01 August 2020
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 – August 1980
1980 saw some brilliant post-punk releases, Closer (Joy Division), In The Flatfield (Bauhaus). Seventeen Seconds (The Cure) and Killing Joke (Killing Joke) to name but a few. But if I had to pick a favourite release of that year, I would eventually, pick out the 3rd album by Siouxsie and the Banshees – Kaleidoscope.
However, the build up to Kaleidoscope was anything but plain sailing. We need to go back to the very day of the release of their second album, “Join Hands” on 7th September 1979. During a signing session in Aberdeen, not only did John McKay (guitar) and Kenny Morris (drums) storm out of after a disagreement, they left the city and indeed the band.
This was particularly problematic as Siouxsie and the Banshees were due to do a show that evening at The Capitol to promote the album, along with The Scars and The Cure, and were now just Siouxsie and A Banshee (Steve Severin, who incidentally is the only other ever present member along with Siouxsie Sioux). Being two members down meant the Banshees couldn’t play their set, so customers were offered a refund and The Cure played a longer set than planned who welcomed Siouxsie and Severin to join them on stage for the last song, The Lord’s Prayer, taken from The Banshees album Join Hands.
However, this was not the end of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Budgie of The Slits was soon recruited to fill the vacant drum stool, and The Cure’s Robert Smith filled in on guitar for the remaining tour dates.
Once the tour had finished, and with Robert Smith concentrating on The Cure, Siouxsie recruited former Magazine and Visage guitarist Steve McGeogh and recorded Kaleidoscope which was released on August 1st 1980 and reached number 5 in the UK album charts in it’s second week. The highest chart position of any Siouxsie and the Banshees album to this date.
The change of personnel, also marked a change in sound. This was evident with the first single Happy House which was released in March, five months prior to the album release. Happy House had a more jolly and bouncy feeling to it than the more dark brooding sounds of the previous two albums.
Following Happy House, in May, The Banshees released their second single, Christine. An acoustic piece that was inspired by the case of Christine Costner Sizemore and her 22 personalities and an ever present underlying theme of mental health that had been heard in previous Banshees releases. Christine is still a favourite in goth clubs up and down the country to this day.
The release of the album showed that The Banshees weren’t afraid to mix things up, as they started experimenting with a more electronic sound and utilising the use of synths and a drum machine for the first time, which are particularly noticed in the tracks Red Light and the atmospheric Lunar Camel. Whilst tracks such as Hybrid and Trophy wouldn’t sound out of place on the previous releases Join Hands or The Scream.
Desert Kisses is a beautiful cinematic soundscape with chorus laden guitars and bassline providing the backing for the Siouxsie’s vocals, Desert Kisses is a personal favourite of mine, and a track that doesn’t seem to get the love it deserves.
Closing the album are two of the three tracks that founding member and guitarist of the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones, guests on, Paradise Place and Skin, Jones adds another dimension to the overall sound and giving them a more “rock” feel.
Kaleidoscope is aptly titled, as with the toy, consisting of different patterns coming together, the album consists of different sounds all accumulating in to one masterpiece and is a perfect starting place for anyone wanting to discover Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Reviewer Adam Thomas
Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Wild Cat’
Formed in 1978 in the rock n roll heartland of Whitley Bay Tygers Of Pan Tang put out a couple of singles on the Newcastle based Neat Records label which brought them to the attention of major label MCA who wasted no time in getting them studio time in London with up and coming producer Chris Tsangarides.
The band were a four piece for this release with Jess Cox on vocals, Robb Weir on guitar, Rocky Laws on bass and Brian Dick on drums. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was in full swing and this is a prime example of the era with their influences on full show but with their own identity. Tygers classics like ‘Don’t Touch Me There’ and ‘Suzie Smiled’ still have an energy even though the production does sound kinda cheap by today’s standards.
This got to #16 in the UK album charts and set the Tygers up for the next level which introduced another guitarist to the line-up a fella called John Sykes (wonder what happened to him?).
When the NWOBHM is mentioned Tygers Of Pan Tang are always right there at the top with Iron Maiden and Saxon but they just never made that ultimate push to that level despite quality releases especially recently. You can keep up with all things Tyger related through PowerPlay Magazine where Robb Weir has a column in which he reminisces about his career. It’s honest, funny and doesn’t pull any punches. Did you know Lemmy tried to poach Robb to replace ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke? They got Brian Robertson instead. Oh well.
As we travel through 1980, we arrive at August 5th and the second album from the songstress. Her debut, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ had been a hit and it was more of the same with ‘Crimes Of Passion’. ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ was the biggie on the album, giving her a Top 10 single in the US. One for you trivial people – the video to her cover of the Rascals’ ‘You Better Run’ was the second video played on MTV after The Buggles. The album reached No.2 in America and was kept off the top by the John Lennon album ‘Double Fantasy’, hardly surprising after the events of December 8th.’Crimes Of Passion’ stayed in the US Top 10 for over 6 months but did nothing here in the UK unfortunately. The album itself contains an upbeat version of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Hell Is For Children’, a song about child abuse and a further hit single ‘Treat Me Right’. It remains her biggest selling career album and is a mixture of rock and pop that worked in 1980.
