My TOP 20 Rock&Roll Solo Releases

Quite recently, I asked my Twitter followers what I assume is a very hard question to answer – “Which is your favorite release by a solo rock artist?” I thought it was a great question to ask because so far I think I have mainly emphasized on rock bands and their respectable careers and albums, putting aside important solo accomplishments who are equally deserving. Many people shared their answers and became part of this interesting online discussion (which of course was the basic idea behind this tweet). Artists like Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Roger Waters and Dio were just a few of the names, mentioned by my fellow rock buddies. You told me who are yours…now it’s time for me to tell you mine! I do hope you enjoy the following list and get inspired! Please note that these albums aren’t really put in any special order, except maybe the first one. Listing them is difficult…can you imagine ranking them? I just can’t …

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Don Dokken – Up From the Ashes (1990)

up from the ashes - don dokkenIt must be something quite special if I’m placing this album at the number 1 spot, don’t you think? Well, yes it is! Everyone who knows me is aware of how much I love Dokken so it was only natural for me to fall that hard for Don’s 1990 solo debut. In addition to brilliant and personal favorite songs like the ballad “When Love Finds a Fool” or the catchy rocker “Mirror Mirror”, this album features a winning team of extraordinary musicians, led by Don, of course – John Norum (Europe), Billy White (Watchtower), Peter Baltes (Accept) and Mikkey Dee (King Diamond and pre-Motörhead)! How can you not craft something special with so much talent gathered together to support you? Don is a splendid vocalist and songwriter and I will forever thank him for the great job he did. It took him 18 years to release his second solo album, which wasn’t available for everyone, unfortunately.  


Lou Gramm – Long Hard Look (1989)

long hard look lou grammIt took me some time to decide which one of Lou’s solo albums I want to put in this list and eventually, my favorite Lou track, “Just Between You and Me”, turned out to be the deciding factor. “Long Hard Look” is his sophomore album, released at a time when Foreigner was no more (let’s not forget that he did come back in 1994). I love “Ready or Not” immensely, but “Long Hard Look” is where I think he truly embraced his strong qualities as a solo artist. Also, he took in one of the most splendid guitarists of all time – Vivan Campbell, along with Dann Huff (Giant), Bruce Turgon (Foreigner) and many more great artists, all completing each other in the name of this beautiful AOR release. Later on, Lou did assemble Shadow King and The Lou Gramm band with some of those well-known members.


Steve Perry – Street Talk (1984)

Steve Perry 1Steve freakin Perry! Do I have to say more? Are you actually surprised to see this album here? Well, you shouldn’t be. “Street Talk” is a classic AOR masterpiece with songs that will live longer than the world itself. “Oh Sherrie”, “She’s Mine”, “Foolish Heart”… – all mesmerizing melodic rock pieces who introduced Steve as a solo artist who just knows how to do things on his own. Obviously, Steve had a lot of fun writing, recording and producing this album. I could feel how important it was for him to do and try “his own thing”, separately from Journey. He literally put his heart and soul into the making of this album. We all know he can definitely hit a note or two, however with this album he also proved that The Voice himself can write timeless songs and produce quite respectably. Cheers to that!


Terry Brock – Diamond Blue (2010)

diamond blue terry brockI became a die-hard fan of Strangeways last year; didn’t even realize how quickly I was hooked and how albums like “Native Sons” and “Walk In The Fire” just stole my heart and never gave it back. One of the main reasons why I fell for Strageways was of course, the vocalist – Terry Brock. He eventually left the band and joined Giant which *SURPRISE* is another one of my all time favorite bands! His first solo album was out in 2001 (“Back to Eden”) but for this list, I chose “Diamond Blue”, released in 2010 via Frontiers Records. I am a true fan and hold a sentimental connection to Terry Brock so to me, this album is perfect. The touching ballad “The Rain” became the first reason why I fell for this album…the rest was history; If you are not a devoted fan you might not be interested but in any case, this lesser-known album is worth checking out!


Jimi Jamison – Never Too Late (2012)

jimi jamison never too lateBut of course one of the most powerful voices of rock music and one of my favorite rockstars of all time, Jimi Jamison, was going to be on this list. Many of you know how much I love Survivor and yes, Jimi is the primary reason why. I have established a very strong connection with his music and it kept on going strong with his solo releases as well.
“Never Too Late” is the last solo album he released. It came out in November, 2012, via Frontiers Records (of course). No one knew that this was going to be his last release but I don’t think we could’ve gotten a more beautiful farewell than this one. The inspiring title, the touching words and and heart-melting songs are just a few of the reasons why I consider this album to be one of the purest, most angelic pieces of music I have ever heard. Thank you, Jimi for this…I will always love and miss you.


Eric Clapton – August (1986)

Eric Clapton - AugustI may as well just list Eric Clapton’s entire solo discography and call it a day. Eric Clapton is my favorite solo artist of all time and there’s not even a single album of his I dislike. I wasn’t sure which one to put on my list but I ended up choosing “August” because it was one of the first albums of Eric Clapton I genuinely fell in love with back in the day and in my opinion, one of his strongest, most confident releases from his later years. On top of it all, it features that phenomenal duet with the queen of Rock&Roll, Tina Turner – “Tearing Us Apart”; “Miss You” is an important song for me as well. “August” was produced by Phil Collins who was responsible for its funky, radio-friendly sound.


Billy Squier – Don’t Say No (1981)

don't say noI got introduced to Billy Squier through Def Leppard; he was the one who actually brought them to North America for the very first time on his “Emotions in Motion” tour back in the early ’80s! The rest is just history. I heard “Don’t Say No” and that was it! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is one of the catchiest, most uplifting albums of all time! “Don’t Say No” spawned a long list of gratifying tunes that solidified its position on the Billboard album chart for over two years! This interesting fact should tell you enough about its colossal impact on the music market. Moreover, every single from “Don’t Say No”, including “In the Dark”, “Lonely Is the Night”, “My Kinda Lover” and “The Stroke” established itself as a major radio hit, playing on every station, all over the States for the entire first half of the ‘80s. Last but not least, the album sold over 3 million copies in the US alone, making it one of the most-desirable and beloved records of all time!


Mark Free – Long Way from Home (1993)

mark-free-long-way-from-home-1993Mark Free fronted a couple of glam/hard rock bands such as King Cobra and Single but in 1993, he took off on a journey of his own with an AOR solo debut, titled “Long Way from Home”. The album is the ultimate catch for any melodic rock fan out there. It’s filled with gorgeous vocal performances, impressive hooks and superb keyboard details. “Long Way from Home” offers a great selection of rockers, among which striking tunes like “Someday You’ll Come Running to Me”, “Stranger Among Us”, “State of Love” and “The Last Time” are standing out with breathtaking melodies and lyrics. Overall, “Long Way from Home” is a bit softer and sweeter but definitely his best work as a performer and as a songwriter, that is in my opinion of course.


Alice Cooper – Trash (1989)

trash alice cooperNo surprises here! This album introduced me to Alice Cooper and it was the main reason why I became a fan. “Poison”, “Bed of Nails”, “House Of Fire” – all incredible classic rockers, defining an entire generation of fans. Not only that but my favorite Alice Cooper song of all time, “This Maniac’s in Love with You” comes from “Trash”, which makes it even more special.

“Trash” was a pivotal moment for Alice Cooper’s career; it came out at the right time and was crafted by the right people. Many guest performers and songwriters stepped in, including Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler, Kip Winger and Richie Sambora. The results were stunning – “Trash” is the ultimate staple of the era and arguably, Alice’s finest moment.


