The Story of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN’s 1986 Masterpiece “TRILOGY”

trilogy-yngwieIt doesn’t take that long to fall in love with the right music – the kind of music that completes you, empowers you and fills up your heart with nothing but pure delight. I had a similar experience when I heard Yngwie Malmsteen’s You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” for the first time. Songs like this one made me experience that “love at first listen” feeling, which I think is one of the most beautiful things in the world. A whole new world opened for me after that song; I just simply had to find and listen to more! I got the album and that’s how my Yngwie journey started. “Trilogy” was the album that completely redefined my attitude and expectations towards guitarists. One listen from start to finish was more than enough for me to learn how to further appreciate aspects of guitar playing, such as speed and technicality and not just take it for granted. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of superb guitar players who possess admirable qualities and are able to turn every song into a magical experience. However, there are a few who go beyond those well-known and highly enjoyable electrifying riffs. Yngwie Malmsteen is one of them and if you listen to “Trilogy” you will understand what I’m talking about.

Background:

  • Despite Yngwie’s steady reputation as a guitar virtuoso and a debut album that completely blew everyone’s minds away, his junior album – “Trilogy” couldn’t really make a huge statement on the charts, outside his homeland of Sweden. Nevertheless, as I keep on repeating over and over again – chart positions and commercial performance are not the greatest merit of the brilliance and quality of an album. In fact, “Trilogy” remains probably the second most critically appraised and beloved album of Yngwie Malmsteen (after “Rising Force”, 1984). 
  • Released in November 1986, “Trilogy” is Yngwie Malmsteen’s thoughtful dedication to Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, who was assassinated earlier that year. 
  • The album carries the name of the closing instrumental, titled “Trilogy Suite Op:5”. The name is of course related with the fact that it is after all Yngwie’s third release. Many fans consider this album and its title as a perfect way to wrap up an exceptional trilogy of albums, featuring “Rising Force” (1984), “Marching Out” (1985) and “Trilogy” (1986).

Themes and Songs:

  • One quick glance at the tracklist will instantly give you an idea of what kind of themes and atmosphere to expect from the album. “Dark Ages”, “Fury”, “Fire”, “Magic Mirror”, “Queen In Love”, etc. – the titles are telling a medieval story, filled with fantasy, magic and skilfully portrayed in intriguing, imagination-stimulating lyrics. It’s not all about dungeons and dragons, though. The opening track, “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” is Yngwie’s attempt at crafting a radio-friendly, more universally-acceptable tune and I believe he did a splendid job with that. Vocalist Mark Boals is giving his all. His vocal style and Yngwie’s music is simply a match made in heaven. The mad guitar-genius sends chills down our spines right from the very start – that thrilling intro grabs you by the throat and doesn’t even give you a second to prepare yourself for what’s coming. I have always emphasized on the importance of a song intro and this right here is one great example of how things should be done! What comes next is as exciting as you can predict. “Liar” is yet another forceful, mind-blowing guitar tornado that destroys everything that stands on its way. Mark is hitting those high notes with blissful ease. “Queen In Love” is another high point on “Trilogy” and a personal favorite of mine. The soul-shredding guitar solos and alluring chorus are surely going to leave an everlasting impact on the listener. Yngwie’s guitar is gently moaning on the acoustic euphoria, titled “Crying”. The emotionally-charged instrumental is the much needed breath of fresh air, after the explosive first tracks. “Fury”, “Fire”, “Magic Mirror” and “Dark Ages” are the last couple of drops to make up this violent sea of heavy metal flames. Yngwie’s secret master plan was to make our minds go up in smoke once we listen to those tunes. The closing instrumental, “Trilogy Suite Op:5” is in my opinion one of Yngwie’s highest points of his career. No words can describe the power that comes out of those riffs. It’s an absolute supernatural force that took a musical form.

“You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget”

“Liar”

“Queen in Love”

“Crying”

“Fire”

Album Artwork:

  • The album artwork of “Trilogy” definitely has a spot on my list of favorite album covers. I mean, just look at it – can it be any cooler? I don’t think so. A three-headed dragon vs. a guitarist – a battle of a lifetime! A magical journey to distant lands, filled with intriguing adventures, monsters and queens. Believe me, you will never forget the musical  once you open that record and set foot on Yngwie’s mystical creation, named “Trilogy”.

trilogy2

What Followed Next?

