5 Songs I Wish I Could Listen Again For The First Time

Recently, I asked my buddies on Twitter a very intriguing question:

question music

Plenty of my followers and dear rock friends from all over the world responded with various, personally relevant and undoubtedly breathtaking tracks, such as Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway to Heaven”, Pink Floyd‘s “Comfortably Numb”, AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell” and more. I was so happy to see that many people sharing their stories, feelings and reasons why they would give anything to experience hearing their favorite song for the first time again.

Of course, way before asking my followers, I thought about my personal choices. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, actually. A song you wish to hear for the very first time and experience that “love at first listen” all over again is not necessarily the same as a “favorite” track, though. We all have hundreds and thousands of songs we LOVE but do you actually remember how you felt or what kind of emotions were flying around the air the first team you heard each and one of them? I don’t think so. Just like me, probably most of you guys can remember the first encounters of only a few songs – those special, world-shattering songs that challenged your entire existence and brought so many mind and body reactions, even…The following five masterpieces are such songs for me – song so captivating that make me wish I could go back in time and recall those beautiful first moments with them…the moments that took my breath away and made me think, “oh, that’s a song I will love and listen till the day I die”. I hope you enjoy my list! Feel free to share your thoughts here or on Twitter!


Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

layla-claptonI have never felt a connection so instant and so strong as the one I had when I first heard those opening riffs. I didn’t know about the long and painful story behind the song and of course, that famous love triangle but I could feel that there’s just so much going on…”Layla” is not just your regular romantic tune; it’s a 7-minute long epic ballad that features two highly impressive parts – a speedy blues-oriented assemble, followed by a gentler piano and side guitar instrumental.  I was young but I could truly understand why “Layla” is referred to as one of the most important songs rock songs of the ‘70s and Eric Clapton’s most outstanding work. For me, it all started with “Layla”; I needed to hear it just once to know that Eric Clapton will become a huge part of my life…Years later, I cannot even imagine my life without his music.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Still…You Turn Me On (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973My progressive rock journey started with ELP and in particular the song “Still…You Turn Me On”. I will always remember how immensely captivated I was by the bizarre, but gorgeous instrumentation, stunning lyrics and of course, Greg Lake’s vocals that just sent me to another dimension. I felt so attracted to this song; my body, my mind instantly reacted and by the time I knew it, I was already listening to their entire discography. ELP opened a new chapter of my life and for that I will always love them.


Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)

Boston-1“More Than a Feeling” is probably the main reason why Boston and their debut record became one of the most popular rock acts of the late 70s. Each and every second of this song was designed to instantaneously crawl under your skin, inject its blessing and leave you in a state of trance. I wasn’t an exception. This song was never just an opening track to a classic rock record from many many years ago. “More Than A Feeling” turned into my ultimate relaxation outlet and a way for me to experience sweet comfort right from the very second I heard those guitars. I guess Brad Delp’s killer vocals, relentlessly playing with your senses were another reason why this song grabbed me right form the beginning.


Def Leppard – Love Bites (1987)

Def_Leppard_-_Hysteria_(vinyl_version)One of my biggest musical obsessions is hard rock power ballads from the ’80s. Everyone who follows my blog and Twitter knows how passionate I am about the gentler, mellower side of rock music. It all had to start from somewhere, right? Well, for me it started with Def Leppard‘s only one #1 hit single, the most stunning rock ballad of all time – “Love Bites”. The moment I heard that passionate, thrilling, so sensual song I knew two things: 1) I will become a huge Def Leppard fan and I need to listen to every piece of music they released; 2) Power ballads would become my favorite kind of rock songs and I gotta find out more. The fact that I knew these things right after the first listen speaks volumes. Joe Elliott‘s vocals crawled under my skin and the rest is history. Interestingly, every time I play “Love Bites”, it feels like the first time…


Scorpions – Send Me an Angel (1990)

Scorpions - Send me an Angel2There are rock ballads and then there’s Scorpions’ “Send Me an Angel” – a song that brings tears to my eyes every time I play it. I remember my first moments with this track back in the day very distinctively because the sincere, so powerful and expressive vocal delivery of Klaus Meine left me speechless. I played that song over and over till I finally learned the lyrics by heart. I couldn’t interpret the words but I just knew how honest they were. I had the chance to witness the song materialize on stage during their 50th anniversary tour and I will never forget that magical experience…


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~

The Story of HOUSE OF LORDS’ 1988 Debut

Who are House of Lords?

giuffria
Giuffria

Before we get to House of Lords and their 1988 debut, we have to go back further in time and talk about another glam rock band that rose to stardom in 1984 with the famous single, “Call to Your Heart”. Named after keyboardist Gregg Giuffria, previously a member of the hard rock act Angel, Guiffria quickly turned into way more than a side matter. Right from the very beginning, the band made a solid presence on the charts and on the major AOR radio stations. Their first two albums were quite promising but unfortunately the third album brought the end of Giuffria.

Luckily, another beautiful project rose from the ashes of a band with so much potential, gone so soon. Mr. Everything, a.k.a. Gregg Giuffria, quickly gathered what was left of the recorded demos, assembled his next winning team and formed House of Lords in 1987.

Original Giuffria vocalist David Glen Eisley (who by the way vocally reminds me so much of Steve Perry) was replaced with James Christian. I’m not sure whether that was the right move (not that James isn’t talented but David was truly remarkable in my opinion) but ultimately, it was James who became the face of the new band that even got a brand new name – House of Lords. The deal with Simmons records (the record label of Gene Simmons of KISS) was loud and clear – “you come to us, but you have to change your name and you gotta fire David Glen Eisley!” Ex-Guiffria and Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Lanny Cordola and drummer Ken Mary were the final pieces of the puzzle. In the fall of 1988, House of Lords’ debut eponymous release finally became a reality.

house of lords members
House of Lords

The Debut Album

house of lords 1988

The late ‘80s were the heydays of glam metal and every band out there was trying to make it big on that highly profitable music market. The hardest thing to do wasn’t to gather a couple of musicians and record a glam rock album but rather to achieve some sort of recognition and stand out from the thousands of bands who came to fight with all they got, just like you. (To be perfectly honest, the hardest thing was to find stability and consistent fan-base but realistically, young bands couldn’t ask for that much now could they?)

