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~

Album Recommendations: McAuley Schenker Group – “M.S.G” (1992)

Time to travel back to the early ’90s were hard rock was still relevant before grunge literally wiped it out like a little dirt spot on a shiny window. The following album came into my life months ago after I heard the power ballad “When I’m Gone” on a Spotify playlist. I had no idea who was the band/artist but I knew I had to immediately check them out! The rest is history… It occurred to me that many people forgot about this brilliant glam metal masterpiece, titled “M.S.G” so I decided to include it in my “Album Recommendations” series I have on my blog! Enjoy the read and don’t forget to play the awesome tracks!

McAuley Schenker Group

mcshWhere do I even begin? So many outstanding, well-established in the industry artist were part of this project… One thing you need to know is that it all started with Michael Schenker who already made a name for himself as a one-of-a-kind guitarist in Scorpions and UFO. In 1979, he formed the melodic rock band, Michael Schenker Group, which eventually, in 1986 to be precise, evolved into the McAuleySchenker Group – named after guitarist Michael Schenker and vocalist Robin McAuley (the picture on the right). The group, lead by the fearless guitarist and the brilliant vocalist lasted for just a few years before they called it quits. Michael Schenker reformed the Michael Schenker Group and that’s pretty much it (at least the ultra short version of the story I’m telling you; there have also been many reunions, including a recent one in 2012). 

McAuleySchenker Group was also home to legendary bass guitarist Jeff Pilson (Dokken, DIO, Foreigner, etc.), drummer James Kottak (Scorpions, Kingdome Come, Warrant, etc.) and keyboardist Jesse Harms (Sammy Hagar, REO Speedwagon, David Lee Roth, etc.). We can with absolute no doubt call it a SUPERGROUP – one of the premium examples if you ask me. Not only that but the band was multi-cultural. We have Irish, British, American and German members. What a team!

The album

mcauleyMcAuleySchenker Group released a total of three studio albums, one acoustic (Japan only) and one live, unplugged album. Today I will focus specifically on their third and final studio album, simply titled “M.S.G.”. Since the band had a huge following in Japan, they first hit the Japanese market in 1991 and a year later, released it in Europe (that magical year of 1992!).

A couple of words about the album itself (based on personal experience, of course). First of all, I tried to detach it from any Scorpions or UFO associations but sometimes it’s hard cause it does have that little familiar vibe. That’s totally cool, though! The album is a perfect piece of hard(er) melodic rock and would recommend it to anyone in a blink of an eye. My most favorite thing about the band (and this album, naturally) is the vocals. I was grabbed by Robin’s distinctive, instantly-captivating vocal delivery right from the very first track (“Eve”). Then as I proceed to track 3 – that breathtaking power ballad, “When I’m Gone”, I became an ultimate fan of his (I always fall for the criminally underrated singers). “We Believe in Love” is another personal favorite moment; the drums-dominated track might as well be one of the best rock tracks of the year (big words, I know!). “Crazy” and “Lonely Nights” are just a couple of other songs I recommend you guys check out. Overall, the album is full of kick-ass rockers, beautiful ballads and needless to say, it’s a must-have for any glam metal fan out there. Generic or not, it makes me want to crank it up and dance my ass off (which is the most important thing!)

Oh and before I forget…it’s a SERIOUSLY UNDERRATED ALBUM!!!

Give it a try.


When I’m Gone

Paradise

We Believe in Love

I think it’s better listen to the entire album from start to finish …


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~

10 Rock Ballad Compilation Albums for All Ballad Lovers Out There

balladscollage

I love rock ballads…please don’t tell me you were actually surprised to read that….!?

I’ve told the story before but it all started with Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and it developed into one huge obsession with power ballads and we got to the point where I can actually list rock ballad compilation albums without even blinking… It’s just my thing, I guess. I have accumulated a number of ballad compilation albums (digitally and physically) and I decided to share some of those releases which I find the most appealing and worthy of possessing. Some of the following I don’t actually own because they are merely impossible to find BUT it’s easy to re-create them if you already own the band’s discography. Ultimately, my list can also give you some ideas or make you check out some of those bands’ beautiful ballad songs (I recommend all).

I would like to finish by saying that it’s high time Def Leppard released a ballad album! (please please please)

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Gary Moore – Ballads & Blues 1982–1994

gary

I just had to kick things off with this absolute masterpiece and the album that introduced me to and made me a fan of Gary Moore. Where do I even begin? “Still Got the Blues (For You)”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Story of the Blues”, “Midnight Blues” and so on – those are just some of the precious soul-crushing and world-spinning soulful romantic pieces you can find on that album. Every time I talk about compilation albums, I start the discussion with this one. On top of it all, Ballads & Blues 1982-1994 contains three unreleased ballads which are definitely a worthy addition to Gary’s classics.


