01 April 2020

1980 – What a year for rock and metal – April

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 April 1980.

 

 

Judas Priest – British Steel

1980 was a phenomenal year for rock music and on April 14th, the same day as Iron Maiden released their debut, Judas Priest gave us their 6th album ‘British Steel’. To say it was a classic rock album is an understatement, but even playing it today will get the hairs up at the back of your neck. It was the first Priest album to feature former Trapeze drummer Dave Holland and it had the hit singles ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘United’ and ‘Living After Midnight’ bringing heavy metal to the public on the likes of Top Of The Pops. It started with the thrashy ‘Rapid Fire’, followed by ‘Metal Gods’. There were no computer tricks in those days, so the sound of the robots marching in the latter track was achieved by the use of cutlery being shaken on a tray. Genius! ‘Grinder’ and ‘Steeler’ were 100% pure Priest metal, while ‘The Rage’ started off in a slightly reggae fashion before THAT riff kicked in. Finally, ‘You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise’ put the boot in on people who thought long haired rock musicians were stupid. The album still stands up well today and the opening bars of any one of these tracks will get anybody up with their air guitar. A genuine 10/10!

Reviewed by Tony Heare

 

 

Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

What is there to be said about Sabbaths 9th album that has not already been done so in detail? Ozzy was out , his future wife introduced Ronnie James Dio to Iommi and Black Sabbath Mark II was up and running. The problem for many is not that the album is any good, it is that it didn’t sound anything like the previous albums featuring Mr Osbourne. The record was an 8 track masterclass on riffage and vocals, from the bombastic opener Neon Nights to the  closer Lonely is the word (recorded in one take) via Children of the sea and Die young. This was not only the best ever Sabbath release , it is right up there as contender of the greatest metal album of the year , decade and even all time . It became the benchmark against which the new generation of vocalists were compared but it also showed the NWoBHM bands who were bubbling about that the previous generation still knew how to do it . It is nothing short of an all time classic and is an absolute must for any collection. The only downside was that it came out at the same month as Priest’s British Steel and a few weeks before Back in black, proving how fertile the late 70’s were to allow such releases at the dawn of the new decade.

Reviewer Skid

 

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden

Here I am 28 years on from hearing Iron Maiden’s debut self titled LP. With a lot of albums of this era – can time be kind to any debut offering from the NWOBHM era? Too right it can. Recording techniques and budgets aside, it would never be a Roy Thomas Baker or Mike Chapman affair in production for that timeframe – but it has serious punch. We all know how it mapped out with Paul Di’anno and Dennis Stratton’s brief interlude – so let’s focus on this tribal affair as it stands. Back in the April of 1980 we had a very bleak British future under it’s current Government, low incomes and far less British spirit – this album is most definitely a product of it’s time but still delivers. This is a product of Steve Harris all the way through. Lyrics, compositions and production (as Andy Scott couldn’t be arsed and was subsequently fired). It holds a nostalgic element… Which was my first exposure to Maiden? It was that Lucozade advert with Daley Thompson back in the mid 80’s without realizing. Memories… An album with solid guitars, drums and tracks that are undoubtedly “Killers”. Despite the somewhat punk ethic of Di’anno’s vocals it can’t be discounted. Standout Tracks: The whole fucking thing!

Reviewed by DJ Mitz

 

 

 

Magnum – Marauder

Having released their debut album a mere 2 years before (Kingdom Of Madness) which went down very well with fans and critics alike and the fact the title track is till included in the current set is testament to its place in the back catalogue of Brum-based band Magnum.

The second album Magnum II fared less well than its predecessor and thus a decision was made to release a live album to bolster support for the band and so Marauder was  released to an unsuspecting public in April 1980, capturing a typical Magnum live gig. Recorded at the legendary Marquee club in December 1979 and with only two studio albums under their belt, the setlist was always going to be “limited” although the original version, ironically, didn’t feature Kingdom Of Madness, but this omission was put right in 2005 when Marauder was released with a bonus disc of live recordings from Nashville, Tennessee and Live At The Marquee EP.

I have to be honest, my favourite Magnum live album is The Spirit, but it was interesting revisiting this, their first ever live album. If you’ve followed the band, you will know that the backbone has always been a combination of Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin as they have been with the band from the offset.

In many ways, I’ve always thought of Magnum as a UK version of Styx – difficult to categorise, but a die-hard fanbase. The earlier albums of both bands border on Prog (which is probably why Magnum get asked to play Prog Festivals), although I truly believe these links have become somewhat tenuous as the band evolved. I do not like labels, I think they are totally irrelevant, but we do like to categorise and pigeon hole bands and artists. Magnum have been called prog, pomp, melodic, aor, symphonic – the list goes on !!!

