All posts by deKE

J Perry said it best...Let The Music Do The Talking! or Let The Music And Do Some Bloggin.....

Foreigner: Foreigner(1977)

Came across the debut of Foreigner’s debut’s  in one of my recent Record Store jaunts with my daughter Lexie. There it was for $5!

A quick easy grab as I have never owned the debut by these guys or for that matter not much I have owned in the Foreigner catalogue! Let’s see I have the Greatest Hits opus Records on disc and purchased as well the Mr Moonlight CD back in mid 90’s after Lou Gramm and Mick Jones brought the band here to Tbay along with April Wine back in 93. (review is around this blog somewhere).

Now onto the task at hand…

When I was buying albums at a rapid rate in the mid 80’s Foreigner  became one of those big bloated ballad acts that seemed to enjoy the cash flow from singing I Want To Know What Love Is to the video masses of MTV and MuchMusic!

To me it seemed like all was lost with these guys sonically but I did dig the Lou Gramm solo album(Ready or Not) with the classic Midnight Blue which was such a good rock track.

So all these years later and here’s the original band before Mick Jones turned into another of those touring tribute acts with disposable members and at times even Mick doesn’t even play! I’ll stop now as this is turning into a Rant N Roll! But yeah here is the debut from these dudes…

To start things off how about Tracks 1 & 2 that being Feels Like The First Time followed by Cold As Ice.  Two bona-fide classics still to this day and beyond and they are the first two songs on the album!! No wonder this album sold a cool 5 million!

Foreigner rocks it right out of the gate and yet lets talk about third track which is Starrider which is a blend of acoustic/electric guitars and an almost psychedelic chorus with big time chorus action. Mick sings lead along with Lou. Speaking of which a great guitar solo is laid down.

HeadKnocker is along about a hard rocker a real head knocker. That’s Lou singing that not Deke’s saying that. Straight ahead mid tempo like track…

Wrapping up Side 1 is The Damage Is Done. Song features the acoustic guitar mixed right up front with the electric guitar. Kinda a fitting end to Side 1. Basically more mid tempo Foreigner Rawk!

Well Just like the start of Side 1. Side 2 starts with a bang of epic proportions and that would be Long Long Way From Home with that super-duper opening riff mixed with that twirly wirly blast of the synth and were off! Love the mashup of that synth/horns/twirly synth and Gramm delivers the vocals like he’s BOSS! Thinking of which  this is my Fav-o tune by these guys!

Woman Oh Woman slows it right down and this track you can hear where Foreigner learned the art of Power Ballad. Its an ok track…

Third track on Side 2 and its Mick and Lou going At War With The  World which starts off with a bang and ramps up the album back into rock mode. The verses rock while Keys/Synth chill the chorus out. Big lush backing vocals carry the tune  as well.

Fool For You Anyway goes right back into mellow mode. I’m not a big fan of a running order of Rock Track/Mellow Track/Rock Track etc. But in these guys case I get it as they made a career out of doing it that way!

Album closer is Foreigner going all Prog crazy which is a real interesting listen as its so far out left field for these guys yet it is a pretty decent album closer. Almost Styx like with the vocals. Pre Mr Roboto era mind you. Great solo as Mick rips it up while the rest of the guys just go all in on a Progger’s delight!

The debut from Foreigner was a real interesting listening angle. As when I think of these guys a lot of Ballad  sap comes into play. I know the ballads made em a ton of dough so yeah they were playing the corporate rock game that so many did back than. So I get that part.

But man to release your debut with THOSE first two tracks coming atcha?? Wowzers! Still though, glad I go this one for the collection and I wouldn’t mind picking up the album if I ever cross paths with it someday!

 

 

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Back Covers: Cheap Trick-Heaven Tonight (1978)

Man I love those old Cheap Trick back covers from the 70’s. Opening for KISS back in 1977 must have had something to do with the word ‘Gimmick’.

