[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

BrothersDireStraits

 Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms” is one of those albums that are absolutely essential and one should most certainly have it in their record collection. The level of its greatness can be proven with numbers – 10 weeks at number one on the UK Album charts, 9 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 Chart in USA, 34 weeks at number one on the Australian Album chart and number one on album charts in numerous other countries such as Germany, Greece, Canada, Finland, France, etc. This album literally conquered the world. It sold over 30 million copies worldwide and it’s the eight-best-selling-album in UK chart history and one of the best-selling albums in the world! Why was this album such a phenomenal success? Well, it’s a combination of factors, actually, including a surprisingly well-crafted attack of jazz and rock sound and uplifting pop beats. Let’s look more into it…


Brothers in Arms

BrothersDireStraitsReleased: May 13, 1985
Recorded: November 1984 – March 1985, AIR Studios, Montserrat
Genre: Pop/Rock
Length: 54:40
Label: Vertigo Records (UK), Warner Bros. Records (U.S.)
Producer(s): Neil Dorfsman, Mark Knopfler
Singles: “So Far Away”, “Money for Nothing”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Walk of Life”, “Your Latest Trick”
Personnel: Mark Knopfler – guitars, lead vocals; John Illsley – bass, vocals; Alan Clark – keyboards; Guy Fletcher – synthesizer, backing vocals; Omar Hakim – drums; Terry Williams – drums
Certified: 9xPlatinum (RIAA)

TRACKLIST:

“So Far Away”
“Money for Nothing”
“Walk of Life”
“Your Latest Trick”
“Why Worry”
“Ride Across the River”
“The Man’s Too Strong”
“One World”
“Brothers in Arms”

dire straits brothers in arms cd

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OVERVIEW

 

The album is very carefully produced and crafted in such a beautiful way that can’t but leave an impression. The international success of “Brothers in Arms” should be credited to the finest moment of the album – the hit single “Money for Nothing”, co-written by Sting. The song grabs with its unforgettable guitar riffs and futuristic electronic sound. Not to mention of course its computer-animated music video that established a total dominance on MTV back in the day. The lyrics of “Money for Nothing” are also quite intriguing and comical as they depict an underdog’s objections towards rock music, money and fame.

In addition, Mark Knopfler’s impeccable sense of musicianship and pop songcraft can also be felt in the bluesy, love songs “Why Worry” and “So Far Away”. “Walk of Life” gives us a little bit of that boogie “Sultans of Swing” vibe with its upbeat and optimistic melody. The jazzy “Why Worry” and “Your Latest Trick” impress with well-polished and terrific Caribbean paradise melody and definitely make-up for the rest of the album. The rest of the album is pretty consistent and keeps on demonstrating how Dire Straits managed to scheme a pop-rock album that somehow doesn’t really sound that commercial or ordinary. In conclusion, the album provides outstanding music, perfect arrangements and is most certainly the best one Dire Straits have ever made!

Listen to some of the tracks from “Brothers in Arms”:

Money for Nothing

Your Latest Trick

Walk of Life


 

Credits:
“Brothers in Arms” official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_in_Arms_%28Dire_Straits_album%29
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 Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction 4

After endless years, full of hope and anticipation, the long awaited reunion of Guns N’ Roses is finally a fact! Fans were more than thrilled to welcome the legends back on stage and experience true rock ‘n’ roll alongside their favorite band from the 80s. Furthermore, we just got the news that Axl Rose is joining AC/DC as their frontman so definitely, this year a lot of interesting and exciting things are happening for the members of Guns N’ Roses and their fans, of course. In the spirit of these awesome events, I decided to prepare a publication, focusing on Guns N’ Roses’ greatest album from the 80s – Appetite for Destruction”. Some might disagree, however to me personally this is also their most impressive record among all and probably the main reason why they reached such a phenomenal success and became the ultimate fan-favorites. The album is a true masterpiece – no second opinion about it. I believe it’s also one of those albums you just HAVE to have regardless whether you are a fan of the band or not. “Appetite for Destruction” is an absolute era-defining album and if you love classic rock music and you don’t have it yet – just go and buy it right now!
Let’s talk more about the album!


 

Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction 4Released: July 21, 1987
Recorded: March–April 1987
Genre: Hard Rock, Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Metal
Length: 53:51
Label: Geffen
Producer(s): Mike Clink
Singles: “It’s So Easy”, “Welcome To The Jungle”, “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, “Break It Up”, “Paradise City”, “Nighttrain”
Personnel: Axl Rose – lead vocals, backing vocals, synthesizer; Slash – lead guitar; Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, co-lead guitar; Duff “Rose” McKagan – bass guitar, backing vocals; Steven Adler – drums;

TRACKLIST:

1. Welcome To The Jungle
2. It’s So Easy
3. Nightrain
4. Out Ta Get Me
5. Mr. Brownstone
6. Paradise City
7. My Michelle
8. Think About You
9. Sweet Child O’ Mine
10. You’re Crazy
11. Anything Goes
12. Rocket Queen

png CD

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VINYL


 

Overview:

In 1987, Guns N’ Roses blew up the music industry by exploding onto the national scene with their first and best album! In addition to being one of the best-selling albums of all time, “Appetite for Destruction” also happens to be the best-selling debut album in history of music! What a debut that was! Not only did it peaked at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 Chart, but it also reached top 10 positions in Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden.

