Saturday, March 21, 2009

1982 - The Other Year of The Album, Part 2

And now the conclusion of my look back at the music of the nether year 1982...

STEVIE NICKS—Bella Donna  Stevie’s first solo effort was highly-anticipated and she didn’t disappoint.  She scored big hits with “Edge Of Seventeen” and her duets with Tom Petty (“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”) and Don Henley (“Leather And Lace”).  Another good track was “After The Glitter Fades”.

SCANDAL—Scandal  Scandal came from New Yawk and hit fairly big in the early MTV era with “Goodbye To You” on their debut EP (that’s Extended Play, for youse youngins).  It also yielded another single that’s now largely forgotten, “Love’s Got A Line On You”.  They soon changed their name to Scandal featuring Patty Smyth and broke out with “The Warrior” in 1984.

DON HENLEY—Can’t Stand Still  Dangerous Don’s first non-Eagles release featured the classic “Dirty Laundry”, with its brutal smackdown on the phoniness of the TV news industry.  Fox News Channel didn’t even exist yet, Anderson Cooper and Sean Hannity were still in puberty, CNN was in its infancy, Katie Couric was running for prom queen and Bill O’Reilly was probably bussing tables when this song first came out and it’s even more prescient today than it was 27 years ago.  Another track called “Johnny Can’t Read” offered up more social commentary about illiteracy.

ROBERT PLANT—Pictures At Eleven  Another solo debut from a well-established singer, Plant was doing everything he could to distance himself from his Led Zep past (although why I’m not sure).  PAE had some interesting songs, but in typical Robert Plant cryptic fashion, he gave them strange titles that had nothing to do with the lyrics therein like “Pledge Pin” (drop and give him 20?!?), “Burning Down One Side” and “Worse Than Detroit”.

MISSING PERSONS—Spring Session M  One of the first songs I ever remember listening to on a Sony Walkman was Missing Persons’ “Words” and I was quite impressed with it.  I was also strangely drawn to this Dale Bozzio woman with her multi-colored hair and creative use of electrical tape in her stage costumes, particularly around the breast area.  Spring Session M—an anagram for Missing Persons—also featured “Destination Unknown” and the underrated “Walking In L.A.”, “Windows” and “Mental Hopscotch”, all of which reside on my iPod today.

A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS—A Flock Of Seagulls  This was the greatest Techno-Pop album ever made.  These guys were surprisingly good in concert, too, and although they sounded robotic as all get-out, I liked them anyway, for some reason.  Go past the big hits “I Ran” and “Space-Age Love Song” and there’s still lots of great stuff here, like “Telecommunication”, “Modern Love Is Automatic”, “You Can Run”, “Messages”, “Standing In The Doorway” and the instrumental “D.N.A.”.  Sadly, groups like AFOS and Missing Persons had very short shelf-lives, but it was fun while it lasted, anyway.

MOTLEY CRUE—Too Fast For Love  While far from being the Crue’s greatest recorded achievement, Too Fast was at least a good start.  It featured “Take Me To The Top” (not the Loverboy song of the same name), “Piece Of Your Action” and “Live Wire”, and laid the groundwork for the next album, Shout At The Devil, which was their best, IMO.

STRAY CATS—Built For Speed  Contrary to popular belief, this was not the Cats’ first album, per se, as they had already released two over in England from which this album was pieced together.  It certainly threw a big curve ball to the music scene that was almost overwrought by New Wave and Techno music by kicking it old-school. “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” were great, but “Rumble In Brighton”, “Double Talkin’ Baby” and “Runaway Boys” were even better.

SCORPIONS—Blackout  The Scorps had been around quite a while too, and 1980’s “The Zoo” was a major step forward for them.  Blackout finally put them on the map for keeps with the big hit radio hit “No One Like You”.  The rest of the album didn’t suck either, with scorchers like the title track, “Dynamite” and “Can’t Live Without You”.  These crazy Germans were still on the rise, too…

IRON MAIDEN—The Number Of The Beast  And here was another heavy metal band on the rise.  Bruce Dickinson’s Daltrey-like scream at the beginning of the title track ushered in the new Iron Maiden era, and they finally found the singer they were looking for to replace the one-dimensional Paul d’Anno.  Their fortunes improved exponentially on Beast, which featured the classic “Run To The Hills” and several others.

ADAM ANT—Friend Or Foe  I was highly-resistant to the whole New Wave thing in the early ‘80s and avoided acts like Duran Duran and Culture Club like the Plague, but resistance was futile when I heard Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” on the radio.  On a whim, I bought Friend Or Foe and it wound up being one of my surprise favorites that year.  I loved the freight train-like rhythm of “Goody Two Shoes”, and it also popped up in the title track and a couple other songs.  “Place In The Country”, “Desperate But Not Serious” and “Crackpot History” were standouts too.

