Want to Get Drunk on Progressive Rock? Listen to These 5 Albums:

One of my greatest musical passions is progressive rock. There is just something so magical and immensely captivating in mixing rock with elements of classical music, all wrapped up under layers of complex instrumentation, life-changing lyrics, intense experimentation and supreme technicality. Not to mention the groundbreaking album artworks those beautiful compositions come with. The origins of progressive rock are quite debatable – many people, including myself, believe that it all started in the late 60s as a logical advancement of psychedelic rock. It’s important to mention the significance of albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles which is credited by many critics as the album where the idea of progressive rock began. It wasn’t until the ‘70s when prog rock found its way to the hearts of the general audience. Albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd completely transformed the notion that this type of music is very difficult to enjoy. For the rest of the decade, prog rock was a predominant force on the worldwide music scene, especially among British audiences. Rock acts like YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Frank Zappa and many more are notable names in the genre.

My gigantic adoration for progressive rock grew out of a couple of albums which till today remain my ultimate soul-feeding musical pieces. The following albums are definitely part of the list. Not only that, but each of them has its own unique place in the history of progressive rock and music in general. If you are not so familiar with the genre and are looking for the start, look no further – these five records are surely going to provide you with the ultimate progressive rock experience. Noticeably, I haven’t included the earth-shattering prog rock titles like “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd because I wanted to demonstrate a little bit of variety and give the green light to other equally essential records. Also, Pink Floyd are a completely different monster.
Please enjoy my selection and I hope those albums can bring you at least a little bit of the comfort they bring me.


King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969This might be a bit heavy for some listeners who are not accustomed to the sound of progressive rock but bottom line is – every conversation about progressive rock should begin and end with this album! Historically relevant, highly experimental, critically acclaimed and seen by many as the birthplace of progressive rock – meet King Crimson’s 1969 debut album “In The Court of Crimson King”. Personally, I see is as one of the most impactful forces in the history of rock in general. Where do we even begin with this album? Jazz, blues, classical influences, psychedelic rock elements, mind-blowing lyrics, questioning your entire existence. “In The Court of Crimson King” is THE progressive rock album! The monumental artwork is another reason behind the album’s significance – just look at it! That is how you will react when you listen to King Crimson for the first time!


Yes – Fragile (1971)

Yes - Fragile - Roger DeanIf you want to experience progressive rock at its fines, YES’ “Fragile” (1971) is another album you should devote your time to. “Roundabout” is YES’ ultimate classic and one of the reasons behind the commercialization of progressive rock. People were, and still are, simply in love with the elegant guitars of Steve Howe, accompanied by mindblowing organs, stunning keyboards, mind-altering drums and of course Jon Anderson’s a-list vocals. This whole record is a fantasy coming alive. It became a rock staple and influenced generations of musicians.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973And ladies and gentleman the album that changed my life – Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973). This record is like a door to a new colorful world, a world in which there are no limitations to what your body and soul can experience. I can’t even begin describing why this album is such a huge masterpiece. “Still. . . You Turn Me On”,“Toccata”,“Karn Evil 9” – all sending you on a mind-altering journey after which you feel like a different person. The trio is simply phenomenal – Keith is running through the keyboard with unimaginable precision; Carl is the king of the drums and Greg’s impactful but gentle vocal delivery is releasing you from every little trace of stress and negativity. That’s just how it affects me…


Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

jethro-tull-thick-as-a-brick-1972Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” is just one 44-minute song which really does it for me. Concept, parodies and tricks aside, I do really enjoy diving into the atmosphere of this musical treasure from time to time. You click on “play” and for the next 40 minutes you have the perfect background to your work. I feel like this type of music synchronizes quite well with your work tempo and gives you that extra push! (Or maybe It’s just me). It’s a beautiful piece of progressive rock and musically speaking it is the whole package, not to mention the dozens of instruments we get to enjoy throughout this tune – trumpet, saxophone, timpani, violin and so much more.


Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

rush-moving-pictures-1981Another album you have to listen to if you are into “progressive rock mood” would be Rush’s “Moving Pictures” (1981). Both critically and commercially acclaimed this is one of the albums that truly deserve a spot on your shelf and in your heart. I included it as a part of my selection because despite coming out relatively late, compared to other progressive rock jewels, it did manage to leave a lasting trail of classic prog rockers and radio staplers. It’s a perfect combination between hard rock, adopting a lot of experimental techniques and state of the art technologies to craft the perfect sound. It’s accessible progressive rock at its finest; a natural evolution of a genre!


