01 May 2020

1980 – What a year for rock and metal album releases – MAY

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 – 

MAY 1980.

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Saxon – Wheels of steel

After the relative success of their self-titled debut the year before, Saxon’s second release took it up several notches. Still on the French label Carrere, the album’s nine tracks cemented their place in the NWOBHM period, with songs about power cuts (747 Strangers In The Night) to motorcycles and speed (Motorcycle Man) to a cry to their fans to rise up as one (Stand Up And Be Counted). The Barnsley Boys appeared at the inaugural Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington in 1980 and this album peaked at No.5 in the UK. All in all, a classic metal album!

Reviewer – Tony Heare

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Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (3rd LP)

Back in 1975 when Mr G left the mighty Genesis, the music world was left reeling, in particular, the band’s dedicated fan base !! What would happen to the band ? Would Gabriel survive on his own ? So much uncertainty, so many unanswered questions….

Roll the clock forward 5 years and here we have Peter Gabriel’s third solo album (as the first four albums were all called “Peter Gabriel”, over the years they have each been nicknamed based on the covers, which all featured PG’s face in various forms) affectionately dubbed “Melt”, the album features a wealth of musical legends – Tony Levin (who would later go on to become the touring bass man for many years), Robert Fripp, Kate Bush, Dave Gregory, David Rhodes (touring guitarist), Larry Fast (synth player of some note, aka “Synergy”) and even Paul Weller. Old band mate Phil Collins played drums on various tracks and even pioneered his distinctive “Gated Drum” technique on the nerve jangling intro to album opener “Intruder”.

Reaching Number 1 in the UK’s album charts, partly due, I suspect, to the hit single “Games Without Frontiers” and the memorable and anthemic album closer “Biko” (which has been covered by a number of other bands including Simple Minds).

I think it’s safe to say, although the first two albums were outstanding, it was the third album that really established the man as a truly origin and innovative artist. I have always considered Gabriel on a par with David Bowie as a genuinely progressive artist – constantly reinventing himself, pushing the boundaries and creating timeless music. With only 7 albums of original material (culminating in 2002’s “Up”), we wait with bated breath to see where this totally unique and inspiring musician goes next, I just hope the wait will be worth it. Meanwhile (in addition to a number of soundtracks and covers albums) we have 7 albums of incredible music to  return to and I’d like to think it all started with album 3 aka “Melt”, a truly ground breaking album in many ways.

Reviewer -Steve Gould

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Whitesnake – Ready n willing

Whitesnake – Ready An’ Willing Today’s version of Whitesnake is far removed from the blues rock of the late 70s and early 80s. Featuring three ex-members of Deep Purple (Coverdale/Lord/Paice), they released this album on 31st May 1980 and it got as high as No.6 in the UK Album Chart. ‘Fool For Your Loving’ was the biggie, originally written for BB King of all people and it gave them a Top 20 single and TV exposure. The album featured nine tracks, all written by the band and they had the twin guitars of Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden to drive them along. Produced by Martin Birch, it was a strong album and went Gold in this country. Their next album, ‘Come An’ Get It’, released in 1981, is my favourite of theirs, but this one is right up there!

Reviewer – Tony Heare

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Tangerine Dream – Tangram

The band first came to my attention with release of the classic “Phaedra” album back in 1974 (signed to the pioneering Richard Branson’s Virgin label), spearheaded by DJ John Peel. With a  life-long obsession with electronic sound, synths and the like, I was immediately hooked and wham bam up to date, am still a major fan in 2020, although I do always gravitate to their mid 70’s – late 80’s releases. Centred around the main man Edgar Froese (who sadly passed away in 2015) and 160 albums (yes, you read right folks !!) the band have evolved greatly from their early days of experimentation to become probably the best known instrumental electronic band of all time, along with the likes of Jean-Michel Jarre. The recent album (post Edgar’s death) “Quantum Gate” (2017) saw the band back on track, having delved into an extremely melodic phase during the 90s and early millennium – bringing in an assortment of guest musicians, including vocalists (heresy !!), violinists, sax players and percussionists

Having seen the band live a great number of times, during their 70’s phase all their concerts were improvised (a good number of which have been released in the recent boxset “In Search Of Hades”, which I was fortunate enough to receive as a Christmas Pressie from my lady last year – with re-mastered version of the albums released during The Virgin Years – well worth looking into people).

