic panic and subsequent lawsuits brought it back into the public conversation.
For those who don’t know the story, and according to Wikipedia, Judas Priest got taken to trial in a civil suit, by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to “Better by You, Better than Me” on 23 December 1985.
Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the facial area, eventually dying of a methadone overdose three years later.
In this case, the events and outcomes are tragic, but there is always someone looking to blame someone else for their predicament. And there are always people (like lawyers and prosecutors) looking to prey on people’s weakness and sense of loss.
A lawyer tried to convince a judge that the “Stained Class” album and the song “Better by You, Better than Me” (which isn’t even a Judas Priest song, it’s a cover) had subliminal messages on it, that said “do it” and that would make kids take their lives. In the name of free speech and the ludicrous nature of the suit (seriously, why would a band want to kill the very people who would buy their product), it was dismissed.
But the album is important in a few ways;
- The iconic Judas Priest logo made its debut.
- It’s seen as an early thrash metal album, with wannabe artists all over Europe lapping up the fast picking and surgical precision of the riffs.
- Its darkness and aggression is fuelled by the anti-metal movement that started happening in the UK, as Punk and New Wave was getting all the attention and metal had a few comical mentions.
“Exciter” kicks off the album with double kick and speed pedal point riffs. “Stained Class” has a cool “Barracuda” pedal point riff. “Saints In Hell” is not in the live repertoire of Judas Priest, but the song has a lot of movements, which keeps it interesting.
“Beyond The Realms Of Death” is a favourite, especially with its nod to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but also for its song writing and various movements. Chris De Garmo would have been listening very intently to this, as it sounds like “The Warning” album came from influences like this.
“Fire Burns Below” is the embryo of what Judas Priest would become in the 80’s.
The Metalian was starting to form.
Rush – Hemispheres
One of their best albums and their most progressive. They knew they had reached a pinnacle here and what would come next would be much shorter and concise songs, sort of like how Metallica reached a pinnacle with the “Justice” album and needed to strip it back, which they did with the self-titled and mega gazillion selling “Black” album.
And the reason why I call this one of their best albums is because of “La Villa Strangiato”, a song that took them longer to record than the whole “Fly By Night” album.
I didn’t give Rush a good shake until I really got into Dream Theater on the “Images And Words” album.
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres
18 minutes and all the different musical movements are enough to get me interested for a few reasons. And it’s all because of Alex Lifeson.
Alex Lifeson’s use of open strings (the high E and B strings) with moving power chords was inspirational. It just made sections sound bigger than what they should. It was a style I incorporated straight away.
His combination of using palm muted arpeggios and single note riffs also proved to be very inspirational. At that point in time, I was very heavily into playing open string pedal point riffs with power chords underneath.
His use of acoustic guitars was unique, bordering on his Eastern European Serbian folk roots, Spanish flamenco, pop music and classical music.
Finally, his unique guitar solos made him sound very different to the blues rock and classical shred like soloists I was used to hearing.
“Circumstances” sounds like the hard rock I listened too, with pedal point riffs in the intro. But from about 50 seconds, the song morphs and I was entranced to pick up the guitar and learn the section. By a 1.15 seconds, 25 seconds later it was all over.
And that’s how my Rush relationship is. Sections of certain songs hook me in.
Like the intro to “The Trees”. It’s acoustic intro sounds like it came from medieval England. And after 40 seconds, the song changes into a rocker. The lyrics made me laugh when I was younger, and they still make me laugh now, especially when Geddy Lee sings, “why can’t the maples be happy?” or “the maples scream oppression” or “the maples formed a union”.
Goddamn Maples, they can never be happy.
And that section from about 2.20 when Lifeson starts to play this repeating arpeggio lick/riff. Again, I was picking up the guitar to learn it and jam it, but then I started learning Geddy’s bass riff, as it sounded so good on distorted guitar and very different to Lifeson’s guitar riff.
“La Villa Strangiato” sums up everything about Rush which I love and I am so glad they didn’t try to repeat it or try to rewrite it for another album.
It stands out as the RUSH song for me, and if anyone asks what’s the big deal about Rush, I play them this song and I comment about each section and movement for a few seconds and allow them to bask in the sounds filling the room.
It’s an instrumental but there is no way you could ever be bored by it. It doesn’t have any guitar wankery. It just grooves and rolls until it comes up to the 3.18 minute mark where the song slows down.
This is when Alex Lifeson becomes a god.
He starts off the solo with volume swells.
It’s eerie, before he brings in a few blues licks to make it sorrowful.
At 4.27, it gets louder, and his bending those strings, bleeding pain out of those frets. In the background Neal Peart, is building the beast.
At 5.15, Lifeson starts this palm muted Am to F arpeggio. Peart is double-time on the drums, and Lee is playing the bass synth until they all join in and start the Swinging 30’s section. This is when Bugs Bunny is running away from Elmer Fudd. That is the memory I got from it.
Then there’s a bass solo.
Then a drum solo.
Then an unconventional guitar solo at the 6.50 minute mark.
At 7.29, it changes again.
At 7.53, the Swinging 30’s is back. First at half time, then at full speed.
And the song transitions back to the main intro riff to close out a 9 plus minute song in perfection.
And the album is over.
Until I dropped the needle again onto the last track.
