Inside Lou Gramm’s 1987 Solo Debut Album, “Ready or Not”

Late ‘80s was a very unsettling time for Foreigner. After e series of smashingly successful albums, including “4” (1981) and “Agent Provocateur” (1984), things needed to cool down for a second before moving on to the next step. Lou Gramm and Mick Jones took some time off to explore their individual artistic strengths. That’s when Lou released the album I will be talking about – “Ready or Not”.

I cannot understand the pressures of the business; I can only imagine how turbulent and stressful it was for Foreigner to constantly be under the radar and asked when the band’s next big hit will be played on the radio. On top of it all, there always comes a time when egos, ideas and opinions clash, especially if you worked with someone for so many years. That’s why taking time apart and going on an adventure (in our case, releasing your first solo album) is totally justifiable.

inside information foreignerNevertheless, after Lou Gramm finished with his debut and the promotional activities and concerts he did come back (along with Mick Jones) to record Foreigner’s sixth studio album, “Inside Information” (1987). Unfortunately, that great album, featuring classics like “Say You Will”, also became the last album to feature the ’80s winner line-up, making it the end of an iconic, historically relevant era of rock music. Gramm did come back in the early ’90s (“Mr. Moonlight”, 1994) but then departed again. Foreigner moved on without Lou, naturally. It’s a whole different topic whether there can be a Foreigner without Lou Gramm, though, but will save it for some other time.

The Album

lou1“Ready or Not” was released at the very beginning of 1987 and it definitely signaled the arrival of a strong (if not the strongest) year for rock music. Overall, the album did make quite the fuss – a top30 chart position in the USA, a #1 hit single (“Midnight Blue”), dozens of concerts and happy faces, etc. etc… No surprises there – “Ready or Not” is as good as you might expect it to be (we are talking about Lou Gramm after all).  Numerous rock band vocalists of the era, including Peter Cetera (Chicago) and Steve Perry (Journey), for example, released solo albums so what Lou did wasn’t really that surprising. What also didn’t surprise fans was the commercial and critical triumph of the album. Lou Gramm and producer Pat Moran crafted some serious melodic rock magic and proved to be a winning team. The Foreigner vibe is still there – I mean come on, what did you expect? Lou was after all a huge part of Foreigner’s sound. Interestingly, though, there’s something unique and distinctive about “Ready or Not” which cannot be found on his previous work with the band. To me, it sounds a little bit more soulful and sincere, less sweet and even a bit edgier.  One more thing that impressed me was the guitar work courtesy of Nils Lofgren who was like a breath of fresh air for the fans.

My final verdict is that “Ready or Not” is a beautiful gift to anyone who loves and appreciates God-given talent and melodic rock, of course. Top notch production quality, superb guitar work and catchy, highly entertaining, full of life songs are some of the characteristics that make this album worthy of your time. In time, people forgot about it but I am here to remind you!

The Songs

One thing that truly frustrates me is that every time I have a conversation about the greatest hits of the ‘80s, songs like “Midnight Blue” or “Ready or Not” never get a mention. “Midnight Blue” is a fantastic pop/rock single which absolutely proved that Lou Gramm is more than fine on his own. The title track, “Ready or Not” is my personal favorite – those drum rhythms, vocal and melodic hooks took my breath away. Lou knows how to craft a beautiful ballad and he perfectly uses that gift of his on “Ready or Not As Well”; The stunning ballad “If I Don’t Have You” might as well be one of the most overlooked ballads of the era, despite its qualities. The excellent rockers “Heartache” and “Until I Make You Mine” are just a couple of the other tracks that back up my statement – “Ready or Not” is Lou Gramm’s purest manifestation of at his creative and artistic power and most certainly a turning point for his career. Don’t forget to play the songs!

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Ready or Not

If Don’t Have You

Midnight Blue

Listen to the entire album on YouTube:


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~

The Story of HOUSE OF LORDS’ 1988 Debut

Who are House of Lords?

giuffria
Giuffria

Before we get to House of Lords and their 1988 debut, we have to go back further in time and talk about another glam rock band that rose to stardom in 1984 with the famous single, “Call to Your Heart”. Named after keyboardist Gregg Giuffria, previously a member of the hard rock act Angel, Guiffria quickly turned into way more than a side matter. Right from the very beginning, the band made a solid presence on the charts and on the major AOR radio stations. Their first two albums were quite promising but unfortunately the third album brought the end of Giuffria.

Luckily, another beautiful project rose from the ashes of a band with so much potential, gone so soon. Mr. Everything, a.k.a. Gregg Giuffria, quickly gathered what was left of the recorded demos, assembled his next winning team and formed House of Lords in 1987.

