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.

The Joys of Record Shopping in Seoul, South Korea

I was fortunate enough to be born in 1992 – a year in which LP/CD/Audiocasette stores were everywhere and people were still enthusiastically buying music. On top of it all, I come from a family of musicians, so you can imagine the kind of musical collections I grew up with. By 1992, the CD had already established itself as a major music format and its importance in people’s lives was unquestionable. I remember asking my parents for CDs every time there was an occasion – birthdays, name days, Christmas, I would always get tons of CDs or audiocassettes of my favorite ‘90s artists as gifts from my parents. I was (and still do it by the way) giving CDs to my friends too.

I guess the CD mania didn’t really allow me to appreciate or look for any other music format when I was a kid. I remember my parents’ vinyl collections but it never really made much sense to get into the whole thing myself. Most of the LPs we had were Russian pressings and it just looked so weird to me. Like, what do I do with that black round thing? How do I play it? I better just go back to the cool stereo and play my CDs. I should’ve known better…

I’ve never really thought about the true value of a vinyl mostly because I was too young and basically moving along with the trend. The technological advancements in sound quality and proliferation and affordability of HiFi stereos made it even easier for people to enjoy music and purchase CDs (and audio-cassettes till early 2000s actually).

As I was getting into music more and more with each second, it was only natural for me to discover the magic of a vinyl record. I guess it all fell into place when I became a die-hard fan of old-school rock music. When this whole new world opened up in front of me, all of a sudden I had tons of exceptional ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s rock bands settling in my heart and they brought so much more than mind-blowing rock&roll in my life. These great artists brought with them the old ways of music which eventually became a staple for me. Of course, growing up with artists like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Chicago, Toto, Tina Turner, Foreigner and similar, had a lot to do with my natural progression towards becoming the ultimate classic rock enthusiast. When you reach the next level of fandom, listening to Led Zeppelin or The Beatles on a CD might not be satisfying enough. I’m not sure I can fully explain it but as I was growing up and my level of music expertise and knowledge of rock music history expanded, my preference for musical formats changed too. I still buy CDs all the time but it’s the LP records that excite me and make my heart jump the moment I come across a LP store.

Some of you may know this but I live in Seoul at the moment, though I come from Bulgaria. Just like in my other countries around the world, in Korea too record stores keep on disappearing as we speak. Korean pop is still a massive force and the market for idol merchandise, including CDs, is still going strong. For a moment, if we forget about Kpop and focus on the international music market, there aren’t actually that many places that offer a wide selection of past and current releases. Moreover, my adoration for second-hand LP record shopping had to be satisfied sooner or later. After my favorite little local record store closed (because of course it had to) I felt quite lost for a little while. I had this routine and the owners knew me not just because I was the only foreigner who would come every week but because I would spend a long time there, browsing and listening to music and trying to find comfort. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be brought to this underground shopping area, located in Myeong-dong (명동), Seoul. I’ve been to Myeong-dong area plenty of times but never knew that there was this second-hand vinyl heaven right beneath my feet. First time I went it was quite late and I couldn’t really make the best of it. I promised myself to devote at least one day and go through each and every LP that was there! I kept my promise….multiple times Ha!

I wanted to share this meaningful experience with you, guys and emphasize once again on how magical it can be to dive into this world of old-school music, put into a vinyl record so many years ago. I am well aware of the fact that most of my readers are probably from previous generations and grew up with LP records so they keep on buying and collecting them. However, it’s not just the older rock fans that know a thing or two about records. Believe it or not, there are many younger people, like myself, out there who are devoted LP collectors and appreciate this format. With this publication, I wanted to not only share what it is like to go record shopping in Seoul, Korea, but also to emphasize and remind everyone that records are the real deal and no other format can ever replace the value and the spirit, this vinyl carries within itself. I truly hope you enjoy the photos!


…This is Myeong-dong – a shopping district, located in the heart and soul of SEOUL, South Korea. There are thousands of tourists who can enjoy all kinds of stores, restaurants, malls and tourist attractions. It is always extremely crowded and it looks something like this:

blog0-myeongdong

…But this is where we are heading for! Myeong-dong underground shopping center – that’s where the real music is!

underground-shopping-center1

After a couple of minutes this breathtaking view welcomes you to paradise! There are plenty of music stores in that underground area but this one is the biggest and offers the widest selection of records. On top of it all, it’s not just this one wall – the owner has little record displays everywhere. I love going there because they have the best ’80s hard rock LPs and in the greatest condition (I am convinced he is a huge classic rock fan)! Don’t even get me started on how awesome the prices are! 

