Friday, August 21, 2009

5 Records to Love

I'd like to trot out some records (huh?) I really liked when I was a kid -- played 'em to death! Scratched them, had to try to press down on the needle to re-groove the vinyl, the jackets were worn and even dog-eared. Great stuff! In no particular order:

Foreigner: 4

Here's the track list for the original version of this album (there have been a couple of REALLY good unplugged versions of Jukebox Hero and Waiting For a Girl Like You added to the remastered compact disc):

"Night Life"
"Juke Box Hero"
"Break It Up"
"Waiting for a Girl Like You"
"I'm Gonna Win"
"Woman in Black"
"Girl on the Moon"
"Don't Let Go"

I was a sophomore in high school in 1981 when this album was big. I had a couple of friends who saw Foreigner in Chicago on the tour that supported this record -- they just raved at how cool the show was. I vividly remember one guy telling me that during the sax solo on Urgent that the sax player's pants changed colors while he walked down a set of stairs! That would have been a pretty cool special effect for those days!

Of course the three hits on the album are what everyone remembers, and they have earned a spot in the annals of classic rock, no doubt. But upon researching for this post, I was surprised at how much I still liked some of the other tracks -- notably the opening Night Life and the next-to-last track Girl on the Moon. Lou Gramm's vocals are solid throughout the album, and he weaves a consistency across the platter.

I wanted to note the placement of Urgent seemingly right in the middle of the record. Younger readers might wonder how something buried in between a bunch of other songs could find its way out to become the major hit of the record. That's just it, o' wet-behind-the-ears: it was a two-sided disc, and Urgent led off the B side -- a common marketing strategy back in the day.

Loverboy: Get Lucky

These Canadians were fun! Of course Working for the Weekend was an anthem back in those days, but so was the band's look -- MTV really helped to make bandanas (worn on any part of the body) fashionable in the early 1980's. Lead singer Mike Reno was definitely an 80's icon for a few years. Have you seen the "I Love the '80's" series on VH-1 Classic? Reno has a great line in the intro, commenting on an archival clip of the band -- he says, "I still wear the same size pants -- 32x36; except now it's 36x32." Don't I relate to that...

Here's the song order for this 1981 release:

"Working for the Weekend"
"When It's Over"
"Gangs in the Street"
"Lucky Ones"
"It's Your Life"
"Watch Out"
"Take Me to the Top"

I have a BUNCH of these on my iPod (in fact, I'm listening to them right now)!! Of course Working for the Weekend, but also When It's Over, Emotional, Lucky Ones, and Take Me to the Top. For my money, this could have been the band's greatest hits album. Listening to the entire album again after some time I found (as I did with the Foreigner album) that I really liked all of the songs. And I'd add the same comment here about Reno -- his vocals really tie the album together. It is unmistakenly Loverboy through and through.

Loverboy would have more hits, and of course Reno would go on to dwell in sappy lovesong heaven (he and Peter Cetera were the monarchs of that kingdom in the mid-80's). They eventually faded away, but man, were they cool while they lasted!

REO Speedwagon: Live -- You Get What You Play For

I don't recall why I bought this album, originally released in 1977. I had a few other live albums, but for the most part I've preferred studio albums to live recordings. I am thinking now, as I delve through the memory banks, I wonder if it was a way to get the song 157 Riverside Avenue? At the time I got this, REO's greatest hits album, A Decade of Rock 'n' Roll had just come out (1980) and there was a live recording of 157 on that disc. As I had the material on Decade that had been on the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish and Nine Lives albums, I figure that's why I chose this.