  • yngwie-odysseyIn 1987, a fatal car crash accident almost took Yngwie Malmsteen’s life. Regardless, one year later, his next project, titled “Odyssey” was released. Together with one of the most talented rock vocalists of all time – Joe Lynn Turner (Fandango, Rainbow, Deep Purple), Yngwie once again crafted a dreamy, stylish and very up-to-date album, quite suitable for a constant radio play. There wasn’t any place for his mystical, dungeons-and-dragons, medieval neo-classical themes. It was time for something more romantic, approachable. Most importantly, it was the time to make hits. He couldn’t have picked a better singer to collaborate with. Songs like “Dreaming (Tell Me)”, “Déjà vu”, “Heaven Tonight” and “Crystal Ball” are the perfect blend between raw guitars, captivating vocals and perfect melodies.

References:
“Trilogy” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilogy_(Yngwie_Malmsteen_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~

TOP 10 Rock Albums of 2016

top10mine

2016 was the year of the comebacks – some of them great, some of them not so great, but if we look at the big picture, this year definitely rocked pretty hard. Right from the very beginning, David Bowie’s “Blackstar” signaled the arrival of a strong rock&roll year. We lost David just a couple of days later, but we are beyond grateful for his last gift to us. January awarded us with Megadeth’s “Dystopia” and Dream Theater’s “The Astonishing”. After that, all hell broke loose – Elton John released “Wonderful Crazy Night”, Last In Line debuted with “Heavy Crown” and Iggy Pop came back with a new studio album – “Post Pop Depression”. The spring brought a lot of color and joy with the much anticipated releases of Cheap Trick with “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello”, Sixx:A.M.‘s “Prayers for the Damned: Vol. 1”, Cyndi Lauper’s “Detour”, Eric Clapton’s “I Still Do” and many more. The summer of 2016 was hotter than ever thanks to Paul Simon, Roxette, Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, Heart and Steven Tyler. The last four months of 2016 were, in my opinion, the strongest in terms of rock releases. After 16 years, Kansas came back on the horizon with “The Prelude Implicit”. Along with them, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Barry Gibb, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Hughes, Bon Jovi, Sting, Simple Minds and of course, Metallica with “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct”, left quite the impression with their new albums. December gave us The Rolling Stone’s “Blue & Lonesome” –they surely know how to wrap things up with style.

Coming up with a “Top 10 Rock Albums of 2016” can be quite the formidable task. So many interesting things happened on the music scene this year and I think all of the above mentioned artists deserve a round of applause and our deep appreciation. Of course, the beauty of music is that it has something for everyone and this year there were plenty of releases with which I managed to establish a deep connection. The following 10 albums stood out to me for one reason or another and I truly believe they are among the greatest rock jewels 2016 spawned. I would like to say that this is a personal selection, driven by my taste in music. In case you haven’t listened to those albums yet, I strongly recommend you to do so! Here we go!


1. Kansas – The Prelude Implicit

kansas-the-prelude-implicit

The album that tops my list of favorite 2016 releases is Kansas’ long awaited comeback – “The Prelude Implicit”. Even before the album was officially out in September, I somehow sensed that I will fall in love with it. The elevating, colorful mixture of progressive and hard rock, along with the refreshing vocals of new singer Ronnie Platt created the perfect rock experience for me. David Ragsdale’s heated violin playing was the final element that sealed the deal. “The Prelude Implicit” is absolutely stunning – from the charming opening rocker “With this Heart” to the spectacular instrumental “Section 60”, the whole album just keeps on throwing one strong punch after another. “Camouflage” became my absolute favorite song from “The Prelude Implicit” and I am still waiting for a music video, actually. “Camouflage”, along with “Crowded Isolation” and the exciting hard rocker “Rhythm in the Spirit” are some of the highlights of the album. I can’t recommend this enough.