 

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 Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity

It’s fascinating how some songs can trigger an emotional response so strong that it can easily shatter down all the walls we keep on building around our hearts. I’ve always said that one important strength of a song comes from its ability to let people feel vulnerable for a few minutes. We live in a world where the constant hardships of life turned many people into emotionally-constrained beings, rarely letting go and allowing sincere feelings, even sadness, to pass by their existence. I didn’t want to get too philosophical but that’s how I see it – a song can be the perfect outlet through which we can experience emotions and feelings we keep on stuffing deep down inside our souls. For me personally, Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity is one such song. Every time I listen to the haunting acoustic intro and Geoff Tale’s thrilling vocal performance, I feel this immense doze of sadness and pain that is actually freeing me from my apathetic prison, called daily life. To me, it’s a song that lets me get out of my comfort zone and for that I will always appreciate it. Honestly, before it became such a huge part of my life, I had no idea how commercially successful it was. With this in mind I thought that maybe this gorgeous tune touched the hearts of many people like me who would love to read a few selected pieces of interesting information about it, along with my interpretations!


– The American progressive metal band Queensrÿche has had a long and immensely prolific career. However, to the general audience “Silent Lucidity” remains their most famous and instantly recognizable tune. Written by the band’s lead guitarist Chris DeGarmo, this rock symphony was the second single from their highly successful 1990 record, titled “Empire”.

– The power ballad was accepted with open arms from both fans and critics. Grammy nominations, MTV awards, top chart positions in the USA and the UK – just a few of its notable achievements. There was no way this song could have failed; you don’t get to listen to such euphonious rock creation every day.

– “Silent Lucidity” was placed at number 21 on VH1’s list of “Greatest Power Ballads”! Personally, I think this is a well-deserving spot and definitely in my top 30 as well!

“I love that song. I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful piece. And although I didn’t write it, I had a lot to do with shaping the destiny of that track through my melodic contributions and the way I sang it, and also in the mixing of the song and that kind of thing.
It had a strange beginning. It started out as simply just acoustic guitar and voice. And it wasn’t until we were almost finished with the record, just in the last week of working on the record, that we added all the other instrumentation to it,” said Queensrÿche‘s lead singer Geoff Tate in an interview for Songfacts.

– In terms of instrumentation, “Silent Lucidity” impresses with its humble but shivering acoustic intro that skilfully builds up tension before it finally reaches the point of absolute tranquillity. The instantly recognizable opening riffs, along with the lines “Hush now, don’t you cry, wipe away the teardrop from your eye…” is in my opinion the best part of the song. I have always said that a song needs to have a strong intro and this right here is the perfect example of how it should be done! Brahm‘s “Lullaby”, played be a cello at the end of the song is another pleasant moment of the tune. Soothing rhythm, mesmerizing melody and quiet, but truly powerful symphonic composition – “Silent Lucidity” is the perfect song for your trip to serenity.

– It would be very difficult to come up with just one interpretation of the lyrics of Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity. So many things are happening within those words; not to mention that some of the lines carry a subjective meaning to different people. Obviously, one thing we can all agree on is that the song is about lucid dreaming  – a state in which dreamers are fully aware that they are dreaming and are able to exercise some control over their actions in the dream. Such an intriguing concept for a song!

‘Silent Lucidity’ is probably one of the most genuinely out there things we’ve ever done. It’s about what they call ‘lucid dreaming’. Or ‘dream-control’. Basically, just opening up the doors to your subconscious mind, and learning how to master your dreams. Actually be able to steer and control them,” said guitarist Chris DeGarmo for Kerrang! Magazine in 1990.