Needless to say, the album was an absolute turning point for the hard rock/metal genre and its direction. Ferocious rock anthems such as “Paradise City”, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Nightrain” have been clogging the airwaves ever since the release of this rock tornado. Guns N’ Roses crafted something extremely dangerous, raw and quite nasty that actually brought nothing but fun and great time to the public. The sound is rough, the lyrics are vulgar and fierce but it’s the 80s we’re talking about – the ultimate time to be as outrageous as you want to and enjoy it to the max! The success of the album was somehow contributed to its hedonistic “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” theme which greatly appealed to the mass. The band incorporated elements of punk rock, glam metal, hard rock and metal music to come up with this primal sound that reached the absolute level of breakthrough. I personally don’t think the band will ever reach such highs, such speed or such level of musicianship. Bottom line is, “Appetite for Destruction” is the record that proved that people can’t really escape from themselves but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

guns

AXL


 

The album makes its clear statement right from the beginning. The first track, “Welcome to the Jungle” is a symbolic door through the brutal, nasty, drug-infested and dark world of L.A. The track sends us on a journey to the city’s most awful secrets. The story, told by Axl and his exceptional but rather ghostly howls, quickly brings out to the surface our deepest fears.

Personally, I think this song has one of the most powerful intros in rock music! The MV is also a classic.

Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
Ya learn ta live like an animal
In the jungle where we play
If you got a hunger for what you see
You’ll take it eventually
You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me….


 

“Paradise City” is probably the single track they owe their success to. With an exceptional mixture of blues, punk and hard rock motives, the song is everything but your ordinary 80s rock tune. “Paradise City” captivates right from the beginning with its unique rhythm, escalating guitar riffs and Axl’s aggressive, quite forceful but energetic vocal delivery. The theme of the song is similar to that of “Welcome to the Jungle” – they knew how to convey a message using the proper tools and words!

This is my personal favorite song from the album and I’m particularly fond of the music video! Can we please go back and attend such concerts??

Strapped in the chair of the city’s gas chamber
Why I’m here I can’t quite remember
The surgeon general says it’s hazardous to breathe
I’d have another cigarette, but I can’t see
Tell me who you’re gonna believe

Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home…


 

In the power ballad “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, Axl, Slash and company prove that they can be vulnerable and deliver something romantic and atmospheric with no efforts. This song perfectly demonstrates the outstanding guitar abilities of Slash and surprises us with a very catchy hard-rock beat and beautiful lyrics.

She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I’d probably break down and cry

Sweet child o’ mine…


 

“Nightrain” is another song I would like to focus your attention at. Yet again, we are transferred to the sinful, alcohol and drug-fuelled world of L.A. Axl’s vocal delivery, in combination with metallic hard rock guitar riffs give us a little bit of an AC/DC vibe.


 

“Think about You” is in my opinion a very underrated track. By including it in this publication, I only wish more people would realize and experience its true value. It’s a sweet love song that creates the perfect mood! The rhythm and the lyrics absolutely do it for me!

There wasn’t much
in this heart of mine
There was a little left
and babe you found it
It’s funny how I never felt so high
It’s a feelin’ that I know
I know I’ll never forget
Ooh it was the best thing
I can remember
Ooh and the love we shared-
is lovin’ that’ll last forever

I think about you
Honey all the time
my heart says yes….


 

Many people will agree with me when I say that “Appetite for Destruction” is one of the best metal albums of the 80s! As good as Axl Rose’s shrilling voice is, the effect of the album wouldn’t have been so strong if it weren’t for the exceptional guitar skills of Slash and Izzy. The brutal and nasty world, Guns N’ Roses invite us in with this album can’t but fascinate you. I am truly happy we were blessed with this masterpiece and I wish they kept on with their winning streak. Unfortunately, after the phenomenal success of the record, the band couldn’t top themselves and  till today, “Appetite for Destruction” remains their greatest work and in my opinion, the reason why they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Nevertheless, some people consider it as the “record of the 80” and as such, we should appreciate it! Now go listen to the other crazy tracks!

 

My copy of the album ~

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[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Foreigner – 4

Foreigner 4

You won’t believe how excited I am to talk about this album. If you follow my publications, you would know that Foreigner and I go way back and my relationship with their music is very personal and very strong – I cannot think of any other band which defines me so much (except Def Leppard, of course). Since we have already established my unconditional love for Foreigner, I think it’s time to move on to their smashing hit record “4” which also happens to be one of my favorite Foreigner albums of all time! I would like to take a moment of your time to talk a little bit more about the album and the brilliant songs you can find on it. Also, I would like to emphasize that there is absolutely no possible excuse for not having this record in your personal collection – it’s a MUST and I urge you to go and get it if you don’t have it yet! If you love classic rock, you should know that “4” is one of the albums that defined the 80s and gave the music industry something to talk about for decades ahead!  