Of course, there are plenty of other genres offered – you can spot classic music, jazz music, pop music, ’90s music and many other subsections!

record-store1

store1-2

…In addition to vinyl records, they also offer CDs (second hand, of course). Here, it says that you can get 4 CDs for 10.000Won, which is around 10$.

store1-3

store1-5

Sometimes you can come across real treasures! That wasn’t what I came for, though…

cd-section1

My favorite section – the place where all the great things happen is this one – this little shelf that contains mostly Korean (or Japanese) pressings of LPs from the good old days of hard rock (a.k.a the ’80s). The prices vary from 5.000Won (5$) to 15.000Won (15$), depending on the condition or popularity of the LP. I’ve been going there for quite some time now and what truly impresses me is that there are new (old) ones every time! Some even quite rare, actually! There is a little chair provided for the people (like me) who just have to go through every single record and make sure nothing is left unseen. Time flies so fast when you are looking for your next big discovery!

store1-6

These are just some of the treasures I found…

records1

records2

Some of them I do have, some of them I don’t! I am still working on my rock collection and have a lifetime to do it! I wasn’t really sure what to get till I saw those two albums…

It’s amazing how the things we want so much, always find a way to come to us! I have been record shopping for ages and this is the first time I see those two albums in any music format. Bonham’s “The Disregard of Timekeeping” has been on my “list” for so long! It was almost unbelievable that it was there, just waiting for me…

records3

Fortune’s self-titled debut album is one rare-gem! I have never came across it and knowing how rare it is, I just had to buy it!

The prices of both were 7.000Won (7$ each). It’s crazy, right? Excellent condition, still with their lyric and promo sheets inside! This is what I’m talking about – I don’t know about you, guys but the thrill of browsing through records and all of a sudden finding one that you wanted so much can be such an emotional moment. Moreover, the most amazing thing is that these kinds of experiences can make you feel so much closer to the music. I didn’t have the chance to be born during the time these albums were released. I never attended their concert or passionately discussed such records with my friends. For someone like me, this is the most genuine way to feel that ’80s rock vibe. For a second there I feel like I was part of it all and it feels so good! Just like that, by holding an old-school second-hand record, I was brought back to the late ’80s and time didn’t matter anymore, it was all about my favorite music and me.

Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping (1989)

Fortune – Fortune (1985)

Moving on to the big wall of records… I just had to browse through them all.

Def Leppard

leppard-records1

Other interesting records I thought I’d never see in Korea!

records10

I wasn’t the only one on a hunt…

records7

The kings!

thekings

Another separate CD section for the enthusiastic collectors.

cd4

There were a couple of more stores which I had to visit before I leave. Though this one was the biggest and definitely the best, sometimes you never know what will jump out of the old vinyl boxes. Interestingly, there were plenty of people who were browsing and looking around. Korean people haven’t fully given up on LPs and that’s great!

records11

One of the other little stores always offers the best deals! In front of it, you can spot a couple of boxes, full of records, all for 5.000Won each (5$). I always find pretty interesting things there! Last time I went, I purchased Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and TNT’s “Tell No Tales” so with the hopes of finding new treasures, I went back…

& let the browsing begin…

I don’t have Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion I” and it was such an amazing deal that I just had to buy it!

records14.jpg

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion (1991)

There are plenty of LP stores all over the underground shopping center but some of them were closed as it was too early when I went there.

recordstores13

Of course, there are stores that offer the suitable sound equipment for listening to those LPs you just bought.

recordstores15.jpg

…and there’s me at the end of my record shopping journey all happy and full of smiles, holding my three new LPs.

me-records

I hope by my words and photos you can tell how exciting and joyful this whole experience was for me. I do that quite often but this time I decided to photograph it all step by step with the hopes of triggering pleasant emotions to my readers and create a sweet memory. I am leaving Korea for good pretty soon but this habit of mine will keep on existing wherever I go. I hope that people out there don’t forget the many benefits of purchasing a record and don’t stop doing it. As I said, that’s one of the most beautiful ways of going back in time. Imagine – this LP was made 30+ years ago and somehow it found its way to your arms. To me that’s just so extraordinary.

When I went back home I had the chance to take a closer look at my new LPs. Ain’t they amazing?

final-records1


P.S. All the photos are taken by me. Please make sure that you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!

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 Bonham’s 1989 Debut,”The Disregard of Timekeeping “

When you are the son of one of the members of probably the biggest rock act out there and carry that colossal family name “Bonham” you don’t really have much of a choice, except to fully embrace that musical spirituality you were born with. As a person who grew up in a family of musicians, I can’t but relate to that – that passion for music and the burning desire to be part of that world are running through your veins and absolutely nothing or no one can change that.

jason-bonham-32Jason Bonham, being born into the big Led Zeppelin family, has been drumming ever since he was a little kid, naturally. At the age of four, he appeared alongside his father on that “little” film, “The Song Remains The Same” and the rest is …one hell of a rock&roll ride! By the age of 17, he was already opening up for AC/DC and Queen with his band Air Force. That should tell you something! Throughout his long and productive career, he has collaborated with major names, such as Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, Foreigner, Sammy Hagar, UFO and many more. He has done a great job and his father would’ve been so proud of him! Excellent drummer, a brilliant songwriter and a dedicated artist who always gave and keeps on giving his all – Jason Bonham is the perfect example of how nothing in life should be taken for granted, even a royal family name. You gotta work twice as hard and make your own path of success!