Read My Full Review Here : Kansas – “The Prelude Implicit” Album Review

My Copy of “The Prelude Implicit”

kansas


2. Glenn Hughes – Resonate

glenn-hughes-resonate-album-art

Number 2 on my list is Glenn Hughes’ powerful hard rock dynamite, titled “Resonate”. No words can describe the dangerous, electrifying and absolutely mind-blowing aura of the record. Glenn is one of a kind legend and this jaw-dropping album only solidifies his position as one of the best rockers out there. “Resonate” is no joke, it’s the ultimate galvanizing rock experience of 2016! Glenn hits hard right from the beginning with the aggressive “Heavy” and moves on to “My Town”, “Let It Shine” and “God of Money” – all explosive, guitar-driven tornadoes. “When I Fall” demonstrates the gentle side of the rock monster. Overall, if you want to get drunk on pure hard rock, this is the album for you. Glenn is still here, still relevant and still releasing incredible material. The youngsters need to take notes – “Resonate” is a great example of how real hard rock should sound like.

Read My Full Review Here : Glenn Hughes – “Resonate” Album Review


3. Eric Clapton – I Still Do

Eric Clapton - I Still Do (2016)

Legendary guitar hero Eric Clapton released his twenty-third solo album in May 2016 and as a long-time fan of him I just couldn’t be happier! For “I Still Do”, the king of blues recorded original songs, as well as cover versions of classics by artists such as Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. Positively laidback, the album definitely grabs your attention with its bluesy easy-going and breezy aura that creates the perfect mood. The songs are rather homogeneous and once again perfectly aligned with Eric Clapton’s standards and practices of reviving and exploring old ways and meanings of music. The original composition “Spiral” is one of the highlights of the record, on which Clapton demonstrates how well he can improvise with a guitar and how effortlessly he can create something so fanciful and memorable. Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway” and JJ Cale’s Somebody’s Knocking” showcase Clapton’s confidence when it comes to the blues. The genuine “I Still Do” reflects Eric’s current self-assured spirit – he wants to do music his own way and he couldn’t care less what everyone things about it. The album just goes beyond class – it’s everything I dreamed of.

Read My Full Review Here : Eric Clapton – “I Still Do” Album Review

Me With My Copy of “I Still Do”

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4. Last In Line – Heavy Crown

last-in-line-heavy-crown

Former members of DIO – drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Jimmy Bain, guitarist Vivian Campbell, and keyboardist Claude Schnell, along with vocalist Andrew Freeman formed Last In Line in 2012, with their name, of course, coming from DIO’s 1984 album. Kicking off things as a mere tribute band, reminding fans of the glory days of DIO and explicitly focusing on the classic albums “Holy Diver”, “The Last in Line”, and “Sacred Heart”, the guys quickly stirred things up the excitement among the fans. It wasn’t long before they decided that it’s time they pave their own way with original compositions. “Heavy Crown” was released in February 2016 and it instantly captivated the audience, including myself. I am a huge fan of Vivian (because of Def Leppard, of course), so I was impatiently waiting to see how he will lead Last In Line into triumph, which he absolutely did with this unbelievably good old-school hard rock blast, titled “Heavy Crown”. “Starmaker” and “Devil In Me” are the instant attention-grabbers with their fiery tempos and of course, the soaring chants of Andrew, who is absolutely killing it on this record. “Burn This House Down”, “I Am Revolution” and “Blame It On Me” are a couple of others energizing metal explosions, completely overpowering every one of our senses. “Heavy Crown” follows the strong spirit of DIO but at the same time, goes beyond that, quite successfully if I may say. Moreover, this album gives us one more chance to experience the talents of Jimmy Bain, which in itself is a reason enough to put the record in my top 5.


5. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

rolling-stones-blue-and-lonesome

Since I love the blues so much, including The Rolling Stones’ “Blue & Lonesome” on my list would come as no surprise. The rock&roll Gods came back with a phenomenal collection of spirited covers, bringing us back to the golden days of blues. “Blue & Lonesome” is Rolling Stones’ first album to feature exclusively cover songs. Among the twelve blues jewels, we get to listen to interpretations of forgotten but classic tracks by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Johnson, Memphis Slim and other legendary bluesmen. Recorded within just a few days, with no preparation whatsoever, “Blue & Lonesome” is the perfect example of how The Rolling Stones can effortlessly craft some serious magic out of nowhere and still sound as confident as ever. Mick Jagger is absolutely killing it on songs like “Just Your Fool” (Buddy Johnson), “Little Rain” (Ewart G. Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed), “All of Your Love” (Magic Sam) and the atmospheric title track “Blue & Lonesome” (Memphis Slim) – raw, brave and soulful, his vocal delivery is obviously reflecting his high level of satisfaction with this album. I am mind blown by the terrific guitar work of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood and the drum beats of Charlie Watts. Also, my idol – Eric Clapton also appears on “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”. “Blue & Lonesome” offers a galvanizing blues experience and I definitely recommend it.