RUSH—Signals  Rush was on a roll in the early ‘80s, and Signals is one of my all-time favorite Rush albums, the cassette copy of which I practically wore out driving to and from classes as a Freshman at UMKC, and I really began to embrace thinking-man’s Rock.  I instantly took a liking to “Subdivisions”—especially Geddy Lee’s trippy synthesizer solo therein.  You can also find some very underrated stuff here, like “The Analog Kid”, “Digital Man” and “Countdown”, the latter of which features actual radio transmissions from the early Space Shuttle launches that Rush was very privileged to be able to use—NASA doesn’t loan those out to just anyone.  Rush even cracked the Top 40 for the first and only time with “New World Man”.

OZZY OSBOURNE—Diary Of A Madman  According to legend, Diary was recorded during the same sessions as Blizzard Of Ozz, and the quality was certainly consistent with, if not even a little better than, its predecessor.  I resisted Ozzy initially because of the whole canary-biting thing, but was irrevocably hooked by Randy Rhoads’ chugga-chugga-chugga intro to “Over The Mountain”.  “Flying High Again” is a classic, of course, while “Little Dolls” and “Tonight” were great under-the-radar tracks, and Rhoads showed off his acoustic side on the anthemic “You Can’t Kill Rock ‘N’ Roll”.  Again, I have to say, what might have been, with young Master Rhoads.  Rest in peace, Randy—you rocked!

OZZY OSBOURNE—Speak Of The Devil  Ozzy owed Epic Records a live concert album, but balked at doing one covering his current solo work because (to his credit) he didn’t want to appear to be capitalizing on the tragic death of Randy Rhoads just six months earlier.  He waited until a more appropriate time and released Tribute in 1987, featuring Rhoads’ live work, circa. 1981.  In the meantime, His Royal Ozz-ness (or someone) came up with the ingenious idea of doing a live album comprised of nothing but Black Sabbath tunes, some of which he hadn’t performed in several years.  Devil was amazingly good considering how Ozzy’s band—drummer Tommy Aldridge, erstwhile Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo and guitarist Brad Gillis, who was on loan from Night Ranger—had to learn most of the material (almost literally) overnight for the two concerts this album was culled from.  They’d already been playing “Paranoid”, “Children Of The Grave” and “Iron Man” as part of Ozzy’s regular live act, but tunes like “Symptom Of The Universe”, “Never Say Die”, “Sweet Leaf”, “Fairies Wear Boots” and “The Wizard” were all new material for the band, and these guys were obviously quick-studies, because the result was phenomenal.  In the process, Ozzy killed two birds (canaries?) with one stone—he fulfilled his obligation to Epic and aced out his former band in the 1982 live album department by light years.

JEFFERSON STARSHIP—Winds Of Change  Guitarist Paul Kantner pissed and moaned on VH-1’s “Behind The Music” that the band had sold out during this period and that they were putting out crap.  Well, Bud, it was YOUR band and you were a co-founder of it, so why didn’t you do something about it?  Whiny bitch.  Anyway, I thought Winds Of Change was a dandy record, and Grace Slick being back full-time made it even better.  She sounded great on cuts like “Can’t Find Love”, the title track and the frenetic “Out Of Control”, Mickey Thomas was a standout on “Keep On Dreamin’”, and I really liked Craig Chaquico’s guitar work throughout.  This turned out to be the last really good record J. Starship ever made, as 1984’s Nuclear Furniture sputtered and then things went from bad (the insipid “We Built This City” schlock in ’85) to worse (the putrid “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in ’87).  I still can’t believe Bernie Taupin co-wrote "We Built This City", either...

ASIA—Asia  The critics ripped this album as "corporate Rock at its worst", but since when do I ever listen to critics anyway?  True, "supergroups" like this comprised of major playas from other bands usually wind up producing roach droppings, but I thought this was a killer album.  Ex-Buggle keyboardist Geoff Downes, ex-Yes guitar man Steve Howe (not the baseball pitcher), ex-King Crimson bassist/singer John Wetton and ex-ELP drummer Carl Palmer put together a fine slab of vinyl on which nearly every track was outstanding, with the big radio hits "Heat Of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" and "Your Wildest Dreams".  Even better were "Here Comes The Feeling" and my personal favorite, "Time Again", on which the band members individually flexed their musical muscles.

JUDAS PRIEST—Screaming For Vengeance  The Beast that is The Priest is another act I was reluctant to embrace at first, mostly because of their poor performance opening for Kiss in ’79, but to be fair, that was before “Breaking The Law” and “Living After Midnight” came out.  Priest put on a much better show on an MTV concert I saw in late, ‘82/early ’83 and it convinced me to buy Vengeance and I was quite impressed.  “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” is great, but it’s not even the best song on the record, IMO. “Bloodstone”, “Ridin’ On The Wind” and the opening segue “The Hellion/Electric Eye” are even better.  Definitely one of the better Heavy Metal albums of the early ‘80s.