One of the many outstanding things he did was forming the hard rock band Bonham in 1989. Together with the one-of-a-kind singer Daniel MacMaster, bassist/keyboardist John Smithson and guitarist Ian Hatton, they truly had all the right characteristics to be the next big name in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s rock music scene. For one reason or another, however, the band lasted for about two albums only. Nevertheless, Bonham still enjoyed a certain amount of commercial and chart success, as well as one lengthy tour and of course, tons of radio airplay. Arguably, “The Disregard of Timekeeping” has to be the better album out of the two they released. I thought it’s high time I featured this glorious hard rock typhoon on my blog!

jason-bonham-band1


 

bonham-disregard

Released: 1989
Genre:
Hard Rock / Hair Metal
Duration:
57:00
Label:
Sony Music Entertainment (CBS Records)
Producer(s):
Bob Ezrin

buy-from-amazon


The Album:

  • “The Disregard of Timekeeping”, the first actual attempt of Jason Bonham to hit it big commercially, became a reality in 1989. The project caused quite the stir among the rock fan communities but it was only natural – the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer was about to unleash a new force to the competitive hair metal musical market and fans just had to see through it all!

    The powerful, instantly recognizable drumming techniques of Jason weren’t going to be enough to carry the weight of the band. Daniel MacMaster – a Canadian-born vocalist (ex-Scorcher) was recruited to complete the picture, along with influential bassist John Smithson and lead guitarist Ian Hatton. The final touches were added by producer Bob Erzin who significantly helped in shaping the band’s distinguishable contemporary sound.

    The Led Zeppelin comparisons were inevitable and immediate. No one expected it to be otherwise. Was it more because of people’s already fixed perceptions of what to expect from the band or because it was actually true, Bonham’s debut album “The Disregard of Timekeeping” does have a part of that Led Zeppelin vibe. Also, is it just me, or Daniel MscMaster does sound a little bit like Robert Plant?

    Daniel’s tenor, in combination with Jason’s drum domination perfected a superb AOR sound, which unfortunately wasn’t good enough for the English audiences. Then again, let’s not forget that that’s exactly what happened with Led Zeppelin back in the day! Bonham’s debut album didn’t even find a spot on the English charts. Canadian and American fans, however, were as always more welcoming and gave the band the chance they deserved. A top 40 position on the Billboard 200 Chart and a top 70 position on the Canadian charts, in addition to hitting the gold RIAA status were just a couple of the outcomes. Successful, never-ending tours with major bands, like Bad Company and The Cult granted them an even more favorable position in the hearts of American audiences.

The Songs:

  • “The Disregard of Timekeeping” spawned two singles, both becoming absolute classics of the genre. The Top-10 song, “Wait for You”, credited to all four members of Bonham, turned into an absolute sensation and probably the biggest hit of their career. To fully experience the magic of “Wait for You”, you have to listen it right after the opening instrumental, which bears the same name as the album. The tune itself was of course, a perfected product of the era, but why would we be mad about it? It’s a catchy, sensual, haunting even rock composition, which despite often forgotten, could easily match any other big title from the era. I am a sucker for rock songs that feature a string section. “Wait for You” does hint a little bit of that epic string feeling but it’s their second single – “Guilty” that truly made me fall in love with that album. It just has it all – a mesmerizing intro, unparalleled vocal delivery by Daniel MacMaster and that soul-demolishing violin solo by bassist John Smithson that is sending me to another dimension.

    “Bringing Me Down” is another highly memorable moment on “The Disregard of Timekeeping”. Perhaps that Led Zeppelin influence is way too obvious on that one, but I can totally forgive and forget about it. “Holding On Forever” and “Don’t Walk Away” are the songs I love to crank up because that’s the only way you can do justice to their captivating, thrilling sound. “Playing to Win” is winning me with its lyrics. “Cross Me and See” is another mid-tempo doze of instant satisfaction. “Just Another Day” is a personal favorite, yet again thanks to that exciting string section which just dances with my soul in a beautiful, shattering rhythm. Symbolically, the album wraps things up with a song, titled “Room for Us All”. We live in a forever-changing world but yes, there’s always a room for talented and spirited artists who do things for the right reasons.

What followed next?

