Album Recommendations: “Paul Laine – Stick It in Your Ear” (1990)

Is It Love

 

I met Paul Laine through Danger Danger (of course). He jumped in as their frontman for the junior album – “Dawn” (1995) and stood around for a decade of releases, before officially calling it quits. Paul went on to form his own bands, Shugaazer and Darkhorse. In 2016, he once again teamed up with former Danger Danger bandmates Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello to release a self-titled album – “The Defiants”. Check them all out in case you haven’t.

Paul Laine’s ‘90s solo albums are the reason why we’re here, though. I am actually in love with both Stick It in Your Ear (1990) and Can’t Get Enuff (1996), however wanted to specifically draw your attention to the first album which I personally like a little bit more.

“Stick It in Your Ear” is a pure manifestation of the Canadian vocalist’s immense vocal power and ability to craft melodic rock at its finest. The album is one big ball of rock energy, for sure, mixed well with delightful accessibility and radio-friendly polished production. The album is certainly far away from any of those shiny LA hard rock bands who wrote music with their wallet rather than heart and that’s exactly why I find it so charming.

Late ‘80s, early ‘90s releases have so much more to offer and this album right here is certainly something to consider adding to your AOR collection in case you haven’t.

Some of the highlights include the Top100 singles “Dorianna” and “Is It Love” – both stunning examples of well-crafted melodic rock music.  

“Is It Love” is dangerously obsessive and definitely my favorite one from the release. Every power ballad hungry person out there will be thrilled, believe me. That’s the reason why I opened this publication with it. Check out “Dorianna”:

Dorianna

“We are the Young” is another track to watch out for.

“One Step Over the Line” has a very unique intro, which I think all of you should hear. You know what, why don’t you just play the entire album. Thank you, Paul Laine. It’s definitely never too late to discover a forgotten gem like this one….


References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

BOSTON’s “Don’t Look Back” or How to Make a Sophomore Comeback with Style

Fans refer to many commercially successful rock bands who became widely popular in the ’70s and early ’80s as “classic rock bands”. When someone says “classic rock” (though these days the term became a little bit vague), what’s the first band that comes to your mind? To me, that band has always been Boston for certain. Not so much because it falls under the umbrella of a certain “term” or “radio format” but because Boston has the most classic, universally-beloved, timeless, evergreen sound that just doesn’t grow old.

Boston-1We all know the significance of Boston‘s 1976 self-titled debut album; I bet there’s not a single rock soul in the world who has never sang along with radio hit songs like “More Than a Feeling”. I have a whole publication about this album, which you can check here -> Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time

Boston’s smashing debut album was followed up by a long list of unexpected but widely-welcomed circumstances including becoming the second best-selling debut album of all time (first one being “Appetite for Destruction”, of course), turning into one of America’s most appreciated rock albums and establishing absolute dominance over all radio stations. Topping an era-defining album with such a strong impact is certainly an obstacle many rock bands can’t really overcome. Not Boston, though.

boston dont look back 19782 years after the release of “Boston”, the band came back with “Don’t Look Back”. As it was expected, the sophomore album didn’t really match the commercial strength of the debut one; however to many critics and fans (me included), “Don’t Look Back” still remains one of the most worthy sophomore comebacks of all time. Also, getting certified 7x Platinum is certainly something to consider.

“Don’t Look Back” wasn’t exactly released in the most pleasurable industry environment as the band or should I just say, Mr. Everything – Tom Scholz kicked off a legal battle with their record label.

Still, “Don’t Look Back” turned out to be equally impressive and received a well-deserved place among the ultimate classics of the era. One unfortunate thing about it is of course, its length. “Don’t Look Back” spreads over 8 songs only, 2 of which are under 3 minutes. That’s a little bit short for an album and turned out to be one of the reasons why Tom Scholz went on a war with the record label.

Whether it was rushed or not, the essence of the album, however, is what’s important here. I try to stay informed about the background stories and environments under which rock albums were crafted and released, but ultimately, it’s the sound, the music, the songs are all that’s left 30, 40, 50+ years later.

Three songs were released as singles – “Don’t Look Back”, “A Man I’ll Never Be” and “Feelin’ Satisfied”. Don’t think these songs need an introduction or fancy musical descriptions – they are way above that. Especially, “A Man I’ll Never Be” which has to be in my Top3 Boston songs of all time and certainly one of the most gentle and emotional rock ballads of all time.