Overall the debut album, “House of Lords” was a moderate success – the type of success that many bands enjoyed, despite longing for that durable recognition I was talking about. A Top 80 chart position (on Billboard 200), a couple of good singles and music videos to support the promotion of the album – what more could you ask for? The true uniqueness of the album, however, lies in the number of great musicians that were behind many of the songs on the album. Stan Bush, Giuffria’s previous vocalist David Glen Eisley, Armand “Mandy” Meyer (Asia, Cobra) and songwriter Johnny Warman deserve a mention for their songwriting input. Rick Nielsen of the famous rock band Cheap Trick co-wrote the song “Slip of the Tongue” and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen) helped with the backing vocals on the entire “House of Lords” album. The presence of so much brilliant musicians should’ve turned the album into a huge sensation! Instead, it was forgotten as quickly as it was assembled.

The Songs

The catchy “I Wanna Be Loved” and the power ballad “Love Don’t Lie” are the two most famous tracks, coming out of “House of Lords” (a lot of love on that album!). Since I’m a power ballad person, I would most certainly vote for “Love Don’t Lie” if we have to choose the finest moment of the album. A superb cover of Stan Bush’s softer, way gentler version of this song, “Love Don’t Lie” might as well be referred to as one of the best rock ballads of the year and as a whole. The vocal performance is absolutely stunning and don’t you even get me started on those mesmerizing guitars. “Slip of the Tongue” – now that’s a song you must check out – it’s a highly energizing hard rock tune and the point where you realize that this album has little to do with Giuffria’s original, way friendlier sound. “Call My Name” and “Hearts of the World” are just a couple of the other impressive songs, which I’m sure sounded even better played live.  

Overall, as I said, “House of Lords” is just one of all the great hard rock albums that came out during that time.  There are no bad songs on this album – only good, heavy-rocking ones that surely deserve your attention. Gregg Giuffria is truly a legend! If you liked what you heard on “House of Lords”, make sure you go ahead with their 1990 sophomore release, “Sahara”!

“I Wanna Be Loved”

“Love Don’t Lie”

“Slip of the Tongue”

“Call My Name”


References:
“House of Lords” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords_(band)
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 15 Rock Albums, Released in 1989

1989 – What an awesome year for rock music! Where do I even begin?

1989 collage2After being a rock music enthusiast for so long, I can with an absolute clear conscious declare 1989 as one of the best years of rock music! It was the end of a strong, rock&roll decade, grunge music was already becoming a formidable force on the scene, so it was basically do or die for many returning or debuting bands. Out of this turbulent, trend-shifting period, however, tons of great releases managed to come out and leave a memorable trace behind them. From one of Eric Clapton’s strongest albums, featuring a Grammy winning song, to powerful, multi-platinum debuts, such as Skid Row’s eponymous album, 1989 was overflowing with excitement and monumental rock music!  

With time, I also came to the conclusion that many of my personal favorite hard rock albums were released around that time as well. Plenty of those records came out in 1989. For the fun of it, I decided to prepare this little list, consisting of 15 albums that to me had (and still have) the best, most appealing and intriguing musical presence during 1989. It’s a personal selection, based on my liking and preferences but I would love to know more about your favorite 1989 albums! Enjoy my list and feel free to comment and share your thoughts and selections! Cheers!


Eric Clapton – Journeyman

Eric_Clapton_JourneymanEric Clapton always comes first when it comes to my personal selections, especially if we talk about his 80s’ releases. “Journeyman” was the absolute peak of Eric Clapton’s career, featuring a Grammy winning song, “Bad Love” and tons of other beautiful blues tunes, such as “Before You Accuse Me” and “Hard Times”. What really impressed me was Clapton’s obvious confidence on “Journeyman”. He overcame his alcohol abuse and all the other ghosts of the past and released one of the most phenomenal blues/rock albums of all time. The album definitely sounds modern, more pop-influenced, rather than strictly focusing on that heavy blues mood, Clapton adores so much. Some of the other highlights and personal favorite songs from “Journeyman” include “Pretending”, Anything for Your Love”, “Old Love” and “Breaking Point”. It’s definitely an album worthy of your time and appreciation!


TNT – Intuition

tntNorwegian rockers TNT completely blew me away with their 1989 release, “Intuition”. It quickly became a personal favorite and an album I simply cannot live without. I often say that it’s extremely underrated – I mean, just listen to the catchy, outstanding rockers, including the title song, “Caught Between the Tigers”, “Forever Shine On” and of course, one of my FAVORITE songs of all time, the power ballad “Tonight I’m Falling”. “Intuition” didn’t really make a huge splash on the charts or sold that well, compared to other similar glam rock releases of the era; however it did manage to conquer my heart with just one listen. Tony Harnell is a brilliant vocalist and I will forever be thankful to him and guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø for crafting such an enjoyable piece of art.  


Giant – Last of the Runaways

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s “Last of the Runaways” is one of the most underappreciated rock releases of all time which I think is unforgivable! In addition to the famous power ballad, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, “Last of the Runaways” has so much more to offer. The whole debut album is just simply a beautiful, well-balanced selection of arena rock tunes, perfectly demonstrating the artistic skills and qualities of Giant. “Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock gems that could be heard on this album. “Love Welcome Home” and “It Takes Two” are also some of the highlights! Once again, the timing wasn’t right for those talented guys. Let’s not forget Dann Huff who brought so much character to “Last of the Runaways” with his emotional and unforgettable vocal delivery.


Strangeways – Walk in The Fire

strangeways-walk-in-the-fire-1988The Scottish AOR/Melodic rock band, Strangewaysthird album, titled “Walk in the Fire” was the reason why I got to know them in the first place. I played the first track – “Where are they Now” and I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous melody and the superb killer-vocals of Terry Brock. Their Americanized sound can be characterized as mixture between Journey, Boston and Bad Company, but with a little something extra. In addition to “Where are they now”, some other highlights include the charming power ballad “Love Lies Dying” and the uplifting “Every Time You Cry”.
“Walk in the Fire” didn’t really achieve commercial success, despite its first class AOR qualities. The album, along with the band should’ve been so much bigger back in the day. Nevertheless, they are worth discovering. I can’t recommend this album enough.