  • The perks of that newfound glory, included a busy rockstar lifestyle, lengthy tours and tons of pressure, coming from all directions and people. New management, along with drug and alcohol problems were just a couple of the obstacles, Bonham had to deal with. Vocalist Daniel MacMaster even said that he never wanted to sing again – he was that mortified by the music industry.

    mad-hatter-bDespite all, in 1992, however, Bonham did come back with a sophomore album, titled “Mad Hatter”. Unfortunately, the album wasn’t even half as successful as the debut one was. On top of it all, it was 1992 –people were shifting their preferences towards the big grunge movement which eventually wiped out hard rock acts, including Bonham. Nevertheless, I still consider the sophomore album as a solid effort; definitely not as good as the first one and obviously the band was trying hard to distance themselves from that Led Zeppelin-influenced sound, but still, I give it full points.
    Jason Bonham is still as active as ever, mostly occupied with his Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience project, touring all over North America.

 

RIP Daniel MacMaster (July 11, 1968 – March 16, 2008)

daniel


Guilty

Wait for You

Bringing Me Down

Don’t Walk Away


References:
“Bonham” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonham_(band)
“The Disregard of Timekeeping” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disregard_of_Timekeeping
+ Information about the album, referenced from the CD Booklet I own

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~

In 1992, Eric Clapton Made History With an Iconic “Unplugged” Album

eric-clapton-unpluggedA lot of exciting things were happening on the music scene in 1992. Some people, including myself, consider it to be one of the last years of fine rock music. Among the pile of fascinating 1992 releases was an album, which not only became one of the most important live records but went on to sell 26 million copies worldwide. It even won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. When such a tremendous success is at present, we can’t but think about the significance of Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album.

In January 1992, armed with an acoustic Martin, backed by just a couple of musicians, in front of a small audience, legendary guitar hero Eric Clapton performed acoustic versions of original compositions, along with a few blues classics for the infamous MTV Unplugged TV series. The concert album became one of the first-ever MTV albums and consequently, a turning point in Eric Clapton’s career.After a series of ’80s AOR jewels, including “August” and “Journeyman”, Clapton successfully went on to complete a once in a lifetime project, which critics often consider his best, most sincere release of all time.The classy, yet charming and immensely soul-soothing “Unplugged” record was as important to Clapton as it was to MTV – it enhanced the reputation of the music medium, proving that it’s a place where icons, such as the great Eric Clapton himself, can freely express and re-define the boundaries of their musicianship.

It takes a great deal of courage and inner strength to overcome the endless trials of life and Eric Clapton surely had to face so many of them. On top of being a drug and alcohol recovering addict and burying good friends, Eric had to experience the tragic loss of his 4-year old son, Conor in 1991. Out of his grief and indescribable pain, one of the most tearing and emotional ballads was born. “Tears in Heaven” debuted as a soundtrack to the movie “Rush”; however Eric Clapton recorded a new version of the song for the “Unplugged” album. The tender and absolutely heartbreaking hit single went on to become one of Clapton’s highest career achievements and ultimately the highlight of the concert record.

Tears in Heaven

Eric Clapton’s most famous work during his time with Derek & The Dominos“Layla” is re-invented into a cozy acoustic bliss on “Unplugged”. Comparing it with the original 7-minute epic ballad would be unreasonable, though many fans found more comfort in this slower, less-aggressive and more easily-digested version of the legendary song. The gentle guitars, along with Clapton’s heart melting vocal delivery, turns “Layla” into the perfect lullaby.

Layla (Unplugged)

One of Journeyman’s (1989) most successful singles – “Old Love” was also chosen as one of the 14 performances on “Unplugged”. The equally deserving revised version of the bluesy tune guarantees an experience of a lifetime.

Old Love

“Unplugged” is filled with fine moments, capturing Eric Clapton’s honesty and pure effortless talent. One thing he never forgets to do on his projects is to pay his respects to the legendary bluesmen he grew up listening to, by immortalizing their songs and introducing them to newer generations. Among the blues classics he chose to cover on “Unplugged” are “Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me”, Leadbelly’s “Alberta” and of course, Robert Johnson‘s “Walkin’ Blues” and “Malted Milk”.

On the deluxe edition of “Unplugged” we also get to listen to early versions of “My Father’s Eyes” and “Circus”, which would eventually be featured in “Pilgrim”, six years later.

Alberta

“Unplugged” was Eric Clapton’s 90s coming out party. The ‘80s were gone and with them his radio-friendly, AOR, highly produced approach to music. Don’t get me wrong, his ‘80s releases are actually among my favorite records of all time; however we have to keep in mind that musically they did reflect the time period. As much as he kept his authenticity as a bluesman, those ‘80s records still fall under the category of contemporary ‘80s soft rock. Then, when the ‘90s came, Clapton took off on a new journey – a journey of self-discovery and absolute frankness. That’s exactly why “Unplugged” became so enormously successful – it was the perfect “what you see is what you get” record. Eric Clapton just rose from the ashes with ease and comfort. You could feel his confidence and sincerity coming out of every note.