“A Man I’ll Never Be”

“Feelin’ Satisfied”

“Don’t Look Back”

The 2-minute instrumental “The Journey” is often forgotten, despite its pivotal role in the album. To some, it may be a bit difficult to absorb but the way I see it, it’s a pretty well-placed musical piece that divides the two harder rocking songs “Don’t Look Back” and “It’s Easy”.

“The Journey”

Ultimately, Boston is…well Boston. I do like the first album a little bit more than this one,  despite critics claiming that “Don’t Look Back” was indeed a solid musical progression. I agree that Boston do sound more confident and the sophomore release does possess a more joyful vibe but I have an emotional attachment to the first one, so don’t listen to me, really.

There’s also this little part of me that cannot (or maybe doesn’t want to) divide those first two albums. I consider them just two parts of one bigger whole – maybe even as just one album. “Don’t Look Back” is like a side2 to “Boston” and I just love playing them one after the other.

Share your memories of “Don’t Look Back” below the publication or on Twitter; I would love to know what you think of this album and which is your favorite song:

 

boston dont look back 1
Me, holding a copy of “Don’t Look Back” which i bought during 2017’s “Record Store Day”

boston dont look back 2


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Look-Back-Boston/dp/B00Q99V0PA
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

[MIXTAPE] Favorite Ballads by THUNDER

thunder band

Lately I’ve been in a heavy Thunder mood. I think this might be due to the recent CD I purchased with their greatest hits. Thunder is one of those bands who should’ve been up there with the rest of the big names of rock music. Even though they released their debut album – “Backstreet Symphony” in 1990, which was certainly not the best time to release a hard rock album, the British rockers still captured the hearts and souls of die-hard rock fans who just know talent when they see it.

I’ve been a fan of Thunder since the moment I heard “Love Walked In” back in the day. The song just means the world to me. My instant connection with the band’s sound and of course, the brilliant vocals of Danny Bowes, led me to this moment right here…

The majority of rock fans who know or have heard of Thunder are familiar with “Love Walked In” which is arguably their most popular song. However, if you think that this is the only quality rock ballad Thunder made throughout their long and prolific career, you are so terribly wrong.

Since I’m one of those people who live for rock ballads, I decided to make a little “mixtape” with just a few of my favorite ballads by a band I adore so much – Thunder. Some of those might be new to you – which is awesome, please enjoy them; if, however you are familiar with those tracks, sit back, relax and relive the memories…


“A Better Man”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Low Life In High Places”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Like A Satellite”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Once In A Lifetime”

thunder their finest hour


“Castles In The Sand”

thunder behind


“Love Walked In”

thunder-backstreet-symphony


“Right from the Start”

rip-it-up-thunder


References:
Band photo retrieved from: http://www.thunderonline.com/www/band
Album covers retrieved from Wikipedia and Google Images.
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Let’s celebrate the Late ’90s with FAIR WARNING’s “Go!” (1997)

Love this? Well, time to check out the rest of the album and of course, Fair Warning!

You know, the UK isn’t the only place in Europe where quality rock music was and still is made. Tons of outstanding rock bands came from many other parts of Europe. Sweden, Norway and Germany I think might be the most vivid examples of countries with strong rock&roll force field. The band I want to talk about today – Fair Warning, is one of those European rock acts that you most certainly need to check out (in case you haven’t) and this album of theirs I will be presenting to you – “Go!” is not a bad place to start.

fair-warning-1992My Fair Warning journey began with their self-titled debut album which without doubt is one of the most brilliant coming out parties of all time. The German rockers didn’t achieve the success they deserved with that first release but on a positive note, they became pretty popular in Asian countries, particularly in Japan.  I talked about the album on my “16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard” article so go ahead and read if you want to know more.

I don’t want to take much of your time with my written words because I really want you to just dive into the music and absorb every bit of talent those amazing artists have. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Fair Warning by someone who adores them very much so now it’s my turn to do it.

fair warning go 1997“Go!” is Fair Warning‘s fourth album, released in the late ’90s. Not the best time for a hard rock band to make a comeback but who the hell cares, right? The album is strictly following Fair Warning‘s beautiful, well-established sophisticated melodic rock sound, since the very first album. The unmatched talent of Tommy Heart – who by the way is one of the greatest vocalists of all time (at least in my book) shines brighter than the sun on this album.