Cheap Trick didn’t really need a gimmick so to speak as those 70’s records of their hold their own musically. Perhaps since there were 1000’s of acts trying to make a name for themselves  back than Cheap Trick did although break through with the Budokan album in 79 and that album my friends is no Gimmick!

But let’s rewind a bit to 1978 when Trick released the Brilliant Heaven Tonight album. ( I will review this album in full down the road). In a first here with my Back Covers segment I need to post a pic of the front cover to get my point across!

As I mentioned earlier the Gimmick involving Cheap Trick was that they had two cool guys in Robin Zander & Tom Petersson.  (pic above) Whereas Rick Neilsen & Bun E Carlos were the nerds of the band!(pic at the top the page)

There ya have it. The two Rock Stars hanging outside while the two Geeks are checking and sprucing themselves up in the Bathroom!

Reid Miles did the photography for this album and captures a band on the rise. The imagery between the front and back cover as a selling point is Awesome! If you notice on the back cover pic Rick has the album cover of 1977’s ‘In Color’ tucked in his back pocket! A little self promotion of your previous record never hurt anyone!

Don’t feel bad though for the two nerds of Cheap Trick as if you spin the classic Budokan Album you will hear a ton of Japanese girls shrieking “Buuuuuuun E!’ while Rick wrote basically all the Cheap Trick songs!

Special mention to Bun E Carlos who is credited as playing ‘Traps’ on the back cover!

Back Covers: Saxon-Denim & Leather(1981)

Before the TV Show ‘Sons of Anarchy’ made motorcycles look cool you have to go back  say about 37 years  and take a look at those zany Brit’s known as Saxon. 

If a Back Cover photo ever exemplified the song’s  on an album  well this would be the one. I mean look at those song titles listed above!

Never Surrender/Out of Control/Rough and Ready/Midnight Rider/Play it Loud/Fire in the Sky/Denim and Leather. Basically all the titles fit that image of these Guys looking ruff n tumble on their bikes!

Denim And Leather was the name of the album…

There is the leader of the pack Biff Byford front and center and how about a shout out to the fella on the far left side of the pic. Bassist Steve Dawson who not only had no hair but rocked a decent porno stache  as well! There is no credit to the person who took the photo. Perhaps he disappeared after this photo shoot. I dunno…

Watch your back HMO  you may be next…

Saxon for whatever mysterious reasons never cracked the North American Market in a way others did which is puzzling as there records always made it here to Thunder Bay so distribution wasn’t the problem so who knows ….

Fickle Market I suppose…. But yeah this is a great back shot! Simple Pic. Black and White shot to make the Black Bad Ass look stand out especially Dawson’s moustache!

I have never reviewed this album but I will someday soon and I can tell you all it’s a classic!

Triumph: Just A Game(1979)

 

Triumph made a ton of headway in the United States with 1979’s Just A Game release. Why wouldn’t it as Just A Game comes across at times as a mashup of Styx and Boston  sonically. No fault to Triumph though as you can only travel across Canada so many times without an overexposure  of yourselves and besides I’m sure the U.S is where you gonna make your dough!

Gil Moore/Rik Emmett/Mike Levine basically cooked up a bunch of  different styles of music on this album. From the dubbed in Arena Crowd opening of stellar track Movin On to end of the album closer Suitcase Blues Triumph displayed a knack of flexing a creative muscle.

The eight tracks on the album has Gil Moore penning 3 tracks while Emmett penned 5. Emmett though had the hand in crafting the singles as in Lay It On The Line as well as Hold On which you will still hear even today on rock radio! Rik though can flex his muscle on guitar in many different styles.

Case in point Rik  can rip it up on guitar like the Gil Moore driven American Girls. (talk about making in roads into the U.S with that title) or chill out with a ton of nice jazzy riffs like album closer Suitcase Blues!

One of the coolest tunes on here features Rik playing some total blues is a Gil composition called Young Enough To Cry where Rik looks outside the box on rock playing. It truly has some epic playing.

