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

danger-danger-album

DANGER DANGER

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

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OVERVIEW

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

Danger Danger debuted in the summer of 1989 with a self-titled album, strictly following the well-established hair metal formula for success. Fuelled with catchy, rhythmic and easy to absorb tunes, the record could easily be described as an “enjoyable Friday night experience”. Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, the time period wasn’t reasonable – the audience were already getting bored of the same old glam rock tunes and Danger Danger’s catchy, mainstream, poppy radio tunes didn’t really impress them that much. To be fair, the record does sound a bit too generic and can’t really stand out with an exceptional musicianship, outstanding vocal delivery or profound lyrics. Nevertheless, this melodic hard rock jewel can almost guarantee you a perfect mood.

“Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang” were released as singles and turned into Danger Danger’s best-known classics. (Those guys really enjoyed double titles.) Both tracks are fun and highly entertaining, despite their obvious commercial-driven goals. “Saturday Nite” has too much Def Leppard in it for me to truly appreciate it. “Don’t Walk Away” is once again giving me that Def Leppard vibe, which is probably why this is one of my favorite moments of the record (it really reminds me of “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)” from Adrenalize (1992). This mid-tempo rocker deserved so much more than it got. “Rock America” is another good moment – anthem-like, synthesizer-driven tune with a lot of spirit and captivating energy. “One Step from Paradise”, “Feels Like Love” – another highly satisfying set of pop rockers which deserve a listen or two.

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

Tracklist:

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

Naughty Naughty

Bang Bang

Don’t Walk Away

One Step from Paradise

Feels Like Love


References:
“Danger Danger” Official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_Danger_(album)
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

The Story of “ALPHA” – A Second Date with ASIA

asia-alphaASIA debuted in 1982 with a monstrous self-titled album which not only celebrated the perfect music partnership of legends Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and John Wetton but also became one of the essential AOR albums that ruled the 80s. With radio-friendly classics like “Heat of the Moment”, “Sole Survivor” and “Time Again”, the album was destined for commercial success. Coming up with an equally deserving follow-up album was always going to be quite the formidable task. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the last album with the band’s original line up as guitarist Steve Howe left one year after its release. There have been some reunions here and there, but the momentum was long lost.

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

Many experts claim that the debut album is the most important album of a musician’s career – after all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. We have so many examples of ground-breaking debut album which sky-rocketed the careers of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Bad Company, King Crimson, Boston, Rainbow, etc. Because of its novelty, huge impact and quality of production, ASIA’s debut album certainly falls under the category of “the greatest rock debuts of all time. “Alpha”, however, didn’t have that novelty factor anymore, nor could it compete in terms of quality of production. “Alpha” also couldn’t meet the industry’s expectation and despite its platinum status, critics often refer to it as somewhat a failure. Sadly, this album turned into one of the most underrated ‘80s rock records of all time, despite the wonderful playlist it offers. If one should chose to ignore all that was said and written about this album and for a second forgets about the enormous sonic force of their debut album, “Alpha” could become a truly pleasant experience. Someone once said that “Asia‘s first album is like Saturday night while the sophomore is more like a Sunday afternoon” which entirely supports my claim – “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart.

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

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

 

Listen to ASIA’s “Alpha” here:

Don’t Cry

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

 


 

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

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

metallica-hardwired-to-self-destruct

Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

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

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OVERVIEW

 

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

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

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

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

 

Tracklist:

Disc One:

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

Disc Two:

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

Hardwired

Moth Into Flame

Atlas, Rise!

Murder One

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

Spit Out the Bone

Dream No More


References:
“Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwired…_to_Self-Destruct
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

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

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

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

Tom Scholz

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

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

The Sci-Fi Logo

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

The Boston Sound”

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

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

“More Than a Feeling”

“More Than a Feeling” is probably the main reason why Boston and their debut record became one of the most popular rock acts of the late 70s. Each and every second of this song was designed to instantaneously crawl under your skin, inject its blessing and leave you in a state of trance. Tom Scholz is a genius and if you haven’t figured it out yet, listen to the track one more time.

