The Story of JOURNEY’s “Raised on Radio” (1986)

Journey

Journey - September 3rd, 1981By 1986, Journey was already a household name in the popular music scene not only in their homeland of the USA but also all over the world. Multi-platinum albums, sold-out concerts, millions of fans – that was just the beginning of it. The kings of radio crafted a universally-beloved sound which was basically the secret behind their ultimate success. The appealing mixture of rock and pop, colored by mesmerizing keyboards, rhythm sections and unforgettable hooks, all topped by Steve Perry’s unbelievable, out-of-this-world voice was basically the formula that sky-rocketed their career. AOR treasures, like the 3xtimes Platinum “Departure” (1980), the 9xtimes Platinum “Escape” (1981) and the 6xtimes Platinum “Frontiers” (1983) became inseparable parts of every person’s collection; hit singles like “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Separate Ways” or “Open Arms” defined the ‘80s and influenced generations of musicians. Whatever more I say would be obsolete. Journey was and still is one of the greatest bands out there and their songs will live forever!


The Years before “Raised on Radio”

the threeThe songwriting partnership between Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain was what kept the band on the top shelves for an entire decade, basically. Things got out of hand, though. We’ve heard the story before with many other bands – fame, success and worldwide recognition can sometimes be the reason why tensions arise within the band, egos start clashing and can sometimes lead to members going their separate ways. After Journey released the smashing hit album “Frontiers” in 1983, guitarist Neal Schon and vocalist Steve Perry took some time off to focus on individual “journeys”. Neal Schon teamed up with Sammy Hagar and released “Through the Fire” in 1984 and Steve Perry recorded that “little” solo album “Street Talk” which was out the same year. Guess which endeavor was more successful?

Steve Perry said so many times that while writing and recording “Street Talk” he had the time of his life and even considered leaving Journey for good. I can understand; after all, if you are as talented as Steve Perry and you found what makes you truly happy then there’s nothing wrong to pursue it. Same goes to Neal Schon who by the way is one of the most networked musicians of all time. It was keyboardist Jonathan Cain who somehow pursued Steve Perry to come back and finish with what was started years ago. That’s the short version of how “Raised on Radio” became a reality.

I am not one of those people who would say that Steve Perry was JOURNEY but I am one of those people who ask themselves whether there could be a JOURNEY without Steve Perry. I’m not going to go into details on who did what and who was given what before Perry came back to record “Raised on Radio” but ultimately, there was a line-up change, along with a shift in musical as well as leadership direction in the band.  We are here to talk about the music, though! I get that there might be some people interested in the “juicy” stuff but whatever happened happened. The results were more than satisfying so it’s time to focus on the content, rather than on its background.

“Raised on Radio”

“Raised on Radio” was out just in time for the hot summer of 1986. Steve, Neal and Jonathan were back to their usual songwriting days, except this time Steve Perry took over the production role as well. He did a marvelous job on his solo debut so giving him this opportunity was a justified decision, I think. A few tracks were written by Steve and Jonathan only; the majority of tracks were crafted by the trio.

journey raised on radioI was always drawn by that bright blue album artwork; it’s just so appealing to me. I find it quite simple, elegant and so suitable for the songs and the overall musical atmosphere of the album. It’s like when I think of that beautiful blue color and I immediately think of groovy uplifting songs like “Girl Can’t Help It” or “Positive Touch” (it goes the other way around as well). Interestingly, what’s shown on that artwork is actually the studio and antennas of KNGS (AM Radio), formerly owned by Steve’s parents. He was also the one who renamed the album to “Raised on Radio” (the original name for that album was “Freedom”). It just seems like this whole project was very close to Steve Perry and he wanted to make it as personal as possible.

In terms of commercial success, “Raised on Radio” couldn’t really match the enormous popularity and critical acceptance of the previous two albums of Journey. Nevertheless, it was certified 2xPlatinum and it did spawn a few mind-blowing singles that took over the charts.

One more thing you gotta know about this album is that Steve, Neal and Jonathan weren’t just the main songwriters of Journey. They were actually the only official members left. That’s right, “Raised on Radio” was done by those three, along with dozens of guest musicians. You might ask what happened with Journey’s drummer and bass player and why was the band just trimmed down to a trio? Well, what can I say – sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. Don’t worry though, those two came back and are still rocking with Journey.


The Songs

It’s a matter of opinion and fan devotion when it comes to this album. Some people strongly believe that “Raised on Radio” was just Steve Perry calling all the shots without being able to fill in that hole left by the two guys that got fired. To others, this album was Journey’s natural progression, reflected by the time period. To me, this is just a piece of beautiful pop/rock fusion album that sounded just as good as “Frontiers” and “Escape” and to some extent, even better!

The song that introduced me to the greatness of this album was “It Could Have Been You” which is also a personally-relevant song. I fell for the lyrics, along with that somehow mellow (at least to me) vibe of the song. It’s difficult to describe it but I always felt so sad while listening to this tune, despite its uplifting grooves; I mean just listen to Steve singing: “I can’t wait all my life, on a street of broken dreams, It could have been you my love, where are you now…I still wonder if you remember the night, It could have been you…” – that’s just so heartbreaking.

