Here is the playlist for 1984-7.
If you want to read the previous 1984 posts, here are the links.
Keel – Lay Down the Law
Ron Keel did everything at 12. When he delivered a vocal, he was up there at an 12 intensity.
I really thought Keel would go on and do great things. They had Gene Simmons writing and producing the band at one stage. By 1987, they had Jimmy Bain from Dio writing with them, along with Jack Ponti. But each new album started to become the same as the previous album, that even the core audience started to move on. I felt like the same theme carried over four separate albums.
How many times can you re-write, “Metal Generation” into “The Right To Rock” into “Raised On Rock” into “The Final Frontier” into “United Nations”?
“Born Ready” starts off with a “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” style riff for a song about coming of age and being ready to take control.
“Metal Generation” has this Ratt like riff based on “Lack Of Communication”, but hey, the LA scene was awash with similar sounding riffs and bands. And while the song sounded generic, the lead break is worthy of guitar hero status. Listen to it, and if you are not playing air guitar by the end of it, you don’t appreciate shredding.
“You’re The Victim (I Am The Crime)” is just a fast dumb song that’s too good to turn away. The double kick throughout brings back memories of “Overkill” from Motorhead and the riffs are that fast, that they could have been lifted from “Kill Em All”. But the lead break steals the show again. Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay proved to be a dynamic guitar duo.
If you dismissed Keel because of the vocals or the generic themes, you need to revisit them just to hear the lead breaks.
Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve – Through The Fires
What a great idea to get a few guys with chops in a room and letting them jam. HSAS is a perfect example of what is beautiful about music. These guys didn’t get together to create songs to sell millions of albums. They got together because they wanted to create. And from those creations, they wanted to gig. And then they ran out of time to record more studio albums because Schon went back to Journey and Hagar joined Van Halen.
“Top Of The Rock” has this foot stomping riff to kick it off and Sammy Hagar during this period is in top form. And his lyrics about life, status and society are brilliant.
It aint easy speaking out, some people take it to heart
And if you’re not standing on top of the rock they will tear you apart
“Missing You” for such a generic, ballad sounding title is nothing as such. If you want to hear where “Ghost” takes his influences, then you need to check out this song. Take out Sammy’s voice and add the voice of the clergy and you will have a Ghost song. The vocal line that Hagar delivers here is out of the park.
And Neal Schon, is referencing his “Don’t Stop Believin” riff with a few tweaks here and there for the Chorus. Plus he really lets loose on the lead break, as Journey Neal Schon started to become a decorator instead of a shredder.
“Valley Of The Kings/Giza” has everything, as HSAS become world musicians and take the exotic Phrygian Dominant scale into their set list. “Whiter Shade Of Pale” is a song I always enjoyed playing and hearing, as it was one of the first songs my guitar teacher showed me back in the day. It’s got such a cool chord progression that soloing over it is awesome and Neal Schon does exactly that. “Hot and Dirty” while dumb lyrically, is great melodically and musically.
“He Will Understand” has a riff which should have been a number 1 pop riff. Sammy again delivers a great vocal, although lyrically the song didn’t connect. But the music. It’s excellent. And check out these lyrics.
“Friendships can fade away”
“There’s not much to talk about because there’s too much to say”
And then Neal Schon starts to deliver a metal like riff from the 2.20 minute mark and then the band morphs into a 70’s progressive style band, in the Chorus. Plus have I mentioned how Neal Schon goes to town in each song and shows the world why he’s one of the great guitarists.
I thought “My Hometown” would have been a ballad when I saw the title, but man, in my mind, it’s a song that is influenced 100% by Van Halen and ZZ Top. And that Chorus riff, is the Seattle sound and groove. Check it out if you don’t believe me.
The Rods – Let Them Eat Metal
When Johnny Rod joined WASP, I thought he came from a band called The Rods (it was actually King Cobra). I was always curious to hear the origins of musicians, but to hear an album meant I had to spend money on it and I had other more higher profile releases earmarked for that. So I didn’t hear these guys until well into the 2010’s decade and it was all because I thought a bass player came from the band but he didn’t.
And this album is a cool listen. You can’t take it seriously but you can enjoy the hell out of it.
There isn’t really a stand out song, but there isn’t a bad song either. But if I was been tortured by some doctors from a dictatorship government and I had to pick a favourite, it would be “Nuclear Skies”, for its enlightening lyric, “from the air we are breathing, we should all be dead” and its vocal harmony chorus.
And I don’t know how they had the balls to release “Bad Blood” because man, that song is “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest. But hey, music is based on the sum of our influences and you can hear in this song, The Rods had a pretty big Judas Priest influence.
Saxon – Crusader
They’ve had a career in music for a long time and they still write and record albums today. When they came across my radar, my initial impression was that they would be as big as Iron Maiden. And it didn’t happen and I was confused as to why.
The “Crusader” intro was enough to get me ready to break desks. The bass rolls along like “Heaven And Hell” and the guitars decorate.
