Concert Experience: Sons of Apollo @ Roman Theater Plovdiv, Bulgaria (22/09/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I remember playing “Psychotic Symphony” for the first time last year when it was released and how I was left speechless and couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. It was like entering a portal to a new dimension where all your senses are pumped up by this mesmerizing progressive sound you never knew you need in your life. Not surprised by the reaction I had, since I’ve been a fan of Jeff Scott Soto and Mark Portnoy for years and knew that their collaboration with Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal will be an extraordinary journey. 

sons of apollo“God of the Sun”, “Opus Maximus” and “Alive” quickly turned into one of the most played songs of 2017 on my playlist and the CD, which was given to me by someone very special, became one of my most prized possessions. A few weeks after the album was out I found out that a concert was scheduled in my hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and that Sons of Apollo will be performing their debut album, alongside The Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera. I vividly remember how I made plans with that special someone to go to that concert and a year later we actually went and I want to tell you all about it now! I was counting the days till the concert because I knew that it wasn’t going to be your ordinary local Saturday gig. They were going to perform at the Roman Theater in Plovdiv – this beautiful ancient venue full of atmosphere and character. Not just that, but a DVD from that concert will be released and they will be accompanied by the local orchestra, which makes me a very proud Bulgarian. After a long long waiting and almost a year of anticipation, the concert day finally came and I am so honored that I was part of this majestic piece of history.

Here are some photos and my story. I do hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you already saw them or you are about to see them soon.


The official poster of the concert

SOA_new-poster_Plovdiv-2018

My invitation for the concert. Another important collection piece to go with the rest of the concert memorabilia that I have…

sons of apollo 1

The venue…Roman Theater Plovdiv

 

 

 

They opened with “God of the Sun”. Check out my video. I am sorry if I was shaking a little bit but you can understand my excitement, I hope…

 


Concert Shots

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Overall, the concert was phenomenal and I think you can sense that from the photos. The atmosphere was perfect for this type of music and concert and I fully understand why they picked this venue to film their DVD. You probably know that I am a big big big fan of Jeff Scott Soto so it was a dream of mine to see him perform live. Witnessing his out-of-this-world vocals on this magical place was a moment I will forever cherish and come back to. At one point he even dropped down the microphone and sang just like that – you won’t believe me how well he sounded and how he owned the whole theater without the need for additional equipment to boost it!! He was that good, yes!

The concert had two parts. The first one was entirely composed of Sons of Apollo original songs from the debut release. That part was the reason why I went to the concert actually since this was one of the best albums of 2017 at least in my opinion. I had the opportunity to listen to some of my favorite songs from “Psychotic Symphony” and I was smiling throughout the entire setlist!

The second part of the concert included covers of famous rock songs of Queen, Led Zeppelin and other classic acts. They had the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra behind them and you can only imagine how magnificent it was to watch and experience rock classics like “Kashmir” or “The Show Must Go On”, performed by those talented musicians and the local orchestra. The audience was mindblown and obviously enjoying every single moment. Of course, to be honest I would’ve enjoyed it a little bit more if they stuck to their original music and just performed the album from first to last song. I had no idea there will be a cover part. Still, it was enjoyable and I was indeed singing along with Soto but their own music is more intriguing to me at this point.

A few things that stood out to me (in addition to Soto being..well the amazing Soto that he is) were first, the skills of keyboardist Derek Sherinian who did an outstanding job and second, Mike Portnoy, who is one of the most praised drummers on the scene. All musicians were superb but those two put everything into place. Now I truly know why are both so respected and participated in countless projects over the years. You know I am a drums person and now I can finally be proud that I saw the great Portnoy and can share my thoughts of him freely. 

The concert ended too soon. I wish I could be in presence of those outstanding musicians a little bit longer. Obviously, I will be the first person to buy the DVD and will proudly exhibit it in my collection of music.

Here’s to more concerts like this and to Sons of Apollo!

