A Mixtape for Your Perfect Rock&Roll Christmas

collage-christmas

It’s that wonderful time of the year again!

Beautifully decorated trees are brightening up every home, people are giving each other presents, delicious food is warming up the mood and everyone is just enjoying the holidays with their families and loved ones. Presents or no presents – it doesn’t really matter, right? What truly matters (at least to me) is…the music! You can’t have the perfect Christmas, without the proper music can you?. In my case, we are talking about some serious Christmas rock&roll which is an absolute necessity for my holiday celebrations. I mean there are some classic Christmas pop tunes which are, of course, always pleasant to listen to – “Santa Baby”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Here Comes Santa Claus”, etc. (and ultimately the ubiquitous “Last Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” which are a must), however, as a proud rock soul, I need my dose of rock&roll spirit, even on Christmas.

I have prepared a little mixtape, consisting of 10 songs, perfectly suitable for your rock&roll Christmas. Each one of those tunes is capturing the essence of the holidays and can absolutely brighten up your festivities. Most importantly, they are all performed by great rock musicians who invested a lot of time and effort to be with us, even on Christmas.The playlist truly is one melting pot – from classic rockers like The Beatles, to glam rock bands, like Danger Danger, I tried to introduce some variety and maybe some new perception on how Christmas should sound like.

Here we go, I do hope you enjoy it!

🎁Merry Christmas🎁


christmas-balladsThe first four tracks I chose for this year’s Christmas rock&roll mixtape: Tom Keifer – Blue Christmas, Danger Danger – Naughty Naughty Christmas, Dokken – Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Firehouse – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, are all featuring in a compilation album, titled “Monster Ballads Xmas”. The 2007 CD brought together notable rockstars, mostly glam rock representatives, such as Dokken, Danger Danger, Firehouse, Kip Winger, Nelson and others. This hard rock extravaganza is filled up with newly recorded Christmas songs, bringing the ultimate holiday experience to its listeners. I could’ve simply put each and every song from that album on the playlist, but I chose those four because I see them as the most attractive moments from the collection. Tom Keifer’s voice has to be appreciated all the time, including on Christmas. “Blue Christmas” or should I say, “Blues Christmas” is an absolute masterpiece. Danger Danger are spicing up the mood with a sexy tune, reminiscent of their hit “Naughty Naughty”. Dokken’s interpretation of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is stunning and Firehouse are definitely bringing the fire with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.

💕🎄Tom Keifer – Blue Christmas💕🎄

💕🎅Danger Danger – Naughty Naughty Christmas💕🎅

💕🎄Dokken – Santa Claus is Coming to Town💕🎄

💕🎅Firehouse – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree💕🎅


Cheap Trick’s “Come on Christmas” is basically an altered Christmas version of their 1978 song “Come on, Come on”. It’s funny, catchy and so appealing. It hits you really hard so if you don’t want to mess around with some melodic Christmas rockers, this is the song for you.

💕🎄Cheap Trick – Come on Christmas💕🎄


We all adore Bryan Adams, so his most famous Christmas song –“Christmas Time” had to be on this year’s playlist as well. Despite being released in 1985, the tune is still enjoying a lot of attention and is one of the staples of holiday radio programs all over the world. I can understand why, Bryan is bringing so much to the table. You can just play it on a loop for your entire season and you’ll still love it every time!

💕🎅Bryan Adams – Christmas Time💕🎅


In 2000, Lynyrd Skynyrd released a Christmas-themed album titled “Christmas Time Again”. The title song has been a favorite holiday song of mine for so many years. The bluesy rhythms and Johnny’s soothing vocals can turn any Grinch into a Christmas elf. Take any song from that album and your festive mood would be guaranteed.