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

 

You can listen to the whole album here:


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

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

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

giant-last-of-the-runaways

Last Of The Runaways

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

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OVERVIEW

 

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

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

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

Tracklist:

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

I’m a Believer

I’ll See You In My Dreams

It Takes Two

No Way Out


 

References:
“Last of The Runaways” Official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_of_the_Runaways
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Why is “RUBBER SOUL” My Favorite BEATLES Album

Everyone loves The Beatles!
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison – do I have to say more? The history of rock&roll can simply be divided into two periods – before and after the Beatles! No other artist or band could or ever will be able to match their universal appeal and limitless talent, not to mention the social and cultural impact they left. Despite a recording career that lasted for about only 8 years, the worldwide craze and popularity turned them into the greatest success story in music history. Let’s also not forget that the British Invasion started with the Beatles – they opened the door for the rest of the British bands who conquered North America and well, the rest is history…

“If greatness is measured in commercial success and popularity, the Beatles were the greatest popular musicians of the twentieth century.”

It wasn’t just one or two albums that cemented their position as the perfect rock&roll band. From their early sound, which was basically a sophisticated meeting between Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, to their later, more experimental, psychedelic and way ahead of its time music, The Beatles kept on challenging themselves and overcoming all odds. Each and every one of their albums played a particular role and left a deep, irremovable mark in music history. However, many fans and critics consider “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to be the absolute creative peak of their career and I actually can’t agree more. Many fans often refer to it as their favorite Beatles album. Other popular choices are “Revolver” or “Abbey Road” – both groundbreaking albums. Personally, however, as much as I adore every musical effort of the Beatles, I’ve always had a soft spot for “Rubber Soul”. I bet there are more people out there who feel the same way. I wanted to talk a little bit more about this transitional album because sometimes it gets lost in translation when in fact I believe it’s their most interesting and story-filled album. Let me tell you why…

beatles-rubber-soul

Let’s go back to 1964 when Bob Dylan went down to New York to meet the Beatles. That fateful meeting marked a very crucial point in the careers of everyone involved in it. Imagine the amount of talent and artistic capacity that was about to explode in that room where those two influential rock acts met! Bob Dylan and the Beatles connected right away as ideas and influences started flying around the room. Bob was still strictly an acoustic musician, but it all changed after that meeting. He plugged it in and became a rock&roll player just like that overnight. The Beatles, on the other hand, were influenced artistically and lyrically. Up until that point, their approach to music was simplistic, straightforward and quite innocent. After meeting Bob Dylan, the “poet with a guitar”, however, they no longer came back to the cute love songs – their lyrics became more philosophical and sophisticated and that’s exactly what they needed. That event has always been quite intriguing to me – I do believe that a great conversation can absolutely change your life. This is exactly what happened with Bob and the guys – they pushed each other out of their comfort zones and things were never the same again.
(Bob Dylan also introduced them to marijuana, but that’s a whole new story…)

After releasing a brilliant soundtrack album – “Help”, containing the most covered song in history – “Yesterday”, the Beatles quickly mobilized and “Rubber Soul” was released just in time for Christmas.

beatles-rubber-1

Why do I love “Rubber Soul” so much?

The album cover: The photograph is so engaging – all of the guys are looking to their right, except Lennon, who’s directly looking at you. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable but quite curious at the same time. One more thing – they didn’t put their name on the cover! Why would they? Everyone knew how the Beatles looked like. It had nothing to do with confidence or arrogance – it’s all clever marketing.