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The second part of the concert, when the orchestra came in…

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and the final bow…


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Marillion Live at Ancient Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (24/09/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

With so many unique rock bands out there, each bearing their own distinctive style of sound, appearance and approach to music, no wonder people can never get tired of live music and crave for more and more. I’ve always been a fan of live musical events, not just because I’m a fan of a certain band but because that’s the most genuine way to touch the heart and soul of the artists and turn it into a distinctive piece of memory you can always carry with you. There are bands out there that devoted their entire career to making spirit-lifting music, full of encouragement, excitement and confidence. Their concerts are usually filled with tons of action and fire, leaving the fans tired but satisfied to the bone.

There are also of course, the bands that make music with deeper, more complex meanings, complemented by more sophisticated sound and instrumentation. We refer to this type of rock as progressive, so I will just stick to this term for now. I’ve been a fan of progressive rock for a long long time but honestly, I’ve never attended a concert by a progressive rock band. I’ve had my ideas and expectations but once you actually witness it in front of you, you see how little you know and how much more you have yet to understand and experience. In that sense, I am quite proud and privileged to have the legendary British neo-progressive rock band Marillion come to not just my country, but to my hometown and reward me and their fans over here with not just a concert but an impossible manifestation of audio and visual techniques, creating one of the most spine-tingling and arousing musical journeys of my life so far. I must say, I’m not the most devoted fan of the band but I was never in a million years going to miss the chance to see their life-changing show. I hope to inspire you with my story and do justice to Marillion because believe me, those guys know how to deliver a striking not just musical but theatrical performance and you just gotta go see it while you still have the chance.

I should start by saying that Marillion challenged every norm and standard I had in my mind about rock concerts. The entire evening was one endless stream of sensual audio and visual provocations, topped with a magical artistic performance by vocalist Steve Hogarth. To many it was probably just a different kind of concert but to me it was way more than that – it was a beautiful theatrical presentation, incorporating compelling singing, melodramatic gestures and body movements and irresistible audience interaction, all decorated with stunning visual effects and videos that perfectly complement every song and the lyrics. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Marillion certainly put a lot of effort to make a “heavy” show; I say heavy but I don’t necessarily refer to the music. The show itself required a lot of attention and sweat from the viewer. We were assaulted with many different show pieces, all challenging each and every one of our senses; The concert put me to a test – it’s been a while since I last felt so uptight but definitely in a good way.

I’ve been talking so much about the excellent visuals and now it’s time to actually show you. The venue here also played a huge rule in the atmospheric progressive experience. My readers might be familiar with it from my Nazareth concert experience article a few months ago as it’s the same one – The Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Marillion Plovdiv Venue

Marillion Plovdiv Venue 2

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You could clearly see how much time and effort were put into the making of those videos that were accompanying each performance. The lyrics perfectly matched the scenes and it provided the audience with another treat to watch out for. To me, the most appealing aspect of the show was when they performed “King” and the video behind them showed famous artists and musicians who have passed away, including Bon Scott, Elvis Presley and of course, my Steve Clark who I miss so much. It was unbelievable!

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Steve Hogarth was undoubtedly the star of the evening. The man doesn’t know any limitations and once in character, nothing or no one can stop him. His performance was a work of art. I cannot specifically talk about his singing or acting or stage presence, because it’s just one whole and you don’t know where Steve the actor and Steve the singer merge. It was a pleasure to observe how he becomes one with the music, the stage and the audience. He delivered many unique performances but I gotta say the way he did “The Invisible Man” stood out the most to me. Maybe because it was the first encore and the audience sensed that we are about to wrap things up, the air around us became thicker. That’s something I will never forget. One more thing I have to acknowledge is his keyboard skills – the man is an alien!