Read My Full Review Here: The Rolling Stones – “Blue & Lonesome” Album Review


6. Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello

cheap-trick-bang-zoom-crazy-hello

In 2016, Cheap Trick were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but that definitely didn’t mean they were done with rocking and rolling – on the contrary, their golden days are far from over. Their “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” simply proved that those guys have a lot more energy, talent and joy to spread to the world. Uplifting, spirited, charming and highly entertaining – the record was the perfect spring rock sonata. Cheap Trick are still rocking pretty hard and we can clearly see it in songs like “Heart on the Line”, “When I Wake Up Tomorrow”, “Blood Red Lips” and “Do You Believe Me?”. The band’s first release for the country giants Big Machine Records is also the first album without the presence of long-time drummer Bun E. Carlos. Nevertheless, this modern-day rock extravaganza is everything but boring. Guitarist Rick Nielsen is doing a superb job; I am absolutely in love with the catchy riffs on “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello”. A well-deserving comeback by Cheap Trick, I recommend you guys to take a listen or two!


7. David Bowie – Blackstar

david-bowie-blackstar

David Bowie’s last album – “Blackstar” was released just a few days before we lost him. I still can’t believe this beautiful human being is not with us anymore, it was such a tragic loss for everyone. I am beyond grateful for “Blackstar” – the last chance to say goodbye and experience his magical voice and one of a kind musicianship. The value of the album lies in its aggressive experimentalism which for many people may be a bit difficult to absorb, but as a long-time fan of progressive/art rock, the anxiety of “Blackstar” perfectly matched my tastes. The twenty-fifth album of Bowie, produced by long-time collaborator and a friend, Tony Visconti, presents seven intriguing, devilish even compositions, each reminiscent of Bowie’s ‘70s glory days but still compiling tons of new and exciting elements. Songs like “Girl Loves Me”, “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away” are fuelled with pure drum’n’bas wickedness. David’s moody groans are the foundation of “Blackstar”. It’s so inspiring to hear him perform so bewitching given what his condition was at that time. Saxophonist Donny McCaslin is also bringing so much to the table. You will never ever hear anything like “Blackstar” again and for that it deserves to be listened and appreciated.


8. Heart – Beautiful Broken

heart - beautifulbroken

“I Jump” was my absolute favorite song of summer 2016! I couldn’t have my day going without listening to this glorious tune by the Wilson sisters. As a matter of fact, this song itself is one big part of the reason why this album is even in my top 10.
On “Beautiful Broken”, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are simply offering an intriguing selection of seven re-imagined and re-recorded cherry picks from their early career, along with a few new exciting additions to their catalogue. Ann Wilson will always be one of my favorite female vocalists of all time and this record definitely proves that she still got it! Some highly appealing things are happening on this record, including the guest appearance of Metallica’s James Hetfield, whose roaring vocals work quite well with Ann’s soulful and clear singing. The heavy orchestral “I Jump” possesses that Led Zeppelin vibe, which is not surprising at all – the girls are often crediting Led Zeppelin as their biggest musical influence. “Two” and “Heaven” are a couple of other high points from “Beautiful Broken”. Many of the fans out there, including myself, are quite sentimental and prefer the original classics, however “Beautiful Broken” definitely deserves a chance – if not for the old-new songs, than for the three gorgeous new additions to their music library. Also, Ann’s voice is a reason enough to have this record!