 

Foreigner 4Released: July 2, 1981
Recorded: 1981 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre: Hard Rock, Rock
Length: 42:10
Label: Atlantic Records
Producer(s): Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Mick Jones
Singles: “Urgent”, “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Break It Up”, “Luanne”
Personnel: Lou Gramm – lead vocals, percussion; Mick Jones – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards; Rick Wills – bass guitar, backing vocals; Dennis Elliott – drums, backing vocals;


TRACKLIST:

1. “Night Life”
2. “Juke Box Hero”
3. “Break It Up”
4. “Waiting for a Girl Like You”
5. “Luanne”
6. “Urgent”
7. “I’m Gonna Win”
8. “Woman In Black”
9. “Girl On The Moon”
10. “Don’t Let Go”

+Bonus Tracks On 2002 Reissue, Recorded In 1999

– “Juke Box Hero” (Nearly Unplugged Version)
– “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (Nearly Unplugged Version)


Foreigner CD.png


Overview:

Before we move on to the specific songs, I would like to say a few words about the overall sound and influence of “4”.
Foreigner’s “4” hold the #1 position on the Billboard album chart for exactly 10 weeks – this is a phenomenal success and speaks volumes! The album sold over 7 million copies in the US alone and naturally, it was certified as Platinum by the RIAA. Not only that, but “4” achieved some unbelievable success in Europe, as well – for that I can also guarantee personally because in Bulgaria, Foreigner and especially this album are quite loved and deeply appreciated! Tracks such as “Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl like You” topped the mainstream rock charts and completely changed the course of rock music!
Furthermore, all the songs from the album are written and composed by Mick Jones and/or Lou Gramm. This right here is what I’m talking about – artists writing their own music and lyrics and producing something authentic and truly valuable. That’s definitely what I miss nowadays…

Also, we should not forget about the lengendary Mr Mutt Lange! I’ve said it before and I will say it again – when it comes to producers, Mutt Lange is the absolute genius. With his impeccable attention to detail and ability to just come up with the perfect strategies, Mutt Lange just once again proved that he is a brilliant mastermind when it comes to crafting music and helping an artist reach the top! Interesting fact, he actually contributed with some backing vocals as well – a producer does so many things for a project!

muttlangeproducer
Producer Mutt Lange
Foreigner - 4 1981
Foreigner in 1981

 

In terms of sound, “4” marked Foreigner’s full shift to hard rock. Their previous albums, “Head Games” and “Double Vision” established them as one of the most notable AOR bands of the era; however “4” was actually the album that gave them the ultimate ticket to stardom. With the help of Mutt Lange, who had just finished working on AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Foreigner were able to craft a very rare and unique combination of mainstream rock sound and one-of-a-kind sounding.
In this album, you can also find some of the most brilliant lyrics ever to be written in the history of rock music. Every song tells us a very alluring and colorful story and your imagination can’t but start working the moment you hear Lou’s voice. I’ve always appreciated the way some bands make your imagination go wild with their lyrics – it’s a very pleasant experience as you just dive yourself into the story and imagine being “the woman in black” or the “juke box hero”.
There are countless songs that explore the topic of achieving the dream of “becoming the ultimate rockstar”; however no other song is as exceptional as “Juke Box Hero”. The rhythm, the chorused vocals, the captivating sudden melody changes and of course the superb lyrics can provide you with the much needed power boost and you can indeed feel the energy running through your veins. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I play “Juke Box Hero” (which by the way is at least 2-3 times per day), I get chills down my spine – this song is better than any energy drink!

…That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn’t take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was one way ticket, only one way to go

So he started rockin’
Ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin’
Someday he’s gonna make it to the top…


 

Another song I’d like to focus your attention on is titled “Waiting for a Girl like You” which in my book, happens to the ultimate example of a flawless classic rock ballad. Since its release, the track has become a must-play for any rock radio and one of the main reasons why the album turned out to be so successful. When we talk about Foreigner and tearjerker songs, naturally “I Want to Know What Love Is” (which comes a few years later in their “Agent Provocateur” album) is the first that comes to our minds. However, if you ask me which Foreigner’s most defining ballad is, I would say “Waiting for a Girl Like you”. To me, this song has everything – touching lyrics, beautiful vocals and most importantly, the feeling of hope…

…It feels so right, so warm and true
I need to know if you feel it too

Maybe I’m wrong
Won’t you tell me if I’m coming on too strong
This heart of mine has been hurt before
This time I want be be sure…


 

At last, I would like to move on to the funky, upbeat and probably Foreigner’s most memorable and career-defining songs – “Urgent”. There’s one thing I love more than piano in rock songs and that’s sax in rock songs! Junior Walker‘s signature saxophone solo is the absolute point of delight for me – I can just listen to this song for days!

…Got fire in your veins
Burnin’ hot but you don’t feel the pain
Your desire is insane
You can’t stop until you do it again

But sometimes I wonder as I look in your eyes
Maybe you’re thinking of some other guy
But I know, yes I know, how to treat you right
That’s why you call me in the middle of the night…


 

Some other energetic, catchy, impeccably written melodic rock tunes from “4”, include “Don’t Let Go”, “Luanne” and my personal favourite “Woman in Black”. Just listen to this awesome guitar intro…

…I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation

Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


 

I will wrap up things by saying that through it all, vocalist Lou Gramm does his role in the most exceptional way one could imagine. I’ve said it before – he is without doubt one of the finest voices of his generation. “4” is probably the album which completely assured his throne in the category of the greatest male rock vocalists. Song such as “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl like You” and “I’m Gonna Win” perfectly illustrate his vocal capacity and I am beyond delighted with the way those tracks match his voice! Nothing more to say – his voice is everything!
The following years were quite turbulent for Foreigner, as Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones would often clash and engage in countless ego wars. Eventually, those tensions would lead to the band’s collapse. Nevertheless, “4” remains their ultimate career pick and one of the greatest rock albums ever!