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As a young fan, who saw Marillion for the very first time, all I can say is that those guys changed a lot of perceptions I had for artists’ stage presence and musical delivery. I met new songs and learned new lyrics, which I guarantee will become an inseparable part of my life (“You’re Gone” and “Power” for example, both impeccable rock pleasures). I am delighted that I had the chance to witness this other type of concerts – the ones that make you think and observe carefully. I was so used to the crazy rock&roll vibes that make you jump around and party hard so I really needed this refreshing art experience. Thank you, Marillion


Band Members:

Steve Rothery – Guitars
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass Guitar
Ian Mosley – Drums
Steve Hogarth – Vocals

Setlist:

1.El Dorado
2.You’re Gone
3.The Leavers
4.Fantastic Place
5.Mad 
6.Afraid of Sunlight
7.Sugar Mice
8.Real Tears for Sale
9.Sounds That Can’t Be Made
10.Power
11.Man of a Thousand Faces
12.King
13.Neverland

1st Encore

14.Invisible Man

2st Encore

15.Three Minute Boy

Event management: Radio Tangra Mega Rock


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

References:
Cover photo and concert poster, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/en/news/read/29005.html
Setlist, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/guide/read/30293.html

[Playlist] 10 Rock Songs With Iconic & Instantly Recognizable Intros (Part 1)

Every entertainment product follows a well-established formula that aims at grabbing the attention of the audience right from the very beginning. By doing so, the consumers easily get hooked and are more likely to view or listen to the entire piece. Such is the case with movies, TV shows, advertisements and of course, musical products. It’s a popular practice and I can totally understand why; humans are exposed to hundreds of songs per day and of course, time is valuable which often results in consumers quickly moving on to the next song in case they are not impressed during the first 30 seconds of a song. Such is the case with albums; why else do you think artists put their strongest, most powerful songs in the first positions?

Since we were talking about making an impact on the listener right from the very beginning, I decided to craft this little playlist, full of classic rock songs which can not only capture the listeners’ attention from the very first second but also gained acknowledgment with their instantly recognizable, catchy and memorable intros. Of course, there are plenty of tracks with immensely appealing, throat-grabbing intros, decorated with mesmerizing riffs or mind-blowing screams; the list is endless, as a matter of fact. Still, I had to draw the line somewhere and consider a couple of factors. Finally, the first part of my playlist of classic rock tunes with iconic intros is done. I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for part 2!

Don’t forget to comment and follow my Twitter Page and blog!


The following two songs have something in common and that’s Eric Clapton. I don’t think I need to prove a point with those two.

“Layla” has the most iconic and memorable song intro of all time (in my book, that is). You hear those epic opening riffs and you just know that something magical will follow. You can’t but be hooked and expect the best…

Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love” is a similar case but this time, the intro is more psychedelic and may have a different effect on you. Rather than excitement, you may feel like you need to just light a cigarette and chill for a while while you listen to the entire song…

Derek & The Dominos – Layla

Cream – Sunshine of Your Love


The Kinks – You Really Got Me

I’m gonna say just one thing; you try to read it without singing or immediately recalling the melody; that’s gonna be enough to prove my case!

Ta ra ra ra ram…ta ra ra ra ram…Giiirl, you really got me now….
You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’ now!!


Van Halen – Jump

Synthesizers and Van Halen = one of the most beloved rock songs of all time, Van Halen‘s biggest hit and of course, the intro that makes us “jump” to the dance floor right from the very first key. People say that the synthesizer was one of the reasons why David left the band; I don’t mind them, though. Objectively speaking, if we have to talk about the ’80s and “most instantly recognizable & iconic song intros” this gotta top the playlist.


Chuck Berry – Johny B. Goode

Nothing much to say about this track because no words are worthy enough to describe the great Chuck Berry and his art. The uplifting “Johnt B. Goode” is one of the highlights of his career and definitely one of the greatest rock&roll songs of all time. Most importantly, no force is strong enough to remove the memory of that opening riff once heard; it’s just that powerful.


Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

I bet there’s not a single person on this universe who doesn’t recognize “the riff”. The four-note blues scale melody, composed by Ritchie Blackmore will forever remain in the history of rock music as one of the simplest, yet so captivating intros and central themes. Not to mention that every youngster learns how to play the guitar with this riff.


Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

This right here is a good example of how important it is to have a huge, powerful impact on the listeners right from the start. One of the reasons why this song is the ultimate staple of ’80s hard rock music is because people can feel the strength and get energized right from the start…by the end of the song you are ready to go and climb a mountain and fight with tigers (literally).


Metallica – Enter Sandman

Love them or hate them, you gotta admit that this intro is known by everyone…Once played, you immediately go “BAM! I know this, it’s Metallica” regardless of whether you are a metalhead or you listen to classical music.


