Me and My Life in 3 Rock Songs

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I had a very interesting discussion on twitter the other day with all my friends and followers. I asked everyone to describe themselves in three rock songs. I got some pretty interesting answers and got reminded of some great songs too thanks to the conversation that went on. I have to admit, before asking everyone about it I haven’t really thought about the three songs that maybe represent my personality and my life the best. I tried my best to come up with three choices and I think I did quite well. From now on, when I meet someone for the very first time I might as well send them this publication! I promised to write about it on my blog so here we are. Keep in mind that three is a small number and of course, there are plenty more, but for sure, the following playlist pretty much sums it up all!

Here’s the tweet, you can go ahead and check it out and even reply if you feel like it! Make sure you comment below this publication and share your personal choices. I cannot wait to read them.


Foreigner – Woman in Black

Probably the song the lyrics to which represent me in a perfect way! I can’t think of a better track to kick things off. Of course, it’s all about those lyrics which I am absolutely convinced were written about me. Excluding the fact that I love black and my hair is black and my nails are usually pained black, everything else Lou Gramm sings about is basically about me or the type of woman I’m inclined to believe is close to my behavior or overall image. Of course, the song itself is a masterpiece and that contributes to my love for it as well.

I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation…
Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


Eric Clapton – I’ve Got A Rock N’roll Heart

This is a very important song for me because it kind of sums up how much I love rock music and how much it means to me. It also tells a story of a person who explains to their loved one that before they get truly serious, it’s of extreme importance to understand the role music plays in the life of this person. If this ain’t me, I don’t know who else is… Each time I meet someone for the very first time, somehow right from the second sentence, I somehow always end up talking about music and how essential it is to my existence. I want people, especially the right ones, to know that I cannot live without rock&roll and that my heart will always belong to music first.

P.S. Eric Clapton’s “Spiral” is another song that sends a similar message and might as well be on this list, next to this one as well.

I get off on ’57 Chevys
I get off on screaming guitar
Like the way it hits me every time it hits me
I’ve got a rock and roll, I’ve got a rock and roll heart


Cinderella – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)

This song is here because not only it sends a message I’ve been trying to follow my entire life but because somehow I always end up in situations in which people don’t quite appreciate me and then feel regretful once I decide to leave. I’m not just talking about relationships but also friendships, work-relations and many other situations I’ve been in my entire life. I think it’s very important to know that life is hard and when you meet someone with good qualities and values, you have to keep it close to you and cherish it while you can…because let’s face it – one day this person might not be here and you will be the one, thinking how stupid you were to treat him/her the way you did. It’s sad that we live in a world where people appreciate you only after you are gone…

I can’t feel the things that cause you pain
I can’t clear my heart of your love
It falls like rain, ain’t the same
I hear you calling far away
Tearing through my soul I just can’t
Take another day, Who’s to blame
If we take some time to think it over baby
Take some time let me know
If you really wanna go

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone
Don’t know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It’s just this song
And it ain’t easy to get back
Takes so long


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

15 Favorite Rock Albums that Celebrate a 30th Anniversary This Year

I get excited just by thinking of this year – the marvelous year of 1987!!! So many people on social media asked me which I think was the best year for rock music. I always say 1987 with no hesitation. Why? Check my list and you will certainly find out why!

All those outstanding releases are celebrating a 30th anniversary this year (2017) and I really wanted to list all my favorites together, in one place. Of course, I might have missed some of your favorites and yes, Appetite for Destruction is not in my top15 (surprise surprise!) but it is what it is. From Great White to Treat and Def Leppard, I honestly and straightforwardly am telling why exactly I love these albums with the idea to celebrate them and remember that it might have been 30 years since they were released, but the love and excitement over them hasn’t gone anywhere.

Don’t forget to tell me what do you think and which one is your favorite album released in 1987!?

 


Great White – Once Bitten

great white save your loveOnce you hear the mesmerizing ballad “Save Your Love” or the hard-rocking opener “All Over Now”, you will understand why Great White’s junior album deserves a place in your collection. The album came out in the hot summer of 1987 and quickly made a fuss around the band, eventually reaching a platinum status just a year after its release. The highlight and the most-instantly recognizable song from the album has to be “Rock Me” – I bet you know it. “Once Bitten” is actually my favorite Great White album and this song is a pretty solid reason behind my choice.