Mick and Lou
Mick and Lou Together on Stage
Songwriters Hall Of Fame 44th Annual Induction And Awards - Backstage
Mick Jones and Lou Gramm attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 44th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2013 in New York City.

 

Credits:
Foreigner Official Wikipedia Page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_%28band%29
Foreigner, 4 (album) Official Wikipedia Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_%28Foreigner_album%29
“4” Album Review, retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/4-mw0000189922
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual materials used in this publication. All the credits and rights go to the owners and/publishers.

15 Facts You Need To Know About JUDAS PRIEST

judas-priest-logo

Hello, everyone!

Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite classic rock bands – Judas Priest. Actually I haven’t been a die-hard fan of Judas Priest for that long (in comparison with other bands, such as Ramones or Def Leppard, for instance), however, I got instantly captivated by the music of those metal Gods and now I can’t really stop listening to their classics or imagine a day without playing “Turbo Lover” or “Living After Midnight” (those two songs in particular are a instant mood changer for me)…

A couple of days ago, we actually got some great news – Judas Priest are back in the studio, ready to blow our minds away with new and awesome music. In the spirit of this incredible news and because I love and respect the band so much, I’ve decided to prepare a little informative publication for my readers and for myself, actually. I consider Judas Priest as one of the most essential and influential bands in the rock music scene, so regardless of whether you are a crazy JP’s fan or not, there are some things you have to know about the band – some essential band profile characteristics. Also, in case some of you guys have forgotten about their most appreciated albums and loved songs, this publication might refresh your memory! Now – let’s talk details!

Judas Priest - 80s 2


 

~ Judas Priest are a heavy metal band, formed in Birmingham, England, back in 1969.

~ The inspiration for the band name was Bob Dylan’s 1967 song The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. Bruno Stapenhill was the one who came up with the name. The band was also regularly rehearsing at Dylan’s house in Stone Cross.

~ Judas Priest revolutionized heavy metal fashion. They were famous for their image of S&M leather, spikes and other rather taboo and provocative clothing which became very influential during the glam metal era of the 80s.

~ During the 70s, Judas Priest struggled by going through numerous lineup changes, unsupportive producers and basically had no major commercial success. However, during the 80s, things completely changed for them, as they adopted simpler and friendlier sound.

~ So far, Judas Priest have 17 studio albums, 6 live albums, 6 compilation albums, 10 video albums and 33 singles. The band have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, with 12 million copies in the United States.

~ Their 1980 album “British Steel” is the album responsible for their major success and public attention during the era. “Breaking the Law”, “United”, and “Living After Midnight” were the songs, released as singles. The Guardian also named British Steel” as the record that defined heavy metal.

~ The album “British Steel” takes its name from Judas Priest guitarist Glen Tipton who was once an apprentice at British Steel – a metal manufacturing company.

Judas Priest - British Steel
“British Steel” Album Cover

 

~ In 1985, two teenagers shot themselves after listening to Judas Priest’s album “Stained Class”. They were unsuccessfully sued by the mother of the kid who survived. He claimed that subliminal messages on the song “Better By You, Better Than Me” had caused those suicide attempts.

(P.S. I don’t know about you guys, but the only thing that this song makes me do is turn the volume to the max…)


~ Judas Priest’s tenth studio album, titled “Turbo”, released in 1986, marked the band’s first use of guitar synthesizers.

Judas Priest - Turbo
“Turbo” Album Cover

~ Before becoming the lead singer of Judas Priest, Halford was a lighting engineer for stage productions. He transferred his love for theatrics and light effects to the band’s concerts, by using various smoke machines, spotlights and numerous other visual effects. A trademark of the band is his stage entrance on a motorcycle.

~ Singer Rob Halford had a temporal departure from the band in the early 1990s. Faced with an ever-growing demand for a reunion, Rob Halford returned triumphantly for the release of the CD box set “Metalogy”, which was followed by a European tour and new album – “Angel of Retribution” (2005).

Judas Priest - 2005
Judas Priest – 2005

 

~ Tim “Ripper” Owens replaced Rob Halford as a lead singer in 1996. Owens turned from a die-hard fan of the band to their frontman in a night. He recorded 2 albums with his heroes. The 2001 movie “Rock Star” – telling a story about a tribute band singer who is asked to join the real band is loosely based on Owens’ life.

~ In 2010, Judas Priest won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, for their song “Dissident Aggressor”.


 

~ “Redeemer of Souls”, released in 2014, is Judas Priest’s highest charting position album so far – it peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart. It also marked their first top-10 debut album in the US.



~ On Season 25 of the Simpsons, Judas Priest were called “black metal”. In the following week’s episode, an apology was given – Bart Simpson wrote “Judas Priest is not death metal” on the black board.