Original Giuffria vocalist David Glen Eisley (who by the way vocally reminds me so much of Steve Perry) was replaced with James Christian. I’m not sure whether that was the right move (not that James isn’t talented but David was truly remarkable in my opinion) but ultimately, it was James who became the face of the new band that even got a brand new name – House of Lords. The deal with Simmons records (the record label of Gene Simmons of KISS) was loud and clear – “you come to us, but you have to change your name and you gotta fire David Glen Eisley!” Ex-Guiffria and Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Lanny Cordola and drummer Ken Mary were the final pieces of the puzzle. In the fall of 1988, House of Lords’ debut eponymous release finally became a reality.

house of lords members
House of Lords

The Debut Album

house of lords 1988

The late ‘80s were the heydays of glam metal and every band out there was trying to make it big on that highly profitable music market. The hardest thing to do wasn’t to gather a couple of musicians and record a glam rock album but rather to achieve some sort of recognition and stand out from the thousands of bands who came to fight with all they got, just like you. (To be perfectly honest, the hardest thing was to find stability and consistent fan-base but realistically, young bands couldn’t ask for that much now could they?)

Overall the debut album, “House of Lords” was a moderate success – the type of success that many bands enjoyed, despite longing for that durable recognition I was talking about. A Top 80 chart position (on Billboard 200), a couple of good singles and music videos to support the promotion of the album – what more could you ask for? The true uniqueness of the album, however, lies in the number of great musicians that were behind many of the songs on the album. Stan Bush, Giuffria’s previous vocalist David Glen Eisley, Armand “Mandy” Meyer (Asia, Cobra) and songwriter Johnny Warman deserve a mention for their songwriting input. Rick Nielsen of the famous rock band Cheap Trick co-wrote the song “Slip of the Tongue” and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen) helped with the backing vocals on the entire “House of Lords” album. The presence of so much brilliant musicians should’ve turned the album into a huge sensation! Instead, it was forgotten as quickly as it was assembled.

The Songs

The catchy “I Wanna Be Loved” and the power ballad “Love Don’t Lie” are the two most famous tracks, coming out of “House of Lords” (a lot of love on that album!). Since I’m a power ballad person, I would most certainly vote for “Love Don’t Lie” if we have to choose the finest moment of the album. A superb cover of Stan Bush’s softer, way gentler version of this song, “Love Don’t Lie” might as well be referred to as one of the best rock ballads of the year and as a whole. The vocal performance is absolutely stunning and don’t you even get me started on those mesmerizing guitars. “Slip of the Tongue” – now that’s a song you must check out – it’s a highly energizing hard rock tune and the point where you realize that this album has little to do with Giuffria’s original, way friendlier sound. “Call My Name” and “Hearts of the World” are just a couple of the other impressive songs, which I’m sure sounded even better played live.  

Overall, as I said, “House of Lords” is just one of all the great hard rock albums that came out during that time.  There are no bad songs on this album – only good, heavy-rocking ones that surely deserve your attention. Gregg Giuffria is truly a legend! If you liked what you heard on “House of Lords”, make sure you go ahead with their 1990 sophomore release, “Sahara”!

“I Wanna Be Loved”

“Love Don’t Lie”

“Slip of the Tongue”

“Call My Name”


References:
“House of Lords” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords_(band)
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~

Album Recommendations: Sleeze Beez’ “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990)

You are casually browsing through the suggested section on YouTube, looking for your next favorite old-school rock band – one of the millions you have yet to discover and then BAM, you see the name “Sleeze Beeze”. From here on, you can go two ways; way number one – you just ignore them, thinking it’s just another one of those sparkly spandex-wearing youngsters that don’t want to be taken seriously and named themselves so foolishly just to attract attention to their average heartbreak tunes… or way number two – you decide to check them out anyways, with the hopes that there might be something there. Guess which way I went?

The name did throw me off a little, but I was too curious to just let it go. Also, once I saw the name of their sophomore album, “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” I couldn’t just walk away. One thing I give them, ridiculous or not, it does catch your eye.


Who are Sleeze Beeze?

