01 June 2020

1980 What a year for rock and metal album releases – Album review – JUNE

MMH Radio are looking at the album releases of 1980 that rocked our world on a retrospective month by month basis which include contributions from our team members . This month we look at .. 

JUNE 1980

 

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Blackfoot –    Tomcattin’

Atco

Blackfoot were formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1969 by guitarist/singer Ricky Medlocke who had previously been a drummer in one of the first Lynyrd Skynyrd line-ups. Medlocke enlisted Charlie Hargrett on guitar, bass man Greg T. Walker and drummer Jakson ‘Thunderfoot’ Spires. After a bit of false start in New York under the name of Hammer they decided to re-brand by embracing their Native American heritage. It was only Hargrett that didn’t have any American Indian in him. They returned south and picked up a deal with Atco after impressing as the backing band for former Black Oak Arkansas backing singer Ruby Starr.

Blackfoot released ‘Strikes’ in 1979 and scored a hit with ‘Train, Train’ written with Medlocke’s grandfather – Shorty – who would appear as a guest on most of their albums. ‘Strikes’ got them noticed and they ended up supporting The Who on their US tour in ’79. They didn’t hang about and set of for Michigan to record ‘Tomcattin’’ with producers Al Nalli and Henry Weck.

No messing straight out of the traps with ‘Warped’ – a hard rockin’ tale of a bad woman with Medlocke a powerhouse on vocals and the band showing how to attack a song with some blistering guitar work and solid rhythms. Nalli and Weck really knew how to get the performances out of the band. ‘On The Run’ grooves a little more on a tale from the road then we get some blues/boogie with ‘Dream On’. ‘Street Fighter’ is nasty and heavy then it speeds up on ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’ with some tasty slide. Pure southern rock at its finest with Pat McAffery providing some sax. Live favourite ‘Every Man Should Known (Queenie)’ is a sleazy heavy rocker then ‘In The Night’ gets bluesy courtesy of Peter Ruth on the electric harmonica (!). Things ease up a bit on ‘Reckless Abandoner’ then gets a bit darker on ‘Spendin’ Cabbage’ which has some beautiful guitar work and shows another side of Medlocke’s voice. Front porch blues at its finest. Shorty Medlocke introduces ‘Fox Chase’ with his gob iron then the band kick into a superb piece of chunky southern rock.

This didn’t do as much business as the platinum selling ‘Strikes’ the year before but it definitely kept the momentum going into the 80’s nicely. Blackfoot toured extensively and were taken in lovingly by the British rock fans. This is still one of their finest and showed them at their creative peak.

Reviewed by Smudge

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Krokus – Metal Rendez-vous

“There aren’t that many popular Swiss rock bands that spring to mind, maybe Celtic Frost, Gotthard and China (check out their stuff!) to name a few BUT one name that always crops up is Krokus. Formed in 1975, they are still performing worldwide to this day. Their most successful period was the 80s with albums ‘The Blitz’, ‘Headhunter’ and ‘One Vice At A Time’, as well as ‘Metal Rendez-vous’ in 1980 itself. It was their fourth album and up until then Chris Van Rohr had handled the vocals, but on this release Marc Storace took over the singing duties while Van Rohr, who was originally a drummer, resorted to playing bass in the band. ‘Metal Rendez-vous’ showed their love of all things AC/DC and gave them the hits ‘Heatstrokes’, ‘Bedside Radio’ and ‘Tokyo Nights’ and broke them in the UK and the States.Produced by Martin Pearson, the ten tracks on offer were the starting point on the road to the classic records they’d go onto make later in the 80s, but it’s still a good listen and features regularly on the Breakfast Show!

 

Reviewed by Tony Heare

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Touch – Touch

An AOR classic which was somehow missed by the masses on its release . Unfortunately history will have Touch better known for being the opening act of the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival at Donington in the same year of this release where allegedly the bands main man Doug Howard accidently swallowed a bee. It’s a shame that the headlines were focused away from the record, which is 10 tracks of well written and executed keyboard driven melodic rock . If you fancy a bit of mellow rock which isn’t elevator sludge , check this out, especially the opening track don’t you know what love is , which in my opinion has one of greatest opening lines and verse ever penned.

reviewed by Skid

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Huey Lewis and the News – Huey Lewis and the News

How did I get roped into reviewing a Huey Lewis album? In a word: History. I’m a Huey Lewis fan in a gentle, nostalgic manner. I don’t own any albums­—though I think Sports was in my collection at some point—and he definitely spins on the regular on my Yacht Rock Pandora station, trust. Okay, but: History.