Any song – from the opening “Angels of Heaven” to the closing one “The Love Song” are absolute airplay masterpieces, full of so much character and passion.

The highlight? Definitely “Save Me”. This is one of those songs that captures your heart from the very first second and never lets go!

Adore melodic rock ballads? “All On Your Own” can quench your thirst. Listen to your lyrics….just listen…

“Rivers of Love” …the title says it all!

“Sailing Home” is one of the hardest tracks on “Go!” and certainly a triumphant success for the album.

My copy of “Go!” which I bought while I was living in South Korea. Finding this album is pretty hard, actually so I’m very proud of it!

Now it’s your turn to get it!

fair warning go.jpg


 

References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://fanart.tv/artist/9b08ede1-15b0-48da-89ef-a5035bbde33e/fair-warning/
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Recommendations: TRIXTER – “Hear!” (1992)

“Damn Good”

Hooked yet? You should be. I do really hope you clicked “play” and listened to that throat-grabbing glam metal track from the early ’90s. By the end of this publication I sincerely hope that you will get off the chair, go find your CD of “Hear!” and play it for old time’s sake. Even better if this is the first time you hear about this album and the band – what a way to get to know them, really!

I will try to be brief and let the music speak.

trixter

Most fans know the New Jersey band Trixter because of that smashing debut album, featuring the fan-favorites “One in a Million”, “Line of Fire”, “Give it to me Good” and “Surrender”. The guys created quite a fuss around themselves at the end of the ’80s and finally hit the record stands with their 1990 self-titled album. It was all great – MTV, endless tours, sharing a stage with the biggest names of the industry…what a kick-off! But hey, they totally deserved it.

In 1992 (yes, that incredible year of rock music), Trixer released their sophomore album, titled “Hear!”. The album is just as good and their debut but…it was impossible for a new-coming band to survive the Seattle “wrath”, or as we know it – the grunge movement. MCA records dropped them (unbelievable…) after the release of “Hear!”. MTV stopped caring as well…and BAM – all hopes and dreams got crushed as quickly as they arrived. I hate it.

Let’s go back to the album…

Hard and heavy. Everything is a killer and there’s not even a single filler!

Personal favorites – “Power of Love” and “Damn Good”. You had the chance to listen to “Damn Good” so check out this other energizing track. I am absolutely inlove with the drums on this one. Mark “Gus” Scott is damn good!

“Power of Love”

This song right here should give you a clear idea of why this band is featured on my blog and why they are worthy of checking out. There’s just something more there, you know. The mere definition of “underrated” – Trixter and this explosive heavy metal tornado of a track – “Rockin’ House”. Don’t you even get me started on Peter Loran – what a voice of steel!

“Rockin’ House”

Some more song for you to check out:

“Road of a Thousand Dream”

“Runaway Train”

“What it Takes”

Tell me what you think and what memories you have with this album?

Or if this is the first time you are checking these songs out, what do you think? Feel like this might be just for you? Comment below and subscribe to my blog to keep great music alive!


References:

Band photo, retrieved from http://www.theglamnationnetwork.com/trixter.html

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Recommendations: Saints & Sinners’ Self-Titled 1992 Debut

Shake

Rip it Up

Walk that Walk

Slippin Into Darkness

Saints & Sinners

saints & sinners bandWell, here we go again with the well-known story I’ve been delivering for ages on my blog. It goes like this: There once was a very talented rock band with passion and a drive. One day the band decided to release their debut album with the hopes of hitting it big. The album was funky, exciting, riff-centered and just as pleasing as any other good rocking album out there. Unfortunately for them, the album didn’t have a big breakthrough because of a new force on the block called “grunge”. The guys couldn’t beat it and soon enough they were  over.