Reviewer Tony heare
Yes – Drama
Pop Quiz – What was the very first music video to be played on MTV when it was launched to an unsuspecting world on August 1st 1981 ??
“Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles. There you go, some pointless trivia for you.
12 months prior, saw the release of the tenth studio album from Prog Giants “Yes” – DRAMA.
Drama was a particularly appropriate title for the album as its predecessor “Tormato” was mixed with varied critique, which also saw two key members (Rick Wakeman and the aforementioned Mr Anderson) leave the band due to differences of opinion on the band’s direction. I have to admit, although the band’s “golden years” were behind them, this was a release that would change the direction of the band forever, especially as Roger Dean had been dropped as the album cover artist after the classic “Relayer”. The cover for “Tormato” was somewhat of an abortion if I’m brutally honest and I do wonder if it hampered the album’s acceptance, only reaching Number 8 in the UK album charts. Compare this to “Drama” (which DID feature a Roger Dean painting), even though it had a total change in lineup – reached number 2 in the UK album charts – point made I reckon.
So, with Roger Dean back on art duties and a new vocalist and keys player – Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes (The Buggles), what could we expect from this groundbreaking new take on the YES sound ??? Well, if I’m honest – it ain’t that bad at all !!
Now most Yes fans cannot and will not accept any incarnation of the band without the angelic tones of Jon Anderson on lead vocals (witness the current situation where we have not one, but TWO versions of the band – you can never get enough Yes Music folks !!!) and as you will hopefully appreciate, there was a certain amount of trepidation on whether the new guys could fit in.
As a long-term Yes fan I bought the album on the day of release and with a low-level hesitation, plonked the vinyl on my turntable – 1st track “Machine Messiah” (the longest track on the album coming in at 10 mins 22 secs) – WOW !! I was blown away !!
One thing I have always loved about Yes is the vocal harmonies (probably as I am a long term fan of The Beach Boys) and DRAMA had it in spades. Trevor Horn’s vocal range is in the upper register and although he struggled with some classic Yes material (when we went to see the band live – it was quite painful in places, ouch), the music on Drama (six tracks including a re-jigged Buggles number – “Into The Lens”) was obviously written to allow for his limitations as a vocalist and it worked…..
Interesting in that the title track of a later Yes album, “Fly From Here” was originally another Buggles track that had been resurrected and given the Yes treatment. “White Car” at just under 1 and 1/2 mins is a throwaway track, but on the rest of the album – Downes proved he could be more than a match for Wakeman’s keyboard dexterity. The final track “Tempus Fugit” is superb, a TRUE Yes classic and a fine way to bring proceedings to a close with some awesome organ work from Downes.
Somewhat of a game changer in many ways, as a Yes album – it works !! With only one album under their belt with this lineup, the follow-up “90125” saw the return of Jon Anderson and yet another major line-up change as Tony Kaye (the original keys player with the band on their first three albums) and new boy Trevor Rabin taking over Steve Howe’s role on lead guitar. Maybe it was never meant to be an ongoing project as Trevor Horn has gone on to be a very successful music producer and Mr Downes formed super-group ASIA with Carl Palmer, John Wetton and Steve Howe before returning to the Yes lineup in 2011 (and remains to this day).
So, was Drama a success, I would like to think so. If you look at the music the band have put out in the past 20 years, this shines above and beyond and even though it is now 40 years old, still holds its own today. A very worthy addition to any serious Prog (and Yes) fan, but make sure you buy the re-released version on CD which comes with a number of bonus tracks.
Reviewer – Steve Gould
Quartz – ‘Stand Up And Fight’
Quartz were originally formed in 1974 as Bandy Legs and signed to Don Arden’s (Sharon Osbourne’s dad) Jet Records. The name change came in 1977 when they were discovered by Tony Iommi (wonder what happened to him?) who co-produced their debut with Chris Tsangarides and ended up poaching guitar/keyboard player Geoff Nicholls as a Sabbath sideman. Nicholls even played bass in the absence of Geezer Butler for a time.
Fast forward to 1980 and Quartz signed with MCA who decided what they needed was an experienced hand on the rudder. They put them together with producer Derek Lawrence (Deep Purple/Wishbone Ash) to see what sounds they could make. Lawrence brought some weight to the proceedings with the songs being totally driven along by Derek Arnolds huge bass.
Even today this fizzes with an energy with the title track, ‘Charlie Snow’ and ‘Stoking Up The Fires Of Hell’ being highlights.
Quartz unfortunately are another NWOBHM band that never really made the next level despite having all the talent needed. I saw Quartz headline at a NWOBHM festival at the Garage in Highbury a few years ago along with Tysondog, Tokyo Blade, Sacrilege and others. They still had it and put a right shift in much like on this album.