Here’s a story for you.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, bouncing back between Mill Valley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley; mom’s an artist, dad’s a musician. My father jammed with lots of other Bay Area musicians, and so I got to see streams now-infamous folks. One of them was Huey Lewis. He worked at Nancy’s Yogurt Factory in Marin, and my dad would take me there now and then as a special treat. If you don’t know, Nancy’s (still around btw) was the first geniuses to serve a single-serving container of plain yogurt topped with its companion fruit compote to stir in. In the late-1970s, Dad would take me over, and Huey would always bestow upon me various flavors (strawberry being my favorite). It was cool, and he was kind.

Fast-forward to 1985. We’re living in Tam Valley, roughly a quarter-mile away from Chris Hayes and his girlfriend. If you don’t know – Hayes is the guitar player for HL&tN, and his sister is the Bay Area’s own Bonnie Hayes from BH & The Wild Combo (check them out, they’re ridiculously fun).

(More trivia, Chris and Bonnie’s brother Kevin was the drummer for Robert Cray.)

Anyway. For some reason, and I cannot remember why or how, Chris’s girlfriend, who’s name I’ve forgotten, took me under her wing and spent a great deal of time with me. I was fifteen. She was likely in her early twenties. She protected me from some seriously disastrous situations a kid like me needed to stay away from (1980s Marin County was Cocaine-City), and I absolutely adored her. It was at this time HL&tN were blowing up, smack dab in between Sports (which was, incidentally, photographed and the famed 2AM Club in Mill Valley and recorded at Fantasy Studios, where, like everyone recorded including Journey, David Bowie, Death Angel, and Mos Def) and Fore!

But I digress. The self-titled first album remains, in my opinion, severely underrated, but you can’t argue with a generation who put themselves first. Nyuk Nyuk. Okay, I’m going to “Stop Trying” now because “Who Cares?”

The point is, I’ll always be a fan of the band and an even bigger fan of Lewis. And if anyone knows Chris these days, ask him who is girlfriend was in 1985, when they lived in the apartment building across the street from 7-11. I want to thank her.

 

Review – Sara Wizzbanger

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Girlschool – Demolition



It’s always great to get the flow going with debut offerings and NWOBHM albums. I use the term of NWOBHM loosely. Especially when they’re the curiosity of bands like Girlschool. From the earlier days of southern fuelled pub-rock with Painted Lady and onto Girlschool as it was by 1978 onwards.

As Thatcher’s Britain gained momentum and unemployment rocketed across the country – the underground scene evolved and like a turtle’s head (The animal – not the bowel movement) came this band.  I’ll skip the obvious Lemmy twist. Everybody and their Submissive Slave has heard that story. The single to debut album this band had already gained momentum before hitting the UK album charts.

Kicking off the debut offering is the blistering Demolition Boys with all the tropes of classic metal of that time with added Vibraslap. Taken down a notch for Not For Sale and then on to that track we all know (Race With The Devil). Take It All Away feels like a fuelled between The Runaways meets Glitter. Nothing To Lose evokes a vibe of Surf Rock.

Side B moves and erupts with reverb dirty rock on Breakdown (It should have been a single) and the sleazy vibes of Midnight Ride and the screeching sounds of Emergency and to the new wave vibe of Baby Doll. The album blows up and peaks (and a satisfying peak) with Deadline.

For a debut offering you can see where they influenced many other artists along the way. Reviewing the album and a first time listen in almost 15 years…. I looked at that cover and you can’t but help what happened to the rudimentary ethics of sleeve art like that.  It’s an album that bounces up and down like a randy teenager on that big night but doesn’t peak too early. When it does peak – it spills out

 

Reviewer – Steve May

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Ted Nugent – ‘Scream Dream’

Epic

Say what you like about Ted Nugent the bloke knows how to rock! Yeah, he’s a gobshite, loudmouth, gun toting Republican but when you put that aside and just concentrate on his music then the guy is  a fuckin legend.

‘Scream Dream’ was Nuge’s 6th solo album and the second without his ‘classic’ line up having enlisted Charlie Huhn on rhythm guitar and occasional lead vocals and Dave Kiswiney on bass. The sole remainder being drummer Clifford Davies who also produced this effort.