No wonder “Unplugged” won three Grammy Awards and sold millions of copies all over the world. The audience already knew and loved Clapton but this stripped down album, featuring new interpretations of his classics gave them a new perspective. This album revitalized his career and I think it helped him move on with his life, after the tragic loss of his son. On top of it all, the biggest musical force – MTV, was backing him up. After the enormous popularity of “Unplugged”, the show turned into a much bigger force, hosting some of the most talented musicians of all time – Roxette, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles and so on.

Familiar, relaxing, cozy…what else can I say? “Unplugged” celebrates a career of an outstanding musician and because of its unique format you can feel like you are a part of the audience and the whole experience. It has been over 20 years since its release, but this concert album will forever remain one of the highest moments of Eric Clapton’s career and as a matter of fact, one of the biggest legacies of MTV.


…You can listen and watch the entire show here:


References:
“Unplugged” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unplugged_(Eric_Clapton_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~

’90S ROCK BLAST: DEF LEPPARD – RETRO ACTIVE

def-leppard-retro-active

RETRO ACTIVE

Released: October 5, 1993
Genre: Hard Rock/Glam Rock
Duration: 56:04
Label: Mercury
Producer(s): Def Leppard
Singles: “Two Steps Behind”, “Desert Song”, “Miss You In A Heartbeat”, “Action”, ““Two Steps Behind (re-issue)”
Certified: Platinum (RIAA)

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

Def Leppard released four albums during the 90s but this time I will specifically focus on “Retro Active”, despite “Adrenalize” being their most commercially and critically successful 90s record. I wanted to talk a little bit more about “Retro Active” because of its unique format that combines groomed up versions of unreleased/B-sides tracks and a couple of covers from previous albums. The album carries with it Def Leppard’s genuine and classic ‘80s sound, making it their most deserving work that came out in the ‘90s. Don’t get me wrong, “Adrenalize” and “Euphoria”, for instance are groundbreaking albums, but they cannot match the variety and character of “Retro Active”. Fuelled up with first-class production quality and of course, the dynamic and charismatic spirit of Def Leppard, the record is the ultimate cause for celebration, especially for die-hard fans of the band, like me. On top of it all, the band gives us one more chance to honor the late Steve Clark (RIP) by revisiting his legacy and experiencing his enormous talents and contributions all over again. We get to hear the first recordings with the new guitarist Vivian Campbell, as well.

In terms of songs, “Retro Active” is an absolute rock festival from start to finish. We get to enjoy a couple of gorgeous ballads -“Miss You in a Heartbeat” and “Two Steps behind You”, both presented in acoustic and electric versions.  Listening to those excellent pieces of art makes me such a proud fan of Def Leppard. “Miss You in a Heartbeat”, especially, is one in a lifetime kind of song – memorable and easy to sing with chorus, heartbreaking lyrics and an unmatchable classy aura. I have always been entranced by Joe’s vocals on this track. “She’s too Tough”, originally released on the “Heaven Is” single (1993) is such a delightful surprise and definitely my favorite moment of “Retro Active”. Energizing and empowering, the track is definitely something to anticipate as you go from start to finish. Playful, even sexy lyrics that generate an immediate visual in your mind, which is one of the reasons why I love Def Leppard so much – they tell a story with their music and make things so much more interesting. Kicking things off gently and then quickly teleporting us to a pure solid hard rock realm, “I Wanna Be Your Hero” is another groundbreaking point. On “Retro Active”, you get to find tons of other deserving rockers, such as the covers “Action” (Sweet) and “Only After Dark” (Mick Ronson). The mind-blowing first two opening tracks “Desert Song” and “Fractured Love”, both from Hysteria sessions, are bringing us back to Def Leppard’s early raw roots. The epic “Ride into the Sun” is another personal favorite of mine, probably due to the long history it carries with it – the track was actually featured on Def Leppard’s first ever self-produced EP, released back in 1979 before it was rerecorded in 1987 as a B-side to the “Hysteria” single. “Retro Active” wraps things up with a hidden track – a tender piano version of “Miss You in a Heartbeat”. Leaving us absolutely speechless, you can’t but go on the “Retro Active” journey once again, after the final song is over; the feeling is just that strong!

This album is for everyone, though I do believe that die-hard fans of Def Leppard would enjoy it much more than everyone else. The collection of songs offers a little something for all the rock souls out there – from attractive hard rockers to sentimental ballads, “Retro Active” provides you with the ultimate Def Leppard experience. The album is important also because it’s a final farewell to Steve Clark, the irreplaceable force, without which the band wouldn’t have reached such heights. Grab a copy and enjoy the superb production and quality of this record. Definitely in my top 5 Def Leppard albums! That should tell you something!