This is basically what happened to the short-lived band. One album released in 1992 and a disbandment in 1993. One more thing you need to know about Saints & Sinners is that they are from Canada and consisted of five members (as shown on the photo) – Rick Hughes – vocals, Stephane Dufour – guitar and background vocals, Martin Bolduc – bass and background vocals, Jeff Salem – drums, Jesse Bradman – keyboards and background vocals. I don’t know much about the other members but I’m familiar with Jesse Bradman because he worked with many people from the biz, including Night Ranger, UFO, Michael Schenker and Indigenous. Another thing that might interest you is that the vocalist Rick Hughes gained popularity in another Canadian rock band, called Sword (recommend it as well)

The Album

saints&sinners1992Already mentioned that this is the one and only album of Saints & Sinners and it was released in 1992. Anything else you need to know? Well, if you love glam metal, if you love catchy riffs and solid rocking melodies, colored by magnificent vocals, you will LOVE this album. The atmosphere is very energetic and it just makes you play it all over again once you reach the last track. Needless to say, this melodic but loud self-titled debut is highly underrated. But hey, discovering hidden gems is what I live for! In terms of songs, I would definitely point “Wheels of Fire” and “Walk the Walk” as my two favorite tracks from it. Those two songs (now when I think about, most of the album actually…) reminds me of Hardline’s “Double Eclipse” and XYZ’s self-titled album – both great and dearly beloved albums. That’s all good, though! “We Belong” is another track to check out and that’s not just me and my power ballad adoration speaking. The ending track is epic so watch out for it! “Slippin Into Darkness” wrapped up the album and ironically, wrapped up their career which slipped into darkness…

Trust me and play the entire album now:


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_%26_Sinners_(Saints_%26_Sinners_album)
Band photo, retrieved from: https://heavyharmonies.com/cgi-bin/glamcd.cgi?BandNum=409&CDName=Saints+and+Sinners
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

 

ZINATRA – a Dutch Rock Band, Worthy of Discovering

You know how much I love digging up late ‘80s/early ‘90s hard rock bands that unfortunately didn’t last that long for one reason or another (mostly because of the grunge fever spreading all over the place.) I am the kind of person who just listens to these forgotten AOR/hard rock bands because judging by experience, some of them are worthier than many of the big names of the industry.  Unearthing buried music is a very rewarding experience, believe me. Swimming through the YouTube videos of AOR music with fewer than 1,000 views is something I recommend to everyone! That’s how I found this band I will talk about today – Zinatra. Don’t stick to the usual suspects, let yourself explore the bands that couldn’t hit it that big; thankfully, we have the Internet so use it!

A few things about the band before we jump into the music;

What you need to know about Zinatra (what a cool name, I wonder how did they come up with it) is that they are a hard rock band from the Netherlands, consisting of five members.

The band was formed in 1986 and disbanded in 1991 after the release of just two albums. Some of the highlights of their career include opening up for David Lee Roth on his “Skyscraper” tour and a top20 hit – “Love or Loneliness” from their debut album. Moreover, the band achieved success in Asian and South-American territories where they embarked on tours, filled venues and topped charts with songs like “Hero”.

The sophomore release featured a new keyboardist (Robby Valentine) and a solid determination to make an even bigger splash this time. The album was very well-received, especially in Japan (I love how much Japanese people were into ’80s hard rock music); Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. Vocalist Joss Mennen kicked off his solo activities and Robby Valentine got a signing deal with Polydor so this was basically it for Zinatra. Just wasn’t meant to be I guess. The changing musical climate were in my opinion the biggest factor that drove the guys away.

zinatra band
ZINATRA

1988 Self-titled debut

Zinatra debut album

I have included three songs which I believe best represent this album. Hopefully you will check the rest of it all, after you hear it. “Love or Loneliness” is undoubtedly their most famous track. The other two are equally appealing. I am very fond of “Hero” and that’s not just because I’m a softie. The ballad is absolutely gorgeous! To me, it’s always been all about the melody and this album right here is full of beautiful melodies that can satisfy any fan out there, like myself. This album is nothing phenomenal or unheard of but it’s something you just gotta experience. Vocalist Joss Mennen is just a bliss for my ears. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“The Great Escape” 1990

Zinatra Album artwork

This album and the catchy “There She Was” introduced me to the band back in the day. I actually saw this album in its original Japanese packaging which led me to the music and to writing this now. I like the debut but this album I like a little bit more and I think that’s because Robby Valentine was added to the line-up; he was not just a keyboardist, he also contributed as a songwriter which clearly hit the spot for me. The album is melodic/pop rock at its finest. In addition to the entertaining bright track, “There She Was”, I included two more songs for you to check out – the rocker “Only Your Heart” and the power ballad “Too Blind to See”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.co.kr/pin/377246906263230272/
Album artwork #2 retrieved from http://ohrenbalsam.blogspot.bg/
Band photo, retrieved from https://heavyharmonies.com/cgi-bin/glamcd.cgi?BandNum=896&CDName=Zinatra
“Zinatra” on http://melodic-hardrock.com/bios/zinatra/
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Remembering Jimi Jamison and his Final Album – “Never Too Late” (2012)