Opening with the now classic ‘Wango Tango’ they immediately go for the throat. It’s simple dumbass rock n roll turned up to 11. The title track has a very ‘Stranglehold’ feel and sits in a nice groove with Nugent sneering over the top. ‘Hard As Nails’ is almost NWOBHM – Mid paced and heavy. Charlie Huhn gets to flex his throat on the pure rock n roll of ‘I Gotta Move’. You can hear where Nugent got all his influence from. Old rockers like Chuck Berry and the Motor City soulmen. ‘Violent Love’ (is there any other kind?) is rapid rock n roll then it’s chunky rocker ‘Flesh And Blood’. Nugent beats Coverdale by about 4 years with ‘Spit It Out’ – a filthy, dirty Stonesy romp. He beats Coverdale again with ‘Come And Get It’ with vocals courtesy of Cliff Davies. ‘Terminus El Dorado’ brings some ZZ Top blues groove and shows another side of his playing, it’s still sleazy though. Final track ‘Don’t Cry (I’ll Be Back Before You Know It Baby) has Huhn returning on vocals for another rock n roller.

This is music from the groin no doubt. For me this showed Nugent kind of on the way down. The record only shifted half a million copies like ‘State Of Shock’ whereas his previous couple had shifted millions. If you like loud, nasty rock n roll then this is just for you.

Reviewed by Smudge

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Steve Hackett – Defector

Featured on the very best albums Genesis ever put out, Mr H is probably one of the nicest guys in Prog, in fact I’d go so far to say he’s the “Dave Grohl Of Prog” !! Having interviewed him a few times, I once asked him to define Prog in one word – “Unpredictable” was his reply.

I think it’s safe to say the man has SO took this to be his mantra since leaving Genesis after “Wind And Wuthering”. At the time, with one solo album under his belt (the timeless “Voyage Of The Acolyte”) and his well documented discontent with growing lack of support for his writing skills within the band, I suppose it was inevitable that he decided to “go it alone”.

Here we are in 2020 and with around 25 albums to his name, I think it’s safe to say he has been the most prolific out of everyone who has ever been involved with the band and continues to fly the flag for Genesis to this day with his VERY successful Genesis Revisited albums, tours, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, may he keep on keeping on….

So, let’s go back to 1980 and his 4th solo release “Defector” which was the follow up to his classic “Spectral Mornings” album. In fact, if you opt to buy the Deluxe release of Defector, you get  virtually the whole of Spectral Mornings LIVE thrown in for good measure, what a total bargain !!

With any band or artist, following up a hugely successful album is always a challenge and over the years I think it’s safe to say we have seen many bands struggle to duplicate the success of a chart-topping album.

So with Defector, did he succeed ?? Seen by many fans as the last album from his classic solo period, the album features some classic Hackett moments that have gone on to be part of his set over the ensuing years. Kicking off with John Hackett’s haunting flute intro, “The Steppes” is a mighty instrumental that conjures up a wealth of images – mysterious, haunting and driven, a superb album opener. To say the album is a treasure trove of musical styles is an understatement – UNPREDICTABLE just about sums it up. “Two Vamps as Guests” sees the man return to classical acoustic for a wonderful piece that wouldn’t be out of place on his later album “Bay Of Kings” – beautiful. Then we have “Slogans” which Hackett once described as a cross between “The Sound Of Music” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (!!!) – a mighty instrumental that really drives along in classic Hackett-style with some very fine guitar work complimented by Dik Cadbury’s bass and John Shearer’s driving drum work – probably a contender for the album’s headbanger moment, superb.

Since leaving Genesis and going it alone, I’ve seen Steve’s confidence grow not only as a front man, but also as a singer. There are some beautiful 3-part harmonies on this album – Pete Hicks (lead vocals), Dik Cadbury and of course, the main man himself – “Leaving” follows on from “Slogans” and forms a nice respite from the chaos of its predecessor which then leads into the classical acoustic (“Two Vamps…”) and then back to full band action in “Jacuzzi” driven along by some catchy flute riffs from brother John – listening to the album for the first time, I could imagine you don’t really know where it’s going as we go from style to style, genre to genre  – totally and utterly UNPREDICTABLE. This is such an interesting album to get into as there’s literally “something for everyone” – there’s even some typical Hackett humour with “Sentimental Institution” which features an instrument called an OPTIGAN (which was a keyboard instrument inspired by the classic mellotron but using an optical disc rather a bank of tapes) – playing what sounds like a sampled 30’s jazz band accompanied by Pete Hicks’ sleazy vocal through a megaphone, utterly mental but very much in keeping with the adventurous nature of this wonderful album. Even Nick Magnus (Keys) gets his own time in the spotlight with “Hammer In The Sand” – beautiful grand piano piece supplemented by some gorgeous string sounds and Hackett’s signature guitar sound – truly emotional…..