Danger Danger – Danger Danger

danger-danger-albumDanger Danger debuted in the summer of 1989 with a self-titled album, strictly following the well-established glam rock formula for success. Fueled with catchy, rhythmic and easy to absorb tunes, the record could easily be described as an “enjoyable Friday night experience”. To be fair, the record does sound a bit too generic and can’t really stand out with an exceptional musicianship, outstanding vocal delivery or profound lyrics. Nevertheless, this melodic hard rock jewel can almost guarantee you a perfect mood which is the reason why is on this list! “Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang” were released as singles and turned into Danger Danger’s best-known classics. (Those guys really enjoyed double titles.) Both tracks are fun and highly entertaining, despite their obvious commercial-driven goals. “Saturday Nite”, “Rock America”, “Feels Like Love” and “One Step from Paradise” are just a few of the other satisfying rockers who made this album so appealing to me. Danger Danger got all the pieces of the puzzle with this project; however they were 5-10 years later for the party. This album would’ve got so much attention on AOR radio!


Treat – Organized Crime

Treat - Organized CrimeSwedish rockers Treat grabbed my attention with their third album, “Dreamhunter” (1987), however their 1989 release, titled “Organized Crime” turned me into a die-hard fan. I always felt so sad because despite being so talented, they couldn’t become a household name in the 1980s melodic rock scene. Anyhow, back to “Organized Crime” – their fourth release is home to mind-blowing rockers, such as the unbelievably catchy “Get You On The Run”, “Party All Over”, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and the beautiful ballad, “Stay Away”. Attractive melodies, smooth vocals and hard-rocking sound are just some of the reasons why I think that there’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping

bonham-disregardAnother debut and another perfect rock album! “The Disregard of Timekeeping”, the first actual attempt of Jason Bonham to hit it big commercially, became a reality in 1989. The project caused quite the stir among the rock fan communities but it was only natural – the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer was about to unleash a new force to the competitive hair metal musical market and fans just had to see through it all! “The Disregard of Timekeeping” spawned exceptional songs, including “Guilty”- a song that won me over with its mesmerizing intro, unparalleled vocal delivery by Daniel MacMaster and that soul-demolishing violin solo by bassist John Smithson. “Wait for You”, “Playing to Win” and “Room for Us All” are other worthy and highly memorable moments on Bonham‘s 1989 debut.


Skid Row – Skid Row

skid-row-1989Now we’re talking!!!

Fronted by one of the most charismatic and talented vocalists of all time, Sebastian Bach, Skid Row‘s self-titled debut became one of the best-selling and most influential albums of the year. “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life”, “I Remember You”, “Piece of Me” – do I have to say more? There are plenty of reasons why this album got certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and you can easily discover them if you listen to it from start to finish. “Skid Row” brought that much-needed sass and danger into the music scene, incorporated among serious melodic riffs. MTV loved them as well, which further more boosted their image as the new hot kids on the block! What else is there to say – it’s an amazing and highly entertaining album and no wonder it’s on my favorite 1989 albums list!


Blue Murder – Blue Murder

blue-murder3John Sykes proved that he is a worthy monster guitarist as a member of household names such as Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy. Then, he and David Coverdale crafted what is often considered as one of the most enormous hard rock records of all time. Yes, of course I’m talking about that influential 1987 album that spawned timeless hit singles like “Here I go again”, “Still of the Night” and “Is This Love”, known by every single soul on this universe. After they went their separate ways, John Sykes formed Blue Murder and in 1989, they released their self-titled, debut album, which is yet again a highly underrated album, despite its out-of-this world qualities and songs that are able to conquer every part of your soul! I’m not exaggerating, believe me – if the timing and situation was different, this album would’ve been so huge! Some of the earth-shattering songs on “Blue Murder” include “Riot”, “Black-Hearted Woman” and the title track. Of course, the sweetest moments come in the face of “Valley of the Kings” which is one of those tunes you can play for days and naturally (at least for me) the mesmerizing ballad “Out of Love”.


Mr. Big – Mr. Big

Mr. Big - Mr. BigIn the summer of 1989, Mr. Big became one of the many bands to release a debut album. The eponymous record did manage to leave an impression on the charts and it did sell over 300,000 copies in just a year, so we can conclude that it was somewhat successful. It did, however, deserve way more than that. I still remember the first time I heard the opening track, “Addicted to That Rush” – it was like a powerful shot of adrenaline and it made me feel so good! The entire album is one energizing piece of music that was made to give you that much needed kick! “Wind me Up”, “Had Enough” and “Blame it On My Youth” are just a few of my favorite tracks that could be heard on “Mr. Big”. Paul Gilbert and Eric Martin are an exceptional team and I have nothing but respect and adoration for this album!


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy

teslaTesla!!! Where do I even begin? I love this band and this album so much!!

In 1989, Tesla released their sophomore album, titled “The Great Radio Controversy” – an album I first got to know through the groundbreaking ballad, “Love Song” which is so unique and different from all the other power ballads released at that same time. That’s not all of it though. The entire album is one splendid mixture of blues, hard rock, pop rock and metal. On top of it all, the distinctive vocals of Jeff Keith made sure that I will forever remember and hold this album dear. In addition to that well-known ballad, “The Great Radio Controversy” is home to one of the most empowering tunes – “Hang Tough”. “Lady Luck”, “Paradise”, “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights”, “Be a Man” and basically each and every other song on this album are highly spirited and so easy to fall in love with. “The Great Radio Controversy” was certified double platinum for a reason!


Great White – …Twice Shy

great-white-twice-shyThe unquestionable commercial highlight of Great White’s career has to be “…Twice Shy”. I’m not saying it’s their best album but it most certainly is an amazing release, worthy of acknowledgment. Great White’s cover of Ian Hunter‘s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and of course “The Angel Song” are the most popular tunes that came out of the album, conquering charts and leaving a timeless trace. Moreover, “House of Broken Love” is yet another highlight, dedicated to the love struggles vocalist Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall were going through at that time. “Baby’s On Fire” and “Heart Hunter” are a couple of my other favorites on the record! “…Twice Shy” got certified double platinum and is still considered as one of the staples of ‘80s glam rock!