David Coverdale – Into the Light (2000)

David Coverdale - Into the LightIn September 2000, David Coverdale released his third solo album, titled “Into the Light”, after he took a break from Whitesnake. I am a fan of everything he did throughout the years with Deep Purple and Whitesnake but I also admire his solo work just as much. I thought about featuring “Restless Heart” but since it was released under the “David Coverdale & Whitesnake” moniker (though it was a solo album), I decided to go with “Into the Light”.

The thing I love so much about “Into the Light” is the fact that David didn’t exactly embraced the modern-day characteristics of rock music and didn’t follow the new century trends; Rather than that, he released a classic hard rock effort, full of enjoyable AOR tracks that sound as if they were released in the ’80s, including my favorites “Don’t You Cry”, “River Song” and “Love is Blind”.


Tina Turner – Private Dancer (1984)

Tina Turner - Private DancerYou all know how much I love the Queen of Rock & Roll, Tina Turner; Not only is she one of my most beloved and close-to-heart artists but she’s a woman and a role model I truly admire and respect.

This album marked an important point in Tina Turner’s life and career. The messy divorce and Ike Turner were all in the past – it was time for her to shine and tell the world that she’s a strong and independent woman who just knows how to make great music! “Private Dancer” sky-rocketed Tina’s career and hit the multi-platinum status all over the world. Classic rock staples like the title song, “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, “Better Be Good to Me” and of course, “What’s Love Got to do With It” are a pretty solid reason why this album turned out to be one of the best albums of the ’80s! Not only that but she worked with Jeff Beck, Gary Barnacle, Graham Broad and dozens of other talented musicians, to ensure “Private Dancer” will truly make history.

What a triumphant comeback! I can’t express how much this album and Tina mean to me…


Sammy Hagar – VOA (1984)

Sammy Hagar - VOABefore Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen and released 5150, he hit it big with his eight solo album, titled “VOA”. Playing this album might give you a clear idea of why exactly he was chosen to replace David Lee Roth. He is a superb vocalist – we all know and love that about him. “Two Sides of Love” was the first track I heard from this album back in the day and it was enough for me to realize that “VOA” is an album that shouldn’t be overlooked (even though it is). “I Can’t Drive 55” is the lead single and one of Sammy’s most memorable and noted songs that kept on being relevant, even when he became a member of Van Halen. “Rock is In My Blood” and “Two Sides of Love” are some of my favorites as well.


David Gilmour – On An Island (2006)

David Gilmour - On An IslandThis would be my favorite David Gilmour solo album! “On an Island” was released 10 years ago but it’s still an inseparable part of my playlist. He took his sweet time (22 years) to record it but the results were brilliant. He wrote some of the tracks with his wife – Polly Samson, which makes it even more special! What can I say? – A gorgeous and delicate combination of instrumentals and soul-soothing tracks, proving that David is the real deal! Such a brilliant guitarist, knowing exactly how to both calm your soul and make it fly at the same time. The opening track, “Castellorizon”, is a haunting instrumental demonstrating his superb guitar skills, backed up by beautiful orchestral arrangements. Both of the singles, “On an Island” and “Smile” are dreamy and so easy to fall in love with. “Red Sky at Night” is my absolute favorite and the reason is, of course, the thrilling saxophone arrangements which are perfect for my tastes! If dreams can become music, this is what they would sound like! By the way, it’s David Gilmour himself who plays the saxophone on that one. Yes, he is as good with sax as he is with his guitar!


John Lennon – Imagine (1971)

John Lennon - ImagineThere had to be a John Lennon album in my list and it took me some time before I decide which one of his solo works I love the most; I ended up choosing “Imagine” over the critically-acclaimed “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” because to me his sophomore album sounds more atmospheric, it’s much calmer and I absolutely adore songs like “Jealous Guy” and “How Do You Sleep?”. The title track is legendary, no need to even comment on it. I remember singing “Imagine” when I was in elementary, or was it middle school…I don’t remember but what I can say is that this song along with the album have been in my life for far too long, making them very personally-relevant and close to my heart. 


George Harrison – Cloud Nine (1987)

George Harrison - Cloud NineI miss this sunshine so much.

When we talk about rock&roll comebacks, I always mention this album. George Harrison took some time away from his solo career and in 1987 had one of the most triumphant comebacks with the commercially-successful and critically-acclaimed “Cloud Nine.” George is known as the quiet Beatle but this album right here is everything but quiet! “Devil’s Radio,” “Cloud 9,” “Just for Today” and the smashing cover of “Got My Mind Set on You,” turned this into one of his best, most beloved releases of all time. This is the album that introduced him to the mainstream audience, making it a very crucial move for his career. Let’s also praise the input of Jeff Lynn who co-produced this beautiful piece of music.


Bryan Adams – Reckless (1984)

bryan adams - reckless“Reckless” is a rocker full of enthusiasm, energy and that was the main reason why I fell for it back in the day. The multi-platinum release spawned some of ’80s most classic hits, including “Summer of 69”, “Run To You” and of course “Heaven”. Not only that but this pleasing work contains one of my most favorite duets of all time, “It’s Only Love”, featuring Tina Turner. 

The greatness of the album lies in its simplicity – yes, I do agree that the lyrics are too ordinary and not at all meant to trigger a deep emotional response and yes – the melodies are not as complicated and refined, however this is a fun, rock n’ roll radio-perfect album that is meant to be entertaining, fun and enjoyable. Bryan Adams made history with this one, that’s for sure.


Gary Moore – Still Got the Blues (1990)

Gary Moore - Still Got the BluesWhat can I say about Gary Moore and this album? Words are meaningless! “Still Got the Blues” has to be one of the most relevant blues-rock releases of all time. Emotional, sensational, passionate, soul-touching – all that and way more!

“Still Got the Blues” came to life once again thanks to a team of exceptional musicians, including George Harrison, Albert King and many more. No wonder this turned out to be his most commercially-successful release. What’s surprising, though is the fact that the title track – yes that superb, worldly-beloved blues songs, barely got a top100 position on the charts. Anyhow…

I was always touched by this brilliant blues-meets-hard rock album and there was no way I wouldn’t have added it.


Phil Collins – Face Value (1981)

Phil Collins - Face ValueI put a lot of thought into which Phil Collins album to pick for my list. Obviously, I ended up with “Face Value” for a few reasons and no, it’s not just because his most memorable song “In The Air Tonight” is the opening track – this album is so much more than that track.

I picked it because it was his first solo album and because it’s a classic staple of the ’80s music scene. Not only that, but I adore songs like “I Missed Again” and “Behind the Lines”. Phil Collins emerged as one of the strongest forces of rock/pop music scene of the decade and this album was just the beginning. What followed was a long line of exceptional solo releases and numerous collaboration, turning him into one of the most networked musicians of all time! Back to the album – it’s breezy, refreshing, atmospheric and definitely something you need to own in your collection just like I do.


Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes (2013)

tom keifer the way life goesI’ve been a fan of Cinderella and Tom Keifer for a long time now; Honestly, I cannot even imagine having a day without listening to his unique voice. Tom is one of those artists I truly respect and admire not only because he’s a brilliant songwriter, but because he is an amazing human being, worthy of admiration.