The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a glorious rock track, one of the greatest as a matter of fact. A song, sending such strong message needs a proper intro and The Who (Pete Townshend to be precise) knew how to draw the audience with a thrilling, organ-driven intro, progressing into a mass appealing, timeless classic.


Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

“I want my MTV”, says Sting at the beginning of “Money for Nothing”! (I want it too, dear…I want it back too, believe me). The colossal impact of the song and its immortality are unquestionable. That thrilling intro is just the beginning…What follows next is equally intriguing and has tons of story! Make sure you check it out…


+Honorable Mentions

The Ronettes – Be My Baby

(It may not fall under the “rock” genre category but Phil Spector and his wall of sound did play a huge role in the history of modern music. Moreover, that famous intro has been sampled and used (and abused) so many times since the ’60s which absolutely proves how influential and memorable it is! The Ronettes are rockstars and whoever disagrees is more than welcomed to listen to a rock&roll history lesson by me.)

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

&…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~

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

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

question music

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

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


Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

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


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

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


Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)

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


Def Leppard – Love Bites (1987)

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


Scorpions – Send Me an Angel (1990)

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


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

TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums

favorite-debut-albums

Debut albums – they can make or break your career. First impressions are always important and that is valid in pretty much every sphere of life, including in the tough and highly competitive music industry sector. During the “golden age of rock”, as I like to call the ‘70s and ‘80s, tons of outstanding bands made their first statement with strong and memorable albums, some of which are still relevant and widely-appreciated on a worldwide level.  Of course, it takes time to properly assemble a band, create a distinctive sound and style, and choose the perfect way to point your efforts and influences at the right direction, resulting in a powerful, slamming rock wave!

Just like any other classic rock fan out there, I also have my top 10 favorite rock debuts. For one reason or another, these ten albums left quite the impression on me and were the reason why I got into those bands in the first place. These “eye-opening” debuts are as a matter of fact among some of my most beloved albums of all time. From punk rock to progressive rock; from AOR treasures, to supergroup debuts, I am presenting you, [My Rock Mixtape]’s Top 10 Classic Rock Debuts!


1. Def Leppard – On Through the Night (1980)

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Hello Def Leppard! It’s absolutely impossible not to fall in love with the rawness, energy and straightforward hard rock spirit that surrounds “On Through the Night”. With that organic rock&roll sound and influences, drawn by bands like The Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy, it was no surprise that this album became a leading force in the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Def Leppard were a couple of British guys with a big dream – to conquer the States and eventually the world. They did manage to fulfill their dream, despite receiving a lot of criticism from local fans and press, for “selling-out” to the American audience. Nevertheless, the dark, unprocessed and rather fresh approach to hard rock, Def Leppard presented in 1980, was exactly what the music scene needed.“Hello America”, “Rock Brigade”, “Wasted”, “Sorrow is a Woman” – all splendid heavy metal rockers that defined the early ’80s. Def Leppard drifted a little from their initial “hard solid” sound and musical direction; however, it was the right thing to do, believe me.


2. Boston – Boston (1976)

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The tremendous strength with which Boston’s self-titled debut album 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! 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 Scholz – the man behind Boston, grew up listening to. “More Than a Feeling”, “Piece of Mind” and “Rock & Roll Band” are some of the classics appearing on the album, which I don’t see disappearing from the radio stations anytime soon.

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


3. ASIA – ASIA (1982)

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This monstrous debut record by the supergroup Asia was released back in 1982 and proved that there was indeed a reason why those immensely talented and versatile musicians from YES, ELP, King Crimson and The Buggles got together in the first place. “Asia” spawned one of the most distinctive rock tunes of the 80s – “Heat of the Moment” which became their ultimate signature song. That was not the end of it, though – the record is full of catchy hooks and fine melodies, perfectly designed to fit the demands of the commercial radio stations.“Sole Survivor”, “Time Again”, “Only Time Will Tell” – some of the finest moments on “ASIA”, showcasing a marvelous fusion between progressive rock, pop and hard rock.