DAVE EDMUNDS—D.E. 7th  This outstanding record made the summer of ’82 a lot more enjoyable as I played it to death on my car stereo.  From the Springsteen-penned lead-off track “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)” to the closing Chuck Berry cover, “Dear Dad”, Dave had it clicking on all cylinders.  He threw in a little of everything on this record: a little Cajun (“Bail You Out”), a little Bluegrass (“Warmed Over Kisses”), a little Country (“Louisiana Man”), a little Cowboy (“Deep In The Heart Of Texas”) and some good ol’ Rock ‘N’ Roll (“Generation Rumble”, “Other Guys’ Girls”, and a nifty cover of NRBQ’s “Me And The Boys”).  The Boss wrote “From Small Things” specifically for Edmunds, and it’s a funny tale about wedded-bliss gone south, while “Dear Dad” is one of the funniest Chuck Berry songs ever, and Dave’s version blows the original away.  I highly recommend this album if you’re looking to “kick it old school”.

PAT BENATAR—Get Nervous  PB continued her successful early ‘80s run with another very consistent record, which featured the hits “Shadows Of The Night”, “Lookin’ For A Stranger” and “Little Too Late”. “Anxiety (Get Nervous)” and “The Victim” were my personal favorites, and the straight-jacket/rubber room motif on the cover was a cool added touch.  Unfortunately, the rest of Pat’s career would be very hit-and-miss from this point onward…

PHIL COLLINS—Hello, I Must Be Going!  I liked PC’s second solo album even better than his first one, Face Value with "In The Air Tonight".  “I Don’t Care Anymore” and Phil’s Motown cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love” were all over the radio, but there were a couple other gems on here like “It Don’t Matter To Me”, “Like China” and “Do You Know, Do You Care?”.  Commercial as all get-out, to be sure, but still not a bad Pop/Rock album.

.38 SPECIAL—Special Forces  One of the better albums these guys ever made, featuring the radio hit “Caught Up In You”. Best song was the now somewhat-forgotten “Chain Lightning”, and it also contained "Rough-Housin'" and "You Keep Runnin' Away".

GEORGE THOROGOOD—Bad To The Bone  Lonesome George and the Delaware Destroyers broke through with his trademark song on this album, which also featured a dandy cover of the Human Beinz’ “Nobody But Me”, which is quite possibly the most negative song ever written, thanks to all its inherent “no, no’s”.  BTTB also featured a cool original called “Back To Wentzville”, which was inspired by some shenanigans that went on in the west suburbs of St. Louis.

BILLY JOEL—The Nylon Curtain  While not quite as good as its predecessor Glass Houses, Nylon Curtain had its moments like “Goodnight Saigon” and the big radio hits “Pressure” and “Allentown“.  Mr. Piano Man also did his best John Lennon impression on the track called "Laura".

NICK LOWE—Nick The Knife  Not the greatest album His Royal Lowe-ness ever made, but it contained two tracks that I loved, the silly “Ba-Doom” and one of the better “up yours” kiss-off songs of all-time, “Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine”.

JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS—I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll  I never did much care for the title track here—it plods along too slowly and it features the worst guitar solo this side of Spinal Tap.  But, I really liked Joan’s cover of Tommy James’ “Crimson And Clover” and there was also a song on the album called “Nag” that was a bit of a stitch.

MOTORHEAD—Iron Fist  The final Motorhead album with Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar, and they still packed a wallop on the title track, which bore more than slight resemblance to their signature tune, “Ace of Spades”.  Great lyrics from Uncle Lemmy on “(Don’t Need) Religion”, “Go To Hell”, “Sex And Outrage” and “I’m The Doctor”.

SAMMY HAGAR—Three Lock Box  Sammy was still crankin’ out some great tunes here, including the title track and “Baby’s On Fire”, “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy”, “Remember The Heroes” and “I Don’t Need Love”.

THE WHO—It’s Hard  While it was hardly another Who’s Next or Who Are You, It’s Hard was a major improvement over the flaccid Face Dances from ’81.  As was the case with Dances, John Entwistle’s contributions (“It’s Your Turn”, “Dangerous” and “One At A Time”) were better than Pete Townshend’s, but this time PT put forth a little more effort which resulted in two classics, “Eminence Front” and “Cry If You Want”.  The title track and “Cook’s County” weren’t bad either.  Still, it wasn’t quite the way one would like to have seen this mighty band go out as a recording unit…


RR said...

Another home run, dude, although Stevie was technically 1981. Asia was the best of the lot and their concert at Starlight with The Tubes opening that summer was the hottest (temperature wise)show I ever attended. "Time Again" IS the best song on the record along with "Here Come The Feeling". 1982 was the year I was madly in love with the most beautiful woman I have ever seen (even to this day), rocking on KY and life was very sweet. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I honestly don't know how you remember this stuff. 1982 was also the year Skid Roadie landed in his spaceship from Albuquerque.

Brian Holland said...

You're right--Stevie was a carryover from late, '81 which I overlooked in my '81 posts, so I wanted to make sure to mention her.

I thought Skid came along a bit later than '82, but I'll defer to you on that one.

That was a busy week at Starlight Theater: Charlie Daniels on Saturday the 3rd, Asia on Sunday the 4th, then Elton John for two nights on Tuesday/Wednesday. I attended CDB and got sunburned, so I don't think I'd have lasted long at Asia if I tried to go, and Elton was at night, thankfully!

Mr. Mike said...

Great list, really enjoyed the Jefferson Starship part because I thought the same about Kantner. Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast is a total classic!