“Fight the good fight, believe what is right”
The song is about the Crusades, but some of the lyrics can be interloped with the current world situation. We have democratic countries, with democratically elected leaders, spying and carrying out surveillance on their citizens, in the same way that dictatorship governments do/did. And the hypocrisy is that our leaders then stand on their soapbox and condemn these kinds of governments, but it’s okay for our leaders to do it, because they tell us they are the good guys, but we all know they are beholden to the corporations.
“Sailing To America” actually took me by surprise, because the vocals sounded like a cross between Sting and Steve Perry and I really dug that vibe. And this is probably the predicament Saxon had. They dabbled in many different styles, but the record labels like to promote (in other words pigeon hole) an artist in a particular genre/style, which is totally wrong.
“Do It All For You” has one of those intro’s that makes you pay attention, like “The Hellion”. And when I was expecting an “Electric Eye” style riff it goes into a ballad, which was okay, but not worthy of the intro. And I enjoyed “Just Let Me Rock” and “Rock City” but they didn’t connect. I think I was over all the song titles coming out with “Rock” in the title. In saying that, did Dee Snider get influenced by this song for a certain song on “Come Out And Play” called “You Want What We Got”. As “Rock City” states, you want it, we got it.
Krokus – The Blitz
I think they tried really hard to shake their AC/DC tag on this one, bringing in a lot of Judas Priest like elements, a cover songs and some outside writers. But when you have a vocalist who sounds like an AC/DC vocalist, it’s hard to shake that tag.
The production team behind the album is unbelievable. Bruce Fairbairn is producing, Bob Rock is an engineer and Mike Fraser is an assistant engineer. Even Survivor’s Jimi Jamison makes an appearance as a backing vocalist.
I want to talk about “Hot Stuff”. Now this song is what Krokus is all about to me. The intro is like “The Hellion” from Judas Priest, while the verses roll along like AC/DC and the Chorus is very LA sounding. And the lead break combined elements of Schenker, Young and EVH.
On “Boys Nite Out”, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are also co-writers, so the label really wanted this album to succeed.
Legs Diamond – Out On Bail
So Legs Diamond (stupid band name by the way) came into my radar because I kept hearing from the one person in the area I grew up in (that seemed to have every single rock and metal album), that if I liked Tom Keifer’s voice, then I would like Legs Diamond. The band could play, and they bordered on NWOBHM and melodic rock.
The electronic drums. You either like em or you don’t. To me, they are a major distraction from the rawk and roll of the music.
The band was actually broken up, but when they saw that their albums started to sell here and there, they reformed to capitalise on this new found interest.
The way I see it, “One Way Ticket” captures what the band is all about, combining all of their rock, metal and melodic influences into their own style. And at seven minutes long, it wasn’t long enough for me. It made me, press repeat. To compare, the title track “Out On Bail” comes across as rooted in the AC/DC/NWOBHM groove, “Radio” feels like a ZZ Top/Deep Purple medley and then “Fugitive” comes across like Journey synth AOR. Three distinct compositions. “Walkaway” should have been a Top 10 hit, but it wasn’t.
But “One Way Ticket” is the song and its unknown.
And the other song that defines their sound is “One Last Kiss”. Musically, it has so much happening, it has a flute solo and its over pretty quick.
Tony Carey – Some Tough City
I didn’t know what to expect on this album. I saw it on a melodic rock list, so I cued it up as the name Tony Carey appeared on a few Rainbow albums as a keyboardist. And I swear, it feels like “Lost Highway” from Bon Jovi was written after hearing the song “A Fine Fine Day”, then again maybe Mellencamp was an influence here.
Q5 – Steal The Light
I knew about this band, because Floyd Rose played guitar in the band. And for those who don’t know, Floyd Rose invented of course, the “Floyd Rose” tremolo locking system that stopped guitars from going out of tune whenever the whammy bar was activated. In a Guitar World issue, years ago, this invention was rated as one of the most ground breaking guitar inventions.
So one day in the 90’s, my fingers were walking over the $1 bin LP’s in a second hand record store and it was there I came across Q5’s album. I took it and a lot of other obscure metal and rock bands home, dropped the needle and I just enjoyed every note and every word. There is not a bad song on it.
The opening NWOBHM style riff of “Missing In Action” hooks me. The intro harmony leads in “Lonely Lady” get me playing air guitar. “Steal The Light” has an intro riff that forces me to pick up the guitar and learn it.
“Pull The Trigger” is AC/DC all metalized. “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” could have come from the “Highway To Hell” album. “Rock On” feels like it’s a metal version of “Peter Gunn” in the verses and “Hells Bells” like in the Chorus.
They had one more album on Polygram a few years later, argued when it didn’t do anything commercially and disbanded. Frontiers then resurrected the band around 2014 and a new album came out a few years after that.
Well that’s it for another 1984 post, I am pretty sure I have a few more to go.