TNT – Tell No Tales

tnt-tell-no-tales“Everyone’s a Star”, “10 000 Lovers (In One)”, “As Far as the Eye Can See”…and on and on. TNT’s junior album is one of the best releases of 1987 and no one can take that away from it. As biased as I am (obviously), you can’t actually deny the power of vocalist Tony Harnell or the brilliance of guitar player Ronni Le Tekrø who make the perfect dream team. I got “Tell no Tales” in a record store as a “blind purchase” and this turned out to be the best decision of my life!! There are still so many people out there who haven’t discovered the greatness of this band so I urge them to do it now!


Dokken – Back for the Attack

Dokken back for the attackDokken’s fourth studio release also happens to be their best-selling album of all time and certainly one of the most interesting and captivating hard rock gems of 1987. “Prisoner”, “Night by Night” and of course the legendary “Dream Warrior” – the theme song for the horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” are just a few of the stunning rockers on “Back for the Attack”. Some critics and fans don’t consider this album as Dokken’s finest hour but then again I never actually cared about that. The album is full of jaw-dropping rockers and it deserves its place in my list.


White Lion – Pride

white-lion-prideWhite Lion’s sophomore album is an absolute classic and a musical piece that cannot really be described with words. Though my favorite White Lion album is “Mane Attraction”, “Pride” gets the honorable second place! “Wait” and “When the Children Cry” are the hits that came out of it, though I gotta go with “Hungry” as my favorite song from the album. Mike Tramp and Vito Bratta can craft some serious magic and this is one of their strongest products, for sure.


Strangeways – Native Sons

strangeways-native-sons“Native Sons” remains one of the forgotten and highly underrated representatives of the large AOR scene of the late ‘80s, despite the admirable qualities and superb songwriting it showcases. Thankfully, there are still people like me (and you) who know that picking up an apple from the top of the basket doesn’t mean that it’s the best apple of the bunch. “Native Sons” is a melodic bliss from start to finish. “Dance with Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “So Far Away”…go check for yourself if you have never listened to these songs. Vocalist Terry Brock is one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and this is his finest hour.


McAuleySchenker Group – Perfect Timing

msg perfect timingA predictable choice, don’t you think? I mean of course I will include the debut album of the Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley, released in the fall of 1987. This project and this album represent one of my favorite collaborations in rock music. Those two were a match made in heaven and once you play songs like “Gimme More” or my personal favorite “Follow the Night” you will get what I’m saying. “Perfect Timing” deserves all the love and attention you have and I’m not “just saying it”. 


Treat – Dreamhunter

treat-dreamhunter-1987I’ve been introducing those amazing guys to fans who have a very little idea how much more there is to the world of AOR. “Dreamhunter” is the third studio album of Swedish rockers TREAT and it’s one of those underrated gems that should’ve been way bigger. It didn’t leave a big impact on the world of music but it left a tremendous impact on me and my little rocknroll heart. “Sole Survivor”, “Take Me on Your Wings” and “You’re The One I Want” are some of the stand outs from “Dreamhunter”, all impressing with great production value and brilliant melodies.There’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Foreigner – Inside Information

inside information foreignerSometimes when we talk about the great Foreigner, this album gets left out of the conversation and I’m not quite sure why. I mean, yes – when you have enormous era-defining albums like “4” and “Agent Provocateur”, the follow-ups might get forgotten sometimes. In fact, though, (honesty hour) the sixth studio album of Foreigner – “Inside Information” might be my favorite release by Foreigner. “Say You Will”, “Can’t Wait” and the title songs are some of their greatest works, indeed. One more thing – it’s the last album to feature the 80’s core lineup of Gramm, Jones, Wills and Elliott, making it quite relevant.


REO Speedwagon – Life as we Know It

reo life as we know itHuge REO fan right here so no surprises that their 1987 album “Life as we Know It” is in my list of favorites. The twelfth studio album of the beloved band features some outstanding music, including “That Ain’t Love”, “New Way to Love” and “In My Dreams” – all beautifully written and highly pleasing tunes, solidifying REO Speedwagon’s position as melodic rock giants. Things after this release were never quite the same in terms of commercial performance and popularity and that could be traced back to the growing tensions between the members of the band; however we do have this fine piece of music and I’m so glad it saw the light.