Simpsons blackboard


 

Credits:
“Artistfacts for Judas Priest”, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/facts-judas_priest.php
“British Steel Turns 35: Celebrate The Judas Priest Classic With 35 Album Fact”, retrieved from http://www.vh1.com/news/5134/judas-priest-british-steel-35-album-facts/
“Judas Priest Wikipedia Page”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Priest
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights go to the owners and/ publishers.

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] VAN HALEN – Women and Children First

Van Halen Women And Children First2
Van Halen – “Women and Children First” Front Cover

 

VanHalenWomenandChildrenFirst - Back Cover2.jpg
Van Halen – “Women and Children First” Back Cover

 

The 80’s is it, it belongs to Van Halen.” – David Lee Roth, 1980

 

 

Van Halen Women And Children First3
David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony

On the 26th of this month, we celebrate the 36th anniversary of Van Halen’s third studio album – “Women and Children First”. Released back in 1980, the album marked the beginning of a very special and important era – both for Van Halen, as well as for the rock music in general. In the spirit of the upcoming birthday of the album, I decided to prepare a little publication, focusing on the album and its songs. I have to say, it’s most certainly not my favorite Van Halen album – and as a matter of fact it’s not even in my personal top 3 Van Halen albums. However, I cannot deny how incredibly well-written and influential this album is. Not only “Women and Children First” was the first album to feature music written solely by Van Halen themselves, but this album brought to the world a different and more striking feel of the band – their sound, theme and image became heavier and much “darker” than before.

 

 

“I love it. I think it’s our best one yet because it’s got more variety. It’s not too guitar dominated; it’s just got a little bit of everything on it. It’s got acoustic, it’s got piano, it’s got the ball-bustin’ rock. It’s got it all.” – Eddie Van Halen

 

Ted-templeman-1977 -2
Ted Templeman – a photo from the late 70s

The album was produced by Ted Templeman – a notable American record producer. Throughout his career, he has worked with numerous outstanding musicians, such as the Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith and many others. He is actually the mastermind behind a few other Van Halen, as well as Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth solo albums. Furthermore, “Women and Children First” spawned one single – “And the Cradle Will Rock…” – a song that is very significant to me and this blog (I will explain myself later…). The song performed quite well on the charts, not as much as one might predict, though – it only got to 55th place on Billboard Hot 100. As far as album sales are concerned, it is certified 3 times Platinum by the RIAA and 2 times Platinum by Music Canada. Overall, it did achieve considerable amount of success, however it wasn’t until 1984 that Van Halen reached their commercial peak and worldwide recognition. Nevertheless, this album is excellent – from its first to its last song, no second opinion about it. It’s a must for your record collection!

 

Now let’s talk songs!

AndtheCradleWillRock1980The powerful party-rock anthem which also happens to be the opening track and my personal favorite song from the album is called “And the Cradle Will Rock…” and has a few interesting background details worth mentioning. First of all, it’s the first song that featured the keyboard playing of Eddie Van Halen. Eddie’s new ideas and visions for the band’s music and future directions were already making a strong statement. Instead of being driven by a guitar, the song’s dominant instrument is the keyboards – something that was considered a bit too experimental and not “as rock ‘n’ roll” as one might say back then. Later on, Eddie’s creative ambitions and insights on the issue of the band’s musical angels would clash with David Lee Roth’s lust and endless desire for fun and partying while playing the rock ‘n’ roll. Nevertheless, this piece of music provides a very interesting beginning for their 80s style. In addition, the song begins with very mind-boggling sounds which many of you guys might think come from a guitar; however that’s not the case. It’s actually a “phase shifter-effected Wurlitzer electric piano played through Eddie Van Halen’s 1960s model 100-watt Marshall Plexi amplifier” – how cool is that?
In terms of lyrics – the song is mainly about how younger generations misbehave and all they want to do is party and rock ‘n’ roll. A “cradle” in the context of the song, is a metaphor for “home” – no wonder the cradle is rocking – the kids are out of control.
One last thing – I thought of the name of this blog “that mixtape will rock” while I was listening to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” I absolutely adore the song and the lyrics – they inspired me to come up with the name and that says a lot really.

And this right here might be indeed the worst lip-sync in history…

 

The other party anthem of the album would be “Everyone Wants Some” which in my opinion, has to be one of the heaviest songs of Van Halen, along with “Loss of Control”. I get a lot of hardcore punk vibes coming out of those two songs (especially from “Loss of Control”) and that can’t but make me super happy, having in mind the fact that I am and always will be a punk rock kid. Those two songs became an absolute staple for any of Van Halen’s upcoming life concerts and tours and we can clearly understand why. The pure hard rock energy that comes out of them is just too strong to handle. Not to mention the richness and speed Eddie displays in those two masterpieces…Just have a listen…
“Everybody Wants Some” still remains one of David Lee Roth’s favorite Van Halen songs – even when he left Van Halen, he still kept on playing it during his concerts…

 

Van Halen’s growth in terms of musicianship, song-writing and technical improvement is probably most evident in “Fools”. To me, this song has one of the most powerful and captivating intros. The guitar riffs are pure gold and I just can’t but think of Eddie as some sort of an alien who came to this world to hypnotize us with his guitar… In addition, I really enjoy the brilliant lyrics and the message behind them – even when society wants you to follow and obey all the rules, people have personal desires and dreams that might not fit into the predetermined picture. Different people are good at different things – why should we hide our ambitions?