Triumph can still prog out as well as the title track proves. Just A Game starts off as if its finishing if that makes any sense. The song is a Proggy Delight…

The production of this album today still sounds awesome. Has that late 70’s fuzzy warm like vibe and that’s due to Bassist Mike Levine being the producer as Triumph between the writing of this album/production/album concept kept everything in-house!

This is a great album  in which Triumph would go on in a few short years  to release two of my fav’s in the catalogue of the Rock N Roll Machine that being Allied Forces (1981) and Thunder 7(1984).

Full props as well for the single album being a gatefold as well!

 

 

10 Questions With….Greg Fraser

 

Greg Fraser is a founding member of Canadian Rockers ‘Brighton Rock’ who first formed in 1982 and basically hit the bars all across in Canada by 1984. From there it was a record deal with WEA records which resulted in 3 albums being released all with three big time producers for each album which was mighty impressive!

Like many an act back than once the early 90’s rolled around Brighton went there separate ways but in recent times Brighton has been active with selective shows with the Original Lineup! Now in this day and age of rotating lineups its cool to see a band that started out so many years ago still playing together at certain select dates…

Do check out the live Brighton Rock album “Room For 5 Live” in which Greg plays some brilliant riffs of rock. It’s basically a Greatest Hits album but LIVE! All the hits plus some of the heavier stuff from the much ignored ‘Love Machine’ album!

Thanks to Fraze for doing this…

Take it away…

1-Greg! Thanks for doing this. Looking at the Brighton Rock website you guys were playing a ton of shows even appearing at the old Sleeping Giant Hotel here in Thunder Bay back on Aug 4th 1986! I think its safe too say by looking at those early tour dates Brighton Rock played every nook and cranny in Canada! Any thoughts on those early Cross Canadian Tours?

We played Thunder Bay quite a bit back in the day actually and always had a blast. Those early tours were exciting but some of those long drives were brutal. Back then there was no cell phones or anything so we had each other to entertain ourselves. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard as I did on some of those drives with all the ball busting and stories. The crowds were always killer across Canada too.

2- Your first full length album after the 85 release(EP) came in the form of 1986’s “Young Wild and Free” release which was produced by Micheal Wagner. Wagner has done some huge albums. Must have been a huge score for you guys to snag him on the debut?

Michael was a lot of fun and brought a lot to the table. He was very encouraging and was a total team player. He really was one of the guys and I learned a lot from him. Going to be seeing him once again early 2019 on the ‘Monsters Of Rock Cruise’ that BR are playing and it’s going to be great to reconnect after all these years.

3- From there a ton of shows played and in 88 comes “Take A Deep Breath” produced by Jack Richardson. The most success you guys had been with this album. A more commercial slant on the sound. Was that the main reason was to get current with the sound of the day?

Jack was actually involved with some of the pre-production of the first record and when Michael was not available for the second record Jack was a natural choice to take the helm. I’ve learned a lot of the art of songwriting from Jack and will be forever grateful for the guidance and knowledge he taught me. It was never our intention to try to be current. We wanted to sound a little different from the rest so we would stand out a bit. Jack helped us a lot with that. He is a legend and will be forever missed.

4- “Hangin High N Dry’ is a great song. That chorus is so catchy it will ring around in your noggin for hours after. How did that song come about?

Nothing out of the ordinary. I used to have a little mini studio that we would demo new ideas with and that was just one of the songs that stood out. We would demo lots of things but we strived to sound a little different. If something was great but sounded a little cliché or generic it was tossed. Hanging sounds like BR and no one else. Extremely proud of that one and it still sounds great today.

5- More shows followed in 88  which is crazy as you guys were in that tour album cycle for a few years. In 91 you guys put out the serious rockin ‘Love Machine’ album produced by Toby Wright. You guys ramp it up and it didn’t do what the previous album did sales wise. Was that do in fact of Grungemania sweeping North America at the time?