Over the last 40 years I suppose they have veered into every genre, but of late they seem to have found their feet and going back to this after so many years, this sounds to me like a band trying to find their way. So many “influences” – if you do decide to give this a spin, I guarantee you’ll be going – “Oooooh, that sounds like this….” That tracks sounds like blah blah” – a veritable smorgasbord of genres. The tracks are short, I don’t like the way each one fades out before the next one kicks in. If you’re listening to a live album, surely you want to experience it as if “you’re there”, found it very off-putting tbh.

I realise this is the first live album and features tracks from the first two albums and I suppose as a way of reliving the early days of one of Britain’s longest running rock bands, it has that raw edge to it. Not the best era in the band’s back catalogue as far as I’m concerned, but nice to revisit from time to time to invoke a few memories of a time gone-by.

Steve Gould (Progmeister UK)

 

 

Trust – Repression

This is where i have to lay my cards on the table and declare my passion if not addiction to France’s finest band TRUST. Formed in Paris in 1977 they are best known for their connection to much bigger bands and a record covered by someone else. The genius of the band and possibly the most underrated metal guitarists of all time  Norbert “Nono” Krief and the intimidating front man Bernie Bonvoisin. This was the bands 2nd album and dedicated to the recent deceased Bon Scott whom the band were associated with as touring and partying stablemates . The band also boasts having both Iron Maiden drummers in their ranks at one time or another , but this was subsequently after this release. The problem for the band was a simple one, they recorded all their lyrics in French. This  immediately but up barriers to the English speaking music fan base and critics. However, i cannot stress enough now stupid this is as if you give this magnificent metal album a spin the tracks Instict de Mort , Passe , Le Mitard , Sectres and the all time classic opener Antisocial (which Anthrax covered) just speak for themselves. This and the next released were translated into English by Sham 69’s Jimmy Percy for the tour Trust undertook supporting Iron Maiden on their Killer’s tour in the UK , but the ferocity of the original was lost. Trust are still strong in their home land and still releasing fantastic records, but this is a jewel in their crown and should be in every metal fans collection.

Reviewer – Skid

 

and some of the rest of the releases in April 1980 –

Sham 69 – The game

Pat Travers Band – Crash and burn

With Pat Thrall (guitar) and Tommy Aldridge (drums) joining Travers for this , his 5th studio album it was going to be a decent listen before it even came out of the sleeve. The formula did not change , riffs , solo’s and vocals smashing and grabbin the way through with the odd slower tracks and cover but within these 8 tracks lasting 40 minutes was one of the greatest rock tracks of all time , and still the highlight of a Travers live performance .. Snortin’ whiskey. A fun packed if not classic release by the Canadian axeman, but a worthy purchase for the aforementioned track none the less

Skid

Boz Scaggs – Middle man

Gerry Rafferty – Snakes and ladders

Alice Cooper – Flush the fashion

Not the greatest album Ol’ black eyes ever did but worthy of a background listen.

Skid

 

Witchfynder – Give ‘em hell

The debut from one of the UK’s first Satanic metal bands , the title track of the album brought them to the attention of the press , which was not dissimilar to Priest or early Sabbath on fast forward, unfortunately in a race alongside the likes of  Maiden , Saxon and Leppard they stumbled and lost that vital momentum from which they never recovered . However the band is still going today.

Skid

 

Lou Reed – Growing up in public

Eric Clapton – Just one night (live)

A double live LP recorded in Japan the year previous in Japan and with Albert Lee helping out, it was a monster hit with the record buying middle classes and contains some Clapton plucking at its best with Blues power and Further up the road, but also contained the more mundane tosh like Wonderful tonight and yet omitted the obvious EC favorite  Layla.  It is however a  rather splendid live recording of one of the greatest six stringers ever to have lived.

Skid

 

Phil Lynott – Solo in Soho

It’s not bad , it just isn’t Thin Lizzy, it did contain Kings call and the reggae esq title track.

Skid

 

Pete Townsend – Empty glass

Contained the hit record Rough boys

Skid

 

The Undertones – Hypnotised

 

The Sweet – Waters Edge

The bands 8th long player, but the glam giants of the previous decade couldn’t keep up and the over synthed tracks didn’t have the same punch and the decline was apparent. A rejuvenated The Sweet are back touring in late 2020 early 2021 and they a fantastic night out , go and see them if you can.

Skid

 

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Next Month – May , including releases from Billy Squire, Whitesnake , Peter Gabriel , Kiss and Saxon.