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

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

question music

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

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


Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

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


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

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


Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)

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


Def Leppard – Love Bites (1987)

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


Scorpions – Send Me an Angel (1990)

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


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

My Top 10 Sophomore (Rock) Releases

sophomore fav

I have previously talked about debut albums on my TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums (make sure you check it out). This time, however, we will talk about the sophomore releases because I truly believe that in the majority of the cases, a sophomore album may turn out to be way more important for a band than their debut.

A second album can serve different purposes and can be designed to achieve specific goals. For some bands it’s a second chance to make a better first impression; for others, though, it’s another way to strengthen their position on a certain scene and in a certain genre. In addition, a sophomore album can also be recorded to illustrate a band’s artistic growth and creative strength since the majority of debut releases focus more on the commercial, universally-likable characteristics of the genre. There are, of course, cases in which we observe the so-called “sophomore slump” – a band with a great first release and an unworthy, highly disappointing follow-up. We, however, won’t be talking about those. Today, I will specifically focus on the exceptional ones; the sophomore releases which left such a lasting impression on me for one reason or another. One more thing – interestingly, with each band out there, my personal favorite releases always turn out to be either the debut or the follow-up. I guess you can say that I prefer the early, more passionate and “hungry” stages of a band.

Hope you enjoy reading my list and make sure you comment with your personal favorite sophomore release! Cheers~


Def Leppard – High ‘N’ Dry (1981)

Please don’t tell me you were surprised to see Def Leppard’s phenomenal second release “High ‘N’ Dry” on top of my list…

Def Leppard - High n DryDef Leppard’s “High ‘n’ Dry” has always been somehow ignored or even forgotten due to the ultimate smashing hit records “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” that follow it. Yes, those two albums are the ultimate masterpieces of the ’80s rock scene and definitely two of the greatest and most well-polished rock records of all time.  However, the NWOBHM gem, “High ‘n’ Dry” offers something different and its beauty definitely lies in its raw hard rock energy, rough heavy metal sound and straight-up clean production. “High ‘n’ Dry” was definitely a step up in song-crafting in comparison with their debut album – “On through the Night” – the riffs were more tasteful and Joe Elliott definitely improved his vocal performance. What’s quite impressive about it is that the record was released at the very beginning of the ‘80s – at that time the hard rock/metal/pop recipe hadn’t been fully mastered; however, those guys somehow managed to come up with a very definitive sound. “High ‘n’ Dry” is a simple album with catchy rockers and mild, even innocent lyrics. The instant pop standout and the album’s finest moment has to be “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”. With this song, Def Leppard set the standard for power ballads. “On Through the Night” and “Another Hit and Run” are heavier tracks with catchy hard riffs and loud climaxes. “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)” is the obligatory song about letting loose and having fun. “Switch 625” pleases with its fine melody and vocal intensity. It has to be their greatest instrumental so far. “High ‘n’ Dry” shows a young, maturing band, hungry for success and ready to take over the world. It is definitely one of those “feeling good” old rock ’n’ roll records that you can always enjoy and rock on to!


Dokken – Tooth & Nail (1984)

dokken-tooth-and-nailIt was basically do or die for Dokken after the minimal success of their 1983 NWOBHM debut, “Breaking the Chains”. The label barely agreed to give them a second chance but thank God they did, otherwise this brilliant smoking-hot second release, titled “Tooth and Nail” would’ve never happened. The band’s crave for success and recognition are quite obvious on this record, hence the title.

Despite the ongoing creative clashes between Don Dokken and George Lynch, along with the slow, IMG_20170309_130623_045rather unfulfilling start of the album, “Tooth and Nail” still impressed fans and critics with unique qualities, such as mean guitar solos (courtesy of George Lynch, of course), memorable vocals (thanks to Don Dokken) and a fantastic hard rock (but not too hard) atmosphere. The most important song on “Tooth and Nail” has to be the power ballad “Alone Again” which actually became the reason why Dokken’s name finally reached the surface. The playful “Just got Lucky”, the intense “Into the Fire” and of course that rough and dangerous Judas Priest sounding title song “Tooth and Nail” are some of the others worthy rockers you can find on this album. Overall, “Tooth and Nail” turned out to be а perfect mixture of heavy/speed metal and pop rock (getting more towards the heavy metal). I cannot put Dokken or this album in a category with other “hair metal” bands like Winger or Motley Crue despite popular opinion. If you are looking for something that goes beyond the lighter pop (hair) ‘80s metal, make sure you check out “Tooth and Nail”.