…but I digress. I could write for hours on this band, but for now we’re looking at their 1980 release TANGRAM, which was the first to feature Peter Baumann’s replacement, Johannes Schmoelling (who was with the band from 1979 – 1985). Split into two parts, there is no continuity, as each piece survives on its own merits. Tending to rely less on the atmospheric Mellotron sounds dominating previous albums (although there are some haunting choral effects 2/3 of the way thru’ Part 2), there was a very definite move toward string synths on this album and a more structured approach. Froese has often been overlooked for his guitar skills (the instrument he started out with back in the mids 60s during his time with the band “The Ones”) and on Tangram Part 2 we get some soaring guitar work which complements Chris Franke’s trademark sequencer runs perfectly. One of the final TD albums to move away from the lengthy side long epics synonymous of their early work, the approaching decade saw them moving toward shorter form.

I was curious to see how Johannes fitted in with the band having followed them thru’ the “Bauman Years”, he definitely had a mellowing effect to the overall band sound probably due to his classical training – there is definitely more structure going on here, but retaining the TD Sound. Listening to the albums in succession, their musical evolution is extremely evident, but like so many bands, the 70s (for me) remain their most experimental, memorable and ground-breaking…

The writing was on the wall, but in huge luminous letters !!!! Not their best album by far, but a worthy addition to their back catalogue

Reviewer -Steve Gould

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The following are the best (or maybe not) of the rest all reviewed by Skid

KISS – Unmasked

Let’s get the worst of the bunch out first, a much anticipated album which was everything but. The bands 8th and possibly most controversial release, the other being this follow up Music from the Elder. This album alienated many hard-core fans with its pop and disco vibe especially the lead (and hit single) Shandi. Although Peter Criss was credited on the album, he didn’t play on any of the tracks and his departure was announced soon after the record hit the stores. It was for me the low point in the bands history and apart from a bit of humour injected by Frehley on Torpedo Girl and possibly his best ever penned song, and the highlight of this album , Talk to me this is a shocker. The only saving grace was that an up and coming band called Iron Maiden supported them on the subsequent European leg of the tour and all things were forgiven when two years later they saw the light, dropped the disco ball and recorded one of the greatest rock albums with Creatures of the Night.

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Billy Squier – The tale of the tape

The man from Massachusetts debut album, worth a listen and gives a hint of what was to come.

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The Fall – Totales Turn

The bands 3rd live album recorded in working men clubs in Northern England  but also contained several studio tracks

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Magazine – The correct use of soap

Album number 3 and seen as the pinnacle of their musical output with tracks including Under the floorboards , Sweetheart contract and the cover of Thank you (Falettinme be mice elf agin) and got the band into the top #30 in the UK album charts.

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The Cramps – Songs the Lords taught us

The debut full length album from the Psychobilly Californians and contained the tracks Garbageman , I was a teenage werewolf and I’m Cramped. A rough and ready collection that some see as the foundation stone for the genre.

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Judy Tzuke – Sports car

This was Tzukes 2nd release and became her biggest selling album, it was only 9 tracks deep and under 40 minutes long but contained the singles The choices you made and Understanding but the gem of the album was the title track. This is a British singer songwriter at her zenith and even today 40 years on is fresh as the day it was released.

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Foghat – Tight shoes

The bands 9th release , not a bad album, but the band tried to keep up to speed but lost momentum.

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Roxy Music – Flesh and blood

Success was already theirs when the band released this the 7th album and was an instant hit peaking at #1 in the UK album charts and contained the singles Over you , Oh yeah , Same old scene and the Wilson Picket’s cover In the midnight hour.

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Motorhead – The Golden years EP

Not a full album, but this was the first of 2 EP’s released in this year, this was also the bands first live release containing Leaving here, Stone dead forever , Dead men tell no tales and Too late, too late all of which were recorded between February and April of this year and became their biggest hit so far reaching #8 in the UK singles chart. This release proceeded the seminal live album No sleep ’till Hammersmith which followed in June the next year, but this filled that void that the kids were missing and started the reputation that Motorhead were the future of loud and nasty Rock’n’Roll. A must listen.

 

 

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Joan Jett – Joan Jett/Bad reputation

Jetts debut, which was initially released as an anonymous title, but due to the success of the follow up album,  was hastily re-released a year later under the name of the opening track and Ex Sex Pistols and Blondie members helped out on the recording. It did have a couple of covers from Ram Jam , Gary Glitter and the Isley Brothers but overall its decent start to a solo career from the ex Runaway.

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Next month – JUNE 1980 including releases from Ted Nugent , Jeff Beck , Girlschool , Sammy Hagar , Accept , Blue Oyster Cult and more .