💕🎄Lynyrd Skynyrd – Christmas Time Again💕🎄


There can’t be a Christmas without Queen’s “Thank God it’s Christmas”, right? Released back in 1984, the holiday tune enjoyed significant success on the charts. However, no music video was filmed for this song, which means it couldn’t be promoted on the music channels. It’s a less known song (at least among the general population), however I definitely can’t imagine my holiday without Freddie singing “The moon and stars seem awful cold and bright, Let’s hope the snow will make this Christmas right…”

💕🎅Queen – Thank God it’s Christmas💕🎅


The Beatles loved their fans, that’s for sure. Every Christmas, members of their official fan-club would receive a record with Christmas carols, original compositions and a “thank you” for being a devoted fan. That sounds incredible!
Those records haven’t been released officially, but one song –Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” (1967) made it to The Beatles Anthology project in 1995. The Fab Four bringing the festivities to your home with their lovely harmonies – there’s nothing better than that!

💕🎄The Beatles – Christmas Time is Here Again💕🎄


The Kinks contributed to the rock&roll Christmas spirit in 1977 with their single “Father Christmas”. You can always count on The Kinks to turn things upside down, even on the purest holiday, Christmas. The song is about a gang of poor kids, demanding money, instead of toys from a department store Father Christmas. They are ready to throw in a few punches as well, as long as they get what they want. I love the concept and the song is immensely catchy! It’s a must for every Christmas.

💕🎅The Kinks – Father Christmas💕🎅


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~

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime

The Importance of a Debut Album

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and that applies in every sphere of life, including music. A debut album can make or break a musician’s career. That first release is like an immensely important first date with the biggest, most relevant judge in the world – the audience. Therefore, the artists need to strike with their strongest, most exceptional creative weapons right from the very beginning if they want to make a name for themselves in this competitive music market. A successful debut album is essential in the sense that it’s a key to establish a fanbase, not to mention that it sets some sort of standards and expectations for the following projects. Having a powerful debut album doesn’t always walk hand in hand with a powerful, everlasting career; however, it’s indeed a significant aspect to think about when building a reputation. Some great rock acts, like Guns N’ Roses, Boston, Bad Company, even The Beatles, of course, spawned enormously impactful debut albums that stood the test of time. Unfortunately you can’t build a career on just one debut album – you need to develop artistically and be consistent with your releases. Some other rock acts like Elton John, Thin Lizzy and even the great Journey had a rather weak debut but managed to rise from the ashes and come back stronger than ever.

firehouse-debut-2So many rock albums are on my list of “favorite rock debuts of all time”, I don’t even know where to begin with – from Def Leppard’s “On through the Night” to Bad Company’s self-titled debut, from ASIA to Rainbow, the list goes on and on. One of those albums is the album I will be focusing on throughout this publication – the 1990 coming out party of the American glam rocker, FireHouse. Intrigued by the gorgeous power-ballad, “Love of a Lifetime”, I followed its footsteps back to this record where I found out that there was indeed a reason why it was certified double platinum. The album showcases so much talent, effort and what’s so fascinating is that it somehow managed to make a statement during a transitional, rather shaky period in the music world. The time for a debut wasn’t that suitable because grunge basically took over and media, along with fans, just stopped caring about glam rock. Still, what’s good is good and I am sure many people, just like me, appreciate FireHouse and this marvelous album, full of explosive melodic-rockers.

FireHouse

firehouse3Vocalist C. J. Snare, guitarist Bill Leverty, drummer Michael Foster, and bassist Perry Richardson caught the last wave of the glam rock era with a firm grab. What they did with that first release not only got them prestigious awards, including Best Newcomer in the States, but also launched their international success in many countries, including Canada and Japan. FireHouse is yet another band to brag with its supportive fandom and strong presence in the Japanese market and this first album has a lot to do with it.

The band, along with that debut album turned into a much needed breath of fresh air. People were losing interest in melodic AOR records and were waiting for the next big thing. The strong force, known as hair metal, was losing its powers. Suddenly, however, those talented guys came along and spawned a double platinum album in 1990. No one saw that coming but everyone loved it. The quartet, along with producer David Prater, who worked with Dream Theatre, obviously knew how to craft some good old, enduring American hard rock.

Songs and Style

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. On the surface, to many people it may seem like a regular hair metal album, stuffed with ordinary party rockers with little substance, however once you get to know the songs a little bit better; you will understand why exactly this debut album conquered the world.