In 2013, finally, after so many years of success, turbulence and hardships, he released his first solo album, suitably titled “The Way Life Goes”. It took about 10 years for this album to become a reality but it was worth it, believe me. Some critics claim that this is by far his greatest work. I cannot draw such conclusion but one thing is for sure – this rather intimate, highly impressive solo release is superb, from start to finish. I love “Thick and Thin”, “It’s Not Enough” and of course, the lead single, “The Flower Song”. This album represented Tom’s evolution as an artist and despite everything he went through, his vocals still sound better than ever!


Mark Slaughter – Halfway There (2017)

halfwaythere slaughterThis new release impressed me so much that no way in hell was I going to miss including it on my list! The special 10-track album (11 in Japan) hit the music market on the 26th of May, 2017 and let me tell you something – it hit it hard! I really missed that classic, Slaughter sound and Mark is just bringing it all back on this album – that and way way way more! “Halfway There” is a worthy progression and obvious artistic evolution for him but with a little bit of old-school hint. It was a pleasure for me to listen to it from start to finish. Rock anthems like “Hey You”, “Supernatural” and “Devoted” are just a few of the reasons why this album left me speechless and turned into a personal favorite. One of the most brilliant aspects of this album is that Mark was actually in charge of not only the vocals but he’s also the one playing the guitar, bass, keyboards and behind the orchestration as well. That should tell you something! This is clearly a very dear album to him and he put his soul, heart and every talent he has to make it sound as sincere as possible. Mark is a superb artist and taking full control over this entire record was definitely the right direction.


Hope you enjoyed my list! This is how things look in 2017… and who knows how my list will look like 5 or 10 years from now. One thing is for sure – the above 20 releases are very important and close to my heart!

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References:

I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the images on this blog are copyright to their respectful owners. Please note that the digital brand, “My Rock Mixtapes” is for rock music educational purposes only and is in no way participating in any commercial activities.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

10 Rock Ballad Compilation Albums for All Ballad Lovers Out There

balladscollage

I love rock ballads…please don’t tell me you were actually surprised to read that….!?

I’ve told the story before but it all started with Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and it developed into one huge obsession with power ballads and we got to the point where I can actually list rock ballad compilation albums without even blinking… It’s just my thing, I guess. I have accumulated a number of ballad compilation albums (digitally and physically) and I decided to share some of those releases which I find the most appealing and worthy of possessing. Some of the following I don’t actually own because they are merely impossible to find BUT it’s easy to re-create them if you already own the band’s discography. Ultimately, my list can also give you some ideas or make you check out some of those bands’ beautiful ballad songs (I recommend all).

I would like to finish by saying that it’s high time Def Leppard released a ballad album! (please please please)

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Gary Moore – Ballads & Blues 1982–1994

gary

I just had to kick things off with this absolute masterpiece and the album that introduced me to and made me a fan of Gary Moore. Where do I even begin? “Still Got the Blues (For You)”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Story of the Blues”, “Midnight Blues” and so on – those are just some of the precious soul-crushing and world-spinning soulful romantic pieces you can find on that album. Every time I talk about compilation albums, I start the discussion with this one. On top of it all, Ballads & Blues 1982-1994 contains three unreleased ballads which are definitely a worthy addition to Gary’s classics.


Harem Scarem – Ballads

harem scarem

Maybe you didn’t expect to see this totally underrated band on my list but you know that I’m always rooting for the less-known but highly deserving rock bands out there. The Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem won me with the astonishing ballad “Honestly” which of course is on this compilation album and of course became the reason why I put this album here…This Japanese release was out in 1999 and it also contained a couple of unreleased before surprises in it, in addition to the well-known classics.


Thunder – Ballads

thunder

This rock jewel is one of my favorite ballad compilations of all time and that’s mainly because it’s by Thunder – one of those hard rock bands which have a very very special place in my hard. The ballad compilation album was released in 2003 and nowadays it seems like it’s impossible to find it but I haven’t given up just yet. “Love Walked In”, “Until My Dying Day”, “A Better Man” and many more gems from Thunder’s classic and not-so-classic days of rock can be heard on that CD.


Whitesnake – Best Ballads…

The masters of hard rock, Whitesnake, lead by none other than the man whose voice can send you to heaven, David Coverdale released a couple of (unofficial) ballad compilation albums from Russia, Ukraine, UK and other European countries. Ultimately, timeless rock classics like “Don’t Fade Away”, “Is This Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and of course my favorite Whitesnake song, “Looking for Love” are on all of them. Don’t hesitate to get it if you come across it. So far, I’ve seen those releases only on Ebay, unfortunately.


Scorpions – Gold Ballads

gold ballads

“Gold Ballads” by Scorpions was released in 1984 in Europe only. The 5-song compilation features Scorpions’ best romantic tunes, including the timeless “Still Loving You” and “Holiday”. I should mention that in 2003, they released a new ballad CD, simply titled “Ballads” (only in Singapore, though as they have a massive fanbase there) which is another worthy piece.


Eric Clapton – Ballads

eric ballads

This compilation was released in 2003 in Japan only but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on it (especially if you are a die-hard fan like me). The breathtaking compilation features some of Clapton’s most outstanding, tear-jerking ballads, including “Tears in Heaven”, “Miss You”, “Old Love” and “Layla” ( of course ). It’s one of my favorite ballad albums of all time and it’s such a pity that I don’t have it in my CD collection (yet).


Toto – Best Ballads

toto best balads

Toto are the kings of ballads and I’m thankful that we had this awesome release, where all of their beautiful, soul-touching masterpieces gathered together. The compilation features some of my favorite melodic rock ballads of all time, including “I’ll Be Over You”, “Mama”, “Rosanna” and the saddest song in history, “I Won’t Hold You Back”. “Best Ballads” was originally released in 1995 and it contains 17 songs. In 2003, they released “Love Songs” – yet another worthy record full of love and heartbreak.


Nazareth – the Ballad Album

nazareth

The 10 song CD titled “The Ballad Album” by Nazareth was released in 1985 only in Germany. This golden piece of music features some of Nazareth (and some of the greatest of all time) rock ballads, including “Love Hurts”, “Dream On”, “Where Are You Now”, “Games” and more. I love playing this compilation, it’s so atmospheric.


REO Speedwagon – The Ballads

reo

In 1999, REO Speedwagon released a ballad compilation album with a long list of their previous, well-known classics and a couple of surprises which unfortunately couldn’t make that big of a fuss back then. It was a ballad that got me into REO Speedwagon. Yes, of course I’m talking about that special song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable melodic rock song out there and of course, the favorite ballad of all the softies out there. In addition to their beloved hit, “The Ballads” features “Keep On Loving You”, “Take It on The Run” and “Here with Me”.


Various – The Very Best of Power Rock Ballads [3CD Box Set]

ballads1

I’m finishing my list with a compilation treasure I found years ago, titled “The Very Best of Power Ballads”. There are hundreds of similar compilations, featuring identical, evergreen hits but If I have to recommend a worthy assortment of rock ballads, it has to be this one. “The Very Best of Power Ballads” was released in 2005 as a 3CD box set with a total of 50 mind-blowing songs.  You have all the classics – Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Queen’s “We are the Champions”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, etc. Not only that but you also get to enjoy Jefferson Airplane, Whitesnake, John Waite, Cher, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones and many more.


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~

[Playlist] 10 Rock Songs With Iconic & Instantly Recognizable Intros (Part 1)

Every entertainment product follows a well-established formula that aims at grabbing the attention of the audience right from the very beginning. By doing so, the consumers easily get hooked and are more likely to view or listen to the entire piece. Such is the case with movies, TV shows, advertisements and of course, musical products. It’s a popular practice and I can totally understand why; humans are exposed to hundreds of songs per day and of course, time is valuable which often results in consumers quickly moving on to the next song in case they are not impressed during the first 30 seconds of a song. Such is the case with albums; why else do you think artists put their strongest, most powerful songs in the first positions?