Helix – Wild in the Streets

helix wild in the streetsHelix might as well be my favorite Canadian band so I just had to include their highly underrated sixth studio album “Wild in the Streets”. The beginning of their career was pretty strong but by the time this album was released, the fire was already fading out. The release is filled with memorable, close-to-my-heart rockers, including “She’s too Tough”, “Never Gonna Stop the Rock” and the gorgeous cover of Nazareth’s ballad “Dream On”. Never understood why this release wasn’t that big but that never prevented me from falling in love with it. 


Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Pink Floyd - A momentary lapse of reason front“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is often misunderstood and extremely underrated record, despite magnificent songs such as “Learning to Fly”, “Sorrow” and “On The Turning Away”. I often clash with lack of objectivity when it comes to this album but then again, everyone has their own opinion and views. For me, the magic started when David Gilmour took over and released “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and “The Division Bell” which instantly became my favorite PF albums. I love the classics and Roger Water is indeed a genius but this album right here is the PF release I connected with on a very personal level.


Tommy Shaw – Ambition

tommy shaw ambitionI wish more people would know of this album, because Tommy Shaw truly deserves it. His third solo release, “Ambition” is like a gentle autumn leaf touching your skin. Honestly, it was this beautiful piece of music right here that fully opened my eyes to his musical abilities. Not that I wasn’t appreciating him in Styx but I was always drawn to his melodic rock releases and especially this one. “No Such Thing”, “Dangerous Game” and of course – that magical cover of Survivor’s “Ever Since the World Begin” are offering a memorable experience that can make you a fan of Tommy in an instant.


Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night

fleetwood macFleetwood Mac forever blurred the lines between pop and rock in the ’70s with relevant releases like “Rumors”. Their style didn’t change that much in the ’80s as well. “Tango in the Night” is probably my favorite release by the legendary band and “Big Love”, “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies” might make you agree with me. “Tango in the Night” is their 14th studio album (wow, you read right, don’t worry) and the last studio album from the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. This release certainly is more pop than rock but …it’s the late ’80s we are talking about after all! 


Whitesnake – 1987

Whitesnake WhitesnakeDo I actually have to introduce or talk about this album? I don’t think so, but here we go…

Whitesnake’s most essential and internationally recognized record till today remains their seventh self-titled studio album. Released back in 1987, “Whitesnake” turned into a major successful hit, producing timeless rock tunes like “Is This Love”, “Looking for Love” and “Still of the Night”. What made this album such an impressive masterpiece is the unique combination of classic solid rock and melodic rhythms. This all became true due to the great songwriting collaboration between singer David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes. Melody, energy, passion and outstanding production are just some of the characteristics of the album that contributed to its phenomenal success.


Def Leppard – Hysteria

hysteria coverI saved the best (and my all time favorite album) for last. No need for me to tell you why this album is here and what it means to me because you probably know all about it. The monstrous game-changing and history-defining record turned into one of the highlights of the era, not only because of its production values, 7 hit singles and multi-platinum status, but also because it symbolized the strength of the human spirit and how with a little bit of faith and tons and tons of hard work, you can achieve anything. “Love Bites” is certainly my favorite song from “Hysteria”, though every second of it is like a heaven on Earth.


References:
Photos, retrieved from Wikipedia and Amazon
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Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ian McDonald join FOREIGNER for a REUNION CONCERT

History was made this Thursday (07/20) during a Foreigner concert at Jones Beach, New York. Three former members of the legendary band joined the band on stage for a night, celebrating old friendships and great memories.

For the first time in almost 14 years, Lou Gramm – Foreigner’s original lead vocalist, shared a stage with the rest of the band members as their frontman. It’s been even longer since multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood last played with Foreigner. Together, they performed “Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded.”

This is a video, shared by Foreigner on their official Facebook Page. Watch it and let me know what you think. I personally believe that Lou Gramm sounds better than ever – his voice is clearer and he’s obviously doing so well. I got quite emotional when I watched it earlier today and I just had to include it in my blog. What an amazing event!


References:
Watch Foreigner Reunite With Three Members for First Time in 37 Years: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-foreigner-reunite-for-first-time-in-37-years-w493475
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Recommendations: Shadow King’s 1991 Self-Titled Debut

I love giving life back to old-school rock gems by reminding people of their greatness. One of my favorite types of publications is “ALBUM RECOMMENDATIONS” because I get the chance to not only share some of my all time favorite less-known releases but I also introduce them to readers from all over the world who don’t know much abut these albums or don’t know about their existence at all. This week, I chose a special but short-lived band, named Shadow King because the members of this band (especially two of them) are very dear to my heart; on the other hand we have a pleasing hard rock record which deserves our attention. Let’s go!