I don’t think I will ever get over the fact that Jimi is no longer with us. Yes, I do get the chance to listen to his magnificent voice on a daily basis, thanks to the huge legacy he left us with (with Survivor and his solo years); however, the mere thought that this gorgeous artist who had this out-of-this-world talent is gone, makes me feel so emotional, every single time.

Jimi 4I don’t think I’ve shared this before but me and Jimi go way back – way before I even truly knew what rock&roll was. Just like every ’90s kid out there, I was also part of that “Baywatch” frenzy that spread all over the world, including in my home country of Bulgaria. Surely, I had little idea of what was really going on on that show – I was what, like 4 or something, I don’t remember. What I always remembered though (besides the red swimming suits and the beautiful lifeguards) was of course, the opening song – “I’m Always Here”. I couldn’t speak English back then but I was loving this track so much! I didn’t know who Jimi Jamison or Survivor were but I knew how to sing those lyrics with my broken kiddo English/unknown language haha – you should’ve seen me. Many years later when Survivor became one of my most beloved bands of all time and I found out that the frontman was this exact person who sang one of the songs of my childhood, I was mind-blown. It all just fell into place and I guess destiny played its role. That’s one of the many reasons why I love and miss Jimi so much. Way before Def Leppard, Journey, Pink Floyd and the other favorite bands of mine, it was just him. He was always there and he will always be here – in my heart.


I do listen to Survivor on a daily basis and it’s been like this for many years. I personally don’t believe that there will ever come a time when I will get tired of albums like “Vital Signs”, “When Seconds Count”, “Too Hot to Sleep”, “Reach” or his solo albums, “Empires”, “Crossroads Moment” and of course the album I wanted to talk about today, “Never Too Late”. I really want to convey with words how much he and his music mean to me but I don’t think it’s possible. I just know that every part of my existence will love him and forever be thankful for his songs who were there when I needed them.

In 1984, Jimi Jamison joined Survivor, after Dave Bickler left the band….& the rest is history – a solid line of monumental releases, endless tours, going back and forth with Survivor, many collaborations…he was even asked to be the frontman of Deep Purple! He never truly left Survivor, though; Jimi took some time off to work on his solo stuff but ultimately, he was touring with the band till his dying breath.

jimi jamison never too late“Never Too Late” is the last solo album he released. It came out in November, 2012, via Frontiers Records (of course). No one knew that this was going to be his last release but I don’t think we could’ve gotten a more beautiful farewell than this one. The inspiring title, the touching words and and heart-melting songs are just a few of the reasons why I consider this album to be one of the purest, most angelic pieces of music I have ever heard. “Never Too Late” is an album with a message – you need to follow your dreams and despite the hardships of life, despite your broken heart, despite the endless fear – you need to keep going and don’t turn back! There’s just so much soul, so much character and passion within those notes; from start to finish, this album is one fantastic, life-changing, if I may say, melodic rock adventure you can never get bored of. One more thing – just look at the album artwork – it’s astonishing! The eagle is a symbol of freedom, opportunity, progression, determination – all important qualities needed to succeed in life. I think it perfectly suits the sonic atmosphere of the album.

Another amazing thing about “Never Too Late” is that it sounds like a vintage Survivor album from the ’80s. The title track could easily be mistaken for a “Vital Signs” single (it reminds me so much of “The Moment of Truth”). That’s not all!

I don’t know where to begin talking about the mesmerizing tunes you can find on this album. There’s absolutely no way you wouldn’t fall inlove with the playlist (unless you have a heart of stone). Jimi poured his soul out on each one of those tracks and because of his artistic sincerity, the connection is instantaneous (or at least it was with me).