XYZ – XYZ

xyzProduced by none-other than Don Dokken himself, XYZ’s self-titled debut turned into another one of the underrated highlights of 1989. All in all, “XYZ” is an album that could have easily blown out any other hard rock album of that era, even the multi-platinum ones. Fantastic stand-out tracks such as “Inside Out”, “What Keeps Me Loving You”, “Take What You Can” and “Come On N’ Love Me” deserve nothing but to be enjoyed and played as loud as possible. Frontman Terry Ilous is contributing significantly to the overall satisfying experience that is this debut release. Tons of talent and full of character – I can’t recommend this release enough!


Kingdom Come – In Your Face

kingdome comeI am a huge Kingdom Come fan so no surprises here. Their sophomore album, titled “In Your Face” is a worthy follow-up to their well-deserving debut album and the second of the trilogy of good releases by Kingdom Come, at least in my opinion. “In Your Face” impressed me with uplifting songs like “Who Do You Love”, “The Wind” and laid-back tunes such as “Just Like a Wild Rose”. All in all, “In Your Face” is an enjoyable album and despite the obvious influences, drawn by Led Zeppelin, I do enjoy listening to this record from time to time. I agree that it’s a bit inconsistent and it does have its flaws but if you like AOR, you’re gonna love this, just like I do!


Whitesnake – Slip of the Tongue

Whitesnake - Slip of the TongueLast but not least, I just had to include Whitesnake’s eight studio album, “Slip of the Tongue”. Many people, including David Coverdale himself think of this album as one of Whitesnake’s weakest releases; however that’s definitely not what I think. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite Whitesnake album and a couple of songs are the reason why. “The Deeper the Love”, “Judgement Day” and “Now You are Gone” have been an inseparable part of my daily playlist for so many years. Let’s also not forget about that impressive re-recording of “Fool for Your Loving”. Sound shift or not, Whitesnake did wonders with this glorious hard rock album and I will forever defend its greatness.


 

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 15 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.

I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

In 1985, RATT Avoided the Sophomore Slump With “Invasion of Your Privacy”

First impressions are extremely important, especially for an artist! Debut albums can either make or break your career. Releasing a smashingly successful first album, however, also means that all eyes and ears will be pointed at you, waiting impatiently for your next big step. A follow-up to a great debut, however, can turn into quite the formidable task. Many bands have failed; the results can be devastating and even career-ending. That wasn’t the case with Ratt, though, at least in my humble opinion.

ratt 1

coverIn 1984, Ratt threw one hell of a coming out party with “Out of the Cellar” – an album that not only got certified triple platinum by RIAA but it also turned Ratt into a household name on the glam metals scene of LA. Classic heavy metal staples, like the monstrous “Round and Round”, “Wanted Man” and “Communication Breakdown” brought nothing but fame and recognition to the five talented rockstars. One listen from start to finish would give you a clear idea of why this album turned into such a huge sensation, surpassing the releases of even bigger names, such as Motley Crue.

None of Ratt’s future releases were able to compete with “Out of the Cellar” in terms of commercial success or influence. Nevertheless, their sophomore album, titled “Invasion of your Privacy” was still a worthy comeback, full of energy and passion that cannot be overlooked. With powerful, mind-crushing hard rock tornadoes, like “You’re In Love”, “Lay it Down” or “Give it All”, “Invasion of Your Privacy” and of course, Ratt, deserve nothing but praises and respect for all the good time they guarantee you!


ratt invasion of your privacy album coverIn 1985, Ratt once again followed the well-established “Out of the Cellar” formula for success, including top notch glossy production qualities, out-of-this world riffs and of course, the suggestive lyrics. “Invasion of Your Privacy” didn’t create an explosion as big as the first album did, however the sophomore release managed to do one quite essential thing – it strengthened Ratt’s position as one of the most exciting glam rockers of the age. Moreover, the music videos for “Lay it Down” and “You’re in Love” were constantly aired on MTV, which further boosted Ratt’s high standing on the competitive LA hard rock scene of the ‘80s.

Ratt welcomed back producer Beau Hill, who worked with big names like Alice Cooper and plenty other glam rockers of the mid/late-80s music scene, such as Warrant and Winger.  Beau Hill, together with vocalist Stephen Pearcy, guitarists and songwriter Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini, bass player Juan Croucier and drummer Bobby Blotzer came up with a competent playlist of songs, full of entertaining hooks and playful lyrics.

The riff-cantered “You’re In Love” is a thrilling opener with an iconic Music Video which I’m sure many of you guys still remember from the good old-days of MTV. The choruses are brilliant and the overall sexy vibe of the song makes things so much interesting – you just can’t wait to experience it all. “Lay it Down” and “What You Give is What You Get” – the other two singles are simply two more shots of adrenaline with great verses and powerful melodies. I can’t begin expressing my satisfaction with Stephen Pearcy’s well-matched vocal delivery; that slick pop/heavy metal fusion that Ratt became famous for, couldn’t have been accompanied by a better-fitting vocalist. “Between the Eyes” is a hidden gem; “Got Me on the Line” is a personal favorite – a song I can play all day long and nod my head at least a dozen times with the catchy rhythms! “Closer to My Heart” is Ratt’s attempt at a power ballad or at least at a song, designed to cool things off for a while. It’s a splendid, if not one of the most splendid gems that came out of “Invasion of Your Privacy”.  

Final verdict: Ratt avoided the “sophomore slump” with grace. “Invasion of Your Privacy” is pure ‘80s glam metal, presented in all its greatness – both visual and sonic (mostly sonic, of course). Shame if you don’t have this album in your collection. It’s most certainly one of my favorite follow-up albums and my favorite Ratt album as a whole. Enjoy!

“You’re In Love”

“Lay It Down”

“Closer to My Heart”

“What You Give is What You Get”

…Or you can listen to the entire album here:


References:
“Invasion of Your Privacy” by Ratt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Your_Privacy
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~

Celebrating ERIC CLAPTON’s Birthday with 10 of His Timeless Classics

ericLegendary bluesman, member of The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos and many more, Eric Clapton, celebrates his birthday today! One of the most prolific and influential artists of all time, turns 72 so nothing but good wishes are in order! Happy Birthday, Mr. Clapton! Thank you for your devotion, hard work and exceptional music I grew up with and still can’t live without! Thank you for making me fall in love with the blues and learn how to appreciate great guitar work and technicality. Thank you for bringing peace to my life with your music!