Since we were talking about making an impact on the listener right from the very beginning, I decided to craft this little playlist, full of classic rock songs which can not only capture the listeners’ attention from the very first second but also gained acknowledgment with their instantly recognizable, catchy and memorable intros. Of course, there are plenty of tracks with immensely appealing, throat-grabbing intros, decorated with mesmerizing riffs or mind-blowing screams; the list is endless, as a matter of fact. Still, I had to draw the line somewhere and consider a couple of factors. Finally, the first part of my playlist of classic rock tunes with iconic intros is done. I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for part 2!

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The following two songs have something in common and that’s Eric Clapton. I don’t think I need to prove a point with those two.

“Layla” has the most iconic and memorable song intro of all time (in my book, that is). You hear those epic opening riffs and you just know that something magical will follow. You can’t but be hooked and expect the best…

Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love” is a similar case but this time, the intro is more psychedelic and may have a different effect on you. Rather than excitement, you may feel like you need to just light a cigarette and chill for a while while you listen to the entire song…

Derek & The Dominos – Layla

Cream – Sunshine of Your Love


The Kinks – You Really Got Me

I’m gonna say just one thing; you try to read it without singing or immediately recalling the melody; that’s gonna be enough to prove my case!

Ta ra ra ra ram…ta ra ra ra ram…Giiirl, you really got me now….
You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’ now!!


Van Halen – Jump

Synthesizers and Van Halen = one of the most beloved rock songs of all time, Van Halen‘s biggest hit and of course, the intro that makes us “jump” to the dance floor right from the very first key. People say that the synthesizer was one of the reasons why David left the band; I don’t mind them, though. Objectively speaking, if we have to talk about the ’80s and “most instantly recognizable & iconic song intros” this gotta top the playlist.


Chuck Berry – Johny B. Goode

Nothing much to say about this track because no words are worthy enough to describe the great Chuck Berry and his art. The uplifting “Johnt B. Goode” is one of the highlights of his career and definitely one of the greatest rock&roll songs of all time. Most importantly, no force is strong enough to remove the memory of that opening riff once heard; it’s just that powerful.


Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

I bet there’s not a single person on this universe who doesn’t recognize “the riff”. The four-note blues scale melody, composed by Ritchie Blackmore will forever remain in the history of rock music as one of the simplest, yet so captivating intros and central themes. Not to mention that every youngster learns how to play the guitar with this riff.


Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

This right here is a good example of how important it is to have a huge, powerful impact on the listeners right from the start. One of the reasons why this song is the ultimate staple of ’80s hard rock music is because people can feel the strength and get energized right from the start…by the end of the song you are ready to go and climb a mountain and fight with tigers (literally).


Metallica – Enter Sandman

Love them or hate them, you gotta admit that this intro is known by everyone…Once played, you immediately go “BAM! I know this, it’s Metallica” regardless of whether you are a metalhead or you listen to classical music.


The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a glorious rock track, one of the greatest as a matter of fact. A song, sending such strong message needs a proper intro and The Who (Pete Townshend to be precise) knew how to draw the audience with a thrilling, organ-driven intro, progressing into a mass appealing, timeless classic.


Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

“I want my MTV”, says Sting at the beginning of “Money for Nothing”! (I want it too, dear…I want it back too, believe me). The colossal impact of the song and its immortality are unquestionable. That thrilling intro is just the beginning…What follows next is equally intriguing and has tons of story! Make sure you check it out…


+Honorable Mentions

The Ronettes – Be My Baby

(It may not fall under the “rock” genre category but Phil Spector and his wall of sound did play a huge role in the history of modern music. Moreover, that famous intro has been sampled and used (and abused) so many times since the ’60s which absolutely proves how influential and memorable it is! The Ronettes are rockstars and whoever disagrees is more than welcomed to listen to a rock&roll history lesson by me.)

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

&…many more


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~

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~

MY TOP 15 Rock Albums, Released in 1989

1989 – What an awesome year for rock music! Where do I even begin?

1989 collage2After being a rock music enthusiast for so long, I can with an absolute clear conscious declare 1989 as one of the best years of rock music! It was the end of a strong, rock&roll decade, grunge music was already becoming a formidable force on the scene, so it was basically do or die for many returning or debuting bands. Out of this turbulent, trend-shifting period, however, tons of great releases managed to come out and leave a memorable trace behind them. From one of Eric Clapton’s strongest albums, featuring a Grammy winning song, to powerful, multi-platinum debuts, such as Skid Row’s eponymous album, 1989 was overflowing with excitement and monumental rock music!  

With time, I also came to the conclusion that many of my personal favorite hard rock albums were released around that time as well. Plenty of those records came out in 1989. For the fun of it, I decided to prepare this little list, consisting of 15 albums that to me had (and still have) the best, most appealing and intriguing musical presence during 1989. It’s a personal selection, based on my liking and preferences but I would love to know more about your favorite 1989 albums! Enjoy my list and feel free to comment and share your thoughts and selections! Cheers!


Eric Clapton – Journeyman

Eric_Clapton_JourneymanEric Clapton always comes first when it comes to my personal selections, especially if we talk about his 80s’ releases. “Journeyman” was the absolute peak of Eric Clapton’s career, featuring a Grammy winning song, “Bad Love” and tons of other beautiful blues tunes, such as “Before You Accuse Me” and “Hard Times”. What really impressed me was Clapton’s obvious confidence on “Journeyman”. He overcame his alcohol abuse and all the other ghosts of the past and released one of the most phenomenal blues/rock albums of all time. The album definitely sounds modern, more pop-influenced, rather than strictly focusing on that heavy blues mood, Clapton adores so much. Some of the other highlights and personal favorite songs from “Journeyman” include “Pretending”, Anything for Your Love”, “Old Love” and “Breaking Point”. It’s definitely an album worthy of your time and appreciation!


TNT – Intuition

tntNorwegian rockers TNT completely blew me away with their 1989 release, “Intuition”. It quickly became a personal favorite and an album I simply cannot live without. I often say that it’s extremely underrated – I mean, just listen to the catchy, outstanding rockers, including the title song, “Caught Between the Tigers”, “Forever Shine On” and of course, one of my FAVORITE songs of all time, the power ballad “Tonight I’m Falling”. “Intuition” didn’t really make a huge splash on the charts or sold that well, compared to other similar glam rock releases of the era; however it did manage to conquer my heart with just one listen. Tony Harnell is a brilliant vocalist and I will forever be thankful to him and guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø for crafting such an enjoyable piece of art.  


Giant – Last of the Runaways

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s “Last of the Runaways” is one of the most underappreciated rock releases of all time which I think is unforgivable! In addition to the famous power ballad, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, “Last of the Runaways” has so much more to offer. The whole debut album is just simply a beautiful, well-balanced selection of arena rock tunes, perfectly demonstrating the artistic skills and qualities of Giant. “Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock gems that could be heard on this album. “Love Welcome Home” and “It Takes Two” are also some of the highlights! Once again, the timing wasn’t right for those talented guys. Let’s not forget Dann Huff who brought so much character to “Last of the Runaways” with his emotional and unforgettable vocal delivery.