– If you are lucid dreaming, you are capable of taking the wheel and basically do what you feel like doing – you are free to explore this new world and be yourself. I know that the song is addressing this specific phenomenon, but metaphorically, to me the lyrics represent people’s personal growth as they break down the strong walls, built around their souls – “The walls you built within come tumbling down and a new world will begin.” Furthermore, another interpretation I have for the lyrics is that they are a message to people who must embrace death and cross-over to a new magical dimension – a new world where you can feel safe, free to fly, learn how to control your life and where all of your dreams are alive, waiting for you – “…You’re safe from pain in the dream domain, A soul set free to fly…”

Live at 1991 MTV Awards


“Silent Lucidity” Lyrics

Hush now, don’t you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You’re lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over… or has it just begun?

There’s a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn’t realize and you were scared
It’s a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help you see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity

[spoken during solo]
(Visualize your dream)
(Record it in the present tense)
(Put it into a permanent form)
(If you persist in your efforts)
(You can achieve dream control)
(Dream control)
(How are we feeling today, better??)
(Dream control, dream control)
(Help me)

If you open your mind for me
You won’t rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumbling down, and a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You’re safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dream’s alive, you can be the guide but…

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help to see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you….


References:
Lyrics retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/
“Silent Lucidity” by Queensrÿche on SongFacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5856
“Silent Lucidity” Official Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Lucidity
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 Rolling Stones – “Blue & Lonesome” Album Review

rolling-stones-blue-and-lonesome

Blue & Lonesome

Released: December 2, 2016
Genre: Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Blues Rock
Producer(s): Don Was, The Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger & Keith Richards)
Label: Polydor
Length: 42:36

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“Blue & Lonesome” In the Studio


OVERVIEW

Rolling Stones are surely wrapping 2016 up with a style! The rock&roll Gods are back with a phenomenal collection of spirited covers, bringing us back to the golden days of blues. “Blue & Lonesome” is Rolling Stones’ first album to feature exclusively cover songs. Among the twelve blues jewels, we get to listen to interpretations of forgotten but classic tracks by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Johnson, Memphis Slim and other legendary bluesmen. Long-time friend and a fellow blues musician Eric Clapton is another intriguing highlight of “Blue & Lonesome”. Clapton’s God-like guitar skills can be heard on “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”.

Recorded within just a few days, with no preparation whatsoever, “Blue & Lonesome” is the perfect example of how The Rolling Stones can effortlessly craft some serious magic out of nowhere and still sound as confident as ever. It took them a decade (their previous album -“A Bigger Bang” was released in 2005) but the Stones are back! Don’t get fooled – the all-covers track selection is certainly not a cheesy sentimental yearning for the past. It’s goes way beyond that! “Blue & Lonesome” is Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts having fun, sounding unbelievably fresh, and skilfully introducing blues to the younger generations. A fearless journey back to the roots, resulting in a rediscovery of self, this new album might be their best work since the classic years of the Stones.

The Glimmer Twins, along with producer Don Was are intentionally preserving the rawness and authenticity of the recording sessions, in perfect alignment with the spirit of the 50s and the 60s. Similarly to the attitude of Eric Clapton on his 2016 album “I Still Do”, the Rolling Stones are doing music their own way without a single care in the world. Not that the Stones were ever much bothered with things like keeping up the with trends or working days and nights on perfect multi-platinum singles BUT if their ultimate freedom had a name, it would be “Blue & Lonesome”.  (I am mentioning Eric Clapton because those two albums are the highlights of 2016 blues releases.)

“Just Your Fool” (Buddy Johnson) opens the door to the world of “Blue & Lonesome”. Mick Jagger is absolutely killing it on this tune – raw, brave and soulful, his vocal delivery is obviously reflecting his high level of satisfaction with this album. The slow-paced blues symphonies – “Little Rain” (Ewart G. Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed), “All of Your Love” (Magic Sam) and the atmospheric title track “Blue & Lonesome” (Memphis Slim) are among the most memorable tunes of the album. Jagger’s harmonica is making a statement throughout the entire album, bringing us back to the early days of the Stones. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s guitars are excitably racing on the blues highway, each showcasing easeful determination and laid-back energy. The terrific drum beats of Charlie Watts are breathing new life into the old blues. “Hate to See You Go” (Little Walter) – the first song to get a MV makeover is one charming and immensely uplifting trip to the 50s. “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” is a personal favorite, mostly due to Mick Jagger’s rough, genuine vocals.

“Blue & Lonesome” offers a galvanizing experience to the roots of the Stones, yet capturing their personalities and strengths in a modern, refreshing way. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the rock&roll legends’ confidence shine so brightly on a record. They came back home!