“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” – a catchy, humorous rocker which just begs you to find your inner (in my case non-existing) vocal strength and sing your heart out – it’s that captivating! This was the first FireHouse song I heard years ago and it grabbed my attention instantaneously. “All She Wrote” deserved so much more than it got, but then again, chart positions aren’t all that matter, right? “Shake & Tumble” gets its hands on you right from the beginning – those mindblowing riffs are like an energy drink; I can almost taste the power coming out of that tune. The opening track – “Rock on the Radio” is your typical party hard rocker, generating tons of excitement. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” is a sweet mid-tempo radio favorite, showcasing appealing acoustic elements. Another highly compelling tune has to be “Home is Where the Heart is” – I am beyond fascinated with Snare’s vocal delivery on this one, he absolutely kills it.

All She Wrote

Shake & Tumble

Don’t Treat Me Bad

I’m saving the best for last! In case you wonder which band released the greatest power ballad of all time, here’s your answer – it’s FireHouse and you can find it on this album! “Love of a Lifetime” is a simply a ballad of a lifetime. Written by vocalist C.J. Snare, it quickly became a worldwide sensation and their most well known song up to date. Not only that, but it turned into an absolute necessity for every wedding ceremony – the impact and fan love for that song just goes beyond any limits. There’s no surprise, though – just listen to the tune and let it reach every little part of your rock n’ roll heart. Dreamy lyrics, full of hope and encouragement, beautiful solo and heartmelting melody – “Love of a Lifetime” has the whole package.

Love of a Lifetime


What followed?

firehouse-hold-your-fireWhat followed was indeed pure fire! “Hold Your Fire” was released in 1992 and though it couldn’t compete with the debut one in terms of sales, it still left a mark of its own. “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, “Hold Your Fire”, “Reach for the Sky” – all immensely successful hit singles and fan favorites. This right here is a perfect example of a worthy sophomore effort – an album that delivered what the fans expected after the first one. Unfortunately, those were the last good albums we got before grunge hit the music scene and kicked hard rock out of the picture. Nevertheless, I am still here, along with many other fans, who love and haven’t forgotten about bands such as FireHouse! Cheers!


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

[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~

[MIXTAPE] My Top 10 ALAN PARSONS PROJECT Songs

alan-parsons

Thank God Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson – two of the most notable geniuses of progressive rock, decided to join creative forces in 1975 and create The Alan Parsons Project, a band whose presence entirely redefined progressive rock and the music scene of the time. Accompanied by talented session musicians and various vocalists, The Alan Parsons Project quickly established a name as the ultimate pioneers of concept album releases.

Alan Parsons, or as I like to call him Mr Everything, already had a long list of achievements, including engineering Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and helping with The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and “Let it Be”. For such an outstanding songwriter, audio-engineer, producer, signer and most importantly – a man with a unique perspective and approach to music, the sky was the limit. He saw a respectful partner in crime in the early 1970s in the face of the equally talented lyricists, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Eric Woolfson and… the rest was history.  

The Alan Parsons Project debuted with in 1976 with a concept album titled “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. The band’s identity was yet to be solidified, though. In the years to come, the duo crafted groundbreaking albums like “I Robot” (1977), “The Turn of a Friendly Card” (1980), “Eye in the Sky” (1982), “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) which cemented the duo as one of the highest and most important British progressive rock towers in the mid-1970s and 1980s.

In their 40-year career, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson managed to craft some serious magic. Ten studio albums, each with its own thought-provoking concept, spawned numerous timeless hit singles, still relevant and appreciated by (progressive) rock fans all over the world. Heavily-orchestrated, enigmatic, a bit melancholic even, decorated with powerful lyrics – their music has always been my biggest soothing agent. It is impossible to cherry-pick ten songs from their extensive catalogue and label them as “my absolute favorites”, however I did my best to at least craft a reasonable playlist for the fans who wish to experience the music of The Alan Parsons Project. I do hope you enjoy it!


Eye in the Sky (1982)

The mesmerizing “Eye in the Sky” is among Alan Parsons Project’s biggest commercial successes. Coming from their 1982 album with the same name, the track brought them top chart positions in countries all over the world. Eric Woolfson provided lead vocals for “Eye in the Sky”, which perfectly aligned with the soothing, quiet, yet funky and thrilling rhythms of the song. The lyrics are what captivate the listener the most, in my opinion. Just listen…


Games People Play (1980)

“Games People Play” – another immensely satisfying tune, this time coming from Alan Parsons Project’s 1980 album “The Turn of a Friendly Card”Lenny Zakatek brought so much life into the tune with his memorable vocals. The concept of the song is pretty straightforward, directly related to the overall theme of the record. The lyrics are once again the strongest point, at least to me.