The title: African American soul musicians would often call Mick Jagger (or other white musicians), singing blues and soul music a “plastic soul”. They used that as a reference for the title. It’s just so hilarious…

The music: “Rubber Soul” was the album in which they grew up musically and lyrically. As I already mentioned, this was a transitional album – they turned their back on the simple cheery love songs and focused on delivering a complete and original piece of art. The impact Bob Dylan had on their lives shows off on this album. The change was in the air – they were clearly stimulated by his poetry. The lyrics on “Rubber Soul” are abstract, mysterious, quite ambiguous, and even a bit weird. That is exactly why I love this album so much. The Beatles took that extra step and became even better musicians and songwriters than they were. It’s so impressive to see how their artistry reached new peaks. At the same time, however, “Rubber Soul” still had a little bit of that past naiveté here and there. I guess that’s why it appealed so much to me – it is not that heavy or pretentious as the ones to come; and not as cheesy and sweet as their early stuff. Many people say that “Rubber Soul” was the pot and “Revolver” was the acid and they are absolutely right.

The songs: So many interesting things are going on in this record! Where do I even begin? “Norwegian Wood” – probably my favorite Beatles song. Highly experimental and innovative – no other rock band included an Eastern-Asian instrument in a composition before. The sitar makes the whole experience so special and atmospheric. The lyrics and Lennon’s vocals make it even more special… “I once had a girl…or should I say, she once had me…” ;
“Drive My Car” – uplifting and highly entertaining tune with memorable lyrics and compelling beats. “I told that girl I can start right away, And she said, Listen baby I got something to say. I got no car and it’s breaking my heart, But I’ve found a driver and that’s a start”.
I have a soft spot for Lennon, so “In My Life” and “Girl” are the other moments of the record that won me over. “What Goes On” is such a sweet surprise – Ringo kills it on lead vocals; it’s probably my favorite Ringo song of all time. Recently, I had the chance to listen to him perform this song live and I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt! “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone” with Harrison on lead vocals are superb. One more reason I really appreciate this record is because George was starting to wake up and little by little he got out of his shell and proved that Lennon and McCartney were not the only creative geniuses in the band when it comes to songwriting.

 

I have always been drawn to the magic of “Rubber Soul”. This mid-career record of the Beatles offers so many interesting concepts and ideas. I’ve always enjoyed observing and analyzing the evolving process of a band – when you understand that they are growing up and adopting new styles, new sounds, and new approaches. With “Rubber Soul”, thought the transition was quite obvious, it wasn’t that hard to swallow – Beatles didn’t sacrifice their mass appeal, despite sophisticated instrumentation, quality melodies and deep lyrics. I just love how they started searching for a new meaning in music and came up with this highly appealing record… Always (and forever) a pleasure to listen to it!


 

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

10 Classic Rock Records That Should Be Owned By Everyone

albums-you-must-own-collage

Innovation, brilliant musicianship and timeless impact are the three criteria based on which I chose the following list of 10 albums I believe should be owned by absolutely every person who values and understands music. There are indeed SO MANY groundbreaking albums that re-defined history but then again, we have those 10 which I think went far beyond re-defining – they simply turned things upside down. The echoes of their strong collision with the music world were so loud we could still hear them every day. Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Eagles and Fleetwood Mac are among the artist the works of which I would like to draw your attention to. I am positively certain that my readers know and are already in possession of those record but in case you don’t own a copy, grab your things and rush to the nearest record store!

(P.S. I made this list based on my personal expertise and opinion. I realize that some of you may not agree, but I still think those 10 albums deserve to be on everyone’s record shelf)


The Beatles – Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

beatles s

I just had to kick things off with this groundbreaking masterpiece, because let’s face it – no other record can actually beatSgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” when it comes to influence, cutting-edge music and artistry. Beatles retired as a live band and focused entirely on writing new music and experimenting with latest techniques in the studio. In June 1967, the results were in. Beatles didn’t have to worry about playing this album live, so they could go in any direction they want – they had the absolute freedom to arrange and produce things the way they wanted them to be. On Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, each of the Beatles adopted a new imaginary persona, which made things so much more interesting. The album also marked the beginning of album-oriented rock. “Sgt. Pepper” is a concept album you just have to listen from start to finish in order to truly understand its beauty; the record is simply one 40-minute song, an entity, an exceptional musical monster. Not only that, but it was the psychedelic, highly experimental, ambiguous, quite surreal nature of the record that gave rise to art and progressive rock, as well. Let us not forget that “Sgt. Pepper” has one of the most original artworks which re-evaluated the importance of album covers for future releases. “A Day in the Life”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, “When I’m Sixty Four”, “Penny Lane” – songs that live forever.