Tracklist:

“Just Your Fool”
“Commit a Crime”
“Blue and Lonesome”
“All of Your Love”
“I Gotta Go”
“Everybody Knows About My Good Thing”
“Ride ‘Em On Down”
“Hate To See You Go”
“Hoo Doo Blues”
“Little Rain”
“Just Like I Treat You”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”

 Hate To See You Go

Ride ‘Em On Down

Just Your Fool

Ride ‘Em On Down – Blue & Lonesome (60” clip)


References:
“Blue and Lonesome” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_%26_Lonesome_(The_Rolling_Stones_album)
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~

[’80s Rock Album Focus] DANGER DANGER – DANGER DANGER (1989)

danger-danger-album

DANGER DANGER

Released: June 27 1989
Genre: Glam Rock / Hard Rock
Duration: 49:40
Label: Epic
Producer(s): Lance Quinn

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OVERVIEW

Numerous talented glam rock bands emerged in the late 80s but got wiped away way too quickly after grunge took over the music scene in the beginning of the 90s. Bands like Winger, Thunder, Giant, Kix, Slaughter, Danger Danger and many similar others chose a bad time for their coming out party. Most of them enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame and moderate success and disappeared into the mist. Fortunately, there are still people out there, like me, through which the spirit of those unlucky but deserving rock acts continues to live.

Danger Danger debuted in the summer of 1989 with a self-titled album, strictly following the well-established hair metal formula for success. Fuelled with catchy, rhythmic and easy to absorb tunes, the record could easily be described as an “enjoyable Friday night experience”. Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, the time period wasn’t reasonable – the audience were already getting bored of the same old glam rock tunes and Danger Danger’s catchy, mainstream, poppy radio tunes didn’t really impress them that much. 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.

“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” has too much Def Leppard in it for me to truly appreciate it. “Don’t Walk Away” is once again giving me that Def Leppard vibe, which is probably why this is one of my favorite moments of the record (it really reminds me of “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)” from Adrenalize (1992). This mid-tempo rocker deserved so much more than it got. “Rock America” is another good moment – anthem-like, synthesizer-driven tune with a lot of spirit and captivating energy. “One Step from Paradise”, “Feels Like Love” – another highly satisfying set of pop rockers which deserve a listen or two.

Danger Danger got all the pieces of the puzzle; however they were 5-10 years later for the party. This album would’ve got so much attention on AOR radio! It definitely isn’t the most valuable glam rock record but it’s full of charm and pleasing tunes!  “Naughty Naughty” has been an inseparable part of my playlist for so many years! Have a listen in case you need a reminder!

Tracklist:

  1. “Naughty Naughty” – 4:50
  2. “Under the Gun” – 4:39
  3. “Saturday Nite” – 4:17
  4. “Don’t Walk Away” – 4:56
  5. “Bang Bang” – 3:56
  6. “Rock America” – 4:54
  7. “Boys Will Be Boys” – 4:58
  8. “One Step From Paradise” – 4:47
  9. “Feels Like Love” – 4:52
  10. “Turn It On” – 3:40
  11. “Live It Up” – 3:54

Naughty Naughty

Bang Bang

Don’t Walk Away

One Step from Paradise

Feels Like Love


References:
“Danger Danger” Official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_Danger_(album)
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 Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)

Mark Sullivan 70's Rock Archive
Bad Company, 1974

When we talk about triumphant rock debuts, the conversation should start with a few artists, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Van Halen, even Guns N’ Roses. Another band that most certainly deserves to be mentioned along with the big names is Bad Company. Their glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound.