There was numerous factors. A lot of our supporters at the record company were gone and the new breed that came in did not care as much for us and would not promote the record. And we were in transition with getting new management which was quite difficult as no one was banging down doors for us like before. The grunge thing was just starting to take hold and our music was becoming out of fashion, so the writing was on the wall. Looking back I think we ended at just the right time, although at the time I refused to believe it.

6- After Brighton Split for a bit you joined Helix in which I caught you guys here back in 1993. That was a great band as it was you along with the Classic lineup with Dr Doerner on Guitar, I know Brian released the ‘It’s a Pleasure doing Business with You” Even though you guys were pictured in the album if my memory serves me correct none of you guys were on the album. Guess what I’m trying to say is was their any recording done with that line up?

You are correct. Even though we are credited, we did not play on that record. That record was written recorded and produced by Mark Ribler out of New York I believe. The plan for the next record was to use the same guy and process of which once again excluded the rest of the Helix band. It’s a shame because it was potent band and we never got to record together.

7-First album ever purchased?

I think it was ‘Meet The Beatles’ or maybe ‘The Partridge Family’ both of which I still have. I still have all my old vinyl from day one.

8-If You had to go with 5 all time favourite albums what would they be?

1. UFO – ‘Lights Out’
2. UFO ‘Obsession’
3. UFO ‘Strangers In The Night’
4. Led Zeppelin ‘Song Remains The Same’
5. Liona Boyd ‘with Andrew Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra’

9-Arena/Stadium show. What was the best gig you ever witnessed?

It’s a tie:
1. Van Halen opening & blowing Black Sabbath off the stage on their first tour in Niagara Falls NY 1978
2. Judas Priest with Whitesnake & Iron Maiden in Buffalo NY 1981

10-Feel Free to Plug whatever your currently up to! Thanks again!

You can check out all things Brighton Rock at:
https://www.facebook.com/officialbrightonrock/
www.brightonrock.ca

Be sure to check out Brighton Rock in the UK in September at ‘Hull Metal Heaven’ & also on the ‘Monsters Of Rock Cruise’ in Feb.2019

It was great chatting with you.
Cheers!

Greg

10 Questions With….Brent Jensen

Folks! Welcome to something new here that I’m calling 10 Questions With… I’m asking Fanboy stuff here(nothing to personal) and I hope you all Dig it! No one will be safe from my “10 Questions With’. Hell I may even ask you! 

As many of you already know by reading my blog. Brent Jensen is easily my favourite  writer as he has written three excellent books (No Sleep Til Sudbury/Leftover People/All My Favourite People Are Broken) which  are all standouts!  Brent is a real cool guy plain and simple! Support local independent writers! Not only that, but Brent is kicking ass with a podcast over at iTunes! Please check it out…

Take it away Mr Jensen.. and thanks a ton for doing this!

 

  • When did you decide to write the book No Sleep ‘til Sudbury? Was that the plan from the get go? Or were you just jotting done stuff and realized you were sitting on a book?

I decided to write the full book in 2010 after really giving some thought to the emotional investment I had made in music as an isolated small-town kid growing up in the 80s. I had been writing articles for magazines at the time about bands like Guns N Roses and Motley Crue – edgier, more critical stuff about the bands that compelled me as a kid, not just the retelling of music history. I figured it may be a good idea to weave these critical pieces together using a very personal, conversational narrative that focused on what it was like to grow up in the middle of nowhere really depending on music to pull me through the time.

 

  • No Sleep is such a great read as any music fan can relate to it, even if you’re living in Bangkok! I have to ask – were you surprised by the reaction you got from it?

Initially I was, yes. But I did figure that someone else out there in the world could relate to my story, and my primary intention was to ‘speak’ to those people through the book – the kids who spent hours in record stores, the kids who studied liner notes with laser focus, the kids who were interested in how music FELT as a result of its sound and look.

 

  • I like in No Sleep how you tell the story of seeing iron Maiden in 1984 and then bookending it with the Maiden tour in 2006. In between you saw Maiden with Blaze Bayley after Bruce Dickinson left in 93. I don’t want to give away the full story about it, but how long after the Bayley show was it that you listened to Maiden again?