The most important thing to know about Sleeze Beeze is that they a hard rock band from the Netherlands and lasted for about 9 years (from 1987 to 1996) before they called it quits (reunited in 2010, though). Overall, the band released four studio albums, out of which the debut with Atlantic records (and second release), “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990) turned out to be their most successful one, introducing the band to the American market and audience. MTV once again participated in the initial success of the band by giving tons of airtime to “Stranger Than Paradise” – one of the singles from the sophomore album.

sb


“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

Now let’s talk about this album with the bizarre name – a name which definitely didn’t help their case, in my opinion. But hey, it was the ’80s  and it was all about fun, nihilism and doing whatever the hell you want! So let’s not fall into despair and just focus on the music, instead.

sleeze beez“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” is one of those albums which I say are “worth discovering” and definitely one of the exciting releases of the early 90s. From the opening powerful slap – “Rock in the Western World” to the playful wrap up song “Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty”, the album is one hell of an entertaining piece of hard rock music! Don’t get me wrong, the album is far from perfect or groundbreaking but with lively and highly amusing tracks like “House is on Fire”, “Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t” and of course the title song, I feel like I can totally forgive and forget. “Stranger Than Paradise” is unquestionably the finest moment on the album and definitely a song that had the potential to stand against any Bon Jovi, Winger, Great White or Poison song. After a couple of tracks, we finally get to the power ballad – “This Time”. It’s as good as any power ballad of the era, that’s all I have to say. If you are a power ballad enthusiast like me, then you will love it for sure! Check out the rest of the songs – “Heroes Die Young” and “Don’t Talk About Roses” are striking highly deserving rockers as well!

Ultimately, Sleeze Beeze didn’t really predict the strong invasion of the alternative rock scene and their album was quickly forgotten. I can understand why, believe me – in addition to the bad timing, the album (was)is a total cliché. However, I am still recommending it because sometimes those partying non stop/sex/living the life clichés are the ones that help us go through the day. Listen to some tunes and the album below!

Cheers!

“Stranger Than Paradise”

“House Is On Fire”

“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

…or you can just check out the whole album:


References:
Sleeze Beez on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeze_Beez
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~

HARDLINE’s “DOUBLE ECLIPSE” – An Album Worth Discovering

I’ve talked about that magical year of 1992 before in my “16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard!” article and it’s time to talk about it yet again!

The times, they were changing; the ‘80s were long gone and with them the good old ways of rock&roll. Grunge was occupying all the attention of major music media outlets and labels and people were shifting their musical preferences from heavier hard rock to softer alternative rock. Nevertheless, the strong heavy metal thunder could still be heard during the first couple of years of the new decade. From solid comebacks to refreshing debuts, the early ‘90s offered a wide range of intriguing rock music events before it all died out by mid-decade.

This time I would like to focus on a band that formed in 1991 and debuted in 1992 with what I consider as one of the most exciting albums of that year. I’m talking about Hardline and their coming out party, titled “Double Eclipse”.

Brothers Johnny Gioeli and Joey Gioeli joined forces with none other than Bad English and Journey’s Neil Schon, along with bass guitarist Todd Jensen and drummer Deen Castronovo. All together, they attacked the music scene with a highly satisfying, though overlooked, glam rock record, possessing every little detail needed to captivate the hearts of any heavy metal fan out there.  

From a fan’s point of view I can only say two things about this album. First of all, the inclusion of Neil Schon in the picture shouldn’t scare you at all – there’s no trace of that sweet, tender, quite melodic Journey or Bad English vibe on “Double Eclipse”. It’s a ferocious rock release, with a lot more edge and tons of character. Needless to say if you are a fan of ‘80s hard rock, you most certainly can’t go wrong with “Double Eclipse” – it’s the exact thing you need to complete your collection! Second of all, once in your life you might come across an album which is worthy of occupying almost an hour of your life. “Double Eclipse” is one of those rare gems with no fillers and no boredom – every song is a potential favorite and guarantees a good time!

Speaking of songs, let’s talk a little bit about the playlist. We have our radio staples – the catchy, energetic “Takin’ Me Down”, the lovely ballad “Can’t Find My Way” and of course Hardline’s version of Danny Spanos“Hot Cherrie” which actually scored a top 30 chart position in 1992. The solid opener and a personal favorite, “Life’s a Bitch” turned into one of my theme songs. The lyrics are on point and don’t even get me started on those mind-blowing guitars. “Rhythm From A Red Car” is yet another hair-raising surprise that guarantees a splendid time! The mid-tempo, “Love Leads The Way” and the guitar-driven ballad “Change of Heart” are just a couple of the other valuable assets, characterizing “Double Eclipse”.

Final verdict: “Double Eclipse” by Hardline is an album worth discovering and adding to your AOR/Hard Rock collection. Too bad Neil Schon didn’t stick around much with those talented guys and went on to pursue other projects. Don’t think twice – crank it up and enjoy it!

Takin’ Me Down

Life’s a Bitch

Can’t Find My Way

Hot Cherie


Release Date: April 28, 1992
Genre: AOR / Hard Rock

Duration: 56:53
Label: MCA
Producer(s): Neal Schon

buy-from-amazon


 References:
“Double Eclipse” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Eclipse
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~