In 1973 vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free), guitarist Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople), bassist Boz Burrelll (King Crimson) and drummer Simon Kirke (Free) teamed up to form one of the most gifted (at least in my opinion) British hard rock supergroups – Bad Company. One year later, their debut album became the first ever album to come out of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. The record was an instant success, showcasing excellent musicianship and a brilliant formula, which they followed through the rest of the ‘70s.

bad-company-debutThe debut album topped the US Billboard chart, spent 25 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and spawned three timeless hit singles. Fans, critics – everyone was giving it their stamp of approval. The music scene in the early 70s was drowning in flamboyancy and experimentalism – nothing wrong with that of course. Among the dazzling theatrics and extravagant musical innovations, “Bad Company” was the much needed “back to the roots” record. Unpretentious, quite simple even, the debut album creates the perfect bluesy, soulful, working class rock&roll atmosphere.

paul-rogers-and-mickBad Company’s secret weapon was the strong songwriting collaboration between vocalist Paul Rodgers and blues-based guitarist Mick Ralphs, both shining as bright as the Sun on the self-titled effort. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success. Interestingly, even the more dynamic songs on “Bad Company” are fueled with a sense of danger, under an umbrella of gloom. That’s definitely the ultimate charm of the band and ultimately the record itself – moody but instantly captivating. I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople). Paul Rodgers’ vocals absolutely did it for me – with his sensual, quite erotic even performance, he simply immortalized it. The title track is another high point from the record – I have never witnessed such a brilliant synergy between piano and rock&roll. Not to mention the intriguing theme of the song – a band of fugitives and “rebel souls” that carry nothing but trouble with them! Sounds like a good soundtrack, doesn’t it?

If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll. This album (along with a couple of more, of course) defined the mid-70s and for that it truly deserves to be appreciated. “Bad Company” is a historically relevant debut and nothing can take that away from it. Hope you guys got reminded of this classic and will go play it now!

Listen to the whole album here:


References:
“Bad Company” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Company_(album)
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~

Song Of The Day : DURAN DURAN – NOTORIOUS

duran-duran-notoriousTime to funk things up ‘80s style!

There is not even a single thing I don’t like about Dura Duran! What is there not to like? – Great musicians, brilliant songwriters, hardworking, charismatic and the list goes on and on! They are definitely one of the most iconic bands of the ‘80s – if not THE band of the ‘80s! Leading the second wave of British Invasion, the fab five quickly found a way to the hearts of fans from all over the world. At the peak of their career, they broke into two separate units – Arcadia and Power Station which unfortunately shook their strength as a unit. “Notorious” was their 1986 comeback album but this time, they were a three-piece band – Simon Le Bon, John Laylor and Nick Rhodes. The title track won them top 10 positions in both the UK and the USA and topped the charts in Italy and Canada, even. There was no way this track wouldn’t make it big – legendary producer Nile Rodgers was part of the team, after all; he even played lead guitar!  

Funky, energetic, fresh, dynamic…this tune has always been in my top 5 favorite Duran Duran songs of all time! I got reminded of their outstanding musicianship today so I immediately played this tune and listened to the whole flawless album! This is my choice for “song of the day” and I really hope I reminded you of this lovely tune that just makes you jump off your chair and start dancing like nobody’s watching! Enjoy and make sure you check out the glorious live performances below the MV!

MV

LIVE (1986)

LIVE (2015)

“Notorious” Lyrics

No-no-Notorious. Notorious. Ah. No-no-Notorious.

I can’t read about it.
Burns the skin from your eyes.
I’ll do fine without it.
Here’s one you don’t compromise.
Lies come hard in disguise.
They need to fight it out.
Not wild about it.
Lay your seedy judgements.
Who says they’re part of our lives? [CHORUS]
You own the money ;
You control the witness.
I’ll leave you lonely.
Don’t monkey with my business.
You pay the prophets to justify your reasons.
I heard your promise,but I don’t believe it.

That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.

Girls will keep the secrets (uh)
So long as boys make a noise.
Fools run rings to break up.
Something they’ll never destroy.
Grand Notorious slam (bam).
And who really gives a damn for a flaky bandit?
Don’t ask me to bleed about it;
I need this blood to survive.

[CHORUS]

That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.

[CHORUS]

[CHORUS]

That’s why I’ve done it again. No. No.
That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.
That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.
No-no-Notorious. Yeah.
That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.
No-no-Notorious. Yeah.
That’s why I’ve done it again. No-no-Notorious.
No-no-Notorious.


“Notorious” Lyrics, retrieved from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/duranduran/notorious.html
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 “ALPHA” – A Second Date with ASIA

asia-alphaASIA 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. Coming up with an equally deserving follow-up album was always going to be quite the formidable task. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the last album with the band’s original line up as guitarist Steve Howe left one year after its release. There have been some reunions here and there, but the momentum was long lost.