Scorpions – Tokyo Tapes
I got this dubbed on a cassette from a mate, who had dubbed it onto a cassette from a cousin, who dubbed it onto a cassette from his girlfriend’s brother. Quick, call the cops, piracy is on the loose and killing the recording industry.
The end of the Uli Jon Roth era on guitar and a band in top form.
Stand out live performances along with fake crowd noises and claps are “Pictured Life”, “In Trance”, “Well Burn The Sky”, “Fly To The Rainbow”, “He’s A Woman – She’s A Man”, “Top Of The Bill” and “Steamrock Fever”.
Scorpions – Taken By Force
The last studio album with Uli Jon Roth, kicks off with “Steamrock Fever” and I like the music a lot more than the lyrics. “We’ll Burn The Sky” is better lyrically and musically.
Two of my favourite Scorpion tracks are up next in “I’ve Got To Be Free” and “The Riot Of Your Time”.
“I’ve got to be free to live my life alone” is the catch cry, a very Hendrix inspired song musically and it doesn’t sound dated at all. And the acoustic guitars in “The Riot Of Your Time” are perfect, but the chorus, musically and lyrically is brilliant. Listen to it if you don’t believe me.
The piece d’resistance from a guitar point of view, is “The Sails Of Charon”. But I listen to “Your Light” more, because of its sexy groove, which makes me want to pick up the guitar, especially in the verses. And the way it rolls, it’s a rock song, but I feel like I’m sipping Pina Colada’s on an island in the Caribbean’s.
“He’s A Woman – She’s A Man” has got some Metallica like breakdowns in it, which is cool.
Black Sabbath – Never Say Die
It’s not like it’s such a bad album, it’s just that they lost their darkness. “Never Says Die” sounds like it could have come from Thin Lizzy or ELO or Styx. “Johnny Blade” musically sounds like a Rush song, hell, the riff in the verses sounds like it came from “La Villa Strangiato”.
“Junior’s Eyes” is classic Sabbath in everything except the title. “A Hard Road” sounds more like a Status Quo track but it’s roots are from the placenta of “Children of The Grave”. “Shock Wave” is a Sabbath song through and through.
The best track on the album is “Air Dance”. It has this harmony intro which is too good to not like. Then it morphs into an acoustic/piano piece for the verses. It’s progressive in its song writing and as fans of artists, you want them to grow a little bit and add some different textures.
Especially at the 3.56 mark, it goes into a prog rock style piece, which is some of the best stuff Sabbath has written. Because that is what Sabbath was/is. A band that pushed boundaries and defied categorisation. Hell, there is a synth lead in it, as I start to cough out the sweet leaf.
“Over To You” was re-written and called “Little Dolls”. If it works for Ozzy’s solo career, it works for Sabbath for me. “Breakout” has the brass instruments, but there is no denying the power of that riff as it sludge’s sleazily along.
Styx – Pieces of Eight
I like Styx as a progressive rock band which has a few “simply” rock songs here and there. This album is a favourite, because it hits both those points for me. It’s progressive in its song writing and it has “accessible” songs.
“Great White Hope” gallops along in the intro and it’s a product of its time.
“I’m O.K” is interesting with its major key uplifting riffs, and “Walk This Way” style drums in the intro, and then the verses sound like a church sermon.“Sing For The Day” has a progressive synth intro which I dig. And the multi-layered Chorus melody is cool, but I’m more of a fan of the music.
“Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) has a riff which is tasty to play on guitar. And how good is the Chorus, musically, lyrically and melodically. Makes me press repeat instantly. “Queen Of Spades” is a combination of progressive song writing and accessible melodies. And the breakdown section from about the 3.20 minute mark is perfect.
But the piece d resistance here is “Renegade”.
First the acapella vocals and it sounds like it’s coming from the Mississippi Delta.
Then the funk rock fusion riff kicks in and it’s time to rock and funk.
And the solo. The music stops, and a dirty sounding guitar unleashes a flurry of pentatonic lines which wash over me. Then the band comes in and it’s all systems go. And when you think it’s over, it keeps going for a little but more.
Then the drums and vocals section. Jon Bon Jovi would have been listening intently as “You Give Love A Bad Name” has a similar set up after the solo.
Play that funky rock and roll, I say.
“Pieces Of Eight” is a brilliant piece of song writing. It has so many movements in the song, especially from the 2.20 minute mark. It’s pure bliss.
The Alan Parsons Project – Pyramid
Alan Parsons got no love in Australia or non that I could remember. I started to hear his work in the early 2000’s. And I became a fan. I got what he was trying to do, I really enjoyed the song structures, the jams and atmospherics.
The way “Voyager” starts off in the first 20 seconds, it’s how thrash metal acts build their clean tone intros. And the song segues into “What Goes Up”, a laid back tune which segues into “The Eagle Will Rise Again” and one of my favourite acoustic arpeggio riffs because it sounds so powerful.
Play four notes, stop and let them ring. But the rest of the song is not as strong as that verse riff. At one stage, I swear I thought “Listen To My Heart” from Roxette came from this song. “One More River” has a clean tone single note riff, which sounds wicked when played with distortion.
“In The Lap Of Gods” is a cinematic instrumental. Well, that’s what I call it. It feels like it’s written to moving pictures and I like it. Especially from the 4.10 minute mark when those Latin style “Excalibur” voices come in, along with the violins.
I press repeat, to hear it one more time, and to close off Part 2 of 1978.