01 January 2020

1980 – The Year that the Rock and Metal planets aligned

1980 – What a year for rock and metal!

As the clock strikes 12 at midnight on 31st December we say farewell to 2019 and welcome in a new decade, it also starts twelve months of celebrations of the  40th anniversary of arguably the greatest year for rock and metal studio album releases to date. MMH Radio will be looking back at 1980 month by month to re-discover and relive the albums that were brought to us across the rock spectrum with the stations team’s own thoughts and words with links to each album or chosen tracks for you to either discover or re-discover these magnificent records. So let’s start at the beginning with albums released in :

 

JANUARY 1980

Rush – Permanent Waves

The Canadian trio RUSH released their 7th album on January 14th 1980, it was (and still is tbh) called “Permanent Waves” and started to mark a change in the band’s direction, especially after the side long epic on their previous album “Cygnus X1 – Book 2” (following on from Part One on “A Farewell To Kings”). This album, consisting of only six tracks, coming in at just over 35 mins – no side long epics going on here !!!!

The first track “The Spirit Of Radio” was released as a single and even brought in elements of reggae part way through (Shock- Horror: Progheads Worldwide were burning Rush albums by the box load – Reggae ????). Needless to say, the track went on to achieve a healthy position in the UK singles charts – No 13 in the Top 40, can’t see that happening these days eh ???

Of course, we all know that the 80s was very much owned by the Rise Of The Machines – Synths reigned supreme (OMD, Human League, Joy Division, Gary Numan etc) and even though Geddy Lee (he of extremely high voice, probably a side effect of wearing ridiculously tight pants) had been experimenting with synths since their 5th album “A Farewell To Kings”, it would be a few more years before the band totally succumbed and at that point, even resorted to big hair and shoulder pads…

Often poo-pooed by the music press, but adored by fans, the band have been ground breaking in many ways and were probably one of the key exponents of Prog Metal back in the day, along with Fate’s Warning & Dream Theater.  I’ve always considered this a “bridge” album between their Proggy roots and their more commercial side with only “Natural Science” coming in at just under 9 1/2 mins (a minor epic in three parts) and, other than the aforementioned single,  only one other track “Freewill” being regularly included on set lists as the decades rolled by.

Not  a particularly ground-breaking album, we had to wait until 1981 and their next album for that accolade – “Moving Pictures”, but that’s another story.

 Review by Steve Gould (aka Progmeister UK)

 

Wishbone Ash – Just Testing

The Pretenders – The Pretenders

A bold statement of intent from Chrissie Hynde’s 4-piece debut which was released in the UK on 7th January on Real Records. The anticipation of the long player had been stirred by the release of the first three singles off it including Kid  , the reworking of the Kinks Stop your sobbing and Brass in Pocket  which reached #1 in the UK chart singles . The album also reached #1 in the UK album charts on the same week as its release. All things were looking rosy for the band, but within 3 years 2 of the band had died from drug complications and the Pretenders never sounded the same, but even so ,40 years on this album is a remarkable body of work and a tribute to all those who played on it.

Review – Skid

 

The J.Geils Band – Love stinks

Roger Powell – Air pocket

Robert Fripp – God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners

 

Wipers – Is this real?

UFO – No place to run

 The 8th release from UFO , this one however was the first since 1974 not to have Michael Schenker on guitar who was replaced by Paul Chapman , even though George Martin , famed for working with The Beatles producing , the songs within were not that expected by the fans or critics. After the tour and a headlining spot at Reading Festival , Paul Raymond left the band to return a few years later . The lead single Young Blood followed by Lettin Go were the highlights of a not so great display, the dawning of the 80’s was going to be special for the likes of Schenker who formed his own band MSG and even Pete Way with various other bands , but the magnificence of UFO was starting to fade.

Review – Skid

 

Girl – Sheer Greed

Girl were a British group who were classed as a glam rock band when they released their debut album Sheer Greed back in 1980, a 12 song release that rode on the coat tails of the NWOBHM movement. It was a satisfactory start for them, featuring band compositions like Hollywood Tease, My Number and Heartbreak America, alongside a very adequate version of Kiss’ Do You Love Me. Singer Phil Lewis was seeing Britt Ekland at the time and she helped the band get their record deal and the couple used the publicity of their relationship to help sell the album. Sheer Greed is a very good rock album and it’s a pity the follow-up Wasted Youth bombed. Phil Collen left to join Def Leppard, while Lewis eventually joined LA Guns, where he is today.

Reviewer – Tony Heare

The Babys – Union Jacks

 

…. next month – February 1980