Not many musicians can brag with a career, as long, fruitful and impressive as Eric Clapton’s. From his strong debut as a young guitar virtuoso in The Yardbirds, to recording one of the most important blues albums of all time with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers; from a never-ending struggle with alcoholism to self-rediscovery and a powerful comeback in the ’80s, Eric Clapton’s life is surely one fascinating roller-coaster that keeps getting more and more exciting with each step of the way.

To celebrate Clapton‘s birthday, I have chosen 10 of his most beloved classics, including songs from his time as a member of The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos. There is certainly no better excuse to play Clapton all day long than commemorating his birthday! Let’s listen to the blues and forget about everything else! 


 

The Yardbirds – “For Your Love” (1965)

for your love


Cream – “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)

sunshine


John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (with Eric Clapton) – “Ramblin’ on My Mind“ (1966)

The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton


Derek & The Dominos – “Layla” (1970)

LAYLA

Derek & The Dominos – Bell Bottom Blues (1970)

LAYLA


“Cocaine” (1977)

cocaine


“Wonderful Tonight” (1977)

wonderful tonight


“Bad Love” (1989)

eric bad love


“My Father’s Eyes” (1998)

piligrim cclapton


“Riding With the King” (2000)

riding with the king


+ “Spiral” (2016)

Eric Clapton - I Still Do (2016)


clapton70s

… Or play the entire playlist here:


 

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~

BONFIRE – “Byte The Bullet” Album Review

German rockers BONFIRE are back with what can easily be referred to as one of the most electrifying, mind-blowing and hair-raising rock releases so far. Guitarist, original founder and basically Mr. Everything, Hans Zilller is back with his strong team of musicians, including bass player Ronnie Parkes, guitarist Frank Pane, drummer Tim Breideband and a brand new vocalist Alexx Stahl, replacing David Reece. Bonfire’s previous album “Glorious” (2015) was a phenomenal hard rock tornado and David was surely a great fit for the band; however things once again turned upside down for Bonfire as they were left with no lead singer. Frequent lineup changes and turbulent periods are part of any rock band’s history, so no surprises there. What’s in the past, however, stays in the past. It was time to look forward to the future and there’s no better way to do it than hire a fantastic new singer and focus on creating something as impressive as “Byte the Bullet”.

Bonfire_Byte_the_bullet

The 7-minute opening track, “Power Train” is setting up the mood with its long, quite mysterious intro. Alexx’ staggering vocals, which by the way can’t be a better match for the band’s sound, are captivating us right from the beginning. You thought the first tune was mind-blowing? Wait till you hear what comes next! “Stand Up 4 Rock” is one of the most empowering rockers I’ve heard this year so far. “Praying 4 A Miracle”, “Byte the Bullet”, “Reach for the Sky” – just a few of the other crunchy, melodic metal forces that just beg to be played live. Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is a lengthy, immensely spirited rock statement, featuring an intriguing piano intro and out-of-this-world guitar work. They surely did justice to it, though nothing can beat the original, at least in my humble opinion. “Sweet Surrender” grabbed my attention right from the very first listen and quickly turned into a personal favorite. To me this tune represents the best of both worlds – it has a sensual, romantic side, perfectly incorporated in those mind-blowing heavy metal rhythms. “Lonely Nights” is the ballad of the year – it breaks my heart every time I play it but I always allow it; when a song affects your emotions that much, you understand that there’s indeed something real right here and the music is worth it.

You may guess what my final verdict might be – “Byte The Bullet” is a strong release, worthy of every second of your time you’ll spend on it! Those 14 tracks (excluding that crazy 50-second German recording “Friedensreich”) are bringing so much to the table. I still can’t get over how amazingly well-done this album is. Most importantly, if you are one of the people (like me) who is always seeking their self-empowerment in music, this album might be the best pick for you! Enjoy it!

Released: March 24, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal
Label: UDR Music

Tracklist:

Power Train
Stand UP 4 Rock
Praying 4 a Miracle
Some Kinda Evil
Lonely Nights
Byte the Bullet
Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull Cover)
Reach for the Sky
Sweet Surrender
Friedensreich
InstruMetal
Too Far From Heaven
Without You
Sweet Obsession

buy-from-amazon

“Power Train”

“Praying 4 A Miracle”

“Locomotive Breath”

“Sweet Obsession”

“Lonely Nights”


References:
Bonfire Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfire_(band)
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~

ATLANTIC’s 1994 “POWER” – A Rare Hard Rock Gem Released Way Too Late

The strong ‘80s hard rock influence could still be felt during the first couple of years of the ‘90s. I often say that 1992 might be the last good year of hard rock music, before grunge stole the time and affection of every little or big media outlet out there. Surprisingly, however, despite the grunge wave that flooded the early ‘90s, good AOR/hard rock releases kept on appearing here and there. If you were a big name in the ‘80s and had a loyal fanbase, you still had the chance to survive the grunge apocalypse; however, throwing a coming out party after 1992 was an absolute suicidal mission. Nevertheless, a few months back I discovered this rare melodic hard rock gem which totally knocked my socks off! At first I thought it was released sometime in the ‘80s – probably the second half of the decade. Then, I saw the year – 1994 and I was both shocked and angry; shocked, because it sounded from another time and angry because it was too good to be out at a time when no one could appreciate its true value! Nevertheless, I am happy that Atlantic’s “Power” found its way to me and introduced me to the instant-favorites, like “Power Over Me”, “Can’t Hold On” and “When The War is Over”.

atlantic1

atlantic power coverIgnoring the provocative and rather unappealing (at least to me) album cover, “Power” has a lot to offer to any fan out there, looking to quench his melodic rock thirst. The British rockers crafted something not so unusual but highly satisfying and definitely worth your time. Led by vocalist and songwriter Phil Bates, who has a long and quite versatile music career, Atlantic hit the AOR market in 1994 with “Power” which unfortunately (though quite predictably) turned out to be their first and last album. Phil went on to do bigger things, including recording songs for famous TV shows and becoming the lead singer of ELO Part II – a spin-off band, formed by Electric Light Orchestra drummer and co-founder Bev Bevan.