Read My Full Review Here: Heart – “Beautiful Broken” Album Review


9. Metallica – Hardwired To Self-Destruct

metallica-hardwired-to-self-destruct

The mighty metal Gods survived through the long gap, after which the majority of rock acts would’ve been totally obliterated by the constantly changing music scene, and rose from the ashes with a smashing new heavy metal storm, titled “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. The expectations were high but they did deliver something quite satisfying so let’s give a round of applause to singer-guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich who co-wrote almost the entire set of throat-grabbing tunes.
“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is an epic double monster album, spitting 12 fiery tracks which run for almost 80 minutes! At first I thought that the record could be easy to inhale but once I heard the entire set, I realized that probably they should’ve just stopped after CD1 (which by the way is the reason why this album is in my top 10). “Dream No More” quickly became a personal favorite; I am enjoying this dark and highly-intense tune every time I play it. Some other memorable moments from “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” include the opening track “Hardwired” and of course the surprisingly splendid tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, “Murder One”Metallica build up quite the excitement among fans, including me, so it’s natural to completely lose your mind over this album.

Read My Full Review Here: Metallica – “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Album Review


10. Jeff Beck – Loud Hailer

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This summer, Jeff Beck surprised us with a brilliant 11th album, which completely blew me away. I must say, I was sceptical at first, but the album just grew on me with every listen. “Loud Hailer” is not your typical Jeff Beck record – it’s a completely different kind of monster. Then again, it would be foolish to expect him to do the same thing over and over again, so I am applauding him for this revolutionary work on “Loud Hailer”. Two immensely talented female musicians – vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg are the reason why there’s so much color and intrigue on this record. Bones sings about apathy, greed, politics, media and a number of other issues, destroying our society. That’s one of the reason why it appealed to me that much. “Live in The Dark” is the highlight of “Loud Hailer”, at least to me. I am falling in love with the thrilling vocals and time-stopping rhythms over and over again every time I play it. The haunting instrumental “Pull It” is feeding my soul with so much power. “Shrine” wraps things up with a similar folk-blues vibe, which sends you to another dimension. “Loud Hailer” melts me with ever listen. I can’t recommend it enough.


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.

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

The Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)

Mark Sullivan 70's Rock Archive
Bad Company, 1974

When we talk about triumphant rock debuts, the conversation should start with a few artists, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Van Halen, even Guns N’ Roses. Another band that most certainly deserves to be mentioned along with the big names is Bad Company. Their glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound.

In 1973 vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free), guitarist Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople), bassist Boz Burrelll (King Crimson) and drummer Simon Kirke (Free) teamed up to form one of the most gifted (at least in my opinion) British hard rock supergroups – Bad Company. One year later, their debut album became the first ever album to come out of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. The record was an instant success, showcasing excellent musicianship and a brilliant formula, which they followed through the rest of the ‘70s.

bad-company-debutThe debut album topped the US Billboard chart, spent 25 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and spawned three timeless hit singles. Fans, critics – everyone was giving it their stamp of approval. The music scene in the early 70s was drowning in flamboyancy and experimentalism – nothing wrong with that of course. Among the dazzling theatrics and extravagant musical innovations, “Bad Company” was the much needed “back to the roots” record. Unpretentious, quite simple even, the debut album creates the perfect bluesy, soulful, working class rock&roll atmosphere.

paul-rogers-and-mickBad Company’s secret weapon was the strong songwriting collaboration between vocalist Paul Rodgers and blues-based guitarist Mick Ralphs, both shining as bright as the Sun on the self-titled effort. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success. Interestingly, even the more dynamic songs on “Bad Company” are fueled with a sense of danger, under an umbrella of gloom. That’s definitely the ultimate charm of the band and ultimately the record itself – moody but instantly captivating. I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople). Paul Rodgers’ vocals absolutely did it for me – with his sensual, quite erotic even performance, he simply immortalized it. The title track is another high point from the record – I have never witnessed such a brilliant synergy between piano and rock&roll. Not to mention the intriguing theme of the song – a band of fugitives and “rebel souls” that carry nothing but trouble with them! Sounds like a good soundtrack, doesn’t it?

If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll. This album (along with a couple of more, of course) defined the mid-70s and for that it truly deserves to be appreciated. “Bad Company” is a historically relevant debut and nothing can take that away from it. Hope you guys got reminded of this classic and will go play it now!