“They say I’m crazy from the wrong side of the tracks
I never see them but they’re always so far back”….

“My teachers all gave up on me
No matter what they say, I disagree”

 

In addition to the heavy sounds and dynamic guitar riffs, the album offers a few low-key, acoustic country-blues feelings with song such as “Could this be Magic” and “Take Your Whiskey Home”. I have to say, those two songs are most certainly not in my “greatest Van Halen songs of all time” list – I find them a bit too silly and frivolous. However, they do provide the necessary balance in the album.

By the way, “Could This Be Magic” features the only female backing vocal ever to be recorded on a Van Halen song. Nicolette Larson – an American country/pop singer who worked with musicians such as Neil Yong sings during some of the chorus.

 

Van Halen’s first attempts at a power-ballad resulted in the closing song of the album, titled “In a Simple Rhyme”. Their desire for a more graceful and soft melody however is quickly cut off by their rock driven nature, though. It took Van Halen a few more years before they finally refined their perfect rock ballad sound, at least in my opinion.

This is a life performance from last year…David’s voice might not be what it used to be, however we still appreciate it!

 

The album’s other two songs – “Romeo Delight” and “Tora! Tora!”, also deserve an honorable mention. Those high-speed metal sounds are the reason why I said that the album has a bit of a “black hart” situation. Just listen…

 

Well, this is it for now. I hope my readers got the chance to remind themselves of this brilliant album which features some of the most unforgettable Van Halen tunes ever. In conclusion, I would say that if you are a Van Halen fan, this album is a must for your record collection. “Women and Children First” is the album with which Van Halen gloriously stepped into the 80s – it was a perfect statement that the decade is theirs to conquer. With a more refined and original sound, the band proved that they matured and got more serious about their music. I hope you guys love and appreciate it as much as I do!

Cheers! …And the cradle will rock!

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Credits:
Van Halen Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/
Van Halen “Women and Children First”, retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/
Van Halen, “And the Cradle Will Rock”, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/
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] [Album Focus] Best-Selling Soundtrack Of All Time – The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album

Greetings!

So I’ve been meaning to dedicate a publication to the greatest soundtrack albums of all time, however due to busy schedule I’m afraid I cannot do it at this point. Instead, I decided to focus on just one for the – the best of the best, the greatest of the greatest and the best-selling soundtrack albums of all time – Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard”.
As I always do, I’m going to start the post with some background information…Back in the day, especially in the 80s and in the 90s there was a heavy cross-media promotion. Unlike today, in the past a media product was usually heavily tight with other media products such as books and music. The movie industry started relying heavily on soundtrack in order to boost the popularity of the movie – it was the other way around as well – soundtracks were relying on the movies to boost their sales. Basically, films and music were together in an inseparable marriage. I don’t know what actually happened, however… – nowadays I feel like movies don’t really invest much in memorable and grandiose soundtracks the way they did before. Time has surely changed…
The practice of cross-promotion between a movie and a soundtrack became a trend since the introduction of Television back in the 50s and 60s. It was a brilliant win-win strategy which left us with the most memorable movie themes and songs ever! Helping the other industry out and capitalizing heavily at the same time became a major business model. Simply all the movie and music producers were working together in order to create a unique and memorable artistic product. In addition, 70s and the 80s marked the rise of blockbusters – you know, those high budget and incredible movies featuring all the famous stars and great effects. Blockbusters have always relied on promotions and heavy exposure to the public in order to obtain revenues – that’s only natural. One way to gain additional promotion was to use music – which of course became the most powerful tool! I’m not sure what the correct line of events is though – one could argue – is the soundtrack promoting the movie or the movie was promoting the soundtrack!? See, that’s what I’m talking about – those two media products were inseparable and had a huge impact on one another! The music of a movie simply represents the spirit and the identity of the movie itself – it is as equally important – no second opinion about that! Little by little, from just one or two theme songs, the idea of a whole album became a cultural phenomenon –producers started investing on whole albums filled with music from the movie. I believe it all started with Saturday Night Fever – one of the greatest soundtrack albums of all time, that’s for sure (kudos to BeeGees). Once it was established that such albums are extremely popular and well-accepted from the audience, everyone just simply jumped on the bandwagon – soundtrack after soundtrack – great albums after great albums. I mean, who can ever forget the original soundtrack albums of “Flashdance” or “Footlose” or “Dirty Dancing”? – no one that is…

Going back to the greatest soundtrack of all-time… I don’t think the album or the movie needs much introduction. It’s one of the all-time classics which will simply remain in history for their brilliance…I will focus on the soundtrack album because it’s an album-related publication, after all. So here we go…the best-selling soundtrack of all time by the princess of pop herself…


 