“Girl Can’t Help It” – the third single from the album is definitely one of the catchiest, most uplifting songs of Journey; there’s just so much life in that song. “I’ll Be Alright Without You” – the ultimate post-break up track is also another highlight on “Raised on Radio”. Excluding the fact that Steve Perry can turn any song into a memorable body/mind experience, this song is indeed quite affecting and empowering. “Suzanne” is another rhythmic, immensely atmospheric tune just waiting for you to go to the dancefloor. The rest is just as good – “Once You Love Somebody” which came out straight from a ‘80s action movie is a personal favorite and “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever” is your typical world-spinning Journey ballad, so full of soul. The title song is absolutely stunning; Perry’s sincere tribute to his rock&roll heroes who he grew up with at his parents’ radio station is a key track on “Raised on Radio” and one of Journey’s best if you ask me. “Be Good to Yourself” is another spirited track that was actually written and recorded in a flash of inspiration on the day they were supposed to finish the record. Steve was going through some tough personal times and he was seeking for inner strength and affirmation.

The great thing about “Raised on Radio” is that there are tons of enjoyable and easy to fall for ear-candies. That’s not all, though. The album is in no shortage of genuine rock tunes, full of feelings and emotional backstories. Overall, this is a positive, eager and exceptionally well-written and produced album. I don’t necessarily think that “Raised on Radio” brought that much to the band; it didn’t really get them that higher. The general mood of the album seems a bit different from their previous work; it is energetic and enthusiastic but not on the same levels as before. Some songs are too sweet but since it’s Steve singing them, I’m totally cool with that!

Now, it’s your turn to listen and feel the great music on “Raised on Radio”…


“Girl Can Help It”

“It Could’ve Been You’

“I’ll Be Alright Without You”


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

The Story of BLIND FAITH’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” (1969)

Eric Clapton was part of many outstanding collaborations throughout his long and prolific career. Where do I even begin? It all started with The Yardbirds, then Cream, then John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. Before he moved on to Derek & The Dominos – a project we all know quite well due to that “little” album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, Eric Clapton, along with Steve Winwood, Ric Grech and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker formed the short-lived band, Blind Faith.

blind faith 3
Blind Faith

The blues-oriented Blind Faith has often been referred to as one of the first ever supergroups. Not only that but they crafted the perfect sound fusion between rock and blues, which influenced many young musicians in the years to come. Despite releasing only one, self-titled album in 1969, Blind Faith still remain one of the most essential English-blues acts, at least in my book. That album generated a huge commotion not only because of its unique sound but because of its controversial album artwork, featuring a young topless girl, holding a silver space ship. It was still the ‘60s after all…what else could you expect?

blind faith cover“Blind Faith” offers a superb playlist; each and every song on that album is a true masterpiece and deserves our praises. After all, it did peak at #1 in three different countries (UK, USA, Canada) so you can expect nothing but the best from this album. Nevertheless, I’ve always been attracted to “Can’t Find My Way Home” the most. As a matter of fact, it’s one of my personal favorite blues songs of all time. It’s immensely comforting and definitely a song I can play every time I feel like I need a break. I do hope there are people out there who appreciate it as much as me and are interested to know a little bit more about this not only beautiful but historically relevant song. Here we go!

  • “Can’t Find My Way Home” was written and sang by the legendary Steve Winwood who is regarded as one of the most influential blue-eyed soul and rhythm and blues musicians of all time. Throughout his career, he made history as a notorious member of bands such as The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Go and of course, Blind Faith.
  • Eric Clapton played acoustic guitar on this song, which was highly unusual for him. As a member of CREAM, Clapton was famous for his lengthy and complex guitar solos, from which he obviously wanted to take a break. Many fans consider his gentle guitar performance on “Can’t Find My Way Home” as one of the best of his career.
  • Many have speculated about the true meaning behind the lyrics of the song. Some say this Steve is singing about break-up or the meaning of life while others claim that it’s about war and death. The most well-known interpretation of the “Can’t Find My Way Home” is that it’s merely a song about drugs.
    I am inclined to believe that it’s a song about drugs. I mean if we look carefully, Come down off your throne and leave your body alone” might be sayingget down from that grand illusion and just stop taking drugs and doing this to your body!”. The following lines, “You are the reason I’ve been waiting all these years, somebody holds the key” can be interpreted as “drugs were the reason why I can’t move on and I need someone to help me!”
    Of course, what do I know? I didn’t write the song. It might as well be a track about self-rediscovery and trying to change your life after you made a series of bad choices. Drugs might be just one small part of it. We all make mistakes, take wrong turns and as a result, can’t find our way back home; the important thing is to be sane, realize what is wrong and try to seek help.

  • “Can’t Find My Way Home” was (and still is) Blind Faith‘s most beloved song. It was an irreplaceable part of every one of their (relatively few) live performances (and later of Clapton‘s).
  • Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton performed “Can’t Find My Way Home” during the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007, along with Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall.
  • “Can’t Find My Way Home” is one of the most covered songs in the history of music. From House of Lords to Joe Cocker, from Styx to John Wetton – various musicians of different genres, including hard rock, soul and pop, recorded their own interpretations of this song. We can easily conclude that “Can’t Find My Way Home” turned out to be an inspiration for many younger generations of musicians.