Let’s talk a little bit about the highlights of “Power”. Where do I even begin? “It’s Only Love”, “Power Over Me”, “When The War is Over”, “Every Beat of My Heart”, “Can’t Hold On”, “Bad Blood” (and I may as well just write down the entire tracklist) – all showcasing solid AOR power and nothing but talent. I’m a sucker for a good hard rock hook; to me it’s all about the melody and this album right here was made for people like me. “Nothing to Lose” has to be one of my favorite moments from “Power”. Songs like this one put the “power” in a “power ballad”. If only this tune was released as a single during a more suitable time period, I bet it was going to be an absolute radio-sensation. The most famous track to come out of Atlantic‘s debut record has to be “Can’t Hold On” and we shouldn’t be surprised cause it’s the epitome of AOR – synthesizer hooks, melodic riffs, solid-rock sound and of course, a splendid vocal delivery to complete the entire picture!

Final verdict: Enjoy it as much as you can because they don’t make them like this anymore. “Power” is the PERFECT example of a well-made melodic rock record and it’s such a pity that people don’t really remember or listen to it nowadays. It’s not full of timeless classics but it’s full of great mood and impeccable talent! Take a moment of your time to listen to this unfortunate and underrated rock album from start to finish – it might find your next favorite old-school tune somewhere in there, just like I did.


“Power Over Me”

“When The War is Over”

“Can’t Hold On”

I highly recommend you guys listen to the entire album from start to finish:

Release Date: 1994
Genre: AOR / Pop Rock / Hard Rock
Label: Escape Music
Producer(s): Simon Jewel-Harrison & Paul Hoare

Tracklist:

01. Can’t Hold On
02. Every Beat of my Heart
03. Power Over Me
04. When the War is Over
05. Nothing To Lose
06. It’s Only Love
07. Bad Blood
08. Hands of Fate
09. Dangerous Games
10. Hard To Believe
11. Heart’s on Fire (Bonus Track)

buy-from-amazon


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~

TOP 10 BEST (POWER) BALLAD(S) Of The ’80s: READERS’ CHOICE

power-ballads-collage

1980s rock ballads? Now that’s one hell of a topic, isn’t it! Where do we even begin talking? There is just so much to say, so many names to mention, so many breath-taking songs to sing!

That softer, much gentler side of rock turned into an essential component of pretty much every record, released in the ‘80s. All hard rock acts jumped on that well-established bandwagon which would certainly take them on a journey to success and fan recognition. Labels demanded it too – if you wanted to hit it big in the ‘80s, you just had to write a killer ballad! Hard rock aside, blues, pop and even heavy metal musicians were also participants of the phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, ballads have always been important and they will continue to be, however, the amount of ballads, as well as their importance and wall-to-wall presence was way heavier than it is now, for example. Artists were simply putting more effort and emphasis on crafting that perfect soul-soothing sound which I think turned into one of the reasons why we love ‘80s rock music so much!

The formula for (power) ballads was perfected by the mid-80s. Around that time, some of the staples of the flow were released. From Whitesnake to Def Leppard, from Cinderella to Scorpions – all of these great bands left a great number of strong, unforgettable ballads with an everlasting impact. These classic ballads of the ‘80s are still relevant and loved by every music enthusiast around the world. With this in mind, along with my immense adoration for ballads, I decided to ask my readers and followers on which song do they think is the greatest (power) rock ballad of the ‘80s. For about one month, everyone was able to vote and participate in the poll. The results are in and we can now enjoy this exceptional playlist, you guys created! Also, this might be a good chance for us to get in touch with our emotional side! Let’s listen…

Click Here to See the Results:
[POLL] VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ’80S (Power) BALLAD(S)


10.Skid Row – I Remember You

Skid Row’s 1989 debut spawned an incredible ballad, titled “I Remember You”. This gorgeous tune, written by Rachel Bolan and Dave “the Snake” Sabo, turned into one of Skid Row’s most instantly recognizable and beloved songs of all time. No surprises there! With Sebastian Bach’s near-perfect vocal delivery and that haunting melody, the tune was destined for success. There’s no self-respecting rock fan out there that doesn’t know what follows after “Woke up to the sound of pouring rain…”

Interestingly, the song played a huge part in American popular culture in the year of 1990 – “I Remember You” came to be the most essential component of every prom dance, creating special memories in the hearts of millions.


9. Cheap Trick – The Flame

The highlight of Cheap Trick’s 1988 album “Lap of Luxury” is most certainly the emotional ballad, “The Flame”. The ballad was written by British songwriters Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham and it was first offered to another artist, before Cheap Trick cashed in. “The Flame” is probably one of the most widely-known and profitable rock ballads of all time. Achievements like topping the charts in the USA, Australia and Canada is merely the start of its long legacy. Most importantly, “The Flame” became the life vest of Cheap Trick as they were struggling to stay afloat after the commercial failure of their previous album.

“The band was very skeptical about performing this song live, because we only liked to perform songs written by us. However, a young man from, oh, I don’t know, somewhere, confirmed to us after a show in Florida about a week after the song was released that the song was great and, get this, would be a #1 single. As we joked about the guy’s prediction, we later realized whoa! This guy was right. I thank him for that,” said vocalist Robin Zander.

(quote retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flame_(Cheap_Trick_song) )

[’80s Rock Album Focus] CHEAP TRICK – LAP OF LUXURY


8. Mötley Crüe – Home Sweet Home

8-motley-crue-home-sweet-home

According to some sources, the power ballad “Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe is arguably one of the first of its kind. Nevertheless, the iconic tune held tons of personal relevance to the band and they had to fight with all they got for it to be included in their 1985 album “Theatre of Pain”. Mötley Crüe got the big “no” but still bet everything they had on the song, even funded the music video with their own money. Despite never making it that big commercially, “Home Sweet Home” turned into Mötley Crüe’s signature concert finishing track. Moreover, the iconic music video, featuring pre-concert and stage performing scenes is notable for being one of the most requested MVs on MTV back in the day.

“Bands didn’t have a power ballad and MTV as a vehicle to have a hit. That just wasn’t the way it was. After ‘Home Sweet Home’, every band had the one ballad that came as their second or third single….I think the reason we did it was because it was so anti-Mötley Crüe and it was funny, because it threw us into the mainstream….