Shadow King

Supergroups are highly intriguing, at least to me. There’s nothing cooler than having a bunch of well-known musicians, members of your favorite bands, teaming up for a project. You witness how pieces of different puzzles become a whole new piece and in most of the cases, the results are so satisfying! This was also the case with Shadow King. We have the founder – Lou Gramm, the voice of Foreigner, guitarist Vivian Campbell (Dio, Whitesnake, Riverdogs and now Def Leppard), bass player Bruce Turgon (Foreigner, Black Sheep, eventually the Lou Gramm Band) and drummer Kevin Valentine (Breathless, of Donnie Iris and the Cruisers and eventually also in the Lou Gramm Band); obviously there was a lot of talent in that band and under different circumstances, I’m sure they would’ve lasted for more than just a single release.

Lou Gramm had previously worked with Vivian Campbell and Bruce Turgon on his solo releases so the frontman knew quite well how to assemble a winning team. However, it seems to me that all members of the band were in some kind of a transitional period in those early ears of the new decade and that’s one of the reasons why I think they went their separate ways after this album. “Shadow King” ended up as an “in-between” project till the guys decided which way to go.

Shadow King were supposed to embark on an extensive tour and move on to new projects, however fate got in the way; Vivian became a member of (the greatest band in the world) Def Leppard; Lou and Bruce rejoined Foreigner in 1992 and they both, along with Kevin Valentine went on to become members of The Lou Gramm band in the early 2000s.

What’s in the past is in the past, though; Short-lived or not, I’m still grateful that they released this one album, full of breathtaking gems and glorious rock tunes.

The Self-Titled Debut

shadow kingI will try to be as straightforward as possible because when you have one of the strongest, most iconic rock vocalists of all time as a frontman, you can’t but expect the best. The most surprising thing, though, is that despite Lou‘s fame and worldwide recognition, many fans don’t really know this album and project even existed! Why, though? – The sound is maybe a bit too similar to Foreigner (well duh, Foreigner was founded by Lou) and people think they are just listening to the classic rock band; the time period was unsuitable – you know, the early ’90s wasn’t the best time to be a hard rock act and release an album that wasn’t “alternative”. Ultimately, I don’t know why people often forget about “Shadow King” but here I am, writing about it with the hopes of reviving it. And no, I’m not going to refer to it as Lou’s third solo album.

Most of the songs are written by the talented songwriting team of Lou Gramm and Bruce Turgon who skillfully crafted a catchy, highly enjoyable melodic rock playlist. Objectively speaking, the album cannot really compete with Foreigner’s earlier works, despite sounding a lot like a Foreigner album. Don’t be surprised – Lou was behind Foreigner’s iconic sound and classic songs. The difference is that now we have Vivian who changes the game for me; I may be a little bit biased but Viv is a top-notch guitarist and he can produce some of the greatest guitar sound out there.

The Songs you Must Hear:

Well, I am definitely recommending the entire album – from start to finish; however, if my words didn’t persuaded you to do so, I’m going to let you enjoy just a few songs from the self-titled release, to get a little idea of what’s going on (and why I’m so right).

The playlist didn’t get enough radio play despite sensational AOR classics like, “I Want You” and “Anytime, Anywhere”. There’s not even a single disappointing song on this record and I’m not just saying it for no reason. 

Have a listen at the beautiful melodic rock gems below and let me know what you think; I sincerely hope you appreciate the tunes and the album as much as I do.

What Would It Take

Once Upon A Time

I Want You


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Inside Lou Gramm’s 1987 Solo Debut Album, “Ready or Not”

Late ‘80s was a very unsettling time for Foreigner. After e series of smashingly successful albums, including “4” (1981) and “Agent Provocateur” (1984), things needed to cool down for a second before moving on to the next step. Lou Gramm and Mick Jones took some time off to explore their individual artistic strengths. That’s when Lou released the album I will be talking about – “Ready or Not”.