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Released: November 17th, 1992
Genre: Pop, RnB
Label: Arista
Producer: Clive Davis, Whitney Houston, Jazz Summers, Tim Parry
Tracklist:
*“I Will Always Love You”
*“I Have Nothing”
*“I’m Every Woman”
*“Run to You”
*“Queen of the Night”
*“Jesus Loves Me”
*“Even If My Heart Would Break” (performed by Kenny G and Aaron Neville)
*“Someday (I’m Coming Back)” (performed by Lisa Stansfield)
*“It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day” (performed by the S.O.U.L.S.Y.S.T.E.M.)
*“(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” (performed by Curtis Stigers)
*“Waiting for You” (performed by Kenny G)
*“Trust in Me” (performed by Joe Cocker, featuring Sass)
Singles: “I Will Always Love You”, “Someday (I’m Coming Back)”, “I’m Every Woman”, “I Have Nothing”, “Run to You”, “Queen of the Night”, “It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day”


 

The album features a bunch of  other artists – many people think it’s just her songs; however that’s not the case. We have Lisa Stansfield and Kenny G and of course, Joe Cocker…all brilliant musicians and voices. The album was co-executive produced by Whitney Houston and the great Clive Davis – the person behind ARISTA records. Whitney had full control over the album – she chose specifically each and every song. The theme song was supposed to be a completely different one; however they lost it to another movie.Can you imagine that – one of the greatest ballads of all time – the ballads of the ballads, the most powerful and tear-breaking performance by a female artist almost didn’t happen….Whitney’s male co-star – Mr. Kevin Costner was actually the one who suggested that they should record “I Will Always Love You” as the theme song. Maybe some of you don’t know but the original song was written and performed by Dolly Parton – the famous country diva. How did they manage to transform such a slow, rather boring and I’d say “background” music to this amazing and powerful composition, I have no idea. Kudos to the brilliant producers!
The success of the album was almost immediate. Whitney became the first act to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period! This makes the album the fastest-selling album in the history of music! She also won a Grammy and for the album of the year and the RIAA certified the album 17 times Platinum. Over 44 million copies have been sold worldwide to day, which makes the album the best-selling soundtrack of all time – well, how can it not be?

Of course, the album is mostly remembered by the phenomenal ballad we all know and love with all our hearts – “I Will Always Love You”. The song appealed to all markets and to people of all ages – it was a mixture of soul, RnB, pop and contemporary music. It also received huge airplay. The single spent fourteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself topped the Billboard 200 for 20 weeks. The following singles that were released from the album followed the success of the theme song – with “I’m Every Woman” (a Chaka Khan cover) and “I Have Nothing”, Whitney Houston became the first female act to have three songs in the Top 20 at the same time.

Not only was the soundtrack a musical phenomenon and a complete triumph, but the movie itself simply became one of the greatest romance stories of all time. This whole project once again proves my point – cross-promotion is needed and it should be very well thought of! In this case, the movie promoted the soundtrack and vice-versa. The results – smashing box-office success and the greatest and most memorable ballad of time… In my opinion, the powerful an unmatched vocal delivery of Whitney Houston and the success of the album completely overshadowed the movie. However, in this case it turned out just great!

There’s absolutely no point in talking about the quality and excellence of this soundtrack – just listen to the songs and lose yourself to the feeling… Every song is so inspirational and so well-crafted that you just can’t stop replaying. That’s the magic of Whitney’s voice and her aura in general – she is able to convey so many emotions with her voice that at one point you just don’t know whether to cry, smile or be happy. I grew up listening to this album (yes, I have it in my CD collection, of course) and it just means the world to me! I am extremely sad that we lost this gorgeous queen and will always wish I could go back in time and enjoy her projects all over again…
One thing I have to say, she was also a brilliant actress and we can most certainly see it in “The Bodyguard”. I miss her and I will always love her…
Also, I wish they could make great soundtracks like this one nowadays – I’ve been waiting and waiting but so far all we have does not deserve to even be mentioned… Let’s wait and see….

Velina

xoxox


Credits:
“The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album” by Arion Berger, November 13, 2013, retrieved by Rolling Stones Magazine
“Top 10 Best Selling Movie Soundtracks”, retrieved by http://www.sky.com
“The Bodyguard (soundtrack)”, retrieved from Wikipedia

 

Album Focus – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

Some people say that the era of the CDs is long gone. However believe it or not, there are people like me out there who still purchase and collect CDs. I have this little CD shop near the place I live (I have to take a picture next time) and I just love spending hours and hours there. They have these huge wooden shelves with tons and tons of CDs and even vinyl records. The whole atmosphere just screams my name!
Anyhow, a few days ago I went there to look for some albums and spend some quality “me” time. After hours of literally checking every single album on the shelves and a huge struggle not to buy all the albums I saw, I ended up buying the debut album of one of my most favorite rock bands – Rainbow. The title of the album is “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” and it was released on the 4th of August, 1975. Can you believe this? It has been 40 years since this album hit the shelves. It turned out I bought it on its 40th year anniversary – such a pleasant coincidence. Originally I was hoping to come across and buy their “The Very Best of Rainbow” album that came out in 1997, however I couldn’t find it (still not giving up, though). Then, the lady from the CD shop was kind enough to find me the debut album from the storage. The album itself was imported from the USA and of course, it’s a remaster. I just had to buy it – it is such a rare precious and a must for every Rainbow or Ritchie Blackmore or Ronnie James Dio fan. In the following post I would briefly present the album and its songs. This is not a band profile publication, so I would like to focus on the album itself, rather than the members. I decided to dedicate my first publication to this debut album because it is the most recent CD I purchased and because it is the debut of my blog