The second date with ASIA was definitely less tense and more familiar, more sensitive even. Producer Mike Stone was once again on board with the rest of the team, crafting a quality collection of charming pop/rock tunes. All of the songs are credited to the songwriting collaboration of John Wetton and Geoff Downes, exceptThe Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, written by Wetton alone. Juxtaposing “Alpha” to its predecessor is inevitable. In terms of sound, ASIA’s second album is less progressive and more mellow, pop oriented, fuelled up with excellent hooks and delightfully attractive choruses. Melodically-empowered and well-seasoned with pleasing keyboard work and sleek multi-layered harmonies, “Alpha” definitely captures a type of progressive rock, that could almost effortlessly be digested by the audience of the ‘80s.  

Many experts claim that the debut album is the most important album of a musician’s career – after all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. We have so many examples of ground-breaking debut album which sky-rocketed the careers of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Bad Company, King Crimson, Boston, Rainbow, etc. Because of its novelty, huge impact and quality of production, ASIA’s debut album certainly falls under the category of “the greatest rock debuts of all time. “Alpha”, however, didn’t have that novelty factor anymore, nor could it compete in terms of quality of production. “Alpha” also 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. If one should chose to ignore all that was said and written about this album and for a second forgets about the enormous sonic force of their debut album, “Alpha” could become a truly pleasant experience. Someone once said that “Asia‘s first album is like Saturday night while the sophomore is more like a Sunday afternoon” which entirely supports my claim – “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart.

Cracks were slowly starting to appear, but once you hear songs such as “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” or The Beach Boys sounding “Open Your Eyes”, it will all be forgiven. 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, despite its weak production. This stunning song deserved so much more. A Phil Spector/Wall of Sound treatment, including horn sections and enhanced piano sounds would’ve done some justice to it. “Don’t Cry” is a personal favorite, mainly due to the dreamy lyrics which every girl secretly wants to hear from a guy: So leave it all behind you, It took so long to find you, I know that we can last forever, ever and more…”. “The Heat Goes On” is another fine moment which should’ve been awarded with more attention; an atmospheric classic rock tune with so much energy, it surely deserves a listen or two.

I’m not gonna go into detail about each and every tune of “Alpha” – you can listen to the whole album below the publication. What I would like to emphasize on is that even though is not as strong as their debut album, it still carries valuable characteristics that makes it a great ‘80s rock record. Symphonic sound, sensitive lyrics and stirring harmonies are just a few of its valuable qualities. ASIA would disappear for two years before they released “Astra” in 1985. The first three albums, in my opinion, perfectly represent their glory days. Whichever one of those albums you pick, you won’t make a mistake. I am somewhat biased and “Alpha” will forever remain my favorite ASIA album mostly because of a few tracks I hold very close to my heart and of course, that marvellous Roger Dean cover. That’s the beauty of music, isn’t it – it has to offer something to everyone. Listen to those outstanding tracks and let’s appreciate such long gone musicianship!

 

Listen to ASIA’s “Alpha” here:

Don’t Cry

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

 


 

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~

Metallica – “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Album Review

metallica-hardwired-to-self-destruct

Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

Released: November 18, 2016
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
Producer(s): Greg Fidelman, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich
Label: Blackened Recordings
Length: 77:26

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OVERVIEW

 

Metallica put an end to the long 8 years of waiting with their smashing new heavy metal storm, titled “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. The mighty metal Gods survived through the long gap, after which the majority of rock acts would’ve been totally obliterated by the constantly changing music scene, and rose from the ashes with a comeback album worthy of being called a moment of unification of all metalheads around the world. The expectations were high – Metallica had to preserve their relevance with something that goes beyond any ordinary record; they had to dig deeper. The results are finally here and believe me, they are more than satisfying.

“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is an epic double monster album, spitting 12 fiery tracks which run for almost 80 minutes! Let’s give a round of applause (or a scream of excitement) to singer-guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich who co-wrote almost the entire set of throat-grabbing, killer shocks on the record. With such explosive musicianship and furious songwriting dedication, Metallica can absolutely afford to go for an average song length of six-to-seven minutes. They are making their own rules without a single care in the world.