In essence, there is literally something for everyone on this album. Never boring, never predictable, but ALWAYS interesting and thought provoking. If you haven’t got it, go for the 2016 re-mastered deluxe version as you get the original album (re-mastered of course) plus a total wealth of bonus material – an essential purchase in MANY ways.

Reviewer – Steve Gould

 

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Samson – Head On

RCA

Without doubt Samson are regarded as the ‘college’ for many of today’s hard rock musicians. The list of the members that have been in the Samson ranks is vast and includes names like Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), John McCoy (Gillan), Doogie White (Rainbow), Pete Jupp and Merv Goldsworthy (FM), Mel Gaynor (Simple Minds) and Bruce Dickinson (known as Bruce Bruce on this release).

Having released their debut, ‘Survivors’, the year before, Samson set about their second album with a returning Chris Aylmer on bass. ‘Survivors’ producer John McCoy filled in in bass for the recordings of the debut (plus had written most of the songs) when Aylmer couldn’t commit.

‘Hard Times’ kicks off with a steady rocker but unfortunately highlights a poor production from Bob Broglia. Paul Samson’s guitar is swamped in reverb and Thundersticks snare sounds weak and tinny. Dickinson, however, show’s why Iron Maiden wanted him. ‘Take It Like A Man’ rocks harder, then the bluesy Samson classic ‘Vice Versa’ gives them a different angle but it’s Dickinson who makes the song coming on like a young Ian Gillan. Both ‘Manwatcher’ and ‘Too Close To Rock’ are filler at best then comes the controversial instrumental ‘Thunderburst’. Co-written with Steve Harris when Thunderstick was briefly a member of Iron Maiden in ’77. This was re-worked as ‘The Ides Of March’ on Maiden’s ‘Killers’ which pissed off the Samson boys no end. ‘Hammerhead’ attempts to get heavier but again the production let’s it down. ‘Hunted’ is another filler then we get some punk metal on ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ before the wannbe epic slow grind of ‘Walking Out On You’.

This got to No.34 in the UK album charts and when you consider what it was up against that year it’s pretty impressive. On a personal view I never thought Dickinson was the right fit for Samson, who are a lot more bluesy than Maiden. Things worked out for the best when Dickinson jumped ship and the much more suitable Nicky Moore came in and they recorded a couple of superb albums after. Legal wrangles and more band upheaval meant that Samson would never really reach the heights they were expected to reach. Paul Samson could never really settle on one direction but he still remains a NWOBHM legend.

Reviewed by Smudge

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Queen – The Game



The album that was 17 on my Top 25 Most Influential Albums. I’ll try to be impartial…. Queen had moved on in direction in the 7 years since their debut album. Glam was gone. The operatic vibe had loosened and they had become more comfortable in their own skin without succumbing to expectancy. We also know how the British (nor American) Press was particularly warming to them. Did they give a shit. No for the most part. The Game was the last hurrah before the Flash Gordon/Paul Prenter period. I’ll skip covering the tracks which were UK singles.

This album also signifies their partnership with Reinhold Mack who already had an extensive history with Electric Light Orchestra and previous works from Deep Purple, Whitesnake,  Scorpions, The Rolling Stones and T-Rex to drop a few names. 

The album kicks off with something rather unexpected in the form of Play The Game. Something Queen haven’t tried before. The softer ethics of the band versus an excessively loud opener. 

We then move on to Dragon Attack with one of the best bass lines to come out of Deacy’s mind and a groove that elevates itself courtesy of some fine harmonics. Another One Bites The Dust and sliding over to Need Your Loving Tonight with a short and punchy track which swings it’s way up with May’s solo and a cymbal grab or two. Driving past the Rock N Roll orgasms of Crazy Little Thing Called Love and onto Rock It (Prime Jive) – with Mercury opening the track then exploding with Taylor’s vocals. One of the last Queen tracks to feature Taylor on lead vocals.