Firehouse – Hold Your Fire (1992)

firehouse-hold-your-fire1992 was a marvelous year for rock music, if the last one to be perfectly honest. Grunge was knocking on the door and fans were letting it at the expense of hard rock. Firehouse was one of those bands that got the boot way too early. Imagine if they released their strong self-titled debut album and their even stronger sophomore album in the early ‘80s…!?

“Hold Your Fire” was an absolute sensation, despite the horrible timing. Where do I even begin? Timeless melodic rock classics like “Reach for the Sky”, “Sleeping With You” and of course, the obligatory power ballad, “When I Look Into Your Eyes” left quite the impression and are still part of any AOR fan’s playlist. My personal favorites include the empowering rock anthem “Rock You Tonight” and the exciting title track (more or less thanks to that thrilling intro). I don’t think Firehouse illustrated that much of an artistic growth with their second release; it was more of a continuation to their debut, polishing and solidifying their position as the hottest new AOR treasures. Mainstream or not, I strongly recommend this album to everyone who is looking for energy, capable of blowing up your entire universe. I would like to say huge thanks to vocalist C.J. Snare who makes this experience so memorable and ear-pleasing every time I listen to the album.


Cinderella – Long Cold Winter (1988)

cinderellaMany people refer to Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” as their finest release and they are probably right. I couldn’t let go of my adoration for “Night Songs” but “Long Cold Winter” is a more than a worthy successor in my book. Cinderella made a little shift from a signature glam metal to more blues-oriented rock, reflecting Tom Keifer’s influences and childhood adoration for the blues.

The triple platinum “Long Cold Winter” is an absolute masterpiece of the genre and I’m not just saying it because I’m a die-hard fan of Cinderella. When we talk about this album, all discussions must naturally start with the most breathtaking power ballads of all time, THE power ballad of power ballads, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. Once you come across this song, every perception for a ballad you had so far will be completely shattered to pieces; not to mention your expectations which will fly up to the sky. I would love to go back in time and listen to the song again for the very first time; it’s definitely a once in a lifetime kind of song. “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” is not the only song on “Long Cold Winter” that can take your breath away, though. “The Last Mile”, “Gypsy Road”, “Coming Home” and of course that heart-stirring bluesy title song are all valuable assets to the album. There’s a reason why it reached a platinum status and more or less, that reason is called Tom Keifer. You just gotta respect him for his superb songwriting and singing skills!


Giant – Time to Burn (1992)

giant-time-to-burn-1992giant-time-to-burn-1992Giant’s sophomore album, “Time to Burn” became reality in the early spring of 1992. The follow-up to their successful 1989 debut, “Last of the Runaways” didn’t get the attention it deserved, despite the band’s obvious musical growth. From the fiery opening track “Thunder and Lightning” to one of the most emotional power ballads of all time – “Lost in Paradise”, the whole album showcased Giant as everything but your ordinary AOR band. With his beautiful voice, Dann Huff brought so much color to the spring of 1992. “Thunder and Lighting” and “Stay” are some of the other gems from “Time to Burn” which received some considerable time on the classic rock radio stations. Overall, this album remains highly underrated, despite being one of the best sophomore releases and one of the finest releases of 1992, in my opinion. It took Giant 9 years to come back with “III”, which is also worthy of checking out by the way.


Asia – Alpha (1983)

Asia - Alpha Album CoverThis right here has to be one of the most special sophomore releases in my book of rock. ASIA 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. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. The second date with ASIA was definitely less tense and more familiar, more sensitive even. Unfortunately, “Alpha” 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. “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart and once you hear songs such as “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” or The Beach Boys sounding “Open Your Eyes”, you will most certainly fall under the magic of the album. 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, for instance.