    Below is my favorite cover of the classic by House of Lord (“Sahara”, 1990)
  • “Can’t Find My Way Home” often makes an appearance on TV. More recently, the famous CW TV Series, Supernatural, featured it during seasons 1 and 9.

“Can’t Find My Way Home”

Come down off your throne and leave your body alone – somebody must change
You are the reason I’ve been waiting so long – somebody holds the key
Well, I’m near the end and I just ain’t got the time
And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home

Come down on your own and leave your body alone – somebody must change
You are the reason I’ve been waiting all these years – somebody holds the key
Well, I’m near the end and I just ain’t got the time
And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home


References:
“Can’t Find My Way Home” Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/stevewinwood/cantfindmywayhome.html
“Can’t Find My Way Home” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Can’t_Find_My_Way_Home
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~

Inside the 1989 Debut of John Sykes’ BLUE MURDER

It was only right to send off a decade full of splendid solid gold rock music with a bang. So many fascinating things happened during the last year of the ‘80s and Blue Murder’s debut album was definitely one of the musical highlights (at least to me). After all, what else can you expect from master guitarist and songwriter John Sykes if not the best?

One of my favorite things to discuss when it comes to old-school rock is the huge pile of underrated artists and bands that deserved way more than they actually got. I often talk about Blue Murder and John Sykes because the band and the album should’ve taken over the world. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, they didn’t.

John Sykes proved that he is a worthy monster guitarist as a member of household names such as Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy. What followed next was a career-defining move which secured him a pretty solid position on the popular hard rock movement during the second half of the ‘80s. David Coverdale took John Sykes in after the release of Slide It In in 1984. After a couple of recording sessions and a successful tour in support of the album, John Sykes was already in line for “the next best guitarist in town” crown. Whitesnake kept momentum with what is often considered as one of the most Whitesnake Whitesnakeenormous 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. If you thought that these monstrous songs were crafted all by David Coverdale himself, you are greatly mistaken. John Sykes co-wrote the majority of tracks, recorded the killer guitars and even did some back up vocal work here and there. Unfortunately, sometimes partnerships in life don’t last as much as we want them to. Personalities often clash and this is exactly what happened in the case of John vs. David. I won’t be getting into details because that’s not the main focus of this publication. All in all, they both went their separate ways, even though the magic they did sold over 8 million copies in the USA alone.

It was time to move on and most importantly, entirely devote to making great music once again. Geffen Records also lend a helping hand, singing Sykes to a new great deal. You can’t just let go of someone so immensely talented, right? He quickly recruited Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice and The Firm bassist Tony Franklin and the line-up was all set and done, ready to make the next big album! That’s how Blue Murder was formed in 1988.

In April, 1989, Blue Murder’s self-titled debut album was released to the public. It’s a pity that the record couldn’t generate a big fuss, however the brilliant guitar work showcased on this album did influence generations of musicians, making it important on a whole different level. “Blue Murder” possessed all the right ingredients to become the biggest release of 1989, including out-of-this-world guitar solos, intriguing song themes and spellbinding hard rock melodies. Of course, most of the tunes were written by John Sykes himself, however the team spirit and great collaboration between the members of the supergroup is quite obvious. Under the skillful leadership of John Sykes, each could bring something great to the table. Moreover, Blue Murder recruited legendary producer Bob Rock who worked with Kingdome Come, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Bryan Adams, Motley Crue and many other big industry names. The 1989 debut album turned into one of the highlights of the huge pile of profitable melodic, yet ferocious hard rock releases he produced.

The Songs

The albums that are hard to explain with words are usually the ones that are that good. The powerful magical guitar world opens up with the earth-shattering, throat-grabbing “Riot” which in my book is one of the best opening tracks of all time. Other songs of similar nature include “Blue Murder” and “Black-Hearted Woman” which deserve nothing but to be played as loud as possible. Heavy guitar riffing, killer rhythm sections and hypnotizing vocal delivery are just some of the reasons why your socks might get knocked off just after the first time you play them. The epic 8-minute “Valley of the Kings” is my personal favorite and arguably the greatest moment on the record. From the enchanting intro, followed by John’s mighty screams, to the ecstatic lengthy guitar solos, “Valley of the Kings” is one of those songs you can play for days. The power ballad “Out of Love” is as breath-taking as any other power ballad that hit the big numbers in 1989 but unfortunately couldn’t make a splash. Never understood why so few people actually appreciate and remember this passionate heart-breaking tune when in fact is one of the best among all power ballads of the decade. “Jelly Roll” is an interesting song, brightened with a little blues feel that makes all the difference in the world.   

Every track on “Blue Murder” is infectiously good! The album captures hearts with  impeccable musicianship and satisfying variety, ranging from electrifying hard rock, to stunning blues-influenced rhythms. Valuable and well-crafted albums like this one are hard to spot so in case you are one of the many people out there who still haven’t discovered the greatness of “Blue Murder”, now is the time to do it!

John Sykes is a genius and a guitar virtuoso and he deserves nothing but respect and adoration! Enjoy the songs!