Time (1980)

“Time” comes from “The Turn of a Friendly Card”(1980) and is in my opinion one of the saddest songs ever to be made. Eric Woolfson’s quiet and gentle vocal delivery is everything but comforting. – It just makes me so emotional. Interestingly, this is one of the few songs in which we can hear Alan Parsons himself singing on the background.


Sirius (1982)

“Sirius” and “Eye in the Sky” are meant to be listened one after the other; however I separated them because the 2-minute instrumental has its own charm and sometimes I just play it on a loop, without moving on to the next tune. “Sirius” segues into “Eye in the Sky” and both were usually played as a package on radio stations. The instrumental, however, made a name for itself by becoming an opening number for many sport events.


Ammonia Avenue (1984)

The title track of Alan Parsons Project’s 1984 “Ammonia Avenue” album became one of the reasons why I got into the band in the first place. It seems like songs, performed by Eric Woolfson somehow always get to my heart. A little bit dramatic, but highly enjoyable, this soothing tune has often been there to help me when I am feeling down. I highly recommend it to everyone, it’s just so calming…


Children of the Moon (1982)

“Eye in the Sky” is indeed a very special album to me, as you can see. Another tune from that fabulous progressive rock extravaganza found its place in my top 10. “Children of the Moon” with David Paton on vocals is a rhythmic treasure with a sweet reggae aftertaste and gorgeous lyrics. Have a listen~


Some Other Time (1977)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1977 “I Robot” was their coming out party. Filled with outstanding progressive rock jewels, the record signalled the arrival of a strong prog rock force. The epic “Some other Time”, performed by Peter Straker and Jaki Whitren, stood out to me with its triumphant horn sections and memorable lyrics.


In the Real World (1985)

This tune represents a stronger, more rock-oriented side of Alan Parsons Project which is equally intriguing and worthy of appreciation. “In The Real World” comes from their ninth album, titled “Stereotomy” (1985). The highlight of that record has to be the instrumental “Where’s The Walrus?” which even got them a Grammy Award. However, the uplifting rocker “In The Real World”, performed by Graham Dye, appealed the most to me.


Pipeline (1984)

“Pipeline” is one of the alluring instrumentals on “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) and generally, one of my favorite instrumentals of all time. Alan Parsons Project just know how to craft a time-enduring pieces of art that are equally intriguing with or without lyrics.


Separate Lives (1985)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1985 “Vulture Culture” was probably the last commercial and critical success of the duo. The ‘80s arrived and with them new musical trends, directions and possibilities. There was just little room left for progressive rock. Nevertheless, I find this record to be exceptional, especially “Separate Lives”, once again performed by Eric Woolfson.


+ I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You (1977)

A bonus tune – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” from Alan Parsons Project’s highly successful “I Robot” (1977).  Vocalist Lenny Zakatek brought so much to the table, it was no wonder that later on he would sing so many of the band’s songs. You can’t but be compelled by this funky, disco-sounding tune!


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~

Want to Get Drunk on Progressive Rock? Listen to These 5 Albums:

One of my greatest musical passions is progressive rock. There is just something so magical and immensely captivating in mixing rock with elements of classical music, all wrapped up under layers of complex instrumentation, life-changing lyrics, intense experimentation and supreme technicality. Not to mention the groundbreaking album artworks those beautiful compositions come with. The origins of progressive rock are quite debatable – many people, including myself, believe that it all started in the late 60s as a logical advancement of psychedelic rock. It’s important to mention the significance of albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles which is credited by many critics as the album where the idea of progressive rock began. It wasn’t until the ‘70s when prog rock found its way to the hearts of the general audience. Albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd completely transformed the notion that this type of music is very difficult to enjoy. For the rest of the decade, prog rock was a predominant force on the worldwide music scene, especially among British audiences. Rock acts like YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Frank Zappa and many more are notable names in the genre.