Led Zeppelin – IV (1971)

led Zeppelin 4

With masterpieces like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll”, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was destined for success. Surprisingly this album never actually topped the US charts, despite being in top 5 best-selling albums in the States of all time and being owned by pretty much every person who lived during the 70s. The organic and folky but quite atmospheric song “Stairway to Heaven” became the most requested song on a FM radio ever, breaking that 3 minute song barrier. It didn’t matter what the critics said about Zeppelin or this album – what mattered is that they made history.


David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

ziggy

The absolute peak of David Bowie’s career has to be the adventurous concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. For this album, the white duke adopted the persona of a Martian who comes to Earth liberate human kind. The album, along with David Bowie himself became synonymous with art rock, praising individualism, mysticism, theatrical performances and fashion. David was so ahead of his time – he simply offered a glimpse to another world, where you can be whoever you want to be.


Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

dark-side-of-the-moon-album-cover-pink-floyd

“The Dark Side of the Moon” shook the grounds of progressive rock the moment it was released to the public. It was this album that forever shattered the notion that progressive rock couldn’t be enjoyed by everyone – Pink Floyd simply brought this style to the mainstream audience. “The Dark Side of the Moon” is not just your ordinary influential rock album of the 70s – it’s an absolute cultural landmark and a celebration of cutting edge techniques, keyboards, synthesizers, sounds effects and coherent musicianship. With its highly intellectual, avant-garde lyrics, the album explores themes such as time, money and the dark-sides of human nature. “The Dark Side of the Moon” spent 471 consecutive weeks on the Billboard album chart – an achievement no other album could ever surpass. Kudos to the brainchild of David Gilmour and Roger Waters!


Eagles – Hotel California (1976)

hotel-california-eagles

Eagles are probably one of the most beloved American bands of all time – Americans wouldn’t trade them even for the Beatles. In 1976, they just blew off the roof with the concept album “Hotel California” which eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time and one of the most critically acclaimed records of all time. “New Kid in Town”, “Life in the Fast Lane”, “Hotel California” – all brilliant rockers with an everlasting impact! The title tracks contains one of the most memorable guitar solos; lyrics-wise, it deals with topics still relevant nowadays – self-destruction, corruption, drugs and the greed in the music industry.


The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

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Whether you like Beach Boys or not, you gotta respect them for their legacy and especially for “Pet Sounds” – one of the most influential albums of all time, loved by critics and fans from all over the world. Brian Wilson’s goal was to create “the greatest rock album ever made” – a powerful rock tornado with absolutely no weak points or filler songs. I am not sure we can refer to “Pet Sounds” as the greatest rock album but it’s definitely in the top 10. Brian Wilson adopted so many interesting, cutting-edge techniques and approaches for this album – from unusual instruments to sounds of dogs barking and bicycle bells; from complex symphonic arrangements to sophisticated vocal harmonies. No wonder “Pet Sounds” changed history – it offered the ultimate musical experience. Not to mention that, just like “Sgt. Pepper”, “Pet Sounds” was equally responsible for the development of art and progressive rock.


Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

fleetwood-mac-rumours

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” is essential for so many reasons. If, for a moment, we put aside the fact that it’s one of the BEST SELLING albums of all time and won a Grammy award for album of the year, “Rumours” was the album that forever blurred the lines between pop and rock. On top of that, “Rumours” was recorded when all members of the band were divorcing or breaking up with each other. There was no way a good album would come out of it. However, against all odds, their brutal frankness somehow stroke a chord with the audience and the album achieved something they never even hoped for – immortality. Candid, open-minded, emotional – I guess it’s true that the greatest masterpieces come out of pain, sorrow and heartbreak. Every song on this album, though it’s about sadness and break-up, is worth listening to.


Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

LAYLA

I don’t even know where to begin with when it comes to this album. Often considered as Eric Clapton’s greatest career achievement, the double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, can’t stop captivating the audience with its emotional intensity and groundbreaking guitar work. Eric Clapton was simply giving it his all on this record. The inspiration 7-minute epic ballad title-song, “Layla”, has to be one of the highlights of the 70s and the ultimate staple of what a love song should sound like. The album is so much more than that though – “Bell Bottom Blues”, “I Am Yours”, “Anyday” – any song of the record offers comforting blues, solid rock&roll, raw guitars and a great mood.


Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)

black-sabbath-paranoid

After careful consideration, I decided to wrap things up with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. When it comes to the origins of heavy metal, things might be a little bit blurred. The foundations of the genre were laid in time, with the contribution of so many bands, styles, approaches, etc. However, to me personally one of the first records that presented a clear-cut vision of what heavy metal should sound like was “Paranoid”. There’s no surprise that many critics refer to this album as “the birthplace of heavy metal”. The simplistic approach to music, heavy guitar hooks, gloomy lyrics, exploring dark subjects and of course – the loud and quite sharp vocal delivery of Ozzy, defined the sound and image of heavy metal.

How many of these records you guys own?


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~

’90S ROCK BLAST: THUNDER – BACKSTREET SYMPHONY

thunder-backstreet-symphony

BACKSTREET SYMPHONY

Released: April 4, 1990
Genre: Hard Rock
Duration: 56:26
Label: EMI, Geffen Records
Producer(s): Andy Taylor
Certified: Gold (BPI)

backstreet-symphony-casette

backstreet-symphony-vinyl

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OVERVIEW

I would like to draw your attention to this wonderfully done rock album by Thunder – an often forgotten British band which unfortunately couldn’t become as big as they should have, for one reason or another. It’s an absolute pity because there was and still is a huge chunk of talent over there – Danny Bowes is a brilliant vocalist and he absolutely kills it on this record.

“Backstreet Symphony” was their coming-out party; a debut album, full of enjoyable, spirited and full of enthusiasm rockers. The record doesn’t really offer any groundbreaking surprises in terms of lyrical approach or musicianship, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. From start to finish, “Backstreet Symphony” displays a great deal of skill and class, all wrapped up in a satisfying selection of hard-rockers, power-ballads and even blues-inspired tunes. “Love Walked In” is a terrific power-ballad and the finest moment of the record (and I’m not just saying it because I’m a power-ballad person). “Dirty Love”, “She’s so Fine”, “Backstreet Symphony”, “Distant Thunder” – all sensational tracks you can rock all day and all night with. “Until My Dying Day” is an interesting tune, transforming from acoustic to a quite intense, guitar-driven composition. The straight-up hard rock cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” adds another star to the record.

The unpretentious, spirited sound of “Backstreet Symphony” is what makes it so good. Any track has the potential of giving you some sweet time. Don’t pick just one, grab and listen to the entire album!