Listen to the whole album here:


References:
“Bad Company” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Company_(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 “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~

Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time

boston-bostonIt’s a cold November morning and I am sitting here, at my university, waiting for my next classes to come. My headphones are on because well, music is basically the only thing besides the warm coffee in my hands that actually gets me going through the day. You can find all sorts of treasures on my music player – mostly ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock and the occasional new wave/pop retro tune. After a series of glam rock favorites, suddenly I hear the stunning intro of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and just like that, a little smile appears on my face as I silently start singing along with the haunting vocals of Brad Delp. It was this gorgeous song that introduced me to Boston and their debut album. I had no idea who they were as musicians or what they did – all I wanted was to listen and dive as deep as I can into the album, I was simply entranced… The song was over way too soon, but my thoughts kept on sending me back to that glorious year – 1976. I, of course, wasn’t born during the ‘70s but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate or truly feel the magic and impact of such brilliant music.

Boston are definitely not the most prolific band in the world but they can freely brag with splendid records like “Don’t Look Back” (1978) and “Third Stage” (1986). It was their monstrous self-titled debut album however, what most people will remember them by. The tremendous strength with which the record smashed into the music world in the mid-70s could easily be justified with the 25 million copies sold worldwide. Not only that, but “Boston” was actually the best-selling debut album of all time before Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction” in 1987. There should be a reason for such enormous recognition, right? Well, the album is just that good! It traveled all the way from the ‘70s to my tiny little rock heart and completely conquered it. I am sure many people feel the same way as I do – especially those of you who were actually there to witness how one debut album became the ultimate staple of American rock music (not just in the ‘70s but in general). Here’s why I think this album should be heard and acknowledged by every self-respecting music fan!

Tom Scholz

Behind every great record, there’s a hardworking mastermind with a clear vision, a special touch and a lot of persistence.

tomWho could’ve thought that Tom Scholz – a MIT graduate who worked at the Polariod Corporation would come up with the perfect sonic formula and craft rock music that will change history? It all started as a mere fascination but it didn’t take him that long to realize that his connection with music goes way beyond a simple hobby. He assembled a little cozy record studio in his basement where he would spend countless of sleepless nights in an attempt to create the perfect song. Tom was a persistent, goal-driven visionary who knew his way around the studio and didn’t let anyone else take that away from him. Even when the band was finally signed to EMI and the album was about to be released, Tom always stayed true to himself. He wrote or co-wrote (with the exception of “Let Me Take You Home Tonight,” written by Delp) all the songs on the debut album, played all the instruments, recorded, engineered and pretty much did everything by himself. Mad genius, working in a basement or not, it was his demons that changed the rules of the game at the end.

The Sci-Fi Logo

boston-bostonAfter they changed the name of the band from Mother’s Milk to Boston, it was time to come up with a revolutionary album artwork that could perfectly represent the concept of the album. Again, the idea was given by Scholz who wanted a “spaceship guitar”, symbolizing “escape”. Three people participated in the design, illustration and lettering, before we were finally presented with the final product. The eye-catching and highly intriguing sci-fi logo became an absolute landmark and one of the most instantly-recognizable album covers.

The Boston Sound”

There was a reason why Boston and this album completely took control over the radio stations and haven’t actually left their spot ever since. The record found the perfect balance between pop and rock by crafting a splendid mixture of gorgeous vocal harmonies, gentle, yet rough guitar riffs, spellbinding melodic hooks and dreamy lyrics, all wrapped up under the influence of the classical music, Tom grew up listening to. Each musical segment was crafted carefully, with strict precision and dedication to achieve the ultimate impact. Because of its universal appeal, great production value and adoption of quite accessible, easy to digest sounds, the debut album marked the beginning arena rock – a pivotal and unavoidable moment in the development of rock music.

Magical – that’s the word I would use for the Boston sound. I was under its influence the moment I heard the first track…

“More Than a Feeling”

“More Than a Feeling” is probably the main reason why Boston and their debut record became one of the most popular rock acts of the late 70s. Each and every second of this song was designed to instantaneously crawl under your skin, inject its blessing and leave you in a state of trance. Tom Scholz is a genius and if you haven’t figured it out yet, listen to the track one more time.

From Brad Delp’s killer vocals, relentlessly playing with your senses to the mind-shivering guitars, “More Than a Feeling” is the crown jewel of Boston’s career. For them it was way more than an opening track – it was their first single and first attempt to make a name for themselves. Well, after selling a couple of million records, we can somehow conclude that they did in fact make history.