Riot

Valley of the Kings

Out of Love

Jelly Roll


References:
“Blue Murder” (Album) Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Murder_(album)
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 ALIAS’ “More Than Words Can Say”

Canadian glam rockers Alias debuted in 1990 with a self-titled AOR treasure album which in a blink of an eye turned into an absolute sensation, conquering chart after chart and breaking record after record. No one even saw it coming – out of the blue vocalist Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi (Sheriff), along with Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen, and Mike DeRosier (Heart) formed this impressive, though very short-lived supergroup and …well, the rest is history. “Alias” entered the musical battlefield, armed with top notch radio hit singles, like “Waiting for Love”, “Heroes” and “Haunted Heart”. However, the song that truly stood out and made history was the astonishing power ballad, titled “(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say”. Every power ballad discussion, mixtape or playlist should feature this tune. As a matter of fact that’s how I got introduced to Alias – through a power ballad compilation CD I got a couple of years back.

There are a number of reasons why I thought this song deserves to get the spotlight! [My Rock Mixtapes] gives you the story of Alias’ “More Than Words Can Say”.


  • alias-i-need-you-now“(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say” was released as the second single from their 1990 eponymous debut album. The title is also known as just “More Than Words Can Say” – the (I Need You Now) part was added merely for convenience and advertising purposes. It does look more colorful, poetic and lyric-like, doesn’t it? You can just sing through the title… Also since the phrase “I Need You Now” is repeated so many times in the chorus, the audience thought that was the actual name of the song. Naturally, to make it less confusing and more accessible, they changed the title.
  • The song bears a striking resemblance to Sheriff‘s number one hit “When I’m With You”. Unfortunately, the band didn’t live long enough to enjoy the gains of their single or to release a worthy follow-up while the momentum was still there. After the break-up, Freddy and Steve assembled a new supergroup and were more than ready to once again taste that sweet success. They didn’t wait that long…
  • “More Than Words Can Say”- the brainchild of vocalist Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi, turned into an instant hit, topping the charts in Alias’ homeland of Canada and peaking at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It took the track just a couple of weeks to get from the Top100 to the Top3 – that’s quite the speed, wasn’t it? The sudden and unanticipated commercial success of the song, however, disappeared as quick as it came. Many people refer to Alias as “one-hit-wonders”, though I never actually liked that phrase, especially when there’s talent and hard work.
  • Freddy Curci – the lead singer and songwriter of Alias was presented with BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)’s “Million-airs Award” for “More Than Words Can Say”. To get а sense of what а million airs means, it’s basically equivalent to 50,000 broadcast hours, which is around 5.7 years of on-going airplay. That’s incredible, isn’t it? How many songs do you think reached such milestones? You’d be surprised – only around 1,500 out of the 4.5 million songs by 300,000 BMI represented artists got this recognition! That should tell you something about the big splash this song made in 1990. “More Than Words Can Say” was basically playing everywhere, all the time! For that acknowledgment itself, this song deserves to take its honorable place in the history of popular music as one of the top played songs on the air. Of course, that’s not the only reason why this song is so worthy and valuable. Musically speaking, the tune has a lot to offer – at least to power ballad enthusiasts like me.
  • The lyrics of “More Than Words” are simple, elegant and up to the point. Words are meaningless when we are faced with a great deal of pain over a loved one who left us. Thinking about that person, imagining that he/she is right there with you – you can’t describe that feeling, you just need that person back in your life or you feel like you might lose your mind. It’s a beautiful ballad to send to someone who you wish to get back with.

…and then there’s this gorgeous live performance


“More Than Words Can Say” Lyrics

Here I am at six o’clock in the morning
Still thinking about you
It’s still hard, at six o’clock in the morning
To sleep without you

And I know that it might
Seem too late for love
All I know

I need you now
More than words can say
I need you now
I’ve got to find a way
I need you now
Before I lose my mind
I need you now

Here I am, I’m looking out my window
I’m dreaming about you
Can’t let you go, at six o’clcok in the morning
I feel you beside me

And I know that it might
Seem too late for love
For love Oh, Oh, Oh

I need you now
More than words can say
I need you now
I’ve got to find a way
I need you now
Before I lose my mind
I need you now
More than words can say
I need you now
Oh I got to hear you say
I need you now
Before I lose my mind
I need you now
I need you now


References:
Lyrics, retrieved from www.lyricsfreak.com
“More than Words Can Say” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Than_Words_Can_Say
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 JOURNEY’s “Open Arms”

There are great rock ballads and then there’s Journey’s “Open Arms” – a song that goes beyond the realms of any ordinary power ballad with its distinctive poeticism and ability to break down even the toughest hearts out there. Back in the day, when I knew so little about Steve Perry or Journey, it was “Open Arms” that convinced me that there is something special about this band and I should dig deeper. Now, years later, I look back at that moment when I fell in love at first listen and I can’t but be grateful for this gorgeous song that found a way to appear in my life and brought Journey with it.

I thought it’s high time this out-of-this-world power ballad got the spotlight on [My Rock Mixtapes]. I have gathered some interesting facts and personal interpretations which hopefully my readers will find beneficial. Don’t get too emotional (though I know I will).