Strangeways – Walk in The Fire

strangeways-walk-in-the-fire-1988The Scottish AOR/Melodic rock band, Strangewaysthird album, titled “Walk in the Fire” was the reason why I got to know them in the first place. I played the first track – “Where are they Now” and I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous melody and the superb killer-vocals of Terry Brock. Their Americanized sound can be characterized as mixture between Journey, Boston and Bad Company, but with a little something extra. In addition to “Where are they now”, some other highlights include the charming power ballad “Love Lies Dying” and the uplifting “Every Time You Cry”.
“Walk in the Fire” didn’t really achieve commercial success, despite its first class AOR qualities. The album, along with the band should’ve been so much bigger back in the day. Nevertheless, they are worth discovering. I can’t recommend this album enough.


Danger Danger – Danger Danger

danger-danger-albumDanger Danger debuted in the summer of 1989 with a self-titled album, strictly following the well-established glam rock formula for success. Fueled with catchy, rhythmic and easy to absorb tunes, the record could easily be described as an “enjoyable Friday night experience”. To be fair, the record does sound a bit too generic and can’t really stand out with an exceptional musicianship, outstanding vocal delivery or profound lyrics. Nevertheless, this melodic hard rock jewel can almost guarantee you a perfect mood which is the reason why is on this list! “Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang” were released as singles and turned into Danger Danger’s best-known classics. (Those guys really enjoyed double titles.) Both tracks are fun and highly entertaining, despite their obvious commercial-driven goals. “Saturday Nite”, “Rock America”, “Feels Like Love” and “One Step from Paradise” are just a few of the other satisfying rockers who made this album so appealing to me. Danger Danger got all the pieces of the puzzle with this project; however they were 5-10 years later for the party. This album would’ve got so much attention on AOR radio!


Treat – Organized Crime

Treat - Organized CrimeSwedish rockers Treat grabbed my attention with their third album, “Dreamhunter” (1987), however their 1989 release, titled “Organized Crime” turned me into a die-hard fan. I always felt so sad because despite being so talented, they couldn’t become a household name in the 1980s melodic rock scene. Anyhow, back to “Organized Crime” – their fourth release is home to mind-blowing rockers, such as the unbelievably catchy “Get You On The Run”, “Party All Over”, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and the beautiful ballad, “Stay Away”. Attractive melodies, smooth vocals and hard-rocking sound are just some of the reasons why I think that there’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping

bonham-disregardAnother debut and another perfect rock album! “The Disregard of Timekeeping”, the first actual attempt of Jason Bonham to hit it big commercially, became a reality in 1989. The project caused quite the stir among the rock fan communities but it was only natural – the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer was about to unleash a new force to the competitive hair metal musical market and fans just had to see through it all! “The Disregard of Timekeeping” spawned exceptional songs, including “Guilty”- a song that won me over with its mesmerizing intro, unparalleled vocal delivery by Daniel MacMaster and that soul-demolishing violin solo by bassist John Smithson. “Wait for You”, “Playing to Win” and “Room for Us All” are other worthy and highly memorable moments on Bonham‘s 1989 debut.


Skid Row – Skid Row

skid-row-1989Now we’re talking!!!

Fronted by one of the most charismatic and talented vocalists of all time, Sebastian Bach, Skid Row‘s self-titled debut became one of the best-selling and most influential albums of the year. “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life”, “I Remember You”, “Piece of Me” – do I have to say more? There are plenty of reasons why this album got certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and you can easily discover them if you listen to it from start to finish. “Skid Row” brought that much-needed sass and danger into the music scene, incorporated among serious melodic riffs. MTV loved them as well, which further more boosted their image as the new hot kids on the block! What else is there to say – it’s an amazing and highly entertaining album and no wonder it’s on my favorite 1989 albums list!


Blue Murder – Blue Murder

blue-murder3John Sykes proved that he is a worthy monster guitarist as a member of household names such as Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy. Then, he and David Coverdale crafted what is often considered as one of the most enormous hard rock records of all time. Yes, of course I’m talking about that influential 1987 album that spawned timeless hit singles like “Here I go again”, “Still of the Night” and “Is This Love”, known by every single soul on this universe. After they went their separate ways, John Sykes formed Blue Murder and in 1989, they released their self-titled, debut album, which is yet again a highly underrated album, despite its out-of-this world qualities and songs that are able to conquer every part of your soul! I’m not exaggerating, believe me – if the timing and situation was different, this album would’ve been so huge! Some of the earth-shattering songs on “Blue Murder” include “Riot”, “Black-Hearted Woman” and the title track. Of course, the sweetest moments come in the face of “Valley of the Kings” which is one of those tunes you can play for days and naturally (at least for me) the mesmerizing ballad “Out of Love”.


Mr. Big – Mr. Big

Mr. Big - Mr. BigIn the summer of 1989, Mr. Big became one of the many bands to release a debut album. The eponymous record did manage to leave an impression on the charts and it did sell over 300,000 copies in just a year, so we can conclude that it was somewhat successful. It did, however, deserve way more than that. I still remember the first time I heard the opening track, “Addicted to That Rush” – it was like a powerful shot of adrenaline and it made me feel so good! The entire album is one energizing piece of music that was made to give you that much needed kick! “Wind me Up”, “Had Enough” and “Blame it On My Youth” are just a few of my favorite tracks that could be heard on “Mr. Big”. Paul Gilbert and Eric Martin are an exceptional team and I have nothing but respect and adoration for this album!


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy

teslaTesla!!! Where do I even begin? I love this band and this album so much!!

In 1989, Tesla released their sophomore album, titled “The Great Radio Controversy” – an album I first got to know through the groundbreaking ballad, “Love Song” which is so unique and different from all the other power ballads released at that same time. That’s not all of it though. The entire album is one splendid mixture of blues, hard rock, pop rock and metal. On top of it all, the distinctive vocals of Jeff Keith made sure that I will forever remember and hold this album dear. In addition to that well-known ballad, “The Great Radio Controversy” is home to one of the most empowering tunes – “Hang Tough”. “Lady Luck”, “Paradise”, “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights”, “Be a Man” and basically each and every other song on this album are highly spirited and so easy to fall in love with. “The Great Radio Controversy” was certified double platinum for a reason!


Great White – …Twice Shy

great-white-twice-shyThe unquestionable commercial highlight of Great White’s career has to be “…Twice Shy”. I’m not saying it’s their best album but it most certainly is an amazing release, worthy of acknowledgment. Great White’s cover of Ian Hunter‘s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and of course “The Angel Song” are the most popular tunes that came out of the album, conquering charts and leaving a timeless trace. Moreover, “House of Broken Love” is yet another highlight, dedicated to the love struggles vocalist Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall were going through at that time. “Baby’s On Fire” and “Heart Hunter” are a couple of my other favorites on the record! “…Twice Shy” got certified double platinum and is still considered as one of the staples of ‘80s glam rock!


XYZ – XYZ

xyzProduced by none-other than Don Dokken himself, XYZ’s self-titled debut turned into another one of the underrated highlights of 1989. All in all, “XYZ” is an album that could have easily blown out any other hard rock album of that era, even the multi-platinum ones. Fantastic stand-out tracks such as “Inside Out”, “What Keeps Me Loving You”, “Take What You Can” and “Come On N’ Love Me” deserve nothing but to be enjoyed and played as loud as possible. Frontman Terry Ilous is contributing significantly to the overall satisfying experience that is this debut release. Tons of talent and full of character – I can’t recommend this release enough!