All in all, “Alpha” is not as strong as their debut album but it still carries valuable characteristics that makes it a great ‘80s rock record


Boston – Don’t Look Back (1978)

boston dont look backIt’s a mission impossible to try and top Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut album. That groundbreaking release, featuring the classics “Peace of Mind” and “More Than a Feeling” is the ultimate classic rock staple and the greatest milestone in Boston’s career. Nevertheless, the 1978 follow-up, “Don’t Look Back“ is definitely not an album to ignore. I will skip the comparisons with that enormous first release, though they seem to be inevitable when we talk about Boston. Instead, I will jump right into the music talks to remind people that Boston DO have other great albums other than their debut.

The title track is one of Boston’s highest-charting singles and the album itself is certified 7x platinum – that should tell you something. The gentle “A Man I’ll Never Be” is my personal favorite though sometimes it gets hard to pick just one track once you play the entire album. “The Journey”, “It’s Easy”, “Feelin’ Satisfied” …each song is a peaceful, soul-soothing and highly admirable piece of a great rock puzzle. Mr. Everything, a.k.a Tom Scholz once again crafted something truly magical.


Strangeways – Native Sons (1987)

strangeways-native-sonsIn 1987, the British-American AOR/Melodic rock band Strangeways released arguably their finest work, titled “Native Sons”. The follow-up to their respectable 1984 eponymous debut also proved that the right singer can make all the difference in the world. Original vocalist Tony Liddell was replaced with Terry Brock – a renowned back-up singer for some of the biggest names of the era, including Foreigner and Journey. What followed after he stepped in as the new frontman, could easily be described as pure musical magic. “Native Sons” is a brilliant melodic rock record that guarantees you nothing but delight and feelings of great pleasure.  The album carries all the best genre elements of the era, including colourful keyboards, splendid guitar playing and glittering hooks. Add Terry’s powerful vocals, the edgy hard-rock vibe and the A-level songwriting and you end up with a melodic treasure that could effortlessly stand on its own two feet against the big AOR titles of the late ‘80s.

“Dance With Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “Empty Streets” and “Never Gonna Lose it” are just a few of the warm and powerful 100% AOR-authentic masterpieces you can find on “Native Sons”.


Foreigner – Double Vision (1978)

doublevision]I will be very brief with this one because when we talk about Foreigner and this album in particular, no words are needed. After their highly influential 1977 debut, arena rockers Foreigner came back with what is often referred to as one of the finest albums of the genre and one of Foreigner’s best, most critically-acclaimed works. We can undoubtedly conclude that they did wrap up the ‘70s with quite the style, setting up the mood for the changes that were about to come in the ‘80s.

“Double Vision” got certified Platinum just a week after its release; imagine the impact and universal acceptance and love it got. It’s all justified though but I mean how can it not be? With astonishing tracks like “Hot Blooded”, “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, “You’re All I Am” and “Spellbinder” no wonder people are still enthusiastically talking about and listening to this album. Not only that, but no self-respecting radio station can afford to avoid some of these classics; they are on a high demand, that’s for sure. One more reason why I consider this album as both an upgrade and a total success, has to be the presence of “Tramontane” which is the only instrumental tune Foreigner have released up to date on a studio album. All in all, this right here is a pure example of how a well-done, going-one-step-further album can became a milestone for a band’s career.


Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)

creamLast but not least, I just had to include Cream’s finest, most precious work of art, titled “Disraeli Gears”. Not only did this album introduced the holy trio of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce to the American audiences but it also showcased how a band can achieve success if only they dare to dig deeper and fearlessly experiment with their music. “Disraeli Gears” showcased the band’s shifting interest from blues, to psychedelic rock. Moreover, it was on this album that Eric Clapton perfected his guitar skills and cemented his position as one of the finest guitarists of his time.

Let’s talk songs. “Sunshine of Your Love” – do I have to say more? That’s the song that changed the rules of the game, set new standards and became an inspiration for many upcoming artists. That mesmerizing intro and those lyrics can never disappear from your mind and soul, once you have listened to the song. It’s not only the massive hit “Sunshine of Your Love” that makes the album so intriguing. My personal favorites include “We’re Going Down”, “Strange Brew”, “Take it Back” and “World of Pain”. I only wish Clapton was leading vocalist on more songs.