I cannot understand the pressures of the business; I can only imagine how turbulent and stressful it was for Foreigner to constantly be under the radar and asked when the band’s next big hit will be played on the radio. On top of it all, there always comes a time when egos, ideas and opinions clash, especially if you worked with someone for so many years. That’s why taking time apart and going on an adventure (in our case, releasing your first solo album) is totally justifiable.

inside information foreignerNevertheless, after Lou Gramm finished with his debut and the promotional activities and concerts he did come back (along with Mick Jones) to record Foreigner’s sixth studio album, “Inside Information” (1987). Unfortunately, that great album, featuring classics like “Say You Will”, also became the last album to feature the ’80s winner line-up, making it the end of an iconic, historically relevant era of rock music. Gramm did come back in the early ’90s (“Mr. Moonlight”, 1994) but then departed again. Foreigner moved on without Lou, naturally. It’s a whole different topic whether there can be a Foreigner without Lou Gramm, though, but will save it for some other time.

The Album

lou1“Ready or Not” was released at the very beginning of 1987 and it definitely signaled the arrival of a strong (if not the strongest) year for rock music. Overall, the album did make quite the fuss – a top30 chart position in the USA, a #1 hit single (“Midnight Blue”), dozens of concerts and happy faces, etc. etc… No surprises there – “Ready or Not” is as good as you might expect it to be (we are talking about Lou Gramm after all).  Numerous rock band vocalists of the era, including Peter Cetera (Chicago) and Steve Perry (Journey), for example, released solo albums so what Lou did wasn’t really that surprising. What also didn’t surprise fans was the commercial and critical triumph of the album. Lou Gramm and producer Pat Moran crafted some serious melodic rock magic and proved to be a winning team. The Foreigner vibe is still there – I mean come on, what did you expect? Lou was after all a huge part of Foreigner’s sound. Interestingly, though, there’s something unique and distinctive about “Ready or Not” which cannot be found on his previous work with the band. To me, it sounds a little bit more soulful and sincere, less sweet and even a bit edgier.  One more thing that impressed me was the guitar work courtesy of Nils Lofgren who was like a breath of fresh air for the fans.

My final verdict is that “Ready or Not” is a beautiful gift to anyone who loves and appreciates God-given talent and melodic rock, of course. Top notch production quality, superb guitar work and catchy, highly entertaining, full of life songs are some of the characteristics that make this album worthy of your time. In time, people forgot about it but I am here to remind you!

The Songs

One thing that truly frustrates me is that every time I have a conversation about the greatest hits of the ‘80s, songs like “Midnight Blue” or “Ready or Not” never get a mention. “Midnight Blue” is a fantastic pop/rock single which absolutely proved that Lou Gramm is more than fine on his own. The title track, “Ready or Not” is my personal favorite – those drum rhythms, vocal and melodic hooks took my breath away. Lou knows how to craft a beautiful ballad and he perfectly uses that gift of his on “Ready or Not As Well”; The stunning ballad “If I Don’t Have You” might as well be one of the most overlooked ballads of the era, despite its qualities. The excellent rockers “Heartache” and “Until I Make You Mine” are just a couple of the other tracks that back up my statement – “Ready or Not” is Lou Gramm’s purest manifestation of at his creative and artistic power and most certainly a turning point for his career. Don’t forget to play the songs!

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Ready or Not

If Don’t Have You

Midnight Blue

Listen to the entire album on YouTube:


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

My Top 10 Sophomore (Rock) Releases

sophomore fav

I have previously talked about debut albums on my TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums (make sure you check it out). This time, however, we will talk about the sophomore releases because I truly believe that in the majority of the cases, a sophomore album may turn out to be way more important for a band than their debut.

A second album can serve different purposes and can be designed to achieve specific goals. For some bands it’s a second chance to make a better first impression; for others, though, it’s another way to strengthen their position on a certain scene and in a certain genre. In addition, a sophomore album can also be recorded to illustrate a band’s artistic growth and creative strength since the majority of debut releases focus more on the commercial, universally-likable characteristics of the genre. There are, of course, cases in which we observe the so-called “sophomore slump” – a band with a great first release and an unworthy, highly disappointing follow-up. We, however, won’t be talking about those. Today, I will specifically focus on the exceptional ones; the sophomore releases which left such a lasting impression on me for one reason or another. One more thing – interestingly, with each band out there, my personal favorite releases always turn out to be either the debut or the follow-up. I guess you can say that I prefer the early, more passionate and “hungry” stages of a band.