Kingdom Come – In Your Face

kingdome comeI am a huge Kingdom Come fan so no surprises here. Their sophomore album, titled “In Your Face” is a worthy follow-up to their well-deserving debut album and the second of the trilogy of good releases by Kingdom Come, at least in my opinion. “In Your Face” impressed me with uplifting songs like “Who Do You Love”, “The Wind” and laid-back tunes such as “Just Like a Wild Rose”. All in all, “In Your Face” is an enjoyable album and despite the obvious influences, drawn by Led Zeppelin, I do enjoy listening to this record from time to time. I agree that it’s a bit inconsistent and it does have its flaws but if you like AOR, you’re gonna love this, just like I do!


Whitesnake – Slip of the Tongue

Whitesnake - Slip of the TongueLast but not least, I just had to include Whitesnake’s eight studio album, “Slip of the Tongue”. Many people, including David Coverdale himself think of this album as one of Whitesnake’s weakest releases; however that’s definitely not what I think. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite Whitesnake album and a couple of songs are the reason why. “The Deeper the Love”, “Judgement Day” and “Now You are Gone” have been an inseparable part of my daily playlist for so many years. Let’s also not forget about that impressive re-recording of “Fool for Your Loving”. Sound shift or not, Whitesnake did wonders with this glorious hard rock album and I will forever defend its greatness.


 

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 15 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.

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~

16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard!

A lot of interesting things were happening on the rock music scene in the year of 1992. To many it’s even the last year of true hard rock before the grunge movement completely took over the industry. It was an expected change, to be honest; after all, hard rock/glam rock was dominating for far too long and people were intrigued by the new alternative scene, making its way during the late ‘80s. Still, rock music enjoyed a couple of more successful years, before it was completely overshadowed by grunge and modern rock music, styles and directions, especially from the mid-90s onwards. Of course, well-established rock acts, like Def Leppard, Van Halen, Bad Company, Bon Jovi, Asia and heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica were still going strong and producing great albums during the ‘90s.  

1992 is a colossal year for rock music and not just because I was born in 1992 (😋). That magical year gave birth to some of the most outstanding rock releases and presented long-awaited comebacks of major names, such as Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Dream Theater, Def Leppard, Asia and others. Moreover, bands that debuted in the late ‘80s, such as Giant and Slaughter jumped into 1992 with strong sophomore albums. 1992 marked a couple of splendid debut releases as well, including the German hard rock band Fair Warning’s first self-titled album. Some not so pleasant things also happened in 1992, including the disbandment of White Lion, Europe and Ratt. Nevertheless, my final verdict is that 1992 distinguished itself as a smashing rock&roll year. To prove my statement, [My Rock Mixtapes] presents to you 15 admirable rock releases that made 1992 one of the good years of rock!


Bad Company – Here Comes Trouble

bad-company-here-comes-troubleThe last Bad Company album to feature the fantastic voice of Brian Howe, titled “Here Comes Trouble” was released in September, 1992. The title track, along with memorable AOR classics like “How About That” and “This Could Be the One”, enjoyed a significant amount of airplay on radio stations, making quite the splash in 1992. The album was an absolute fan-favorite, though it most certainly couldn’t compete with the commercial success of their previous releases.
It took Bad Company three years to release the follow-up to “Here Comes Trouble”. “Company of Strangers” showcased a brand-new sound, courtesy of lead vocalist Robert Hart.


Giant – Time to Burn

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 releases of 1992, in my opinion. It took Giant 9 years to come back with “III”, which is also worthy of checking out.


Def Leppard – Adrenalize

Def_Leppard_-_AdrenalizeAfter releasing one of the most important and definitive ‘80s albums – the blockbuster “Hysteria”, things were looking pretty good for Def Leppard. Unfortunately, another tragedy struck the guys from Sheffield just went they barely recovered from Rick Allen’s life-changing accident. Guitarist Steve Clark died from alcohol poisoning in 1991. One thing we can say about Def Leppard is that they know how to rise from the ashes with great dignity and strength, despite the constant hardships. In the spring of 1992, after a couple of years of recording, they released “Adrenalize” – an album that gave the fans a chance to one last time listen to the killer riffs of Steve Clark. Splendid rockers like “Heaven Is”, “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Tonight” and “I Wanna Touch You” stood the test of time and till today remain some of Leppard’s most beloved songs. “Adrenalize” achieved immense commercial success, topping the charts in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand and selling over three million copies. The strong grunge movement wasn’t able to stop the great Def Leppard!


Asia – Aqua

asia-aquaAsia’s first album with new singer John Payne was released in the early summer of 1992. Moreover, Asia’s original guitarist Steve Howe once again reunited with his old buddies after his departure, following the release of “Alpha” in 1983. The new and exciting line-up, armed with glorious, dangerous even, hard rock sound and top quality production are what made the album so good. John Payne’s hard-edged vocals brought tons of appeal; not only that, he was like a breath of fresh air for Asia and their fans with his approach to songwriting. The album didn’t achieve much recognition, nor it caused a stir among the public; however, with songs like “Who Will Stop The Rain”, “Someday” and “Lay Down Your Arms”, “Aqua” is most certainly one of the great gems of 1992.


Eric Clapton – Unplugged

eric-clapton-unpluggedIn January 1992, armed with an acoustic Martin, backed by just a couple of musicians, in front of a small audience, legendary guitar hero Eric Clapton performed acoustic versions of original compositions, along with a few blues classics for the infamous MTV Unplugged TV series. In August, the concert album was out, becoming one of the first-ever MTV albums and consequently, a turning point in Eric Clapton’s career. After a series of ’80s AOR jewels, including “August” and “Journeyman”, Clapton successfully went on to complete a once in a lifetime project, which critics often consider his best, most sincere release of all time. With so much class, splendid guitar work and emotions, no wonder “Unplugged” stole so many Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. The tender and absolutely heartbreaking hit single “Tears in Heaven” went on to become one of Clapton’s highest career achievements and ultimately the highlight of the concert record.


Fair Warning – Fair Warning

fair-warning-1992March was certainly the rock month of 1992! Despite achieving a moderate commercial success in Japan and some European countries, Fair Warning and the album itself didn’t really make a huge splash in the States, unfortunately. Every song on “Fair Warning” is a glorious melodic rock anthem. From the power ballad “Long Gone” to the dangerous rockers “Longing for Love”, “One Step Closer” and “Hang On” – the albums presents a great selection of breath taking AOR classics. Such passion, fuelling “Fair Warning” can rarely be observed. I often consider this album as one of the most underrated debuts of all time! Fair Warning came back three years later with an equally appealing release, titled “Rainmaker”.


INXS – Welcome to Wherever You Are

inxs-welcomeINXS’ eight studio album, Welcome to Wherever You Are”, marked a new musical direction for the Australian rockers. Amidst the war between grunge and rock, they just said “screw it” and grabbed the sitar, called a 60-piece orchestra and did something they haven’t done before. On top of it all, the sound was more intriguing, different and much more raw than their previous releases. The album topped the UK charts; though things went downhill after that for INXS. Nevertheless, songs like “Baby Don’t Cry” and “Not Enough Time” did achieve a certain amount of recognition and remained some of INXS’ most beloved tracks.  Fans were impressed with the band’s new approach and some even call it “the most welcoming INXS album ever”. There is a reason for that, believe me!


Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith

bon-jovi-keep-the-faith“Keep The Faith” was a very important album for Bon Jovi because it marked a significant shift for the guys – they turned from glam rockers with the perfect ’80s sound and image to becoming a true rock&roll band of the 90s. Released in the end of 1992, the album did manage to create quite the fuss and excitement among fans. Romantic piano ballads and straightforward rockers, decorated with longer guitar solos and more meaningful lyrics, showcased Bon Jovi’s growth as a band. No wonder “Keep The Faith” sold over 2 million copies! The new and improved Bon Jovi was all fans could talk about and listen to. Impressive gems like “Bed of Roses”, “In These Arms”, “I Believe” and the title track, of course, are pretty solid easons to fall in love with this album.


Great White – Psycho City

great-white-psycho-cityGreat White warmed up the autumn of 1992 pretty well with their sixth studio album, titled “Psycho City”. The fact that the industry personnel preferred to give more attention to grunge music and screamed at the faces of bands like Great White that hard rock was dead, couldn’t change the fact that “Psycho City” was and still is a brilliant hard rocker, full of great music. Great White were not the ordinary “poodle rock” band from the ‘80s – they had something special in them and I think that this album showcases this exact spark I am talking about. Exceptional songs, like the gentle “Love is a Lie”, “Big Goodbye”, “I Want You” and the bluesy “Maybe Someday” prove that their sound was unique and definitely going in a more sophisticated direction. 2 years later, they released their acoustic album, named “Sail Away”.


Slaughter – The Wild Life

slaughter-the-wild-lifeIn April, 1992, Slaughter came back with an enthusiastic sophomore album that solidified their position as one of the talented, early ‘90s rock bands that could actually produce something meaningful and impactful. Considered as one of their best effort, “The Wild Life” presents variety, good old rock&roll and pretty much something for everyone. “Days Gone By”, “Real Love”, “The Wild Life” and “Out for Love” are just some of the tracks, displaying Slaughter’s great potential and well-deserved fan adoration. It was indeed blown away by all those grunge bands who were dictating the music scene at that time, but still, it’s an album that definitely made the spring of 1992 much more interesting.


Yngwie Malmsteen – Fire and Ice

yngwie-j-malmsteen-fire-and-iceThe sixth studio album of guitar God Yngwie Malmsteen, titled “Fire & Ice” was released in early 1992 and marks a return to more classical, baroque-influenced heavy metal music. As a matter of fact it could easily be considered as one of the best examples of how well classical and heavy metal music can co-exist, if approached with talent and creative mind. Every track on “Fire & Ice” is a loud expression of virtuosity, brightened by relevant lyrics and enjoyable melodies. Malmsteen and Edman’s “Cry No More”, “Forever is a Long Time” and the magnificent title track, of course, are just some of the mind-blowing guitar tornadoes which made quite the statement in 1992. Nothing much to add or say as a matter of fact – the entire album is epic and able to please any fan of Yngwie.


Warrant – Dog Eat Dog

warrant-dog-eat-dogFans and critics consider Warrant’s “Dog Eat Dog” as the band’s most solid effort, despite its weak chart and commercial performance, compared to their previous two releases. The LA-based hard rock band got overlooked, in favour of the solid grunge movement that occupied pretty much every corner of the music scene during that time; however, “Dog Eat Dog” is still one of the strongest, most appealing releases of 1992 and nothing can change that. The album is harder, way more dangerous and sincere, but still managed to keep that fun and exciting glam-spirit that made them so famous in the late ‘80s. “The Hole in My Wall”, “Bonfire”, “Quicksand” and “Let it Rain” are just ome of the tracks that stood out, proving that Warrant could easily compete and even rise above the big names, like Bon Jovi or Motley Crue. “Dog Eat Dog” is a genuine heavy metal album and one of my personal 1992 favorite releases! There’s just something so special going on there!


Skid Row – B-Side Ourselves

skid-row-b-side-ourselves“B-Side Ourselves” is Skid Row’s tribute to the bands that left the biggest imprint on their career. Thrilling cover versions of songs by The Ramones, Kiss, Judas Priest, Rush and The Jimi Hendrix Experience are what make the project so interesting and appealing to the public – there’s just so much diversity, dressed up in obvious respect and passion towards their idols. “Delivering the Goods” is one of the most impressive points on “B-Side Ourselves” because it’s actually a live recording, featuring Judas Priest’s Rob Halford sharing the mic with Sebastian Bach. Skid Row’s interpretation of Rush’s “What You’re Doing” is a personal favorite of mine – Sebastian is absolutely killing it!


Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

iron-maiden-fear-of-the-dark1992 was a great year of heavy metal and Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” is one of the reasons why. The band’s ninth studio album also became the last one to feature lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson before his departure (thank God he came back later on). There seems to be an obvious division among fans’ opinions when it comes to this album – some find it weak, showcasing Iron Maiden’s creative decline in the ‘90s; while others think it’s a solid masterpiece. Nevertheless, it did conquer the charts and it does have a huge amount of charm which pleases me and many other people, so that’s what’s important. As a matter of fact, the title track is one of my favorite Iron Maiden songs of all time! From Here to Eternity”, “Chains of Misery” and “Wasting Love” are great rockers and perfect for fans who prefer lighter and catchier heavy metal hooks.


Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power

pantera-vulgar-display-of-powerOne of the most definitive ‘90s heavy metal albums is Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power”, featuring a couple of the band’s most instantly recognizable tunes, such as “This Love”, “Mouth for War” and “Walk”. Moreover, the album went on to become the band’s best-selling album, achieving a double-platinum status in the USA. When it comes to this release, the title says it all – “Vulgar Display of Power” is intense, forceful and full of rage and hostility. That’s exactly why the metalheads love it so much! Heavier, darker and presenting more polished heavy metal sound, as compared to Pantera’s 1990 “Cowboys from Hell”, their 1992 release definitely stood the test of time and is still one of the mandatory records for any metal fan! Not to mention that it’s also the perfect representative of the groove-metal genre.


Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction

megadeth-countdown-to-extinctionIn the hot summer of 1992, Megadeth released “Countdown to Extinction” – an album full of classic heavy metal gems, such as “Symphony of Destruction”, “Skin O’ My Teeth” and the title track, which even won an award for raising awareness for animal rights issues. The album was welcomed with open arms from both fans and critics, celebrating its melodic thrash qualities. As a matter of fact, “Countdown to Extinction” was responsible for the band’s commercial breakthrough in the ‘90s. No surprises there – the album unveils confidence, pure thrash fury, killer riffs and some great hooks. It might had been quite difficult to top the success of “Rust in Peace” but Megadeth still produced a classic rock gem, which is equally intriguing and fascinating, at least to me that is.



The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 15 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.

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~

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)

van-halen-debut

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)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969

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)

ramones-debut

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)

firehouse-debut-2

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

elp-debut

The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

please-please-me-beatles

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm gonna Leave You

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

rainbow23

Winger – Winger (1988)

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Foreigner – Foreigner (1977)

foreigner-debut

Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

thunder-backstreet-symphony

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.

[MIXTAPE] EUROPE In 10 Outstanding Rockers

europe-band-collageAs a proud European, it’s only natural for me to be a huge fan of Europe; as a matter of fact they are among my most beloved hard rock acts of all time. I feel pretty excited to be writing this because the connection I share with those guys is too strong and I do have to say a thing or two about their fantastic career, spawning some of my favorite songs of all time.