Tracklist:

“Desert Song” (Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage)
Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions (1984–87)

“Fractured Love” (Clark, Elliott, Savage) – 5:08
Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions

“Action” (Andy Scott, Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Mick Tucker)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single (1992)

“Two Steps Behind” (Acoustic version) (Elliott)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single
Originally released on the Last Action Hero soundtrack (1993)

“She’s Too Tough” (Elliott)
Original version released on the “Heaven Is” single (1993) and is the bonus track for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize (1992)

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Phil Collen)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single

“Only After Dark” (Mick Ronson, Scott Richardson)
Original version released on the “Let’s Get Rocked” single (1992)

“Ride into the Sun” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Savage)
Original version released on the “Hysteria” single (1987)
First recording of the song released on The Def Leppard E.P. (1979)

“From the Inside” (Elliott)
Originally released on the “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single

“Ring of Fire” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Savage)
Original version released on the “Armageddon It” single (1988)

“I Wanna Be Your Hero” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange, Savage)
Original version released on the “Hysteria” single

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Electric version) (Collen)
This was the Japanese bonus track for Adrenalize

“Two Steps Behind” (Electric version) (Elliott)

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Piano version) (Hidden track)) (Collen)

She’s Too Tough

Miss You In A Heartbeat

I Wanna Be Your Hero

Action

Two Steps Behind

Desert Song


References:
“Retro Active” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retro_Active
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 Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT – The Turn Of A Friendly Card

the-alan-parsons-project-the-turn-of-a-friendly-card

THE TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARD

Released: November 1, 1980
Genre: Progressive Rock / Art Rock
Duration: 40:25
Label: Arista
Producer(s): Alan Parsons

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

It’s time for some fine progressive rock, coming directly from one of the pioneers of the genre – the British rockers The Alan Parsons Project. “The Turn of a Friendly Card” opens up a door to the world of gambling by offering a brilliant selection of tunes, dealing with the theme. Often referred to as their most memorable and ear-pleasing work, featuring two of their greatest hits of all time “Games People Play” and “Time”, the record stood the test of time and is still on top of people’s minds when talking about progressive rock. Naturally, it became a commercial success as well, peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200 Chart. “The Turn of a Friendly Card” offers vocal variety and strength as throughout the album we get to hear Eric Woolfson’s delightful debut as a lead vocalist (“Time”), Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek and Elmer Gantry. The record is well-produced, imaginative and highly enjoyable. Definitely one step away from the pretentious, overly-dramatic and world-spinning progressive music of the 70s but it still carrying out its idea in quite the exquisite way.

The sensitive ballad “Time”, the album’s finest work, is a song which can dissolve even the toughest, most resilient soul after just one listen. A song drifting away from the main theme of the album but if I may say their most beautiful work with some of the saddest lyrics in music history…”Goodbye my love, Maybe for forever, Goodbye my love, The tide waits for me, Who knows when we shall meet again, If ever…” If that doesn’t make you feel like you need a hug and a shoulder to cry on, then you truly are made of stone. The essence of the song comes from the superb vocal debut of Eric Woolfson who just makes the whole journey so much more enchanting. The synthesizer-driven “Games People Play” is another classic, captivating with its thrilling intro that transforms into a great mid-tempo rocker. “The Gold Bug” is a spellbinding instrumental that is often referred to as one of the band’s finest instrumentals. “Snake Eyes” is the album’s hidden rhythmic treasure, leaving us with a little sweet reggae aftertaste. The powerful but anxious title track, performed by Chris Rainbow, delivers a strong message with its lyrics, “…And they think it will make their lives easier, For God knows up till now it’s been hard, But the game never ends when your whole world depends, On the turn of a friendly card”.  The song is sending me to another century with its mysterious, quite antique atmosphere.

 “The Turn of a Friendly Card” is an album that can satisfy the desires of both progressive rock and pop fans. That doesn’t mean it lacks imagination or that it doesn’t tempt us with its thoughtful themes and interpretations. On the contrary, it’s one of the most curious and alluring albums from the early years of the 80s. Needless to say, it’s also an absolute favorite of mine.  

Listen and enjoy!