Hope you enjoy reading my list and make sure you comment with your personal favorite sophomore release! Cheers~


Def Leppard – High ‘N’ Dry (1981)

Please don’t tell me you were surprised to see Def Leppard’s phenomenal second release “High ‘N’ Dry” on top of my list…

Def Leppard - High n DryDef Leppard’s “High ‘n’ Dry” has always been somehow ignored or even forgotten due to the ultimate smashing hit records “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” that follow it. Yes, those two albums are the ultimate masterpieces of the ’80s rock scene and definitely two of the greatest and most well-polished rock records of all time.  However, the NWOBHM gem, “High ‘n’ Dry” offers something different and its beauty definitely lies in its raw hard rock energy, rough heavy metal sound and straight-up clean production. “High ‘n’ Dry” was definitely a step up in song-crafting in comparison with their debut album – “On through the Night” – the riffs were more tasteful and Joe Elliott definitely improved his vocal performance. What’s quite impressive about it is that the record was released at the very beginning of the ‘80s – at that time the hard rock/metal/pop recipe hadn’t been fully mastered; however, those guys somehow managed to come up with a very definitive sound. “High ‘n’ Dry” is a simple album with catchy rockers and mild, even innocent lyrics. The instant pop standout and the album’s finest moment has to be “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”. With this song, Def Leppard set the standard for power ballads. “On Through the Night” and “Another Hit and Run” are heavier tracks with catchy hard riffs and loud climaxes. “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)” is the obligatory song about letting loose and having fun. “Switch 625” pleases with its fine melody and vocal intensity. It has to be their greatest instrumental so far. “High ‘n’ Dry” shows a young, maturing band, hungry for success and ready to take over the world. It is definitely one of those “feeling good” old rock ’n’ roll records that you can always enjoy and rock on to!


Dokken – Tooth & Nail (1984)

dokken-tooth-and-nailIt was basically do or die for Dokken after the minimal success of their 1983 NWOBHM debut, “Breaking the Chains”. The label barely agreed to give them a second chance but thank God they did, otherwise this brilliant smoking-hot second release, titled “Tooth and Nail” would’ve never happened. The band’s crave for success and recognition are quite obvious on this record, hence the title.

Despite the ongoing creative clashes between Don Dokken and George Lynch, along with the slow, IMG_20170309_130623_045rather unfulfilling start of the album, “Tooth and Nail” still impressed fans and critics with unique qualities, such as mean guitar solos (courtesy of George Lynch, of course), memorable vocals (thanks to Don Dokken) and a fantastic hard rock (but not too hard) atmosphere. The most important song on “Tooth and Nail” has to be the power ballad “Alone Again” which actually became the reason why Dokken’s name finally reached the surface. The playful “Just got Lucky”, the intense “Into the Fire” and of course that rough and dangerous Judas Priest sounding title song “Tooth and Nail” are some of the others worthy rockers you can find on this album. Overall, “Tooth and Nail” turned out to be а perfect mixture of heavy/speed metal and pop rock (getting more towards the heavy metal). I cannot put Dokken or this album in a category with other “hair metal” bands like Winger or Motley Crue despite popular opinion. If you are looking for something that goes beyond the lighter pop (hair) ‘80s metal, make sure you check out “Tooth and Nail”.


Firehouse – Hold Your Fire (1992)

firehouse-hold-your-fire1992 was a marvelous year for rock music, if the last one to be perfectly honest. Grunge was knocking on the door and fans were letting it at the expense of hard rock. Firehouse was one of those bands that got the boot way too early. Imagine if they released their strong self-titled debut album and their even stronger sophomore album in the early ‘80s…!?

“Hold Your Fire” was an absolute sensation, despite the horrible timing. Where do I even begin? Timeless melodic rock classics like “Reach for the Sky”, “Sleeping With You” and of course, the obligatory power ballad, “When I Look Into Your Eyes” left quite the impression and are still part of any AOR fan’s playlist. My personal favorites include the empowering rock anthem “Rock You Tonight” and the exciting title track (more or less thanks to that thrilling intro). I don’t think Firehouse illustrated that much of an artistic growth with their second release; it was more of a continuation to their debut, polishing and solidifying their position as the hottest new AOR treasures. Mainstream or not, I strongly recommend this album to everyone who is looking for energy, capable of blowing up your entire universe. I would like to say huge thanks to vocalist C.J. Snare who makes this experience so memorable and ear-pleasing every time I listen to the album.