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] ASIA – ASIA


4. Bad Company  – Bad Company (1974)

bad-company-debutBad Company’s 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. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success.  I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople) – Paul Rodgersvocals absolutely did it for me. 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.

The Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)


5. Cinderella – Night Songs (1986)

cinderella-night-songs-2I don’t think Cinderella could’ve made a better debut album! Cinderella were everything BUT your ordinary glam rock band. Unfortunately, their image was what often confused people, though their talent goes above and beyond the big hair, tight leather pants and leopard shirts. We also have to consider their secret weapon – Tom Keifer who is one of the most unique voices of rock music and one of my favorite vocalists of all time. “Night Songs” offers an excellent selection of blues-oriented explosive metal riffs of guitarist Jeff LaBar, flavored by the scratchy fierce voice of Tom Keifer, all cloaked under dark, mysterious and quite intriguing character of the record. “Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me” – there’s just no weak song on this debut album; all are among the greatest glam rock tunes ever released!

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] CINDERELLA – Night Songs


6. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

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One of the most essential rock acts of all time, Van Halen, debuted in 1978 with an enormous self-titled album that is often regarded as the greatest rock&roll debut albums of all time by fans. Despite being heavily criticized by critics back in the day, it didn’t take that long for the album to become an absolute worldwide sensation and set new standards for rock&roll. Eddie Van Halen’s God-like guitar skills erupted on this album and we are more than thankful for that. Revolutionary rockers like “Runnin’ With the Devil”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love” and the splendid cover of The Kink’s “You Really Got Me” (which with all due respect is better than the original, in my opinion) defined the rock scene in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s like no other tunes. Not to mention the electrifying solo “Eruption” which put all the guitarists to shame. There’s no surprise this brilliant rock debut found its way to my heart and became one of my favorite debuts of all time.


7. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969

I still remember the first time I heard King Crimson’s “Epitaph” it was one of the most sensual experiences of my life. I just knew a special relationship between me and the band is about to develop and wasn’t wrong. The fathers of progressive rock – King Crimson, debuted with “In the Court of the Crimson King” in 1969, which many fans and critics consider as the birthplace of progressive rock. Not only that, but the highly experimental, out-of-this-world sound of the album inspired generations of progressive rock acts. Greg Lake’s soul-touching vocals, accompanied by surreal music, mixing all genres, styles and forms you can imagine, conquered me right from the very beginning. In addition to “Epitaph”, “Moonchild” andThe Court of the Crimson King” are among my favorite progressive rock pieces. This, in my book, is probably the most influential debut albums of all time!


8. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

ramones-debut

Hey ho, let’s go! The fathers of punk rock, The Ramones debuted in 1976 with one of the most uplifting, enjoyable and spirited rock albums of all time. I always had a soft spot for punk rock and this album was the reason why; there’s just something so charming about The Ramones and their carefree, breezy and laid-back style and approach to music. Coming out of the CBGB stage, The Ramones were the main catalysts for the punk rock, underground movement of the late ‘70s in the USA. Moreover, Ramones went on to become the most important punk rock act, inspiring generations of musicians, such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Judy is a Punk” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” are synonymous with punk rock! “Ramones” is also one good example of how an album which couldn’t achieve big commercial success, achieved something that goes way beyond that.


9. Giant – Last of the Runaways (1989)

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s outstanding debut album, “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.“I’m a Believer”“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. “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. This is a gorgeous rock piece and I can’t recommend it enough!

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


10. Firehouse – Firehouse (1990)

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FireHouse was an absolute glam rock revolution, in the sense that they brought so much more than glitter and gold to the table. The critical and audience appreciation was on point – those four guys weren’t joking around – armed with great talent, for FireHouse the sky was the limit. Their 1989 debut album, “FireHouse” offers a selection of twelve, well-polished pop/metal jewels, which respectfully clogged he radio stations and mesmerized (and still do) the fans with gorgeous riffs and superb vocals. “All She Wrote” “Shake & Tumble”, Rock on the Radio“ and Don’t Treat Me Bad” are just a few of the catchy rockers that turned this debut album into one of my favorite albums of all time! Don’t even get me started on “Love of a Lifetime”, which in my book is one of the greatest power ballads ever written!