Journey_Escape

– “Open Arms” was released as the third single from Journey’s highly successful 1981 album “Escape”. Written by Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, the delicate ballad turned into an instant radio sensation and a fan-favorite. Moreover, not only it skyrocketed the album sales but it became the band’s highest charting single, occupying #2 spot for six weeks! (Surprise! Journey’s most popular tune “Don’t Stop Believin’” didn’t even reach top5 positions in the States).
All in all, what “Open Arms” achieved should come as no surprise because it was in fact a revolutionary song at the time – after its release and commercial success, it became an absolute necessity for any rock act to release a power-ballad.

journey-open-arms– Initially, Jonathan Cain wrote the melody of “Open Arms” for The Babys – a band, led by John Waite. However, to John the tune was simply too sentimental and had absolutely no interest in recording it. Imagine how different the future would’ve looked like for “Open Arms” if it wasn’t Journey who released it at the end. (Huge mistake, John…)

Things didn’t kick off that smoothly in the Journey corner as well, though. The rest of the band members, including lead guitarist Neal Schon, had their doubts about the mellow rocker as it was way too different than anything they had ever recorded before. Basically, Steve Perry was the only one who rooted for the song till the very end. He was committed and knew what was right. Let’s all thank Steve Perry for not giving up on “Open Arms”.

– “Open Arms” is a perfect marriage between melody and lyrics. Steve Perry is such a magical being; how could he come up with words so touching and so affecting, is beyond my comprehension. Simple, yet so moving, those lines are effortlessly playing on the strings of your heart, making you fall apart with each second. There’s a reason why many fans and critics refer to “Open Arms” as one of the greatest ballads of all time – not many ballads can actually provoke an emotional and physical reaction in you.

journey-open-arms– To me, the song is about that “soft” and “sincere” love between two people, who may have “drifted apart” for one reason or another, but the true feelings they have for each other never actually changed. Steve is singing about someone he wants back, ready to welcome her with “open arms” and start their beautiful life once again, forgetting the past. At the end of the day, I think it’s all about what your heart wants; when there’s “nothing to hide” and that sweet love means so much to you, it’s never too late to welcome it back to your life. My favorite lines from “Open Arms” are “…But now that you’ve come back, Turned night into dayI need you to stay”they can perfectly summarize the entire concept of the tune. If you have broken up with someone you love dearly and gotten back together, this is the song you should play on your first date back as a couple.

(Do I even need to comment on Steve Perry and his God-like vocal delivery? I will just let him do the talking…)


“Open Arms” Lyrics

Lying beside you
Here in the dark
Feeling your heartbeat with mine
Softly you whisper
You’re so sincere
How could our love be so blind
We sailed on together
We drifted apart
And here you are
By my side

So now I come to you
With open arms
Nothing to hide
Believe what I say
So here I am
With open arms
Hoping you’ll see
What your love means to me
Open arms

Living without you
Living alone
This empty house seems so cold
Wanting to hold you
Wanting you near
How much I wanted you home

But now that you’ve come back
Turned night into day
I need you to stay

So now I come to you
With open arms
Nothing to hide
Believe what I say
So here I am
With open arms
Hoping you’ll see
What your love means to me
Open arms


References:
“Open Arms” Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/journey/openarms.html
“Open Arms” official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Arms_(Journey_song)
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~

What is AOR?

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

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

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

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


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

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~

Behind the Lyrics of EAGLES’ “Hotel California”

This informative publication is for all the people who still, after all those years, believe that Eagles’ biggest hit single “Hotel California” (1977) is a song about a hotel…in California. In a recent conversation I had, I was once again reminded that even though the popularity of the track is immensely high – on a worldwide level, the lyrics continue to remain misinterpreted, even from people who claim they are fans. Of course, that is somehow understandable because the true meaning of the song is very well-disguised in clever words and genius metaphors. I grew up with Eagles and even as a kid with quite limited English language skills, I could somehow sense that there’s so much more behind that generic title. I will briefly talk about the lyrics and how to correctly interpret them. For those of you who already know, you can just sit back and listen to the song!

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“On just about every album we made, there was some kind of commentary on the music business, and on American culture in general. The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American Dream, because it is a fine line between the American Dream, and the American nightmare,” said Don Henley in a 2013 documentary.

Don Henley has actually given a lot of interpretations of this song, all of them somehow connected and adding to each other, following a similar theme. Let’s trace back some of the things, officially stated about this track.

– “A sociopolitical statement.”

– “It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.”

– “It’s a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.”

– “It’s a song about a journey from innocence to experience.”

– “We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.”

There have been many “wild interpretations” of the song, especially when it was first released back in 1977. Everyone was simply obsessed with finding out what was the deal with that hotel (some people even thought it was all about drugs).
Basically, what we have to understand is that every little word is a giant metaphor for losing sacred things in life like youth, humility, innocence and goodness and falling for corruption, immorality and selfishness. “Hotel California” is a cynical piece of art, telling us that the integrity of people and consequently the American dream are long gone and all we fight for nowadays is simply…money and fame. LA has always been seen as this beautiful, gorgeous place, full of opportunities, happy people and fulfilled desires. However, that may not be necessarily the case. The track tells us the exact opposite – LA is not a paradise and what happens underneath the lights is highly disturbing and definitely sinful.