 

You can listen to the whole album here:


“Boston” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_(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~

Song Of The Day: TESLA – HANG TOUGH (1989)

I really needed this kind of motivation today!

“Hang Tough” by Tesla is a song that can truly help you when you are going through some tough times and you need that extra push – something to remind you that you gotta keep your head above, fight for yourself and don’t let the hardships of life conquer you. I know that it’s easier said than done but when such uplifting and encouraging words are accompanied by brilliant rock&roll music, things get a little bit better, believe me.

The track comes from Tesla’s (extremely underrated) 1989 album “The Great Radio Controversy”, which by the way is a gorgeous hard rock album and I deeply recommend it to you, guys!

I hope you find your inner strength and this song helps you through the day! Defeat, heartbreak, unfulfilled dreams…life is so unfair but we have music to make things brighter, right?

Official MV


“Hang Tough” Lyrics

 

Took a shot to the chin.
Looks like you just can’t win
In this do or die situation.
And it’s harder than it seems
To survive, keep alive and make your dreams,
Make your dreams all come true.

You gotta, you gotta give it your best shot.
Give it ev’rything you got.
Oh, you gotta hang tough.
Hang tough. Hang tough.

Sometimes love can make you blue.
A heartache made just for you.
But you can’t let it bring ya down.
If you should stumble, if you should fall,
Pick yourself up off the floor.
Fight for what’s right and stand your ground.

You gotta give it your best shot.
Give it ev’rything you got.
Oh, you gotta hang tough.
Hang tough. Hang tough.
When the goin’ gets rough.
Hang tough. You got to give it all you’ve got.
Hang tough. Keep your head above the ground.
Don’t you let it get you down.
Oh, you gotta hang tough.
Hey! Oh! Hey! Oh!

You stay locked away inside your room
‘Cause you don’t know what this world is comin’ to.
Hummingbird hums ’cause he don’t know the words
And the piper will play ’cause he don’t know what to say.
He’s alot like you, yeah. Oh, he’s alot like you, yeah.
He tries hard ev’ry day to be free and fly away. Yeah!

Hang tough, oh, when the goin’ gets rough.
Hang tough. You’ve got to give it all you got.
Hang tough. Keep your head above the ground.
Don’t you let it get you down.
Oh, you gotta hang tough.

Hang tough. Oh, you got to give it all you got. You gotta
Hang tough. Don’t you let it get you down.
Hang tough. No! Oh, you gotta hang tough.
Hang tough.
Hang tough!

 


 

Lyrics retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tesla/hangtough.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~

Why is “RUBBER SOUL” My Favorite BEATLES Album

Everyone loves The Beatles!
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison – do I have to say more? The history of rock&roll can simply be divided into two periods – before and after the Beatles! No other artist or band could or ever will be able to match their universal appeal and limitless talent, not to mention the social and cultural impact they left. Despite a recording career that lasted for about only 8 years, the worldwide craze and popularity turned them into the greatest success story in music history. Let’s also not forget that the British Invasion started with the Beatles – they opened the door for the rest of the British bands who conquered North America and well, the rest is history…

“If greatness is measured in commercial success and popularity, the Beatles were the greatest popular musicians of the twentieth century.”

It wasn’t just one or two albums that cemented their position as the perfect rock&roll band. From their early sound, which was basically a sophisticated meeting between Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, to their later, more experimental, psychedelic and way ahead of its time music, The Beatles kept on challenging themselves and overcoming all odds. Each and every one of their albums played a particular role and left a deep, irremovable mark in music history. However, many fans and critics consider “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to be the absolute creative peak of their career and I actually can’t agree more. Many fans often refer to it as their favorite Beatles album. Other popular choices are “Revolver” or “Abbey Road” – both groundbreaking albums. Personally, however, as much as I adore every musical effort of the Beatles, I’ve always had a soft spot for “Rubber Soul”. I bet there are more people out there who feel the same way. I wanted to talk a little bit more about this transitional album because sometimes it gets lost in translation when in fact I believe it’s their most interesting and story-filled album. Let me tell you why…