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime


+ Honorable Mentions

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

elp-debut

The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

please-please-me-beatles

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm gonna Leave You

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

rainbow23

Winger – Winger (1988)

http://aornightdrive.blogspot.com.br/

Foreigner – Foreigner (1977)

foreigner-debut

Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

thunder-backstreet-symphony

Bad English – Bad English

bad-english-bad-english

DIO – Holy Diver

Dio - Holy Diver


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~

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.

Congratulations to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees

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It’s official! Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Journey, YES, Electric Light Orchestra and Joan Baez are joining Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Nile Rodgers from Chic will receive the Award for Musical Excellence.

The full list of nominees included Bad Brains, Chaka Khan, Chic, Depeche Mode, ELO, the J. Geils Band, Jane’s Addiction, Janet Jackson, Joan Baez, Joe Tex, Journey, Kraftwerk, MC5, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, the Cars, Zombies, Tupac Shakur and Yes.

Fans were once again involved in the decision by voting on Rock Hall’s official website. Their votes, along with the opinions of hundreds of notable critics, journalists, musicians, industry insiders and every living Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, finalized the class of 2017.
The induction ceremony will be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 7th, 2017. The event will also be aired on HBO in later months.
Last year, the inductees included Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Chicago and N.W.A.

My thoughts:

I am immensely satisfied with this year’s list of Rock Hall inductees. Journey’s induction was long overdue and the thought of seeing Steve Perry back on that stage with Neal Schon and the rest of the guys will definitely keep me warm for the upcoming winter. I was sure that either ELO or YES will be inducted, however to my surprise the Rock Hall decided to induct both of those progressive rock giants. If this is not a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is! I am very happy that one of the most important voices of folk music – Joan Baez, will also be given the recognition she deserves. Pearl Jam became eligible this year and immediately got in. I was expecting it, to be honest. The “controversial” inductee this year would be the deceased d Tupac Shakur. I have been following comments on social media since the release of the results and I have to say, fans are not satisfied. I can understand why Rock Hall decided to induct him, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right direction. With respect to him and his unquestionable legacy, I have to say that I am not entirely agreeing with this decision, nor am I mad about it. He deserves a special place in history of modern music, but Rock Hall is probably not where he belongs.

Meet the inductees:

JOURNEY

journey-1

One of the most beloved American bands – Journey are going to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2017. With more than 90 million records sold worldwide, 14 studio albums and 59 timeless hit singles, their induction is more than justified. Originally a progressive rock band, Journey rose to stardom in the late 70s and enjoyed commercial success throughout the ‘80s. With a change in musical direction and “the voice” himself – Steve Perry, fronting the band, Journey spawned some of the most groundbreaking staples of arena rock in the ‘80s, including “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Separate Ways”, “Open Arms”, “Send Her My Love”, ”Faithfully” and many more.
Fans are waiting with anticipation to find out whether Steve Perry will join the band for the induction ceremony. If he does, that would be the highlight of the evening, I am sure.


YES

YES band 2

The progressive rock monsters, YES, are also among the members of “class of 2017 Rock Hall inductees”. Founded by Jon Anderson in the late 60s, this outstanding band, composed of classically trained musicians, created structured rock music that challenged the concept of progressive rock. From their debut album, released in 1969, fueled with brilliant harmonies and symphonic elements, to their pop-oriented musical style in the ‘80s with the album “90125”, YES sold more than 13 million copies in the USA alone, making them one of the best-selling progressive rock acts of all time. “Fragile” is often considered to be YES’ finest record. Released in 1971, the album became synonymous with YES and quickly turned into a commercial and critical success.

I am excited to see “Roundabout” materialize on the stage of Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Fingers crossed that they will play it!


ELO

elo

One of my favorite bands of all time – Electric Light Orchestra, led by the musical genius Jeff Lynne himself, will also be joining the Rock Hall in 2017. Immensely uplifting, spirited, incorporating elements of modern rock, classical music, friendlier pop-sounds, piano, string instruments and keyboards, the music of ELO influenced generations of music lovers. Selling over 50 million records worldwide and releasing 50 hit singles, ELO truly deserved the recognition they are getting from the Rock Hall. “Eldorado” (1974) and “Time” (1981) are among the band’s most signature and influential concept releases. Timeless classics like “Evil Woman”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Mr Blue Sky”, “Ticket to the Moon” and “Rock n’ Roll is King” will forever remain a staple of art/progressive rock.