Originally named Force, the Swedish band of vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bass guitarist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno is a solid example of how dreams do come true as long as you are not afraid to try and give it your all. From innocent beginnings to becoming an international sensation in the mid-1980s, Europe definitely proved that you don’t have to be British or American to know how to produce quality rock n’ roll and  conquer the world with it. After a moderately successful self-titled debut album (1983) and a strong evolution with “Wings of Tomorrow (1984), Europe caught the attention of the right people who knew exactly what to make out of those outstanding musicians. In May 1986, the world welcomed “The Final Countdown” – a record and a title track known by each and every person on this planet, I believe. Kevin Elson, a mastermind producer, who worked with Journey stepped in and shaped what is known as one of the most era-defining records of all time. Europe kept on delivering impressive rock in the following “Out of This World” (1988) and “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991). Unfortunately, just like many other hard rock bands on the market, Europe also stumbled and fell over the sudden grunge outburst in the early 1990s. Despite releasing a phenomenal record in that magical 1991, they received little appreciation, making it one of the most underrated albums in my book. After a little break, they got their act together and released some decent albums, including the most recent one “War of Kings” (2015). What comes next for Europe? A worldwide tour, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of that groundbreaking record that redefined the 80s! They surely still got it!

In honor of “The Final Countdown” and because I am a huge fan of Europe, I prepared this little playlist of 10 songs, which I believe best represent the band and their exciting sound. The playlist is suitable for people who are meeting the band for the first time, as well as to those who want to experience good music all over again! I am not discriminating against their newer releases (they are very good, actually) but for me personally, the first five albums are the greatest pieces of work they have done so far and whatever I do, I always go back to those classic rock jewels.

Cheers to Europe!


All or Nothing

The opening track of “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991) has to be my most beloved Europe tune of all time. Captivating guitar intro that progresses in catchy hard rock rhythms, accompanied by Joey’s mesmerizing vocals – this song is everything. If you are the type of person who likes solid hard rock, characterized by hooky melodies to sing over to, this is the tune for you. The lyrics are not as impressive as the melodies, but still pleasing and easy to sing:  All or nothing at all, There’s nothing I won’t do, And the one thing I want, All of is you…”


I’ll Cry for You

“I’ll Cry for You” became the reason why I fell inlove with “Prisoners in Paradise”. The instant attention-grabbing keyboard intro is transforming into a guitar-paradise and bittersweet lyrics that really get under your skin “…I wanna give you my heart, Give you my soul; I wanna lay in your arms, Never let go…”


Girl from Lebanon

Very unique and intriguing concept right here. “Girl from Lebanon” yet again came out from “Prisoners in Paradise” and in my opinion is one of their greatest works. Those thunder riffs are unforgettable, John Norum is simply killing it on this one…


Wings of Tomorrow

The title track of their sophomore album, “Wings of Tomorrow” (1984), clearly showcased a progress towards the right direction. Raw, straightforward, hitting you hard with no preparation whatsoever, this is definitely my favorite tune from the album. Of course, it’s a bit far from that polished sound we get to experience on the junior record, but equally interesting and worthy of appreciation.


“Out of This World” (1988) spawned four internationally successful singles, among which “Superstitious” and “More Than Meets the Eye” stood out the most to me and to the majority of Europe fans, actually. Following the well-established “The Final Countdown” formula for success, Europe defended the title of the kings of European melodic rock with that album. Both songs impress with catchy riffs and simple, yet charming lyrics.

Superstitious

More Than Meets the Eye


Seven Doors Hotel

“Seven Doors Hotel” was Europe’s first single, released from their debut album back in 1983. This song signalled the arrival of a great songwriting force. That’s right, I am talking about Joey Tempest who at such young age, with no experience whatsoever demonstrated such talent. “Seven Doors Hotel” was actually one of the first songs he had ever written. It became an enormously successful hit single in Japan. Interestingly, Europe are actually one of the few Western bands that became a strong force on the Japanese market back in the day. Even nowadays, Japanese fans love them to death!


coverI will wrap up my playlist with three hit singles from “The Final Countdown” (1986) – the spirited party-anthem, “Rock the Night”; the gentle power ballad, “Carrie”; and of course the monstrous hard rocker, “The Final Countdown”. Each of these tunes have its own uniqueness and became an absolute staple of ‘80s rock scene. You don’t have a party without “Rock the Night”, you don’t create a power-ballad playlist without “Carrie” and you don’t associate with people who don’t like “The Final Countdown” – simple as that!

Rock the Night

Carrie

The Final Countdown


+Bonus Track

Little Bit of Lovin’

There is just something very special about “Prisoners in Paradise” and I want you guys to really feel it. I may have included a lot of tunes from that album, but I stand by what I said – it’s their most deserving work.


 

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~

[Playlist] 5 PINK FLOYD Instrumentals That Will Blow You Away

instrumentals-pinkfloyd

In addition to monumental songs, filled with poetic gorgeousness that leaves you breathless, Pink Floyd can definitely brag about their haunting, but equally exciting progressive rock instrumentals. Sometimes, people definitely need to take a little break from the heavy, quite absurd even lyrics, which despite being an essential part of their music, can leave a very dismal and gloomy aftertaste. Not that it’s bad thing – on the contrary, I’d pick complex, well-thought of lyrics that deal with philosophical or other profound topics (such as isolation, greed, time, human nature, the universe) over lyrics about love and sex any day! Usually, I first connect with the words and then I connect with the melody or the different elements that make up the composition. I was never a person who listens to instrumentals – I need lyrics and that’s that. Till, of course, Pink Floyd came into my life and completely changed the way I think about rock instrumentals. The band was never deeply acknowledged for such types of songs, because when you have brilliant lyricists like David Gilmour and Roger Waters, you always expect to hear words that can make you shiver. However, they do deserve to be praised for their instrumentals and I am here to remind you of some of their most groundbreaking wordless creations that can and for sure will blow you away. These five beautiful pieces of art have always been an inseparable part of my playlist – all of them somehow manage to give me comfort, a much needed isolation and a long array of emotions that leave me questioning my entire existence.  Do you have favorite ones?


Obscured By Clouds (1972)

The title track of Pink Floyd’s 1972 soundtrack album “Obscured by Clouds” has always been one of their greatest instrumentals in my book. Highly experimental, adopting new analog synthesizers and recording techniques, the track can easily haunt you for days.

Any Color You Like (1973)

“The Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the wonders of our world and nothing can change that. Among the timeless classics such as “Time” and “Money”, this groundbreaking instrumental, titled “Any Color You Like” somehow manages to stand out on its own ground. A sensational keyboard solo, accompanied by state of the art studio technologies, all mixed up to create the perfect trance experience. A genius instrumental!

Terminal Frost (1987)

With Roger Waters gone, it was up to David Gilmour to keep the spirit of the band and produce groundbreaking music. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is a glorious album and probably one of my favorite Pink Floyd records of all time. “Terminal Frost” is the thrilling instrumental, featuring a complex combination of mind-blowing guitars, piano and saxophone. This tune was crafted by an alien, I swear…

Marooned (1992)

“The Division Bell” has to be my favorite Pink Floyd album of all time and nothing or no one can take that away from me. “Marooned” is the most creative, imaginative and rousing instrumental on this list, at least for me that is. It gets me every time…What a genius David is!

It’s What We Do (2014)

Pink Floyd’s farewell album offered a lot of pleasing compositions and this is one of them. It was somehow difficult for me to decide which instrumental to pick, since almost the entire album is instrumental-centered, but I settled on “It’s What We Do” because of the mesmerizing intro! This instrumental brought me back to their glory days, despite being released in 2014.


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~