Cinderella – Long Cold Winter (1988)

cinderellaMany people refer to Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” as their finest release and they are probably right. I couldn’t let go of my adoration for “Night Songs” but “Long Cold Winter” is a more than a worthy successor in my book. Cinderella made a little shift from a signature glam metal to more blues-oriented rock, reflecting Tom Keifer’s influences and childhood adoration for the blues.

The triple platinum “Long Cold Winter” is an absolute masterpiece of the genre and I’m not just saying it because I’m a die-hard fan of Cinderella. When we talk about this album, all discussions must naturally start with the most breathtaking power ballads of all time, THE power ballad of power ballads, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. Once you come across this song, every perception for a ballad you had so far will be completely shattered to pieces; not to mention your expectations which will fly up to the sky. I would love to go back in time and listen to the song again for the very first time; it’s definitely a once in a lifetime kind of song. “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” is not the only song on “Long Cold Winter” that can take your breath away, though. “The Last Mile”, “Gypsy Road”, “Coming Home” and of course that heart-stirring bluesy title song are all valuable assets to the album. There’s a reason why it reached a platinum status and more or less, that reason is called Tom Keifer. You just gotta respect him for his superb songwriting and singing skills!


Giant – Time to Burn (1992)

giant-time-to-burn-1992giant-time-to-burn-1992Giant’s sophomore album, “Time to Burn” became reality in the early spring of 1992. The follow-up to their successful 1989 debut, “Last of the Runaways” didn’t get the attention it deserved, despite the band’s obvious musical growth. From the fiery opening track “Thunder and Lightning” to one of the most emotional power ballads of all time – “Lost in Paradise”, the whole album showcased Giant as everything but your ordinary AOR band. With his beautiful voice, Dann Huff brought so much color to the spring of 1992. “Thunder and Lighting” and “Stay” are some of the other gems from “Time to Burn” which received some considerable time on the classic rock radio stations. Overall, this album remains highly underrated, despite being one of the best sophomore releases and one of the finest releases of 1992, in my opinion. It took Giant 9 years to come back with “III”, which is also worthy of checking out by the way.


Asia – Alpha (1983)

Asia - Alpha Album CoverThis right here has to be one of the most special sophomore releases in my book of rock. ASIA debuted in 1982 with a monstrous self-titled album which not only celebrated the perfect music partnership of legends Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and John Wetton but also became one of the essential AOR albums that ruled the 80s. With radio-friendly classics like “Heat of the Moment”, “Sole Survivor” and “Time Again”, the album was destined for commercial success. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. The second date with ASIA was definitely less tense and more familiar, more sensitive even. Unfortunately, “Alpha” couldn’t meet the industry’s expectation and despite its platinum status, critics often refer to it as somewhat a failure. Sadly, this album turned into one of the most underrated ‘80s rock records of all time, despite the wonderful playlist it offers. “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart and once you hear songs such as “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” or The Beach Boys sounding “Open Your Eyes”, you will most certainly fall under the magic of the album. There are great and good songs on this record, but the level doesn’t go below that. The album is a festival of romance, under a sky of gorgeous lyrics and touching music. I often referred to “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” as one of the most beautifully written ballads of all time, for instance.

All in all, “Alpha” is not as strong as their debut album but it still carries valuable characteristics that makes it a great ‘80s rock record


Boston – Don’t Look Back (1978)

boston dont look backIt’s a mission impossible to try and top Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut album. That groundbreaking release, featuring the classics “Peace of Mind” and “More Than a Feeling” is the ultimate classic rock staple and the greatest milestone in Boston’s career. Nevertheless, the 1978 follow-up, “Don’t Look Back“ is definitely not an album to ignore. I will skip the comparisons with that enormous first release, though they seem to be inevitable when we talk about Boston. Instead, I will jump right into the music talks to remind people that Boston DO have other great albums other than their debut.

The title track is one of Boston’s highest-charting singles and the album itself is certified 7x platinum – that should tell you something. The gentle “A Man I’ll Never Be” is my personal favorite though sometimes it gets hard to pick just one track once you play the entire album. “The Journey”, “It’s Easy”, “Feelin’ Satisfied” …each song is a peaceful, soul-soothing and highly admirable piece of a great rock puzzle. Mr. Everything, a.k.a Tom Scholz once again crafted something truly magical.