 

Tracklist:

“May Be a Price to Pay”
“Game People Play”
“Time”
“I Don’t Wanna Go Home”
“The Gold Bug”
“The Turn of a Friendly Card” (Part One)
“Snake Eyes”
“The Ace of Swords”
“Nothing Left To Lose”
“The Turn of a Friendly Card” (Part Two)

 

Time

Games People Play

I Don’t Wanna Go Home

 The Turn Of A Friendly Card


References:

“The Turn of a Friendly Card” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turn_of_a_Friendly_Card

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

cinderella-night-songs-2

NIGHT SONGS

Released: August 2, 1986
Genre: Hard Rock/Glam Metal
Duration: 36:05
Label: Mercury
Producer(s): Andy Johns
Certified: 3xPlatinum (RIAA)
Singles: “Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Somebody Save Me”

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

I’m putting this record under the category of “The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s”, because as subjective as it may sound, this album has no weak, boring or spiritless song. I don’t think Cinderella could’ve made a better debut album!  “Night Songs” was often criticized for being too generic and quite indistinguishable among the endless sea of hair metal bands, releasing pretty similar music, all cooked by following the well-established recipe for success in the late 80s. I can never agree with this statement because Cinderella were everything BUT your ordinary glam rock band. Unfortunately, their image was what often confused people, though I always say that 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. Unfortunately, when we talk about male rock vocalists he is often forgotten, despite possessing one of the most unique high-pitched voices. On top of that, he was/is a brilliant songwriter – each and every song on “Night Songs” is written by him! Such a talent!

“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. Their first single “Shake Me”, despite not making it on the charts, rocks pretty hard; sexy, suggestive, catchy and uplifting, the song is one of their ultimate classics. The power-ballad “Nobody’s Fool” is the song that actually got me into their music years ago. One of the most intense and beautifully written power-ballads of the era though I’m not sure I can put it under the same category as the numerous other silly little love ballads of the 80s – it’s too special and so much better! “Nobody’s Fool” is just a different kind of monster, though I definitely hear some AC/DC and Def Leppard influence. “Nothin for Nothin”, “Hell on Wheels” and “In From the Outside” – all infectious rockers, with not so much lyrical depth but still leaving quite the aftertaste! The title track “Night Songs” is a bit darker and gloomier, though quite rhythmic and obsessive. The third single “Somebody Save Me” has quite the memorable MV with their benefactors Bon Jovi appearing at the end. The song itself is one of the finest moments of the record with the most memorable lyrics, telling us about the failed American dream.

To sum up, don’t get turned off by how Cinderella look because believe me, there’s so much more to them than their image!! Cinderella are no Poison or Warrant – their music comes from deeper places. “Night Songs” has a special aura, fuelled with actual music competence in addition to the obvious blues base – all that makes things so much more interesting. After just one listen you will understand what’s the difference between Cinderella and all the other spandex-wearing boys of the era. It’s such a shame that this album and the band never actually got the recognition they deserved. But I’m here to remind you and get to you – listen to this gorgeous explosion of riffs full of live and vocals out of this world!

Tracklist:

“Night Songs” – 4:12
“Shake Me” – 3:44
“Nobody’s Fool” – 4:49
“Nothin’ for Nothin'” – 3:33
“Once Around the Ride” – 3:22
“Hell on Wheels” – 2:49
“Somebody Save Me” – 3:16
“In from the Outside” – 4:07
“Push, Push” – 2:52
“Back Home Again” – 3:30

Shake Me

Nobody’s Fool (#13, 1986)

Somebody Save Me (#66, 1986)

Nothin For Nothin


References:
“Night Songs” Official Wikipedia Webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Songs_(Cinderella_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~

’90S ROCK BLAST: SCORPIONS – CRAZY WORLD

scorpions-crazy-world-coverart

CRAZY WORLD

Released: November 6, 1990
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Duration: 52:53
Label: Vertigo (Europe), Mercury (US)
Producer(s): Keith Olsen, Scorpions
Singles: “Tease Me Please Me”, “Don’t Believe Her”, “Wind Of Change”, “Send Me an Angel”
Certified: 2xPlatinum (RIAA)

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

 “Crazy World” is the phenomenal 1990 comeback record of the German rockers Scorpions which proved that even though the 80s were gone, 100% pure hard solid rock wasn’t! With a new but quite famous producer on board – Keith Olsen (who worked with rock acts such as Whitesnake, Foreigner, Santana, Heart, Journey and many more), heavier sound, outstanding guitar solos and greater, much deeper lyrical work, “Crazy World” is often referred to as Scorpions’ finest work so far.  We cannot deny the impact of the album and its rightful place in the history of rock music. With immortal rockers, such as the gentle but empowering “Send Me an Angel” and arguably their most memorable classic “Wind of Change”, this album sends you on quite the fascinating journey!

Overall, the record is very catchy, soothing, and ear-pleasing – that is if you are into hard rock/heavy metal music, of course. The opening track, “Tease Me Please Me”, is an excellent injection of good old loud rock&roll, perfect for any wild night out. Other hot rockers include “Don’t Believe Her” and “Kicks After Six” – tracks that are not necessarily making a huge statement but are as equally enjoyable as any other tune on the record. The fantastic blend between alleviating harmonies and profound lyrics can be found in the two power-ballads “Send Me an Angel” and “Wind of Change”. Without doubt, those two mark probably the band’s finest point of their career as creative musicians and artists. Eye-opening and overwhelming lyrics, celebrating hope and new beginnings, accompanied by clean guitar work is the formula that turned those two emotional songs into the absolute turning point of Scorpions’ career. If you guys are wondering, “Wind of Change” is dedicated to the end of the Cold War which makes the song even more special.