My gigantic adoration for progressive rock grew out of a couple of albums which till today remain my ultimate soul-feeding musical pieces. The following albums are definitely part of the list. Not only that, but each of them has its own unique place in the history of progressive rock and music in general. If you are not so familiar with the genre and are looking for the start, look no further – these five records are surely going to provide you with the ultimate progressive rock experience. Noticeably, I haven’t included the earth-shattering prog rock titles like “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd because I wanted to demonstrate a little bit of variety and give the green light to other equally essential records. Also, Pink Floyd are a completely different monster.
Please enjoy my selection and I hope those albums can bring you at least a little bit of the comfort they bring me.


King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969This might be a bit heavy for some listeners who are not accustomed to the sound of progressive rock but bottom line is – every conversation about progressive rock should begin and end with this album! Historically relevant, highly experimental, critically acclaimed and seen by many as the birthplace of progressive rock – meet King Crimson’s 1969 debut album “In The Court of Crimson King”. Personally, I see is as one of the most impactful forces in the history of rock in general. Where do we even begin with this album? Jazz, blues, classical influences, psychedelic rock elements, mind-blowing lyrics, questioning your entire existence. “In The Court of Crimson King” is THE progressive rock album! The monumental artwork is another reason behind the album’s significance – just look at it! That is how you will react when you listen to King Crimson for the first time!


Yes – Fragile (1971)

Yes - Fragile - Roger DeanIf you want to experience progressive rock at its fines, YES’ “Fragile” (1971) is another album you should devote your time to. “Roundabout” is YES’ ultimate classic and one of the reasons behind the commercialization of progressive rock. People were, and still are, simply in love with the elegant guitars of Steve Howe, accompanied by mindblowing organs, stunning keyboards, mind-altering drums and of course Jon Anderson’s a-list vocals. This whole record is a fantasy coming alive. It became a rock staple and influenced generations of musicians.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973And ladies and gentleman the album that changed my life – Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973). This record is like a door to a new colorful world, a world in which there are no limitations to what your body and soul can experience. I can’t even begin describing why this album is such a huge masterpiece. “Still. . . You Turn Me On”,“Toccata”,“Karn Evil 9” – all sending you on a mind-altering journey after which you feel like a different person. The trio is simply phenomenal – Keith is running through the keyboard with unimaginable precision; Carl is the king of the drums and Greg’s impactful but gentle vocal delivery is releasing you from every little trace of stress and negativity. That’s just how it affects me…


Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

jethro-tull-thick-as-a-brick-1972Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” is just one 44-minute song which really does it for me. Concept, parodies and tricks aside, I do really enjoy diving into the atmosphere of this musical treasure from time to time. You click on “play” and for the next 40 minutes you have the perfect background to your work. I feel like this type of music synchronizes quite well with your work tempo and gives you that extra push! (Or maybe It’s just me). It’s a beautiful piece of progressive rock and musically speaking it is the whole package, not to mention the dozens of instruments we get to enjoy throughout this tune – trumpet, saxophone, timpani, violin and so much more.


Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

rush-moving-pictures-1981Another album you have to listen to if you are into “progressive rock mood” would be Rush’s “Moving Pictures” (1981). Both critically and commercially acclaimed this is one of the albums that truly deserve a spot on your shelf and in your heart. I included it as a part of my selection because despite coming out relatively late, compared to other progressive rock jewels, it did manage to leave a lasting trail of classic prog rockers and radio staplers. It’s a perfect combination between hard rock, adopting a lot of experimental techniques and state of the art technologies to craft the perfect sound. It’s accessible progressive rock at its finest; a natural evolution of a genre!


 

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

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

names

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

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

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


Boston – Amanda (1986)

Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

Toto – Rosanna (1982)

Europe – Carrie (1986)

Steve Perry – Oh! Sherrie (1984)

The Police – Roxanne (1978)

Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)

Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary (1970)

The Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)

The Kinks – Lola (1970)

+ Bonus Tracks

AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie (1977)

 Ramones – Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (1977)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Listen to ASIA’s “Alpha” here:

Don’t Cry

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

 


 

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