The Allman Brothers – Reach For The Sky
This is their ninth album featuring keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman, guitarist/vocalist Dickey Betts, drummer Jai Johnny Johanson, guitarist Dan Toler, bassist David Goldflies, and drummer Butch Trucks staying together following the previous Album release.
Dickey Betts is the main contributor to songs on the album being responsible for five of the tracks with two being composed by Gregg Allman and the remaining three from the pen of Dan Toler
My favourite track is probably the instrumental “From The Madness Of The West” which I believe showcases some of his best ever guitar work (only my opinion). The very seemingly gospel influenced “Hell and High Water” is also worth a mention and in fact a listen. I could also wax lyrical about “So Long” and “Mystery Woman,” but all in all this is a solid Album. Having said that it is very typical. It shines in many places but does not necessarily excite. I do believe that more recent work shows how far they have come and how on top of their game the band are, but I am not sure that this album is the best showcase of their considerable talent.
But it is a solid piece of work and Allman Brothers fans will enjoy but this reviewer feels that they did much better work in the years that followed..
Reviewer – Keith Baldwin
Michael Schenker Group – Michael Schenker Group
It is very hard to write an honest and fair retrospective review on a group formed and named after my hero. There is not a pedestal big enough for Mr Michael Schenker in my eyes. The UFO years are well documented and if as a reader you are not familiar with the work of this flying V wielding genius with Phil Mogg et al, just check out side 3 (in old money) of the bands legendary double live LP Strangers in the night.
MS left UFO in what can easily be described as acrimoniously in 1978 and soon after teamed up with then unknown vocalist Gary Barden and started demo’ing with session musicians the following year. They looked good, but it is fair to say that 40 years on, the biggest mistake Schenker made was not teaming up with a more renowned or stronger vocalist from the get-go.
His new bands debut LP , simply titled Michael Schenker Group was released in the August of the new decade. The line up included drummer Simon Phillips (not ex AC/DC and Dio), Mo Foster on bass and keyboard maestro Don Airey.
The album was produced by Roger Glover and engineered by Jeremy Allom and Gareth Edwards and the 9 tracks covering 40 minutes is a mixed bag of genuine Schenker classics including 5 staples of today’s live shows including Armed and ready and Lost horizons, the rest are fillers , but fairly decent ones at that and the album ended up reaching #8 in the UK album charts.
This is the foundation for the next album including (to some the classic line up) Cozy Powell, Chris Glen and Paul Raymond joining Schenker and Baden. Life never took a simple path for Michael Schenker and many a trouble was to come his way, but when he was allowed to flow unhindered, he was untouchable, and parts of this debut prove this point.
Reviewer – Skid
All the following are reviewed by Skid
Jethro Tull – A
A stands for Anderson as this was initially meant to be an Ian Anderson solo album, but record company pressures made it the bands 13th long player. A mixed bunch of folk inspired tracks as well as a slab of synthesisers made this a marmite of a record for the Tull army. Martin Barre was the only other consistent team player and although it’s a decent listen it isn’t a JT classic.
The Cars – Panorama
The bands 3rd LP wasn’t as popular as the previous two, it did spawn the single Touch and go and although eventually reached #5 in the US album charts , it’s not the best work the band ever did .
Johnny Van Zant – No more dirty deals
Best known for being the lead singer and writer of the re-formed Lynyrd Skynyrd since 1987. Johnny is one of several singing Van Zant brothers, including Ronnie who died in the infamous plane crash in 1977 and Donnie who was a founder of 38 Special. Johnny formed his own band and this was his debut LP. To be fair, it’s not a bad record but it isn’t a patch on the two aforementioned bands.
Van Morrison – Common One
Some may wonder why VM even gets a mentioned when the genre that he floats in doesn’t dovetail with heavy music. However, anyone of VM legendary status and influence deserves respect. This album is the mans 12th . It is jazz, but a decent selection of songs, especially the 15 minute Summertime in England. The record was panned by many but VM declares it as one of his favourites. This is a worthy listen, just to hear how a true genius makes music.
Black Flag – Jealous again (EP)
Before Henry Rollins came onboard and changed the world American hardcore punk , Black Flag had already released their debut EP, this record was intended to be their debut album, but ended up being a 5 track follow up EP. Greg Ginn wrote all the tracks and although it sounds like a totally different animal with Red Cross vocalist Ron Reyes up front , it still is an important release not only for the history of the band but also American punk.
Gamma – Gamma 2
Ronnie Montrose’s post Montrose band Gamma’s 2nd release had yet another revolving door policy on members. His ex-Montrose band mate Denny Carmassi was behind the kit and vocalist Davey Pattison came in as a helping hand. It is mainstream hard rock, with a hint of quality here and there but not a patch on his previous self-named band’s first two albums.
Carlos Santana – The swing of delight
The fourth solo album , this one being a double from the Latin jazz rock fusion master.
America – Alibi
The 9th album from the band that failed to make any impact with real sales, the follow up faired much better
Next Month – Molly Hatchet ,Saxon , Dead Kennedys , White Spirit and Ozzy