Harem Scarem – Ballads

harem scarem

Maybe you didn’t expect to see this totally underrated band on my list but you know that I’m always rooting for the less-known but highly deserving rock bands out there. The Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem won me with the astonishing ballad “Honestly” which of course is on this compilation album and of course became the reason why I put this album here…This Japanese release was out in 1999 and it also contained a couple of unreleased before surprises in it, in addition to the well-known classics.


Thunder – Ballads

thunder

This rock jewel is one of my favorite ballad compilations of all time and that’s mainly because it’s by Thunder – one of those hard rock bands which have a very very special place in my hard. The ballad compilation album was released in 2003 and nowadays it seems like it’s impossible to find it but I haven’t given up just yet. “Love Walked In”, “Until My Dying Day”, “A Better Man” and many more gems from Thunder’s classic and not-so-classic days of rock can be heard on that CD.


Whitesnake – Best Ballads…

The masters of hard rock, Whitesnake, lead by none other than the man whose voice can send you to heaven, David Coverdale released a couple of (unofficial) ballad compilation albums from Russia, Ukraine, UK and other European countries. Ultimately, timeless rock classics like “Don’t Fade Away”, “Is This Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and of course my favorite Whitesnake song, “Looking for Love” are on all of them. Don’t hesitate to get it if you come across it. So far, I’ve seen those releases only on Ebay, unfortunately.


Scorpions – Gold Ballads

gold ballads

“Gold Ballads” by Scorpions was released in 1984 in Europe only. The 5-song compilation features Scorpions’ best romantic tunes, including the timeless “Still Loving You” and “Holiday”. I should mention that in 2003, they released a new ballad CD, simply titled “Ballads” (only in Singapore, though as they have a massive fanbase there) which is another worthy piece.


Eric Clapton – Ballads

eric ballads

This compilation was released in 2003 in Japan only but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on it (especially if you are a die-hard fan like me). The breathtaking compilation features some of Clapton’s most outstanding, tear-jerking ballads, including “Tears in Heaven”, “Miss You”, “Old Love” and “Layla” ( of course ). It’s one of my favorite ballad albums of all time and it’s such a pity that I don’t have it in my CD collection (yet).


Toto – Best Ballads

toto best balads

Toto are the kings of ballads and I’m thankful that we had this awesome release, where all of their beautiful, soul-touching masterpieces gathered together. The compilation features some of my favorite melodic rock ballads of all time, including “I’ll Be Over You”, “Mama”, “Rosanna” and the saddest song in history, “I Won’t Hold You Back”. “Best Ballads” was originally released in 1995 and it contains 17 songs. In 2003, they released “Love Songs” – yet another worthy record full of love and heartbreak.


Nazareth – the Ballad Album

nazareth

The 10 song CD titled “The Ballad Album” by Nazareth was released in 1985 only in Germany. This golden piece of music features some of Nazareth (and some of the greatest of all time) rock ballads, including “Love Hurts”, “Dream On”, “Where Are You Now”, “Games” and more. I love playing this compilation, it’s so atmospheric.


REO Speedwagon – The Ballads

reo

In 1999, REO Speedwagon released a ballad compilation album with a long list of their previous, well-known classics and a couple of surprises which unfortunately couldn’t make that big of a fuss back then. It was a ballad that got me into REO Speedwagon. Yes, of course I’m talking about that special song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable melodic rock song out there and of course, the favorite ballad of all the softies out there. In addition to their beloved hit, “The Ballads” features “Keep On Loving You”, “Take It on The Run” and “Here with Me”.


Various – The Very Best of Power Rock Ballads [3CD Box Set]

ballads1

I’m finishing my list with a compilation treasure I found years ago, titled “The Very Best of Power Ballads”. There are hundreds of similar compilations, featuring identical, evergreen hits but If I have to recommend a worthy assortment of rock ballads, it has to be this one. “The Very Best of Power Ballads” was released in 2005 as a 3CD box set with a total of 50 mind-blowing songs.  You have all the classics – Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Queen’s “We are the Champions”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, etc. Not only that but you also get to enjoy Jefferson Airplane, Whitesnake, John Waite, Cher, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones and many more.