It was depressing for me to see that Bayley show, and I say that with absolutely no disrespect intended toward Bayley nor Maiden. It was a real low point for the band, after they had ruled the world for years and years. I said in the book that it was almost like visiting a friend in the hospital, because they seemed so vulnerable and exposed in comparison to how I ever seen them at any other time. I had witnessed the band live at the height of their powers in 1984, and I had felt a kinship with them almost as absent friends because I was such a rabid fan. It wasn’t until that Powerslave-themed tour in the late 2000s that I took up with them again, because I felt like it would bring me full circle.

 

4-Your second novel “Leftover People” documents your journey on a book promotional tour of the United States. It must have been a surreal moment when of all people Jack Starr(Virgin Steele) was sitting there at one of your tour stops. Who else have you come across in your travels that has surprised you?

Yeah, that was bizarre. There were a lot of metal-looking types there that day, but I kept looking at Starr from the podium trying to figure out where I knew him from. It came to me just before the Q&A portion of the book signing ended, and we shook hands and chatted afterwards. Great guy.

Since then I’ve been lucky to have a few other musicians drop by in-store signings, but no one too crazy. Someone in the industry did tell me once that Axl Rose read No Sleep ‘til Sudbury, and so did Nikki Sixx. But they haven’t turned up to have their copies signed yet J

 

5-Following “Leftover People” you wrote  “All My Favourite People are Broken”. How did that idea come up? I mean let’s face it, we have all had conversations about music with our friends but you took it one step further and documented it. What spurred that on?

My old friend from high school Garvey and I had been talking for decades about those songs that really move us, the ones that really make your skin vibrate. We talked about it so much that I finally proposed the idea of gathering up all of these songs and secluding ourselves for a while to really go through all of them once and for all. I figured it would be interesting and lots of fun, but I learned so much more about myself than I had imagined that I actually developed the idea into a podcast, a professional speaking gig, and a group team-building exercise I do with companies now. Music can tell us so much about ourselves, if we have the guts to ask the hard questions.

 

6- Now you’re doing podcasts as well. NSTS podcasts are pretty diverse, as you have everyday 9-5 working folk but you also have snagged rock dudes like Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and now Rik Emmett(Triumph). It’s amazing how you get some of these artists. Just wondering who would be on the Brent Jensen Bucket List?

It’s a long list, man. Axl and Metallica’s James Hetfield would be up there near the top along with some other musicians, and there are so many others I’ve considered beyond the realm of music – pro athletes, actors, and other people who have intrigued me over the course of my life for whatever reason. But in a guest, all I really ever want is for them to be engaging, open, and real. That’s when the magic happens. Rik Emmett was a perfect guest in that regard, as you’ll hear this week in the episode we taped at his home. He was just outstanding. And I played some of his guitars – that’s some bucket list stuff right there!

 

7- First album ever purchased with your own money?

Hmmmm…I believe it was either KISS’ Creatures of the Night on vinyl, or a cassette of Loverboy’s Get Lucky. One of those two.

 

8- I know you’re not big on lists. BUT if you had to go with 5 albums that would make your skin vibrate, what would they be?

I really do hate lists. But five albums that make my skin vibrate (in no order) would be The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, Ryan Adams’ Gold, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, and Metallica’s Ride The Lightning. But there are soooo many more. Do I only get to name five?!?!?!

 

9-Arena or Stadium Show? What band or performer was the best?

Sheesh. That’s a tough question. I don’t know if there was a best, but the ones that come to mind right now as being really outstanding have been seeing Metallica at the Sudbury Arena in 1986, Bruce Springsteen at The Pyramid in Memphis in the late 90s, that Maiden show you mentioned earlier in the late 2000s, Paul McCartney in Toronto mid 2000s, and seeing Axl fill in for Brian Johnson with AC/DC at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium in London in 2016. That was truly life-enriching.