The album opens up with “Everybody’s Got a Broken Heart” – a mid-tempo, spirit-lifting melodic bliss of a song with a beautiful message. Don’t even get me started on his soaring vocals. The title track starts similarly with a distinctive gentle piano, progressing into a motivational, day-brightening melody and a voice you could listen to for days and days… “I Can’t Turn Back” is my personal favorite; I get goosebumps every time I hear its opening – his voice is capable of playing with emotions like nothing else in this wold, I swear. Besides, the lyrics have been haunting me ever since I played it for the first time – “…I can’t turn back I can’t move on I cannot fight the feeling Though I know it’s wrong With the sweet lips of an angel The devil claims my soul I can’t turn back…”
All the tracks stand out with sensational intros – just pick any and you will see for yourself.  Magnificent songs like “Street Survivor”, “The Air That I Breathe”, “Bullet In The Gun” share this characteristic – a captivating intro that plays with your feelings right from the very first second. I almost forgot!!! “Hot Tonight” is another one of my personal favorites – the rhythms, the lyrics…this song keeps getting better and better with every listen!

I wish there was a possibility for me to deliver the entire spectrum of emotions I experience every single time I play a song from this album. I get sad, of course, because I miss Jimi so much; but I’m grateful, so grateful that I found him and he left me and everyone else out there with these beautiful gifts of art. I wish he was still here, releasing new albums, touring with Survivor…but that’s life and we have to accept it. He will never be forgotten.

Everybody’s Got A Broken Heart

Never Too Late

I Can’t Turn Back


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~

31 Years Ago, EUROPE Released “The Final Countdown”

On this day, 31 years ago, EUROPE released “The Final Countdown”. Whatever I say from this point onward would be totally pointless and you may as well just not read it…I mean, what could I possibly say about one of the biggest rock albums of the ’80s? Which fancy musical terms and pop culture references would be suitable enough to describe this glorious album? None…absolutely none;

Still, since I just saw EUROPE for the first time in my life and on top of it all, it was a continuation of their “The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary Tour”, I felt like I should write a little something to commemorate the 31st birthday of this album (even if it’s just a boring description of how great and empowering this album is).

europe the final countdownEurope already had the talent, the potential and the charisma to become a worldwide rock sensation but ultimately, it was “The Final Countdown” that was responsible for their international breakout. In addition to the great lyrical and musical value, I guess one of the most appealing aspects of this album was that each song has its own unique background and history that in a couple of cases goes way before Europe even thought about releasing this album. Take the title song for example – Joey Tempest composed that riff in the early ’80s when he was so young! Thankfully he didn’t use it back then. You know what they say, timing is everything! This song appeared exactly when it had to on the right album, with the right producer. It just all fell into place. Those David Bowie-inspired lyrics were just the final piece of the puzzle. Voila! We ended up with this stimulating, life-changing, eye-opening tornado of a song that we can’t just let go, even after 30 years.

The second track, “Rock the Night” is arguably the best track from the album and if you ask me, it should’ve been the opening track (and “The Final Countdown” should’ve been left as the grand finale). Two tracks of such equal strength together in the same album, one after the other – that’s something!

What else is there? Oh, right…that GORGEOUS “little” tear-jerker power ballad, “Carrie” which may as well be titled “Cryyie”.

“Cherokee” …OH! Marching on the trail of tears! I will never forget how happy I was when they played that song in front of me; Joey has a fascination about Native American culture and history and it’s definitely something unusual as he is from Sweden. For him to write that song and make it so personal – I can’t but be in love and respect with this amazing human being.

My other personal favorite is “Heart of Stone” and that’s because of the vocals. Lyrically, it’s not as impressive as some other songs on the album, but Joey is just killing it on this one; The moment I hear the opening, “I’ve told you once and I’ve told you twice,” I just switch to a “don’t talk to me, I’m in the zone” mode and nothing or no one else matters.

“Danger on the Track”, “Ninja”, “Love Chaser”…do I have to go on? It’s just one shot of adrenaline after another;

It’s sad to think that one day, when younger (and weirder) generations are roaming the Earth this album might lose its relevance BUT I hope I’m still around to keep these oldies alive and introduce them to the newbies. If you are educating the youngsters on ’80s rock music, start here…

Now, I’m gonna go play it as loud as possible…

europe
My “The Final Countdown” Vinyl and CD  ~ I wish the artwork was as good as the album…

References:
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~

 

 

Overview of REO SPEEDWAGON’s Smashing Hit Album,”Wheels Are Turnin'” (1984)

REO Speedwagon

A story…

A few weeks ago I went to this huge bookstore where they sell CDs and Vinyl records; I was looking for a REO Speedwagon CD and I asked one of the staff about it. (Not) Surprisingly, the person I asked had no idea who they were and while searching for the CD, they asked me about the band. I thought about it for a second – like, how do I introduce this American old-school rock band to a young European who doesn’t know anything about them. I just said that they are a melodic rock band and moved on (they didn’t have the CD I wanted either ways).