It moves on to Don’t Try Suicide. Regurgitating the swinging Rock N Roll ethic and is more a forerunner of what is to come in the future by the time of The Works (Man On The Prowl etc) and maybe with a slight nods to some minute vibes of Hot Space.

’Sail Away Sweet Sister’ is one of Queen’s finest moments and seriously underrated. With May on vocals it screams all of the classic vibes of 70’s Queen and the bittersweet outro. It’s definitely a contender of the best track on the album. 

Coming Soon falls somewhat short with shared vocals from May, Mercury and Taylor. Some great harmonics but comes in too short.

The album closes with Save Me which finishes off Side B perfectly.

The Game is by no means a perfect album. It sees the band swinging in the direction they wanted to go before outside influence interfered. The production and engineering is top notch but holds a special place for me.

4 double Jack n’ Cokes (and a sip) out of 5.

 

Reviewer – Steve May

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Some of the rest of the releases from June 1980 , all reviewed by Skid

Accept – Im a rebel

Is the 2nd release from the Teutonic metalers , and like the debut have moments of class that are the foundations for the Bands masterpiece and genre defining 1982 classic  Restless and Wild  , but most of the album is above average filler than killer. That said, the title track, a real stomper which was written by Alex Young (brother of Angus and Malcom – folk law has it that there is an unreleased AC/DC version somewhere) and the slower melodic No time to lose are the cream of the crop and worthy of a listen alone.

 

 

 The Kinks – One for the road

Unfortunate the great live vibe is undermined when the listener discovers that the album was overdubbed . Take that away this is a real quality live album, the introduction to the first track is Klass (see what I did there?). The record is shy of 80 minutes and contains hits and less known tracks , but the stand out are of course All the day and all the night , Where have all the good times gone , Lola and You really got me. However, the quality of the playing is clear to hear when there are snippets of Stone riffs and other understated tunage. This is never listed as one of the great live albums of all time, and to be fair that is because its not, but it should be in every live record collection.

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Sammy Hagar – Danger zone

Hagar is one of the most prolific musicians a live, take away his contributions with Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot and more, he has released 13 plus studio albums and a plethora of live records under his own name. This was his 5th, and like the previous 4 had high and low points.  Journey guitarist Neal Schon and vocalist Steve Perry make appearances on various tracks, the stand out being the riff opener Love or Money ,In the night and  slower Run for your life (the title track.is 30 seconds long) . The follow up album  2 years later , Standing Hampton put Hagar into the limelight with the heavy metal community. I maybe crazy , but i sure ain’t no fool is the opening line to the record, and that sums the Red Rocker rather well.

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Jeff Beck – There and back

Less than 40 minutes long , this was Beck hitting the new decade with his 3rd solo album. In was the jazz fusion and keyboards courtesy of Jan Hammer and the clever wizardry of the fret man, however the lack of vocals and something to hum along with  dated the album quickly. One for Beck die hard fans.

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The Rolling Stones – Emotional rescue

For me, this was a serious ball drop, apart from the title track which felt like a Bee Gee rip off was a radio hit. The once magnificent bad boys of rock n roll had become a pastiche and I never bought another Stones album hereon.

The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue

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Cold Chisel – East

Before reaching international stardom, Jimmy Barnes started off in Cold Chisel, which have been described as Australia’s best pub band. This is their 3rd release and best seller. Even though the group were superstars in their native Australia, the rest of the world never bought into the idea, which in some ways is a same, but also made them more accessible to the people who got it.

This is a blend of the members influences, and although definitely well placed in the rock category was a patch work of hard rock, jazz, blues , reggae. The main song writer keyboard player Don Walker is still going strong with the current version of the band, but this is a very decent record from a great band. The rockabilly esq Rising Sun and rocker Tomorrow are the tunes to check out first.

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Blue Oyster Cult – Cultosaurus Erectus

Martin Birch produced the bands 7th long player and best album cover, bringing back the old time hard edged rock that was lost on the previous recording. Black Blade the opener is a great start but for me the rest of the album didn’t hit the mark. The band toured with Black Sabbath on the Black and Blue tour but the bands 1970’s momentum was starting to slow, but it’s still a decent addition to any collection.

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Next month – Jon Anderson , Joy Division , Hawkwind  , AC/DC  , Deep Purple  , Black Sabbath  , The Robert Cray band and more.