Here's the track list:

"Like You Do"
"Lay Me Down"
"Any Kind of Love"
"Being Kind (Can Hurt Someone Sometimes)"
"Keep Pushin'"
"(Only A) Summer Love"
"Son of a Poor Man"
"(I Believe) Our Time Is Gonna Come"
"Flying Turkey Trot"
"Gary's Guitar Solo"
"157 Riverside Avenue"
"Ridin' the Storm Out"
"Music Man"
"Little Queenie"
"Golden Country"

My favorite songs on the album include the aforementioned 157 Riverside Avenue (I laughed the first time I listened to it and Kevin Cronin swore), Keep Pushin', (Only A) Summer Love, and Golden Country. I have to tell you, too, that it was not until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was on television that I got the joke during 157's bass solo. Bassist Greg Philbin is referred to as "Regis" -- I had no clue -- missed the whole Joey Bishop/Regis Philbin deal completely!

The funny thing about live albums, when that is the version of a song that you've heard first, is that the studio version sometimes doesn't measure up. How many of you have heard the original studio version of KISS's Rock 'n' Roll All Night? I'm sure most people identify with the live recording from the KISS Alive! album. At any rate, this REO album is a fine recording of a series of concerts from back in 1976. Check it out if you're a fan!

KISS: Rock and Roll Over
Hmmm... What could possess a mom to let a 10-year old kid listen to this record? Take the opening lines to the second track, Take Me:

Put your hand in my pocket
Grab onto my rocket

Yep -- not really any innuendo there. I can recall playing this album on our big honkin' console stereo and lying beside it with my ear next to the speaker. I know my mom heard this as she moved about the house!
Here's the playlist:

"I Want You"
"Take Me"
"Calling Dr. Love"
"Ladies Room"
"Baby Driver"
"Love 'Em and Leave 'Em"
"Mr. Speed"
"See You in Your Dreams"
"Hard Luck Woman"
"Makin' Love"

If you recall 1976, then you remember that the hits off the album were Hard Luck Woman, sung by Peter Criss (ironically, it was Criss, who rarely sang lead vocals, who sang on the band's two highest charting hits [Beth was the other]), and Calling Dr. Love, which has one of the greatest cowbell intros of all time. There's not a bad track on the album; each tune is catchy and the lyrics are for the most part pretty baudy, which is a naughty sort of fun.
I don't so much care for Calling Dr. Love, but Gene Simmons' other songs on the album tend to be more to my liking. See You in Your Dreams, Love 'em and Leave 'em, and Ladies Room are good. But the best rocker on the record is the disc's final cut -- Makin' Love. Great, fast-paced song!

Rush: Permanent Waves

This is thinking-man's rock music, plain and simple. When I got this album in 1980, I bought it for The Spirit of Radio, and on the recommendation of a friend who was into Rush. I had no idea at that age that rock music was so cerebral. Neal Peart's lyrics were very heady, from the vocabulary he used to the topics the songs discussed.
The album has only six songs, so it's almost like an EP rather than an LP. Here's the track list:

"The Spirit of Radio"
"Jacob's Ladder"
"Entre Nous"
"Different Strings"
"Natural Science" ["Tide Pools", "Hyperspace", "Permanent Waves"]
The first two songs have of course garnered the most radio airplay through the years, but I'd argue that Entre Nous is every bit as strong a track as its two more popular brothers. Natural Science is a tour de force, with the three parts coming together to weave one near-10 minute epic story.
I am continually impressed, even to this day when I catch the Rush in Rio concert on VH-1 Classic, that three guys can make so much music. And to see Geddy Lee play a synthesizer and his bass at the same time is awesome. Neal Peart's drum kit is mammoth -- I cannot imagine how strong he has to be to endure an entire concert with the speed with which he plays.
And by the way, the album cover was another attraction for this hormonally-active then-13-year old...

1 comment:

Cecil Disharoon said...

Cool post! I put on Permanent Waves and a few choice cuts like "Mystic Rhythms" via Spotify after I read this, time-traveling to my freshman year in the Honor's Dorm. Lots of fun times here. A flip side, if you will, after reading the Maus post! P.S. my roomie as a frosh turned me onto both Maus and Neil Young!

Related Posts with Thumbnails