~The way I see it…

To me this song was always about the greed and depravity of the music industry and the wicked businessmen who ruthlessly control everyone and everything in the scene. Not that things have changed much since the mid-70s – music is a business and will always been seen that way. Los Angeles was and still is the mecca of the music scene. We have to think about the time period too. By 1977, big companies were already investing millions of dollars and fighting for music domination. Music started to be seen as a serious money-making business when the Beatles conquered the world so it was natural for the corporate side of music to keep on expanding and finding ways to get more and more money. I think Eagles did a brilliant job with the lyrics, exposing how evil, shallow and wrong this whole industry was at that time. For instance the last line – You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!– …tells me that the artist are working for a label and they have contractual obligations so they can’t have their freedom.

Furthermore, the chorus – Welcome to the Hotel California, Such a lovely place, Such a lovely face” is obviously a well-written sarcasm. Even Don Henley sings it with a little bit of bitterness, adding to the whole metaphoric experience of the track.“Plenty of room at the Hotel California” – there will always be a place for more and more, but there is a price…

Finally, I would like to finish by saying that it is indeed quite difficult to fully interpret and make sense of this song. To many people it’s about drugs or just simply committing to a world full of money, fame and sin. What I want to emphasize on, though, is that this song is NOT about a random hotel in California and this song has a METAPHORIC meaning, definitely open to interpretation. Any thoughts?

 

Lyric Video

Hotel California Lyrics

🎶 On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
“This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say… Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
“Please bring me my wine”
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine”
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin’ it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! ” 🎵💕🎶

 


References:
“Hotel California” Songfacts, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1121
“Hotel California”, retrieved from https://jdmitchelldesigns.wordpress.com/tag/hotel-california-was-our-interpretation-of-the-high-life-in-los-angeles/
“Hotel California” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_California
“Hotel California” Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/hotelcalifornia.html

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~

10 Classic Rock Records That Should Be Owned By Everyone

albums-you-must-own-collage

Innovation, brilliant musicianship and timeless impact are the three criteria based on which I chose the following list of 10 albums I believe should be owned by absolutely every person who values and understands music. There are indeed SO MANY groundbreaking albums that re-defined history but then again, we have those 10 which I think went far beyond re-defining – they simply turned things upside down. The echoes of their strong collision with the music world were so loud we could still hear them every day. Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Eagles and Fleetwood Mac are among the artist the works of which I would like to draw your attention to. I am positively certain that my readers know and are already in possession of those record but in case you don’t own a copy, grab your things and rush to the nearest record store!

(P.S. I made this list based on my personal expertise and opinion. I realize that some of you may not agree, but I still think those 10 albums deserve to be on everyone’s record shelf)


The Beatles – Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

beatles s

I just had to kick things off with this groundbreaking masterpiece, because let’s face it – no other record can actually beatSgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” when it comes to influence, cutting-edge music and artistry. Beatles retired as a live band and focused entirely on writing new music and experimenting with latest techniques in the studio. In June 1967, the results were in. Beatles didn’t have to worry about playing this album live, so they could go in any direction they want – they had the absolute freedom to arrange and produce things the way they wanted them to be. On Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, each of the Beatles adopted a new imaginary persona, which made things so much more interesting. The album also marked the beginning of album-oriented rock. “Sgt. Pepper” is a concept album you just have to listen from start to finish in order to truly understand its beauty; the record is simply one 40-minute song, an entity, an exceptional musical monster. Not only that, but it was the psychedelic, highly experimental, ambiguous, quite surreal nature of the record that gave rise to art and progressive rock, as well. Let us not forget that “Sgt. Pepper” has one of the most original artworks which re-evaluated the importance of album covers for future releases. “A Day in the Life”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, “When I’m Sixty Four”, “Penny Lane” – songs that live forever.


Led Zeppelin – IV (1971)

led Zeppelin 4

With masterpieces like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll”, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was destined for success. Surprisingly this album never actually topped the US charts, despite being in top 5 best-selling albums in the States of all time and being owned by pretty much every person who lived during the 70s. The organic and folky but quite atmospheric song “Stairway to Heaven” became the most requested song on a FM radio ever, breaking that 3 minute song barrier. It didn’t matter what the critics said about Zeppelin or this album – what mattered is that they made history.


David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

ziggy

The absolute peak of David Bowie’s career has to be the adventurous concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. For this album, the white duke adopted the persona of a Martian who comes to Earth liberate human kind. The album, along with David Bowie himself became synonymous with art rock, praising individualism, mysticism, theatrical performances and fashion. David was so ahead of his time – he simply offered a glimpse to another world, where you can be whoever you want to be.


Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

dark-side-of-the-moon-album-cover-pink-floyd

“The Dark Side of the Moon” shook the grounds of progressive rock the moment it was released to the public. It was this album that forever shattered the notion that progressive rock couldn’t be enjoyed by everyone – Pink Floyd simply brought this style to the mainstream audience. “The Dark Side of the Moon” is not just your ordinary influential rock album of the 70s – it’s an absolute cultural landmark and a celebration of cutting edge techniques, keyboards, synthesizers, sounds effects and coherent musicianship. With its highly intellectual, avant-garde lyrics, the album explores themes such as time, money and the dark-sides of human nature. “The Dark Side of the Moon” spent 471 consecutive weeks on the Billboard album chart – an achievement no other album could ever surpass. Kudos to the brainchild of David Gilmour and Roger Waters!


Eagles – Hotel California (1976)

hotel-california-eagles

Eagles are probably one of the most beloved American bands of all time – Americans wouldn’t trade them even for the Beatles. In 1976, they just blew off the roof with the concept album “Hotel California” which eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time and one of the most critically acclaimed records of all time. “New Kid in Town”, “Life in the Fast Lane”, “Hotel California” – all brilliant rockers with an everlasting impact! The title tracks contains one of the most memorable guitar solos; lyrics-wise, it deals with topics still relevant nowadays – self-destruction, corruption, drugs and the greed in the music industry.


The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

LP_OUT-P1_output.pdf

Whether you like Beach Boys or not, you gotta respect them for their legacy and especially for “Pet Sounds” – one of the most influential albums of all time, loved by critics and fans from all over the world. Brian Wilson’s goal was to create “the greatest rock album ever made” – a powerful rock tornado with absolutely no weak points or filler songs. I am not sure we can refer to “Pet Sounds” as the greatest rock album but it’s definitely in the top 10. Brian Wilson adopted so many interesting, cutting-edge techniques and approaches for this album – from unusual instruments to sounds of dogs barking and bicycle bells; from complex symphonic arrangements to sophisticated vocal harmonies. No wonder “Pet Sounds” changed history – it offered the ultimate musical experience. Not to mention that, just like “Sgt. Pepper”, “Pet Sounds” was equally responsible for the development of art and progressive rock.


Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

fleetwood-mac-rumours

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” is essential for so many reasons. If, for a moment, we put aside the fact that it’s one of the BEST SELLING albums of all time and won a Grammy award for album of the year, “Rumours” was the album that forever blurred the lines between pop and rock. On top of that, “Rumours” was recorded when all members of the band were divorcing or breaking up with each other. There was no way a good album would come out of it. However, against all odds, their brutal frankness somehow stroke a chord with the audience and the album achieved something they never even hoped for – immortality. Candid, open-minded, emotional – I guess it’s true that the greatest masterpieces come out of pain, sorrow and heartbreak. Every song on this album, though it’s about sadness and break-up, is worth listening to.


Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

LAYLA

I don’t even know where to begin with when it comes to this album. Often considered as Eric Clapton’s greatest career achievement, the double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, can’t stop captivating the audience with its emotional intensity and groundbreaking guitar work. Eric Clapton was simply giving it his all on this record. The inspiration 7-minute epic ballad title-song, “Layla”, has to be one of the highlights of the 70s and the ultimate staple of what a love song should sound like. The album is so much more than that though – “Bell Bottom Blues”, “I Am Yours”, “Anyday” – any song of the record offers comforting blues, solid rock&roll, raw guitars and a great mood.


Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)

black-sabbath-paranoid

After careful consideration, I decided to wrap things up with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. When it comes to the origins of heavy metal, things might be a little bit blurred. The foundations of the genre were laid in time, with the contribution of so many bands, styles, approaches, etc. However, to me personally one of the first records that presented a clear-cut vision of what heavy metal should sound like was “Paranoid”. There’s no surprise that many critics refer to this album as “the birthplace of heavy metal”. The simplistic approach to music, heavy guitar hooks, gloomy lyrics, exploring dark subjects and of course – the loud and quite sharp vocal delivery of Ozzy, defined the sound and image of heavy metal.

How many of these records you guys own?


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~

10 Things You (Should) Know About YES

yes-band-2


Before we go to YES, do you know what is art rock or progressive rock?

Progressive rock emerged as a musical trend and evolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s, falling under the umbrella of the so called “art rock”. Art rock can be quite difficult to explain due to its complexity and numerous forms it can take, however simply put, it’s rock music that goes above and beyond. What I mean by that is that the style itself surpasses the norms of the ordinary hard rock as we all know it, by experimenting with instruments and various other elements, taken from other genres and forms of art, such as literature and theater. When we think of “art rock”, the first name that should come to our minds is definitely David Bowie – he revolutionized and popularized the concept of “art rock” with its music, looks and stage performances.

Now, let me get back to progressive rock. I couldn’t just jump in without saying a few words about art rock because progressive rock is often thought to be a subcategory of art rock. Briefly put, progressive rock is a sophisticated mixture of classical music elements; complex instrumentation;  supreme musical technicality; conceptualism; abstract and imaginative lyrics; heavy experimentation with sound and new technologies, such as keyboards and synthesizers; lengthy songs; visually stunning stage theatrics; and all that wrapped under beautifully drawn fancy cover album artworks that can make your imagination go wild. The roots of progressive rock are questionable but many people say that it all begun in the States with psychedelic bands, such as The Doors, before it moved to the UK, where it was mastered and transformed into a fully developed style and genre. Yes, it was once again the British who formulated and perfected it. It was only natural, giving in mind their rich traditions, refined literature and classical European music influence. One of the very first British bands to fully adopt the qualities of progressive rock were King Crimson in the late 1960s.