Good hard rock never gets old! “Crazy World” is a classic and shame on you if you don’t have it in your record collection! Check out the songs and celebrate Scorpions’ outstanding musicianship with me!

Tracklist:

“Tease Me Please Me”
“Don’t Believe Her”
“To Be With You in Heaven”
“Wind of Change”
“Restless Nights”
“Lust or Love”
“Kicks After Six”
“Hit Between the Eyes”
“Money and Fame”
“Crazy World”
“Send Me an Angel”


Tease Me Please Me

Don’t Believe Her

Wind Of Change

Send Me An Angel


References:
“Crazy World” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_World_(Scorpions_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~

Eric Clapton Melting Our Hearts With This Gorgeous Performance of “Wonderful Tonight” from His New LIVE Album

This beautiful live performance of “Wonderful Tonight” was just uploaded on Eric Clapton’s official YouTube account to promote his most recent live album – “Live in San Diego With Special Guest J.J. Cale”. The video shows Eric, along with his band, delivering a soulful performance of the gorgeous 1977 ballad, written for his then-wife Pattie Boyd.

The live album documents Eric Clapton‘s performance in San Diego’s iPayOne Center on the 15th of March, 2007. Many faces appear on that stage, including his idol J.J. Cale, with whom he performs the timeless classics “Cocaine” and “After Midnight”.

Watch the performance below:


 

‘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~

’90s ROCK BLAST: EUROPE – PRISONERS IN PARADISE

europe-prisoners-in-paradise

PRISONERS OF PARADISE

Released: September 23, 1991
Genre: Glam Metal/ Hard Rock
Duration: 54:57
Label: Epic
Producer(s): Beau Hill
Singles: “Prisoners in Paradise”, “I’ll Cry For You”, “Halfway to Heaven”

 

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

Swedish rock band Europe has always been one of the most essential and beautiful rock acts that came out of the continent. Naturally, they turned into an absolute sensation in pretty much all European countries, including my own – Bulgaria, and quickly went off to conquer the States, Japan, etc. The ‘80s were good to them as the band kept on releasing smashing hit records, such as “Wings of Tomorrow”, “The Final Countdown” and “Out of This World”. But for me, the album that came in next – “Prisoners of Paradise” has to be their finest effort. I am absolutely crazy about this melodic hard rock treasure and to me the album is definitely one of the best rock albums of the 90s.

“Prisoners of Paradise” is definitely not as hard as the previous two albums, but that’s exactly why it’s so good. The band matured, improved their songwriting skills and found their good place, as can be heard on the record. I have to make it clear – the songs on the record are radio-friendly, safe, pleasant and perfect to sing along with. But that shouldn’t drive you away because they are everything BUT your regular weak radio-friendly pop rock tracks. I’m not even sure I can deliver it through worlds, but each and every song has so much energy, potential and such a special aura. I always talk about “the aura” of an album or a track because you can absolutely feel it when something has a soul, rather than just be an empty shell.  It makes me sad that this album is so under-appreciated and couldn’t reach higher peaks.

Each and every track could’ve become a major 90s rock hit. Where do I even begin? The absolute treasure of the record has to be “I’ll Cry for You” – beautiful bittersweet lyrics and an absolute melodic joy!  This track also happens to be one of my favorite Europe tracks in general. The catchy “All or Nothing” is a solid opening for the record with its ecstatic riffs and hard vocals. The title track – “Prisoners of Paradise” is another killer rock tune, featuring piano accompaniments that make it so heavenly pleasant. “Girl from Lebanon” is the hidden jewel of the album – powerful, emotional and intense – the perfect ending of the record. “Halfway to Heaven”, “Talk to Me”, “Little Bit of Lovin’” – all favorites, shining with such strong light!

What else can I say? “Prisoners in Paradise” rocks hard and though so many people keep on forgetting about it, I’m here to remind you about it! I would recommend this record to anyone who loves classic rock and is ready to enjoy an hour, full of excellent rockers by exceptional musicians.

 

Tracklist:

“All for Nothing”
“Halfway to Heaven”
“I’ll Cry for You”
“Little Bit of Lovin’”
“Talk to Me”
“Seventh Sign”
“Prisoners in Paradise”
“Bad Blood”
“Homeland”
“Got Your Mind in the Gutter”
“Till My Heart Beats Down Your Door”
“Girl from Lebanon”

I’ll Cry For You

Prisoners In Paradise

Halfway To Heaven

All Or Nothing

 


 

References:
“Prisoners in Paradise” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoners_in_Paradise  
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.