This made me think about it. Similar bands like Foreigner, Journey, Boston, etc. were quite popular in my country (and still are) but somehow REO Speedwagon didn’t really become a thing over here. Anyhow, I just really felt like dedicating a little something to one of my most beloved melodic rock bands and the first album of theirs I heard back in the day. My American readers would of course be well-aware of the band and their career but for the others, I hope you discover something life-changing!

REO Speedwagon formed in the late ‘60s even though many people might think that they are just one of the many ‘80s melodic rock bands. Yes, the early-to-mid ‘80s were indeed the heydays of their career, but they go way back! It would be somewhat difficult to go through every stage of the band and the numerous line-up changes that occurred throughout the years. Ultimately, what you need to know about them is that their early years were quite shaky (but very charming) and REO Speedwagon often reo speedwagon hi infhad a different frontman for every new release. The bell of success rang in the late ‘70s with their “You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album. Their melodic rock/pop turn was fully made by the early ‘80s with staple rock albums like “Hi Infidelity” and “Good Trouble”. Both these albums, especially “Hi Infidelity” (1980) set the tone for the early ‘80s music scene and brought tons of recognition to the band. It was that same album that arguably defined the career of the band and remained their most beloved and critically acclaimed release.

“Wheels Are Turnin'”

reo speedwagonStill, if someone who has never heard of REO Speedwagon asks me to recommend him/her an album to start with, I’d pick “Wheels are Turnin’” in a heartbeat. Not only it’s one of their best-selling albums but it also contains some of the catchiest, most uplifting classic rock tunes that came out in the ‘80s. As a matter of fact, it was the first REO Speedwagon album I grabbed and where it all started from me.

The album did make quite the splash on the charts and spawned evergreen rock classics, including that “ballad” everyone knows the words to, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. Many fans refer to “Wheels are Turnin’” as a “guilty pleasure” – back in the day, releasing a synthesizer-oriented album that early in the decade was still frowned upon; still, I’m certain that everyone was criticizing it but secretly listening to it ( you just cannot NOT fall for those magical melodic rock hooks). Keyboardist Neal Doughty wasn’t just your regular keyboardist; he was a true visionary and his elegant keyboard style was one of the main reasons why REO Speedwagon caught the attention of fans all over the world.

“Wheels are Turnin’” is so much more than the smashing hit single “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. I won’t argue though, this song is one of the main reasons why I was sold back in the day. The moment you hear “I can’t fight this feeling any longer…and yet I’m still afraid to let it flow,” you just start singing and you feel your heart filling up with joy and happiness. Every song on that album has a similar effect on me. The opening track, “I Do’ Wanna Know” is a personal favorite maybe because it has that early-REO Speedwagon vibe, mixed with modern elements. It’s actually the best of both worlds – raw and melodic. It’s most certainly a song that should’ve gotten more attention and recognition. “One Lonely Night” is another worthy track; Kevin Cronin was just born to sing for this genre. “Rock ‘N Roll Star” is an often forgotten rock anthem despite being a fantastic piece of a puzzle. The rest is just as appealing; from start to finish, “Wheels are Turnin’”, is a beautiful melodic bliss. If you are in a mood and need a little cheer, don’t go to the store for a huge box of ice-cream; instead, play REO Speedwagon’s “Live Every Moment” which has to be one of the liveliest and most positive songs I’ve ever heard. The album wraps things up with the title track which to me sounds as if it was made in the mid ‘70s, (that’s a great thing, of course). I’m unconditionally inlove with the piano touches and the riffs on this one.

REO Speedwagon flourished on their 11th studio album, “Wheels are Turnin’”. The guys just wanted to craft a satisfying piece of rock music and they did it. The album is breezy and atmospheric, overflowing with fantastic instrumentation, gratifying riffs and superb vocals. This album is as warm as an afternoon coffee with extra marshmallows.

Now, it’s time to listen to it….


“One Lonely Night”

“Can’t Fight This Feeling”

“I Do Wanna Know”


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~