beatles-rubber-soul

Let’s go back to 1964 when Bob Dylan went down to New York to meet the Beatles. That fateful meeting marked a very crucial point in the careers of everyone involved in it. Imagine the amount of talent and artistic capacity that was about to explode in that room where those two influential rock acts met! Bob Dylan and the Beatles connected right away as ideas and influences started flying around the room. Bob was still strictly an acoustic musician, but it all changed after that meeting. He plugged it in and became a rock&roll player just like that overnight. The Beatles, on the other hand, were influenced artistically and lyrically. Up until that point, their approach to music was simplistic, straightforward and quite innocent. After meeting Bob Dylan, the “poet with a guitar”, however, they no longer came back to the cute love songs – their lyrics became more philosophical and sophisticated and that’s exactly what they needed. That event has always been quite intriguing to me – I do believe that a great conversation can absolutely change your life. This is exactly what happened with Bob and the guys – they pushed each other out of their comfort zones and things were never the same again.
(Bob Dylan also introduced them to marijuana, but that’s a whole new story…)

After releasing a brilliant soundtrack album – “Help”, containing the most covered song in history – “Yesterday”, the Beatles quickly mobilized and “Rubber Soul” was released just in time for Christmas.

beatles-rubber-1

Why do I love “Rubber Soul” so much?

The album cover: The photograph is so engaging – all of the guys are looking to their right, except Lennon, who’s directly looking at you. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable but quite curious at the same time. One more thing – they didn’t put their name on the cover! Why would they? Everyone knew how the Beatles looked like. It had nothing to do with confidence or arrogance – it’s all clever marketing.

The title: African American soul musicians would often call Mick Jagger (or other white musicians), singing blues and soul music a “plastic soul”. They used that as a reference for the title. It’s just so hilarious…

The music: “Rubber Soul” was the album in which they grew up musically and lyrically. As I already mentioned, this was a transitional album – they turned their back on the simple cheery love songs and focused on delivering a complete and original piece of art. The impact Bob Dylan had on their lives shows off on this album. The change was in the air – they were clearly stimulated by his poetry. The lyrics on “Rubber Soul” are abstract, mysterious, quite ambiguous, and even a bit weird. That is exactly why I love this album so much. The Beatles took that extra step and became even better musicians and songwriters than they were. It’s so impressive to see how their artistry reached new peaks. At the same time, however, “Rubber Soul” still had a little bit of that past naiveté here and there. I guess that’s why it appealed so much to me – it is not that heavy or pretentious as the ones to come; and not as cheesy and sweet as their early stuff. Many people say that “Rubber Soul” was the pot and “Revolver” was the acid and they are absolutely right.

The songs: So many interesting things are going on in this record! Where do I even begin? “Norwegian Wood” – probably my favorite Beatles song. Highly experimental and innovative – no other rock band included an Eastern-Asian instrument in a composition before. The sitar makes the whole experience so special and atmospheric. The lyrics and Lennon’s vocals make it even more special… “I once had a girl…or should I say, she once had me…” ;
“Drive My Car” – uplifting and highly entertaining tune with memorable lyrics and compelling beats. “I told that girl I can start right away, And she said, Listen baby I got something to say. I got no car and it’s breaking my heart, But I’ve found a driver and that’s a start”.
I have a soft spot for Lennon, so “In My Life” and “Girl” are the other moments of the record that won me over. “What Goes On” is such a sweet surprise – Ringo kills it on lead vocals; it’s probably my favorite Ringo song of all time. Recently, I had the chance to listen to him perform this song live and I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt! “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone” with Harrison on lead vocals are superb. One more reason I really appreciate this record is because George was starting to wake up and little by little he got out of his shell and proved that Lennon and McCartney were not the only creative geniuses in the band when it comes to songwriting.

 

I have always been drawn to the magic of “Rubber Soul”. This mid-career record of the Beatles offers so many interesting concepts and ideas. I’ve always enjoyed observing and analyzing the evolving process of a band – when you understand that they are growing up and adopting new styles, new sounds, and new approaches. With “Rubber Soul”, thought the transition was quite obvious, it wasn’t that hard to swallow – Beatles didn’t sacrifice their mass appeal, despite sophisticated instrumentation, quality melodies and deep lyrics. I just love how they started searching for a new meaning in music and came up with this highly appealing record… Always (and forever) a pleasure to listen to it!


 

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~