Tracklist:

(1990 Original release)

“She’s So Fine”
“Dirty Love”
“Don’t Wait for Me”
“Higher Ground”
“Until My Dying Day”
“Backstreet Symphony”
“Love Walked In”
“An Englishman on Holiday”
“Girl’s Going Out of Her Head”
“Gimme Some Lovin'”
“Distant Thunder” (CD only)

Love Walked In

Backstreet Symphony

Dirty Love

Gimme Some Lovin’

Until My Dying Day (LIVE)

An Englishman on Holiday


References:
“Backstreet Symphony” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backstreet_Symphony
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~

Bon Jovi – “This House Is Not For Sale” Album Review

bon-jovi-this-house-is-not-for-sale

This House Is Not For Sale

Released: November 4, 2016
Genre: Hard Rock
Producer(s): Jon Bon Jovi & John Shanks
Label: Island
Length: 49:08

this-house-is-not-for-sale-bon-jovi-2-1

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OVERVIEW

Bon Jovi are back with their thirteenth studio album titled “This House is Not For Sale”. With guitarist Richie Sambora no longer in the current line-up of the band and a new house label, fans and critics held their breaths in deep anticipation of what will their new music sound like. Many thought that the day Richie left would also mark the end of the band itself. The long and quite exceptional songwriting partnership between Jon and Richie was what held the band together and the main reason behind their rose to stardom. But what’s in the past is in the past. There’s just simply no time to waste when music is so desperately trying to break out of your mind and soul. Jon buckled up and the results are in. He is the type of person who never gives up and is truly dedicated to his music and fans. For that, he deserves all the respect he can get.

Let me start by saying that musicians change, love to experiment and will never stop exploring the endless realms of music. Styles, methods and sounds are evolving and there’s no need to be overdramatic about it. “This House is Not for Sale” is a modern-day rock album that doesn’t really run 100% after the old-school formula. So to make things perfectly clear, if you want to hear some vintage pounding Bon Jovi sound, this might not be the album for you. Previous generations who grew up with blockbuster records like “Slippery When Wet” and “New Jersey”, might get a little bit lost into this new much softer, sweeter and rather mainstream material. The younger fans, however, are more likely to accept and appreciate this record. All in all, “This House is Not for Sale”, is making a clear statement – Bon Jovi still have it in them and are going nowhere!

The opening title track is probably the finest moment of the album. Bon Jovi’s signature formula, combined with some fresh elements, create a perfect new single. It’s safe, well-controlled and unobtrusive but quite appealing and peculiar at the same time. The charming idea behind the lyrics also adds up to the exciting atmosphere of the track. After that, however, things start becoming confusing. The record flows wonderfully and quite consistently, however there’s just so little substance under that chummy, radio-ready facade. Very few songs from “This House is Not for Sale” manage to leave behind a durable spark. Rockers like “Living with the Ghost”, “Knockout” and “Labor of Love” are well-produced and satisfying to a certain extent; however, way too restrained and familiar to generate the “wow” effect. “Roller Coaster” might be a song with a potential, despite the strong “Maroon 5” vibe coming out of it. The tracks that follow lack individuality and don’t leave an impression that lasts longer than their duration. The hidden surprise was found among the bonus tracks of the deluxe version of the record. Just when I lost all hope, the gentle “I Will Drive You Home” became the slap that woke me up. Tender electronic rhythms and Jon’s mellow vocals made the album experience a bit more bearable.

“This House is Not for Sale” is a good pop/rock album with country elements that is definitely well suited and safe enough to be played on the airways during all parts of the day. Unfortunately, innovation and distinctiveness are not among the qualities of this record. The absence of the tougher, hard rock touch of Richie’s guitar is plainly noticeable. Bon Jovi might be back but their new sound is just too unfulfilling. Nevertheless, I will give the record a second chance!

Cheers~

 

Tracklist

“This House is Not For Sale”
“Living With the Ghost”
“Knockout”
“Labor of Love”
“Born Again Tomorrow”
“Roller Coaster”
“New Year’s Day”
“The Devil’s In The Temple”
“Scars on This Guitar”
“God Bless This Mess”
“Reunion”
“Come On Up to Our House”

+ Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Version)

“Real Love”
“All Hail The King”
“We Don’t Run”
“I Will Drive You Home”
“Goodnight New York”

 

This House Is Not For Sale

Knockout

Labor of Love


 

References:
“This House is Not for Sale” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_House_Is_Not_for_Sale
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.

’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)

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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~