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~

Album Recommendations: ROADHOUSE’s 1991 Self-Titled Album

Who are Roadhouse?

roadhouse bandWe all know Pete Willis as the original guitarist of Def Leppard. He was there when the Leppards released their triumphant debut “On Through The Night” (1980) and their even bigger sophomore hit, “High ‘N’ Dry” (1981). In fact, that hungry, raw, much heavier early sound of the band is often contributed to his guitar skills. In the summer of 1982, right in the middle of the “Pyromania” recording sessions, however, Pete Willis was let go due to his drinking problem. We know what happened with Def Leppard – they hired Phil Collen and went on to become on the most successful names in the industry. What happened with Pete, though? Not many people know exactly how his career moved on, actually. I can only imagine how tough the years to come and that whole transition must’ve been for him. However, he did manage to pull himself together and participate in another, less known but quite interesting rock project, titled Roadhouse. Guess who else was in the band? Drummer Frank Noon, who also was once part of the Def Leppard family, playing drums on The Def Leppard E.P. joined Pete Willis but for a short period of time; he left Roadhouse before the recording of the album. Finally, it was Wayne Grant on bass, Trevor Brewis on drums, Pete Willis and Richard Day with the guitar and Paul Jackson was recruited as the lead vocalist.

The album:

ROADHOUSE albumThe year was 1991 – definitely not the most suitable time to release a melodic rock album. Still, people were pretty excited to see what the first post-Def Leppard record of Pete Willis will sound like. Well, it sounds highly satisfying if you ask me!

The band filmed a few music videos with the hopes of getting some decent exposure on MTV. One of the singles, “Hell Can Wait” even got a top10 position on the UK charts. Well, that’s pretty much what happened in the popularity department back in the day. All in all, the outcomes were quite humble, excluding the brief chart presence. That doesn’t mean the album is unworthy of discovering. On the contrary, is one of the most appealing pieces of melodic rock that came out in the early ‘90s. A little bit of that Def Leppard sound might be spotted here and there but try to keep an open mind and don’t constantly compare “Roadhouse” with the Leppard albums.

Some of the delights on the album include the opening track, “All Join Hands” – a stunning radio rocker and the excellent ballad, “Time” which might be the most well-known song from “Roadhouse”. What happens after those two tracks is quite exciting – we have the catchy Firehouse-sounding “Tower of Love”, followed by a long playlist of shockingly well-done AOR gems. Make sure you play “Loving You” (a personal favorite) and “New Horizon”!

“Roadhouse” is 100% certified “worthy of checking out” *by me. Paul Jackson is exactly the kind of vocalist I love and he is perfect for the genre. If you adore melodic rock from the early ‘90s, this is the album for you!
(P.S. Too bad the band broke up soon after the release of the album)

Enjoy and feel free to share your opinion about it!

“Time”

“All Join Hands”

…or better check out 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~

Album Recommendations: TREAT – The Pleasure Principle (1986)

treat1It’s time to talk about TREAT yet again! I’ve been trying to revive the name of this band for quite some time; seems to me that everyone forgot how awesome those Swedish rockstars were back in the day. Not only that, but on April 21st (2017), TREAT released a brand new live album, titled “The Road More or Less Travelled” which pretty much served as a reminder that the band is still alive, kicking and entertaining rock fans from all over the world. I thought that in the spirit of the new album, we should remember some of their ‘80s classics and in particular an album I truly enjoy and play quite often these days. Don’t expect to be mindblown or have your entire perception of rock music shattered in front of your eyes. “The Pleasure Principle” is nothing but a straightforward, easily-consumable, ear-pleasing experience which might improve your mood in a second. Last but not least, don’t get the fact that those guys never hit it that big cloud your judgment. TREAT, along with this album are definitely worthy of checking out.

treatI will be very brief because no time must be wasted – “The Pleasure Principle” deserves to be heard right here, right now! An absolute melodic rock bliss, empowered with everything you could’ve asked for – catchy melodies, pleasing keyboards (just the right amount), screaming guitars and of course, superb vocals by Robert Ernlund. Some of the most memorable moments, include “Rev It Up”, “Steal Your Heart Away”, “Fallen Angel” and the fantastic ballad “Take My Hand”. If you weren’t there to experience it, this album will give you a clear idea of how fun it was to live in the ’80s! (I wasn’t there but I can feel it)~

I can guarantee you tons of singing along, head-nodding and good mood! Give it a go!


“Rev It Up”

“Steal Your Heart Away”

“Fallen Angel”

…or you better check the whole album 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~

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~