Trust me, none of us had the foresight to see that,” said Nikki Sixx for In The Studio: The Stories Behind History’s Greatest Rock Bands.

(quote retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3725 )

7. Journey – Faithfully

Journey’s 1983 album, “Frontiers” has tons of brilliant surprises inside and “Faithfully” is certainly one of the highlights. The power ballad, written by Jonathan Cain and portraying the hardships and endless struggles of being married while constantly on the road, became one of Journey’s most beloved and respected songs of all time. Not only that but “Faithfully” ended up conquering charts and influencing a generation of artists, including Bryan Adams whose hit single “Heaven” was inspired by “Faithfully”.

The “on the road” music video created quite the fuss as well and was one of the first of a long line of similar-concept videos, adopted by bands like Genesis, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi. Journey started making music videos with the release of “Frontiers” even though they truly disliked it. Nevertheless, thanks to that iconic music video and the exposure on MTV, along with of course the great attributes of the song, “Faithfully” was immortalized.


6. Def Leppard – Bringin’ On the Heartbreak

Def Leppard - High n Dry

Arguably, the finest moment of Def Leppard’s sophomore 1981 album “High ‘N’ Dry” has to be the ballad, “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. With this song, not only did they set the standard for power ballads, but challenged the perception that these types of songs could only be performed by female artists, such as Bonnie Tyler for instance. Initially titled “A Certain Heartache”, the track, produced by A-class producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, was quickly picked up by the recently launched MTV station where the music video received a heavy rotation and led to the revival of album sales. 2 million copies later, it was more than safe to say that Leppard were the next big and worthy thing on the horizon.

In 1984, “High ‘N’ Dry” was re-issued, featuring a remixed version of “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. This time, the song finally made it to the charts, peaking at a top70 position. The song got a brand new music video as well! Check it out!

[’80s Rock Album Focus] Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry


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

cinderella-dont-know

Right in the middle of our top10 (power) ballad song playlist, we have Cinderella‘s “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” which surprisingly is not in the top3, despite its immense popularity. Written by singer-songwriter and co-founder of Cinderella, Tom Keifer and released as a single from their second album “Long Cold Winter” (1988), “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” remains the band’s highest charting single and most successful track of all time. The emotional and highly intense power ballad got a beautiful MV, filmed nearby Mono Lake in California. MTV did justice to it by playing it every couple of minutes on a daily basis (which was totally fine by everyone).

Tom Keifer is an outstanding vocalist and if you question this statement, you most probably haven’t listened to this song yet. This gorgeous human being wrote the most sincere and soul-crushing rock ballad of all time and if it was up to me, it would’ve been in an even higher position.

The Story of CINDERELLA’s – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)


4. Dokken – Alone Again

dokken-tooth-and-nail

Written by vocalist Don Dokken and bass guitarist Jeff Pilson, the power ballad “Alone Again” was released as a single from Dokken’s 1984 album “Tooth and Nail”. After a highly unsuccessful debut album, it was do or die for Dokken. The label barely agreed to give them a second chance but thank God they did, otherwise brilliant songs such as “Alone Again” would’ve remained on a paper, rotting somewhere under a pile of music notebooks. The track didn’t really hit it that big in terms of chart success, which in my books makes it one of the greatest unappreciated power ballads of the ‘80s ever!

Interestingly, Don Dokken wrote the words of “Alone Again” in the ‘70s when he was barely 25 years old. We can’t but be thankful that the song resurfaced in mid-80s and ended up being an irreplaceable component of “Tooth and Nail”.

The Story of DOKKEN’s Breathtaking Ballad “Alone Again”


3. Scorpions – Still Loving You

scorpions-still-loving-you

Not surprised to see Scorpions “Still Loving You” in a top 3 position on our rock ballad playlist. The 1984 album, “Love at First String” defined their career like no other album did, spawning immortal hit singles like “Rock You like a Hurricane” and of course, “Still Loving You”. The European rockers made quite the statement on the US charts, hitting a top 10 position with the album and a top 70 position with the song. The French gave it the #1, though!
“Still Loving You” is one of the most emotional rock ballads of all time, telling us a story about a broken romance and longing for a second chance.

“…It’s a story about a love affair where they recognized it may be over, but let’s try again. It’s the old story; always the old story. I mean, what can we use? We can’t reinvent the wheel. What we always do, is say something which has already been said many times, in our own way,” said Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker.

(quote retrieved from  http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3158)

2. Whitesnake – Is This Love

Whitesnake’s “Is This Love” comes at number two with just a couple of votes behind the number one. When we talk about universal appeal and strength of impact, no other ballad had it as big as this one. Everyone knows it, everyone sings it and is everyone’s favorite Whitesnake song. Written by vocalist David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes, the idea for “Is This Love” was initially born after they were asked to come up with some good material for a new Tina Turner song.

Whitesnake‘s enormous 1987 album gave birth to a number of hit singles but no other song can actually compete with the legacy of this mind-blowing tune. Just like in our little playlist, “Is This Love” peaked at #2 in the US singles chart. The song, of course, got the music video makeover where Coverdale’s then-girlfriend Tawny Kitaen could be seen, along with a band, playing on a misty stage. Coverdale is the only Whitesnake member to be featured on the video. Now is not the time to explain why, though!  Enjoy the classic!

5 Great Whitesnake Ballads That Taught Us What Love Is…


1. Def Leppard – Love Bites

Number 1 on our ‘80s hard rock ballad playlist is Def Leppard’s “Love Bites”. Coincidentally, this track is also Def Leppard’s only #1 hit so far!

The year is 1987 and the album is “Hysteria” – do I have to say more? It turned out to be the perfect marriage between pop and hard rock that can easily be felt as we go from one song to another. To make the sound of “Hysteria” so unique and essential, producer Mutt Lange went above and beyond by using a variety of technology, vocal and sound layering and adopting numerous other effects to give the tracks a “stadium rock vibe” and “extra solid sound” that pierce your heart and gives you chills the moment you play them.  

Joe Elliott’s gentle but rather extreme vocal delivery techniques crate a beautiful tension which I believe is the reason why “Love Bites” grabbed the attention of so many people. Moreover, the simple, yet painfully truthful lyrics made it universally relatable.

