01 February 2020
As a celebration of arguably the greatest year for UK rock and metal releases to date MMH Radio will be looking back at 1980 with a month to month retrospective to re-discover and relive the albums that were brought to us across the rock spectrum with reviews, blogs and of course the stations DJ’s . This month in no particular order we look back at :
Ramones – End of the century
This is one of the defining moments for the Ramones, those Punk pioneers who invented the 2 minute ram raid smash and grab punk who were deemed to go pop.
It was a commercial success and gained many fans but as what cost, as the hard core felt betrayed. Phil Spector produced the album , and although some of the bands ferocity remained in tracks like I’m Affected and Chinese Rock , the edge had been blunted and the addition of do you remember rock’n’roll radio and the cover of the Ronettes Baby,I love you just didn’t do it for the punk faithful, which on reflection 40 years on was a mistake as apart from the successful cover the album has some classic , if less raw Ramones tracks on it.
This was the bands 5th long player and reached #14 in the UK album charts making it by a long shot the most successful, and even today, it still is a fun listen
Review by Skid
Nazareth – Malice in Wonderland
After the success enjoyed in the 70s, Nazareth embarked on a new decade with ‘Malice In Wonderland’ released in 1980. It was the final album to feature ex-Sensational Alex Harvey Band guitarist Zal Cleminson and was a mixture of heavy tracks and lighter material, with even a (gasp, shock, horror) reggae number called ‘Big Boy’. The album was produced by Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, who co-wrote ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ with the band. The plus side was that it was recorded in the Bahamas; the down side was that it failed to reach the UK albums chart.
Reviewed by Tony Heare
Metal for Muthas [Vol 1] – Various
Back in 1980 when I was a mere twenty years old if you had told me that forty years later I would be listening to heavy metal I would have laughed at you and told you you were off your face. Back then I was into soul and electronica and although I had heard of heavy metal it didn’t appeal to me. Now however is a different matter. In the late 70’s and early 80’s popularity for the more established face of rock such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Sabbath were according to some on the way out due to punk rock’s decline and the emergence of new wave music. 1979 saw the start of NWOBHM short for the New wave of British heavy metal. February 1980 saw the release of Metal for Muthas a forty minute plus compilation featuring Iron Maiden with two of their singles. Sanctuary was the second single from the boys including the sound of Paul Di’Anno on lead vocals, the song gained some notoriety on release as it showed the band’s mascot Eddie standing over the corpse of Margaret Thatcher. The Band’s Manager Rod Smallwood suggested that Maggie’s face be censored on the cover as it would attract attention from the media. And it paid off with the Daily Mirror running a story about the single as well as publishing the uncensored artwork. Wrathchild was the other Maiden track on the compilation and was originally recorded back in 1979.
Other tracks on the album come from Sledgehammer with Sledgehammer, E.F. Band from Sweden with Fighting for Rock and Roll, Toad The Wet Sprocket with Blues in A, the band took their name from a Monty Python sketch called Rock notes. Praying Mantis with Captured City, Ethel the Frog with Fight Back, Angel Witch‘s Baphomet. Samson with Tomorrow and Nutz with Bootliggers.
The two stand out tracks for me though are Toad and Samson, Toad because I do like to kickback with some blues of an evening and Samson because Paul Samson’s voice is beautiful, uplifting and it’s a ballad on a heavy metal compilation, what’s not to like.
You can still get this for a mere tenner and to go back forty years and hear the beginning of a new revolution of British heavy metal is good enough for me.
Reviewed by Mark Parker
Vardis – 100mph
Guaranteed no overdubs is a strong statement to make about a live recording but to put it on the front cover is brave especially when that live recording is your debut album. It had not only to be true it had to be good, and by Jove Watson it was. It seems a bizarre and bold move but for the NWoBHM stalwarts from Wakefield, Yorkshire it worked. Steve Zodiac (guitar/vocals), Alan Selway (bass) and Gary Person (drums) had gained a loyal following in the pubs and clubs and were well honed live by the time the album was recorded. The raw recording was a true reflection of the band live and on the back of this release their popularity swelled as the supported other titans like Saxon , Girlschool and Angelwitch leading them to be invited to play at the now legendary Port Vale FC Heavy Metal Holocaust in ’81.
The album is still a fun spin and I forgot quite how good Vardis sounded on this record. If you are a fan of NWoBHM, Heavy Metal or just curious why the likes of Lars Ulrich rate this band check this album out, or even better support them live as they are touring in the UK this month and next.
Reviewer – Skid
Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams (1980)
The package arrived from Canada in 1987 and contained two cassette tapes. The first was an album entitled Appetite for Destruction by some unknown U.S. band. This was cast aside as I unwrapped the cellophane on the second cassette. It was Bryan Adams‘ debut album from 1980. Not released in the U.K. this album was almost impossible to get hold of if you were 14 and growing up in Dundee.
Slamming it into the stereo, the first thing that strikes the listener is, wow, that is HIGH ! The vocals are strong and typical Adams but his voice was still developing its gravelly rasp and sounds unusually high. This is accentuated on the first track Hidin’ From Love with a high pitched keyboard and backing vocals.
Whilst still very much identifiable as a Bryan Adams’ rock album there are nice hints of soul and disco, with the backing vocals more prominent than on later albums. This is especially true of track 6 Don’t Ya Say It.
I find the most interesting thing about this album is the insight it offers into the development of Adams. From this debut, and at least through to and including his 5th record Into The Fire, there is a clear progression which is perhaps more noticeable than with many other artists.
Not releasing this album in U.K. in 1980 seems an understandable decision in retrospect. This is an upbeat album of catchy FM Radio style tunes that would have struggled to find a home amongst NWOBHM, New Wave and the last vestiges of Punk.
If you have half an hour you could do a lot worse than checking out this catchy and intriguing debut.
Interesting fact : The track Wastin time was written by Adams for Bachman Turner Overdrive and also appears on their 1979 album Rock n’ Roll Nights.
Reviewed by MMH listener Grant Lorimer
Other notable but not earth shattering releases in the UK in February were –
Heart – Bebe Le strange
Guitarist Roger Fisher left the band during the pre recording sessions leaving Nancy Wilson and new boy Howard Leese, but the missing quality of Fisher could not be covered up.
Warren Zevron – Bad luck streak in dancing school
The Knack … but the little girls understand
A bizarre title to an album which did not feature My Sharona
Graham Nash – Earth and sky
Bob Seger and the silver bullet band – Against the wind
11th long player, which was a success in the US , reaching #1 in the LP charts knocking Floyds Wall off the top spot.The American glitterati came aboard to help out including most of The Eagles. Contained the singles You’ll accomp’ny me and the title track
Uriah Heep – Conquest
‘Heeps 13th and most critically slammed record yet outsold the previous 3 albums. Chris Slade is on drums.
The Psychedelic Furs – The Psychedelic Furs
Iggy Pop – Soldier
4th solo LP from Mr Pop featuring ex-Sex Pistols Glen Matlock
Survivor – Survivor
Survivors debut, a long way from the Rocky theme track smash two years later it but a fair record nonetheless