They say that if The Beatles hadn’t broken up in the late 60s, this is what they would’ve sound in the 70s.


PEARL JAM

pearl-jam

Pearl Jam has to be one of the most representative grunge bands of all time, following Nirvana, of course. Armed with radio appeal and possessing that pure rock spirit, their commercial success was inevitable in the 90s. Their infamous 1991 album “Ten” sold over 13 million copies in the USA alone, making it a key player of the grunge movement. No wonder critics refer to them as one of the most popular American bands of the 1990s. Pearl Jam brought alternative music into the mainstream with commitment and a much desired freshness. Their stripped down, heavy approach to music laid the foundations of modern rock music.


JOAN BAEZ

joan-baez

A songwriter, musician and most importantly, a social activist, Joan Baez is known for being one of the most essential key players of the counterculture in the ‘60s. Despite her folk roots, she has also been notable for playing country, pop and gospel music. Throughout her career, she has participated in many Civil Rights Movement demonstrations, performed and wrote songs about war, human rights, LGBT rights and many other social issues. Joan and her music have been an inspiration for many people all over the world who have been treated unjustly.

Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert are all critically acclaimed releases and widely beloved.


NILE RODGERS

nile-rodgers

Chic’s Nile Rodgers is 2017 Rock Hall Musical Excellence award Inductee. One quick scan through his long and prolific career will give you an idea of why is he given this award. Challenging the boundaries of music by leading an original disco band whose members didn’t rely on synthesizers and machines, but rather on their own skills, Nile Rodgers quickly gained recognition for his artistic vision and creative approach to music.

He has worked as a producer, songwriter, composer, musician and guitarist with almost every artist in the industry – Madonna, Daft Punk, Duran Duran, David Bowie, INXS and countless more. His innovative musicianship and fearless production skills are finally getting the recognition they deserve.


TUPAC SHAKUR

tupac

Tupac Shakur is famous for his hip hop music, fuelled with themes, dealing with racism, social injustice, violence and the hardships of life on the streets. His brave approach to lyricism got recognized by fans and critics all over the world, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. 2Pac’s double disc albums All Eyez on Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best-selling albums in the United States alone. On his first year of eligibility, he will be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in April, 2017.


References:
Photos, taken from Rock Hall of Fame official website: http://rockhall.com/ and Google images.
Information, facts and sales numbers retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org
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~

[MIXTAPE] My Top 10 ALAN PARSONS PROJECT Songs

alan-parsons

Thank God Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson – two of the most notable geniuses of progressive rock, decided to join creative forces in 1975 and create The Alan Parsons Project, a band whose presence entirely redefined progressive rock and the music scene of the time. Accompanied by talented session musicians and various vocalists, The Alan Parsons Project quickly established a name as the ultimate pioneers of concept album releases.

Alan Parsons, or as I like to call him Mr Everything, already had a long list of achievements, including engineering Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and helping with The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and “Let it Be”. For such an outstanding songwriter, audio-engineer, producer, signer and most importantly – a man with a unique perspective and approach to music, the sky was the limit. He saw a respectful partner in crime in the early 1970s in the face of the equally talented lyricists, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Eric Woolfson and… the rest was history.  

The Alan Parsons Project debuted with in 1976 with a concept album titled “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. The band’s identity was yet to be solidified, though. In the years to come, the duo crafted groundbreaking albums like “I Robot” (1977), “The Turn of a Friendly Card” (1980), “Eye in the Sky” (1982), “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) which cemented the duo as one of the highest and most important British progressive rock towers in the mid-1970s and 1980s.