Interestingly, producer Mutt Lange was the one who brought the song to the band. Initially it was a country-style ballad that eventually got the Def Leppard hard rock treatment and turned into this gorgeous power ballad.

“It was just a standard rock ballad but it had something else going for it. Lyrically, it kind of painted a picture, and in a song you always want to do that, paint a picture. ‘On a dark desert highway,’ the first line of ‘Hotel California,’ great song, it just paints an image for you straight off the bat and that’s the sign of a really good song. It takes you right there. ‘Love Bites’ did that as well,” said Joe Elliott.

(quote retrieved from  http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5114)

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Def Leppard – HYSTERIA


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~

The Story of SKID ROW’s “Youth Gone Wild” (1989)

skid-row1For the past following weeks, I’ve been having kind of a Skid Row marathon, which I guess is the reason why I wanted to talk about “Youth Gone Wild”. Also, I’ve been binge watching “Gilmore Girls” and Sebastian just keeps on popping and making me crank up some Skid Row right after the episode is over. I got to know the band and of course, their charismatic leader, because of that “little” 1989 debut album. I was making the first steps towards my “late-‘80s-hair metal enlightenment” and it was absolutely inevitable to come across Skid Row on my long and hairy road. I’m a sucker for power ballads so of course “I Remember You” became the reason why I fell for the band and the album. The second place goes to “Youth Gone Wild” which is actually one of my top empowering songs and the reason why Sebastian Bach is one of the most notable rock vocalists in my book. I guess what I felt after hearing it for the first time was exactly what the song was intended to provoke in its listeners – confidence, sense of control and the scream of your inner strength after being set free.

Let’s not forget that Skid Row is a household name when it comes to hard rock, so if you are looking to expand your knowledge or learn more about that band that just keeps on appearing everywhere on your “YouTube suggested videos” section, their debut single might be the right place to start.Let’s go wild with this ultimate hard rock classic!


 

  • “Youth Gone Wild” is Skid Row’s debut single, released from their 1989 eponymous album. Written by bass player Rachel Bolan and guitarist Dave Sabo, the uplifting, rebellious tune quickly became one of Skid Row’s signature live acts and an absolute fan favorite. Despite the major commercial success of the debut album (certified 5xPlatinum by the RIAA), “Youth Gone Wild” barely made it on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Then again, that’s not a merit for the significance and brilliance of a song. The impact and significance of that song turned out to be colossal – both for the band’s legacy and the history of hard rock.
  • In 1992, Skid Row re-released the song on their cover album “B-Side Ourselves”. The re-introduction of “Youth Gone Wild” got awarded with a Top30 position on the UK Singles Chart.
  • youth-gifThe iconic music video to accompany the anthem-like song “Youth Gone Wild” was an absolute sensation, receiving tons of airplay on MTV. The video features a dynamic stage performance of Skid Row, cut by scenes of the members of the band running, breaking fences till one gets caught by what appears to be a police officer. Similar-style music videos were countless back in the day, however this one seems to stand out – whether it’s because of the song or because of Sebastian being handsome as hell, I don’t know. The important thing is that MTV loved this video.

Music Video

“When Skid Row wanted me to join the band, they sent me a cassette with a bunch of songs on it and that song was probably my favorite. When I joined the band, I got the tattoo of ‘Youth Gone Wild’ on my arm before we had a record deal, before we had a manager. I got ‘Youth Gone Wild’ tattooed on my arm when we were a club band.”

“I believed in that song with all my heart before anybody else did that I know about,” he added. “A lot of people think I got that tattoo after we had sold a million copies of the record. I got it when we were completely unknown, when nobody knew that song. That’s when I got it.”

(Sebastian Bach for Guitar World;
Quote, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5511)
  • The most fascinating point of “Youth Gone Wild” (at least in my opinion) is its lyrical strength and aggressiveness. The striking title says it all – this song is about those misfit kids, who never played by the rules and stayed true to their nature; “Youth Gone Wild” is a song about not doing what others tell you to do but stand for what you believe in. The track is one hell of a kiss-ass way of saying “screw you, I am young and I am wild and I will follow my heart!” “Youth Gone Wild” is the perfect teenage anthem!
    Moreover, to me this song was Skid Row‘s way of making a statement regarding the way rock fans were seen as back in the day. He would often say, right before he starts singing “Youth Gone Wild”, that this is all about the prejudice against people who listen to rock&roll.

    The debut single of Skid Row is the kind of song that makes people knock the socks off everyone and everything! Yes, it’s that powerful. If we add Sebastian’s legendary vocals, we get this perfect sonic force that can easily cause an earthquake. If you are looking for music to make your blood boil and give you an extra dose of confidence, look no further!


A couple of reasons why this song was a live staple ~

Skid Row – Youth Gone Wild (Live at Wembley Stadium 1991)

“Youth Gone Wild” Live in Japan (n.d)

Sebastian Bach “YOUTH GONE WILD”, M3 Rock Festival, 2014


“Youth Gone Wild” Lyrics

[Bolan, Snake]

Since I was born they couldn’t hold me down
Another misfit kid, another burned-out town

Never played by the rules I never really cared
My nasty reputation takes me everywhere

I look and see it’s not only me
So many others have stood where I stand
We are the young so raise your hands

They call us problem child
We spend our lives on trial
We walk an endless mile
We are the youth gone wild
We stand and we won’t fall
We’re the one and one for all
The writing’s on the wall
We are the youth gone wild

Boss screamin’ in my ear about who I’m supposed to be
Getcha a 3-piece Wall Street smile and son you’ll look just like me

I said “Hey man, there’s something that you oughta know.
I tell ya Park Avenue leads to Skid Row.”

I look and see it’s not only me
We’re standin’ tall ain’t never a doubt
We are the young, so shout it out

They call us problem child
We spend our lives on trial
We walk an endless mile
We are the youth gone wild
We stand and we won’t fall
We’re the one and one for all
The writing’s on the wall
We are the youth gone wild

They call us problem child
We spend our lives on trial
We walk an endless mile
We are the youth gone wild
We stand and we won’t fall
We’re the one and one for all
The writing’s on the wall
We are the youth gone wild
We are the youth gone wild


References:
“Youth Gone Wild” Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/skidrow/youthgonewild.html
“Youth Gone Wild” facts, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5511

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~