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Rainbow_-_Ritchie_Blackmore's_Rainbow_(1975)_front_cover

Album Title : Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow
Released: 1975 (Vinyl Record) ; 1999 (CD in remastered form)
Genre: Hard Rock, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal
Record Label: Oyster (UK) ; Polydor (Worldwide)
Members: Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals; Ritchie Blackmore – guitar; Micky Lee Soule – piano, mellotron, clavinet, organ; Craig Gruber – bass; Gary Driscoll – drums
Singles: “Man On The Silver Mountain” ; “Snake Charmer” (October 1975)
Produced by: Ritchie Blackmore, Martin Birch and Ronnie James Dio
Interesting fact: The album was recorded in Germany. It is the first ever project of Ritchie Blackmore after his departure from Deep Purple. Vocalist Ronnie James Dio, consider this album as the best Rainbow album.

Tracklist:
1.Man on the Silver Mountain
2.Self Portrait
3.Black Sheep of the Family
4.Catch the Rainbow
5.Snake Charmer
6.Temple of the King
7.If You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll
8.Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
9.Still I’m Sad (The Yardbirds cover)

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Firstly, I would like to start with the album cover. It was made by American fine artist David Willardson. Honestly speaking, I am not such a huge fan of cartoon-style album covers. Realistic album covers (photographs) or simplistic designs have always been more striking to me. On the cover we see a castle which also happens to be a guitar and there’s a rainbow behind it. It is very colorful and too Disney-like I would say. It’s only natural since the artist worked for Disney at that time, but still…The trend of putting unique and rather strange, surrealistic art on an album cover was very strong at that time – especially the second part of the 70s. For instance artists such as Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson were extremely popular with bands like Pink Floyd, YES and Asia. Back to Rainbow’s cover, I do really like it – why? – because it is very distinctive and easy to remember. Also, there’s something very magical and mysterious in the painting itself – I just want to enter into the rock castle and never go out…
Real-life picture of the album cover ~ That’s how it looks; Very distinctive, right?

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Secondly, I would like to talk more about the songs from the album. I am not going to comment on each and every song; rather than that I will focus on the overall picture, as well as on two songs in particular – my favorite songs from the album.
Bottom line is, if you like the combination of hard rock and poetic, fantasy-oriented lyrics – this is the album for you. Most of the songs are a bit gloomy in terms of lyrics, except “If You Don’t Like Rock ‘N’ Roll” which is very upbeat and in my opinion is the perfect 60s rock’n’roll nostalgia song! In terms of vocal and guitar delivery I would say that the album is rather simplistic, not as progressive and innovative as some people would like it to be. However, to me that is exactly why the album is so good! Ritchie’s riffs are not as complicated and aggressive as they used to be back when he was with DP and that is the beauty of it! Ronnie, on the other hand is just perfect – in my book of the greatest male rock vocals of all time, he is definitely in top 10. I don’t think anyone can sing those highs the way he does – just play “Black Sheep Of The Family” or “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” and you will see what am I talking about!

The two songs I wanted to talk about are “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Catch The Rainbow”, which in my opinion are the best songs of the album.

One of the most memorable song intros ever (at least to me)! Ronnie said that it’s “a semi-religious song, the man on the silver mountain is a kind of God figure everyone is crying out to.” – rather interesting right? It was co-written by Dio and Blackmore. When Ronnie died in 2010, the words “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio” were put on his grave. The song is a classic and it defines an era – I don’t have to say more. It’s memorable, catchy and very powerful – the greatest thing is that it delivers that power to the listeners. Ronnie’s vocals are beyond perfect! Personally, my favorite part of the song, as well as lyrics is when Ronnie sings :
“Come down with fire
Lift my spirit higher
Someone’s screaming my name
Come and make me holy again” ….and then we hear the memorable guitar riff! ❤

“Catch The Rainbow” is probably the gloomiest song from the album. However, I don’t think it is that type of song that brings out sad emotions and feelings (at least to me). The song itself was not released as a single, however it remains one of their most famous works. The song is loved that much probably because it is often connected with  “Little Wing” by “The Jimmy Hendrix Experience”. To me personally, its strongest point is the simplistic yet powerful guitar riff and the background choirs that create a very mysterious and a bit psychedelic vibe. Lyrically speaking, the song is very poetic and beautiful. I especially love the chorus:
“We believed we’d catch the rainbow
Ride the wind to the sun
Sail away on ships of wonder”

A real life picture of the CD with the tracklist and the covers of each and every song on the right part of the case. Very well-packaged, indeed!

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Finally, I just want to say that to me, this is one of the most expected and successful debut albums of all time. Ritchie and Ronnie are an amazing team and I wish Ronnie was still with us to continue working together… I am very glad I bought the album and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoy rock music from the 70s. The album possesses an essence…a special and unique atmosphere which is no longer present in today’s music; not to mention quality songwriting and brilliant musicianship… Catch the rainbow!

Me, enjoying the newest addition to my CD collection!

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