Disc one is more striking, up to the point, offering one heavy rocker after another. The finest moments of “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” could be found among those first six tracks – from the merciless riffs of the opening track “Hardwired”, to the rigorous pulse of “Now That We are Dead”, every track carries that trademark Metallica kick-ass sound formula, mixed with a couple of surprisingly good new tricks. “Halo on Fire” wraps things up in a similar dark, intensity-fueled manner, leaving us with high hopes for what’s coming on the next CD. Disc two is a less damaging, somewhat unfocused mixture of lengthy rockers. The momentum is slowly declining as we progress from one song to another but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing for the listeners who need to take a breath. “Murder One” is a surprisingly splendid tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, that definitely deserves a listen (or two).

“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is a strong comeback album, despite its length and unnecessary fillers (especially on Disc Two). One thing that truly makes a quite obvious stand is James Hetfield’s explicit, much improved vocal delivery, which is the final touch to the electrifying concept of the album. Metallica build up quite the excitement among fans so it’s natural to completely lose your mind over this album. “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”, however, is far from being their best effort. It’s somewhat familiar but still innovative, proving that Metallica are still standing on the heavy metal pedestal! For that it deserves to be praised!

 

Tracklist:

Disc One:

“Hardwired”
“Atlas, Rise!”
“Now That We’re Dead”
“Moth Into Flame”
“Dream No More”
“Halo on Fire”

Disc Two:

“Confusion”
“ManUNkind”
“Here Comes Revenge”
“Am I Savage”
“Murder One”
“Spit Out the Bone”

Hardwired

Moth Into Flame

Atlas, Rise!

Murder One

Lords of Summer (from the Deluxe Edition of “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”)

Spit Out the Bone

Dream No More


References:
“Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwired…_to_Self-Destruct
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.
Cheers~
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.

Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time

boston-bostonIt’s a cold November morning and I am sitting here, at my university, waiting for my next classes to come. My headphones are on because well, music is basically the only thing besides the warm coffee in my hands that actually gets me going through the day. You can find all sorts of treasures on my music player – mostly ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock and the occasional new wave/pop retro tune. After a series of glam rock favorites, suddenly I hear the stunning intro of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and just like that, a little smile appears on my face as I silently start singing along with the haunting vocals of Brad Delp. It was this gorgeous song that introduced me to Boston and their debut album. I had no idea who they were as musicians or what they did – all I wanted was to listen and dive as deep as I can into the album, I was simply entranced… The song was over way too soon, but my thoughts kept on sending me back to that glorious year – 1976. I, of course, wasn’t born during the ‘70s but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate or truly feel the magic and impact of such brilliant music.

Boston are definitely not the most prolific band in the world but they can freely brag with splendid records like “Don’t Look Back” (1978) and “Third Stage” (1986). It was their monstrous self-titled debut album however, what most people will remember them by. The tremendous strength with which the record smashed into the music world in the mid-70s could easily be justified with the 25 million copies sold worldwide. Not only that, but “Boston” was actually the best-selling debut album of all time before Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction” in 1987. There should be a reason for such enormous recognition, right? Well, the album is just that good! It traveled all the way from the ‘70s to my tiny little rock heart and completely conquered it. I am sure many people feel the same way as I do – especially those of you who were actually there to witness how one debut album became the ultimate staple of American rock music (not just in the ‘70s but in general). Here’s why I think this album should be heard and acknowledged by every self-respecting music fan!

Tom Scholz

Behind every great record, there’s a hardworking mastermind with a clear vision, a special touch and a lot of persistence.

tomWho could’ve thought that Tom Scholz – a MIT graduate who worked at the Polariod Corporation would come up with the perfect sonic formula and craft rock music that will change history? It all started as a mere fascination but it didn’t take him that long to realize that his connection with music goes way beyond a simple hobby. He assembled a little cozy record studio in his basement where he would spend countless of sleepless nights in an attempt to create the perfect song. Tom was a persistent, goal-driven visionary who knew his way around the studio and didn’t let anyone else take that away from him. Even when the band was finally signed to EMI and the album was about to be released, Tom always stayed true to himself. He wrote or co-wrote (with the exception of “Let Me Take You Home Tonight,” written by Delp) all the songs on the debut album, played all the instruments, recorded, engineered and pretty much did everything by himself. Mad genius, working in a basement or not, it was his demons that changed the rules of the game at the end.