In their 40-year career, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson managed to craft some serious magic. Ten studio albums, each with its own thought-provoking concept, spawned numerous timeless hit singles, still relevant and appreciated by (progressive) rock fans all over the world. Heavily-orchestrated, enigmatic, a bit melancholic even, decorated with powerful lyrics – their music has always been my biggest soothing agent. It is impossible to cherry-pick ten songs from their extensive catalogue and label them as “my absolute favorites”, however I did my best to at least craft a reasonable playlist for the fans who wish to experience the music of The Alan Parsons Project. I do hope you enjoy it!


Eye in the Sky (1982)

The mesmerizing “Eye in the Sky” is among Alan Parsons Project’s biggest commercial successes. Coming from their 1982 album with the same name, the track brought them top chart positions in countries all over the world. Eric Woolfson provided lead vocals for “Eye in the Sky”, which perfectly aligned with the soothing, quiet, yet funky and thrilling rhythms of the song. The lyrics are what captivate the listener the most, in my opinion. Just listen…


Games People Play (1980)

“Games People Play” – another immensely satisfying tune, this time coming from Alan Parsons Project’s 1980 album “The Turn of a Friendly Card”Lenny Zakatek brought so much life into the tune with his memorable vocals. The concept of the song is pretty straightforward, directly related to the overall theme of the record. The lyrics are once again the strongest point, at least to me.


Time (1980)

“Time” comes from “The Turn of a Friendly Card”(1980) and is in my opinion one of the saddest songs ever to be made. Eric Woolfson’s quiet and gentle vocal delivery is everything but comforting. – It just makes me so emotional. Interestingly, this is one of the few songs in which we can hear Alan Parsons himself singing on the background.


Sirius (1982)

“Sirius” and “Eye in the Sky” are meant to be listened one after the other; however I separated them because the 2-minute instrumental has its own charm and sometimes I just play it on a loop, without moving on to the next tune. “Sirius” segues into “Eye in the Sky” and both were usually played as a package on radio stations. The instrumental, however, made a name for itself by becoming an opening number for many sport events.


Ammonia Avenue (1984)

The title track of Alan Parsons Project’s 1984 “Ammonia Avenue” album became one of the reasons why I got into the band in the first place. It seems like songs, performed by Eric Woolfson somehow always get to my heart. A little bit dramatic, but highly enjoyable, this soothing tune has often been there to help me when I am feeling down. I highly recommend it to everyone, it’s just so calming…


Children of the Moon (1982)

“Eye in the Sky” is indeed a very special album to me, as you can see. Another tune from that fabulous progressive rock extravaganza found its place in my top 10. “Children of the Moon” with David Paton on vocals is a rhythmic treasure with a sweet reggae aftertaste and gorgeous lyrics. Have a listen~


Some Other Time (1977)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1977 “I Robot” was their coming out party. Filled with outstanding progressive rock jewels, the record signalled the arrival of a strong prog rock force. The epic “Some other Time”, performed by Peter Straker and Jaki Whitren, stood out to me with its triumphant horn sections and memorable lyrics.


In the Real World (1985)

This tune represents a stronger, more rock-oriented side of Alan Parsons Project which is equally intriguing and worthy of appreciation. “In The Real World” comes from their ninth album, titled “Stereotomy” (1985). The highlight of that record has to be the instrumental “Where’s The Walrus?” which even got them a Grammy Award. However, the uplifting rocker “In The Real World”, performed by Graham Dye, appealed the most to me.


Pipeline (1984)

“Pipeline” is one of the alluring instrumentals on “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) and generally, one of my favorite instrumentals of all time. Alan Parsons Project just know how to craft a time-enduring pieces of art that are equally intriguing with or without lyrics.


Separate Lives (1985)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1985 “Vulture Culture” was probably the last commercial and critical success of the duo. The ‘80s arrived and with them new musical trends, directions and possibilities. There was just little room left for progressive rock. Nevertheless, I find this record to be exceptional, especially “Separate Lives”, once again performed by Eric Woolfson.


+ I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You (1977)

A bonus tune – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” from Alan Parsons Project’s highly successful “I Robot” (1977).  Vocalist Lenny Zakatek brought so much to the table, it was no wonder that later on he would sing so many of the band’s songs. You can’t but be compelled by this funky, disco-sounding tune!


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~