Honorable mentions:

Bad Company – Straight Shooter (1975)

bc


Led Zeppelin II (1969)

lz2


The Beatles – With the Beatles (1963)

beatles


Van Halen II (1979)

van halen 2


TNT – Knights of the New Thunder (1984)

knights_of_the_new_thunder-by-tnt

Yngwie Malmsteen – “Marching Out” (1985)

yngwie marching out

Europe – Wings of Tomorrow (1984)

europe wings of tomorrow

Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)

ratt invasion of your privacy album cover


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy (1989)

tesla


Dream Theater – Images and Words (1992)

dream theater image


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 10 albums, picked based on my personal preferences and ideas, fitting the purpose of this article. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

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~

[POLL] VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ’80S (Power) BALLAD(S)

power-ballads-collage

It’s time to crown the GREATEST (power) ballad of the ’80s!

The glory days of rock ballads may be long gone, but all those breathtaking mellow tunes are still relevant and still loved by people from all over the world. As a (power) ballad enthusiast and a huge fan of the ’80s rock music scene, I decided to prepare this little poll for my readers to see which one of these tearjerkers will turn out to be the most beloved one!?

Please feel free to participate in my poll or add a favorite (power) ballad in case it’s not on the list! The results will be announced one month from now in a separate publication!

Happy Voting!

 

 

TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums

favorite-debut-albums

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

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


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

debut-def-leppard-on-through-the-night

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


2. Boston – Boston (1976)

boston-boston

The tremendous strength with which Boston’s self-titled debut album smashed into the music world in the mid-70s could easily be justified with the 25 million copies sold worldwide. Not only that, but “Boston” was actually the best-selling debut album of all time before Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction” in 1987. There should be a reason for such enormous recognition, right? Well, the album is just that good! The record found the perfect balance between pop and rock by crafting a splendid mixture of gorgeous vocal harmonies, gentle, yet rough guitar riffs, spellbinding melodic hooks and dreamy lyrics, all wrapped up under the influence of the classical music, Tom Scholz – the man behind Boston, grew up listening to. “More Than a Feeling”, “Piece of Mind” and “Rock & Roll Band” are some of the classics appearing on the album, which I don’t see disappearing from the radio stations anytime soon.

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


3. ASIA – ASIA (1982)

asia82

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

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


4. Bad Company  – Bad Company (1974)

bad-company-debutBad Company’s glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success.  I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople) – Paul Rodgersvocals absolutely did it for me. If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll.

The Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)


5. Cinderella – Night Songs (1986)

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

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


6. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

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


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

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


8. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

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


9. Giant – Last of the Runaways (1989)

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s outstanding debut album, “Last of the Runaways” deserved so much more than it actually got. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right for it – by 1989, the heydays of album-oriented rock were long gone. Despite its high production value, melodic quality and outstanding vocals and riffs by Dann Huff, “Last of the Runaways” somehow got lost in the transition period from the ‘80s to the ‘90s.“I’m a Believer”“Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock tornadoes that could be heard on this album. “Last of the Runaways” gives us three of the greatest power ballads ever written – “Love Welcome Home”, “It Takes Two” and of course their most commercially successful song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. How Dann and the rest of the guys wrote such powerful and emotionally-charged pieces of art is beyond my understanding. This is a gorgeous rock piece and I can’t recommend it enough!

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


10. Firehouse – Firehouse (1990)

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

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime


+ Honorable Mentions

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

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Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm gonna Leave You

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

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Winger – Winger (1988)

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Foreigner – Foreigner (1977)

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Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

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Bad English – Bad English

bad-english-bad-english

DIO – Holy Diver

Dio - Holy Diver


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Cheers~

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

What is AOR?

beatles sAlbum Oriented Rock emerged as a phenomenon in the 70s, but it wasn’t until the ‘80s, when it became a global trend. Originally, the term was used to describe the works of bands like Pink Floyd, YES, King Crimson, The Beatles even in the late ‘60s which were meant to be listened as a whole, rather than just one single. Simply put, each song from the album was connected to the following, either thematically or musically. Therefore in order to get the ultimate experience from the record, one must listen from start to finish. For instance, let’s take The Beatles“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, which many believe is one of the first good examples of AOR; it would be illogical and unadvisable to just listen to one or two songs and stop right there. Same goes with “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Of course, songs have individual strengths and characteristics, but ultimately the album should be considered as one whole unit. Progressive rock bands were in general following the concept of AOR in the ‘70s. Those bands were usually played on Album Oriented Radio stations where song duration was not an issue and DJs could exercise their freedom and play longer songs and entire albums, even. In fact, before bands, like The Beatles established the album format with albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, for instance, it was the early FM radios and their DJs who would use the term to describe their approach to programming – it was all about focusing on album tracks or whole albums, rather than just playing one hit single for 2 minutes.