 

10- Plug away your stuff or whatever it is you’re currently up to? Thanks for participating!

Well, the books and the podcast keep me busy, and late last year I co-founded The Firefly Group of Companies to facilitate the speaking engagements and team-building exercise I mentioned earlier, coupled with an insights and research consulting component that my business partner oversees along with a presentation skills training program she also spearheads. AND….book #4 is being talked about. I’m working with a new publisher, and it’s going to be quite an adventure. More on that towards the end of this year.

 

Bryan Adams: Into The Fire(1987)

 

 

Hey Folks I’m taking a break for a wee bit. Kinda recharge the batteries and what not. I thought what better way than to peace out with some CanCon… 

Ok,so how do you follow-up a mega selling album from 1985 called Reckless? Well if your Bryan Adams you go in the exact opposite direction from it. Kinda that is!

Into The Fire dropped in 1987. People were snapping up copies right off the bat and why wouldn’t they? Tbone and myself were always real suckers for good old hard rock pop! Adams delivered on both fronts as not only could he deliver a batch of catchy cooked up Rock(co written with Jim Vallance). Bryan also had a killer band backing him.

Mickey Curry on drums and especially Keith Scott on guitar are still to this day phenomenal musicians who are still with Adams. Scott is a monster on guitar and always plays his solo’s in the less is more approach! Memorable after Memorable solo’s from Keith. I mean just with the Reckless album alone you can just think about how many solos are still stuck in your noggin from an album that was released 34 years ago!

So with the Stellar Adams band in tow Bryan gets a little more introspective with the lyrics on  this album.

10 songs make up Into The Fire and what a kickoff track with In The Heat of The Night which doesn’t come racing out of the gates but still gets the job done as Curry as he does on many of these tracks keeps the drums moving which in turn keeps the pace going.  Love Scotts guitar work on this one….

Into The Fire keeps the beat and grooving forward. Another straight head Adams Rock track. Victim of Love is the first kinda sorta ballad like  rock track that features some wicked guitar work at the end of the song by Scott.

Another Day has that uptempo like Adams groove where the keys and guitar lock in and Curry keeps the song clipping at a decent pace! Native Son is one of those songs that  has Bryan looking inward and outward on what is going on at the time.  The band really stretches out musically on this tune as it’s a 6 minute number and its great to see that Adams wasn’t looking for airplay on everything and playing the game!

Only The Strong Survive blasts off right off the hop and features a hard pop shuffle with Bryan and Scott’s slide guitar trading off after each line. Real great track and perhaps one of my fav’s of his! Rebel a song written about Tbone I’m sure. haha.  Adams eases of the gas pedal  somewhat and for a track that has a ton of piano in it I’m not annoyed by it!

Remembrance Day a salute to those fallen soldiers is a great track which has some nice Bass work, Adams sings the tale of the soldiers coming together to fight for us on Remembrance Day! Great track! Period!

Yup I will go on record and say that Hearts on Fire is one of my fav-o Adams tune. What a chorus! Easily one of those end of the album GEMS! Great vocal/ Great tempo and fantastic SOLO!

Home Again a nice tidy wrap-up for this record that ends the album on high. Dig the build up of the song into the chorus!

Sure this album did not sell mega like Reckless but still sold well (3 million plus!) But over time I have found new appreciation and liking  this album.

Give Bryan and his Band props. Instead of making Side’s 3 & 4 of Reckless they wrote and recorded an album that was a  little more serious yet still had a ton of catchy choruses and fine musicianship  to keep the party moving ….

On  a side note I have to say it was Tbone’s Brother Darr who when we did our Top 20 albums of all time Darr included Into The Fire which got my thinking on what a great call that was! So a few months back when I seen Reckless and Into The Fire sitting on the shelf at the local record shop it was a no brainer purchase!

Actually come to think of it Mr Books and Mr Stephen as well are big supporters of Into The Fire as well!