The Sci-Fi Logo

boston-bostonAfter they changed the name of the band from Mother’s Milk to Boston, it was time to come up with a revolutionary album artwork that could perfectly represent the concept of the album. Again, the idea was given by Scholz who wanted a “spaceship guitar”, symbolizing “escape”. Three people participated in the design, illustration and lettering, before we were finally presented with the final product. The eye-catching and highly intriguing sci-fi logo became an absolute landmark and one of the most instantly-recognizable album covers.

The Boston Sound”

There was a reason why Boston and this album completely took control over the radio stations and haven’t actually left their spot ever since. The record found the perfect balance between pop and rock by crafting a splendid mixture of gorgeous vocal harmonies, gentle, yet rough guitar riffs, spellbinding melodic hooks and dreamy lyrics, all wrapped up under the influence of the classical music, Tom grew up listening to. Each musical segment was crafted carefully, with strict precision and dedication to achieve the ultimate impact. Because of its universal appeal, great production value and adoption of quite accessible, easy to digest sounds, the debut album marked the beginning arena rock – a pivotal and unavoidable moment in the development of rock music.

Magical – that’s the word I would use for the Boston sound. I was under its influence the moment I heard the first track…

“More Than a Feeling”

“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. Tom Scholz is a genius and if you haven’t figured it out yet, listen to the track one more time.

From Brad Delp’s killer vocals, relentlessly playing with your senses to the mind-shivering guitars, “More Than a Feeling” is the crown jewel of Boston’s career. For them it was way more than an opening track – it was their first single and first attempt to make a name for themselves. Well, after selling a couple of million records, we can somehow conclude that they did in fact make history.

 

You can listen to the whole album here:


“Boston” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_(album)

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~

[’80s Rock Album Focus] GIANT – Last Of The Runaways

giant-last-of-the-runaways

Last Of The Runaways

Released: August 29, 1989
Genre: Rock/Hard Rock/AOR
Duration: 55:16
Label: A&M
Producer(s): Terry Thomas

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OVERVIEW

 

Giant’s “Last of the Runaways” deserved so much more than it actually got. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right for it – by 1989, the heydays of album-oriented rock were long gone. Despite its high production value, melodic quality and outstanding vocals and riffs by Dann Huff, “Last of the Runaways” somehow got lost in the transition period from the ‘80s to the ‘90s. Nevertheless, there will always be rock fans like me and you, who can truly appreciate a piece of art when they see it, regardless of any other factors. The debut album of Giant has a lot to offer – from solid rockers, fueled with mind-blowing riffs, to emotional power-ballads, the whole album is a pure melodic paradise.

“Last of the Runaways” makes a clear statement right from the first tune – “I’m a Believer” is a solid rocker with one of the most chilling, hair-raising guitar intros. What follows next is 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 tornadoes that could be heard on this album. I’m saving the best for last – “Last of the Runaways” gives us three of the greatest power ballads ever written – “Love Welcome Home”, “It Takes Two” and of course their most commercially successful song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. How Dann and the rest of the guys wrote such powerful and emotionally-charged pieces of art is beyond my understanding, but believe me when I say this – If you are searching for a heart-stirring musical experience, look no further than those three tunes, especially “I’ll See You In My Dreams”. (I mean just listen to those lyrics “…Time, time will never be a friend of mine again, It tries to make your memory fade, but I won’t let it end…”)

Last of the Runaways” wrapped up the ‘80s in an outstanding way, with excellent music craftsmanship and gorgeous selection of rockers. I can’t recommend it enough! Giant’s next step – the sophomore album “Time to Burn” yet again proved that they weren’t your ordinary hard rock/hair metal band. Listen to the songs and I hope you will understand what I’m saying…

Tracklist:

I’M A BELIEVER
INNOCENT DAYS
I CAN’T GET CLOSE ENOUGH
I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
NO WAY OUT
SHAKE ME UP
IT TAKES TWO
STRANGER TO ME
HOLD BACK THE NIGHT
LOVE WELCOME HOME
THE BIG PITCH

I’m a Believer

I’ll See You In My Dreams

It Takes Two

No Way Out


 

References:
“Last of The Runaways” Official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_of_the_Runaways
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~