boston-bostonThings changed a little bit by the end of the ‘70s, when the term AOR became associated with popular American rock bands, such as the Eagles and Boston.Those bands still followed the album format, according to which an album is much more important and valuable than just one single. However, their music was very different – it was more melodic, inoffensive, pop-influenced, radio-friendly and easily-absorbed by listeners (compared to progressive rock). Due to such characteristics, the music of bands, like Boston and Kansas, for instance, received a lot of radio air play which consequently sky-rocketed their careers. Those bands and their music are referred to as Adult Oriented Rock which is different than Album Oriented Rock. Album Oriented Rock is after all a radio-centered idea, a programming direction; white Adult Oriented Rock refers to bands, like Boston and Asia, whose sound was, as I said friendlier, layered, synthesizer-driven.

Journey_EscapeEventually, the term AOR evolved and people started calling those immensely popular “safe”, melodic rock bands AOR bands, mainly because their music received a heavy rotation on the radio stations. Whether we refer to it as a broadcasting term or more like a general style or approach to music production, ultimately AOR is associated with the mainstream appeal of rock music. In the ‘80s, bands like Journey, Toto, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Survivor and many more, became synonymous with AOR. Their melodic, rather familiar approach to songwriting, granted them tons of radio recognition and ultimately, fame.  Some albums we must mention are Journey’s “Escape”, Asia’s “Asia”, Toto’s “4”, Kansas’ “Leftoverture”, Foreigner’s “Agent Provocateur”, Survivor’s “Vital Signs”, REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity” and many more similar blockbusters. This phenomenon was observed in all genres and styles of music, not just rock. In the late ‘80s that trend continued with hair metal bands, such as Europe, Cinderella, Poison, Slaughter, Bad English, Giant, Winger, Firehouse, White Lion and more.

kansas-the-prelude-implicitThis particular tendency is still present and adopted by many rock acts even nowadays. Bands like Pride of Lions, Treat, (Jack Russell’s )Great White, Pretty Maids, Last in Line, Sixx:AM., Def Leppard,  Kansas, Scorpions, Metallica even, are still going for that contemporary sound, wrapped under a strong consistent album, played on AOR FM stations. It’s all related, spreading across diverse genres and bands. Ultimately, it applies to rock bands with strong albums, full of songs, all suitable to be aired on radio stations and listened by everyone.


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

[MIXTAPE] 10 Classic Rock Songs With A Girls’ Name In The Title

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Crafting playlists is my favorite thing to do – I am sure you already know that if you follow my blog or follow me on Twitter. I try to collect classic rock songs that share similarities in terms of themes, lyrics, titles, instrumentation and many other characteristics.

The idea of coming up with a playlist, featuring classic rock songs with a girl’s name in the title came to me the other day as I was listening to the playlist I have on my phone (it’s on shuffle, of course). First it played Toto’s “Rosanna” and then it jumped to Boston’s “Amanda” – such an interesting coincidence. Then it hit me – there are so many beautiful rock tunes who share that exact same peculiarity! Most of all, it was one of the biggest trends of the ‘70s and the ‘80s. Nowadays we don’t really observe such fashion; however as you will see in the following mixtape, every major rock act had at least one or two songs that were titled after a girl’s name. From AC/DC to Ramones; from Derek and the Dominos to Boston – all major artists loved to sing about that special girl with the gorgeous name. One more thing, pay attention to the names – all vocally strong, ending in –a or –e, aimed at creating a lasting memorable impact.

There are plenty more to add, however I had to draw the line somewhere! Feel free to add your choices on the comment section or on Twitter! Cheers!


Boston – Amanda (1986)

Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

Toto – Rosanna (1982)

Europe – Carrie (1986)

Steve Perry – Oh! Sherrie (1984)

The Police – Roxanne (1978)

Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)

Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary (1970)

The Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)

The Kinks – Lola (1970)

+ Bonus Tracks

AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie (1977)

 Ramones – Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (1977)


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~