Strangeways – Native Sons (1987)

strangeways-native-sonsIn 1987, the British-American AOR/Melodic rock band Strangeways released arguably their finest work, titled “Native Sons”. The follow-up to their respectable 1984 eponymous debut also proved that the right singer can make all the difference in the world. Original vocalist Tony Liddell was replaced with Terry Brock – a renowned back-up singer for some of the biggest names of the era, including Foreigner and Journey. What followed after he stepped in as the new frontman, could easily be described as pure musical magic. “Native Sons” is a brilliant melodic rock record that guarantees you nothing but delight and feelings of great pleasure.  The album carries all the best genre elements of the era, including colourful keyboards, splendid guitar playing and glittering hooks. Add Terry’s powerful vocals, the edgy hard-rock vibe and the A-level songwriting and you end up with a melodic treasure that could effortlessly stand on its own two feet against the big AOR titles of the late ‘80s.

“Dance With Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “Empty Streets” and “Never Gonna Lose it” are just a few of the warm and powerful 100% AOR-authentic masterpieces you can find on “Native Sons”.


Foreigner – Double Vision (1978)

doublevision]I will be very brief with this one because when we talk about Foreigner and this album in particular, no words are needed. After their highly influential 1977 debut, arena rockers Foreigner came back with what is often referred to as one of the finest albums of the genre and one of Foreigner’s best, most critically-acclaimed works. We can undoubtedly conclude that they did wrap up the ‘70s with quite the style, setting up the mood for the changes that were about to come in the ‘80s.

“Double Vision” got certified Platinum just a week after its release; imagine the impact and universal acceptance and love it got. It’s all justified though but I mean how can it not be? With astonishing tracks like “Hot Blooded”, “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, “You’re All I Am” and “Spellbinder” no wonder people are still enthusiastically talking about and listening to this album. Not only that, but no self-respecting radio station can afford to avoid some of these classics; they are on a high demand, that’s for sure. One more reason why I consider this album as both an upgrade and a total success, has to be the presence of “Tramontane” which is the only instrumental tune Foreigner have released up to date on a studio album. All in all, this right here is a pure example of how a well-done, going-one-step-further album can became a milestone for a band’s career.


Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)

creamLast but not least, I just had to include Cream’s finest, most precious work of art, titled “Disraeli Gears”. Not only did this album introduced the holy trio of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce to the American audiences but it also showcased how a band can achieve success if only they dare to dig deeper and fearlessly experiment with their music. “Disraeli Gears” showcased the band’s shifting interest from blues, to psychedelic rock. Moreover, it was on this album that Eric Clapton perfected his guitar skills and cemented his position as one of the finest guitarists of his time.

Let’s talk songs. “Sunshine of Your Love” – do I have to say more? That’s the song that changed the rules of the game, set new standards and became an inspiration for many upcoming artists. That mesmerizing intro and those lyrics can never disappear from your mind and soul, once you have listened to the song. It’s not only the massive hit “Sunshine of Your Love” that makes the album so intriguing. My personal favorites include “We’re Going Down”, “Strange Brew”, “Take it Back” and “World of Pain”. I only wish Clapton was leading vocalist on more songs.


Honorable mentions:

Bad Company – Straight Shooter (1975)

bc


Led Zeppelin II (1969)

lz2


The Beatles – With the Beatles (1963)

beatles


Van Halen II (1979)

van halen 2


TNT – Knights of the New Thunder (1984)

knights_of_the_new_thunder-by-tnt

Yngwie Malmsteen – “Marching Out” (1985)

yngwie marching out

Europe – Wings of Tomorrow (1984)

europe wings of tomorrow

Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)

ratt invasion of your privacy album cover


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy (1989)

tesla


Dream Theater – Images and Words (1992)

dream theater image


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 10 albums, picked based on my personal preferences and ideas, fitting the purpose of this article. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[POLL] VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ’80S (Power) BALLAD(S)

power-ballads-collage

It’s time to crown the GREATEST (power) ballad of the ’80s!

The glory days of rock ballads may be long gone, but all those breathtaking mellow tunes are still relevant and still loved by people from all over the world. As a (power) ballad enthusiast and a huge fan of the ’80s rock music scene, I decided to prepare this little poll for my readers to see which one of these tearjerkers will turn out to be the most beloved one!?

Please feel free to participate in my poll or add a favorite (power) ballad in case it’s not on the list! The results will be announced one month from now in a separate publication!

Happy Voting!