Progressive rock, however, fully developed and reached its commercial peaks in the 1970s. When we talk about progressive rock and the 70s, there are a few bands that should immediately appear in front of your eyes. Those bands are also often referred to as “The Big Four in Progressive Rock in the 1970s”. I’m talking about YES, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Emerson Lake & Palmer, of course!

Today I will specifically draw your attention to YES, because I think there are a few things that should be said and reminded about this outstanding band of classically trained musicians, creating structured rock music that simply sends us to another realm. Just like many other progressive rock bands, they moved on to more commercial, radio-friendly sound in the 80s which divides their career into two distinguishable periods. Maybe some of you know more about YES than me and it won’t be interesting to read those facts I’ve gathered for you but for those of you who want to know more about YES, here we go!


yes-logo-png3

  • YES is a British progressive rock band, founded in 1968 in London by singer Jon Anderson who previously played with other bands such as The Warriors and Gun. He briefly went solo before the fateful meeting with bassist/vocalist Chris Squire from the band the Syn. Both of them quickly bonded over similar interests and pursues in music and assembled a line-up, featuring Tony Kaye on keyboards, Peter Banks on guitar and Bill Bruford on drums.

yes-band


  • The name of the band “YES” came from their guitarist Peter Banks and was chosen due to being short, striking, straightforward and even a little sweet.
yes-logo
The band’s logotype was designed by artist Roger Dean and used since 1972.

 

  • YES’ debut, self-titled album was released in July 1969. The record included cover versions of rock, folk and jazz acts, including The Byrds and The Beatles. The majority of original compositions on the record were written by Jon Anderson. “YES” received positive reviews and signaled the arrival of a strong progressive force, despite both released singles failing on the charts. The album displayed brilliant harmonies and a classical approach to music, all wrapped up in a rather futuristic, even space aura; it clearly established the grounds of the band which would later on develop into the YES as we know them.

  •  YES had numerous line-up changes throughout the years, mainly due to disagreements in the musical directions of the band. For instance, Tony Kaye (keyboards) was fired because he refused to play on newly emerged and electronically-heavy keyboards. Founder Jon Anderson left the band in 1980, only to join a couple of years later for their highly successful album “90125”. Co-founder Chris Squire also left the band in the early 80s but came back for “90125” as well. Frequent line-up changes and ups and downs within the band members often affected their consistency and focus of production.

  • Yes - Fragile - Roger Dean“Fragile” is often considered to be YES’ finest record. Released in 1971, the album became synonymous with YES and quickly turned into a commercial and critical success. “Fragile” was popularized by its album cover, crafted by Roger Dean and the single “Roundabout”, which became their most famous and well-known songs.

  • Artist Roger Dean is the man behind the infamous album artworks of YES. Their long collaboration started with “Fragile” and is still going on. His futuristic and highly imaginative, colorful pieces of art became a trademark for the band and an inseparable part of their progressive style. His mesmerizing landscapes, environments and creatures perfectly fit the band’s concept and contribute to the overall experience and even visualization of their music.

  • YES - 90125YES’ “90125” is their best-selling album up to date. Often referred to as one of the most successful comebacks in history, “90125” presented a new, more contemporary and radio-friendly YES sound that appealed to the majority of audiences. Many fans criticize them for shifting from the complex, classical music-inspired rock to simpler, rather mainstream pop/rock music. However, many others were celebrating the new YES, rising from the ashes of Cinema – a band formed after the disbandment of YES in 1981 and consisting of bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, singer Trevor Rabin and former YES keyboardist Tony Kaye. On top of that Jon Anderson was also on board, resuming his duties as a vocalist. The album showcased a fresh, innovative mash-up of progressive, electronic and typical ‘80s hard rock sounds.

  • “Owner of a Lonely Heart” from “90125” is YES’ one and only song to ever top the charts. In addition to being their most instantly recognizable tune, the track turned into the ultimate cross-over hit and a staple of ‘80s AOR. The opening killer riffs of Trevor Rabin made the intro of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” one of the most memorable song intros of all time.

  • Keyboardist Geoff Downes, who previously formed The Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) joined YES for the “Drama” (1980) album. After that, along with Carl Palmer from ELP, John Wetton from King Crimson and fellow YES guitarist Steve Howe, he became a member of the supergroup ASIA. The band’s debut self-titled album turned into one of the best-selling and most popular records of the ‘80s. Geoff Downes would later on return to YES once again in their Fly from Here (2011) and Heaven & Earth (2014) albums.

asia-band


  • heaven-and-earth-yes-album-coverYES is one of the longest running progressive rock bands in the history of music. The band released 21 studio albums and 32 compilation albums during their career that begun in 1969 and is still continuing. YES’s latest record, titled “Heaven & Earth” was released in 2014 and is the final album to feature original member and co-founder of the band Chris Squire before he died in 2015.

References:
YES official Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_(band)
YES Biography: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/yes-mn0000685647/biography
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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.
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