Tag Archives: 1980 Songs

New England/Explorer Suite (1980)

I have numerous times over these Blog pages have mentioned how back in 1979/1980 that bands such as KISS/AC/DC/Cheap Trick/Van Halen/Queen and Rush had help shape my listening habits as an 13-year-old back than. One band that I must apologize to is New England as they should be mentioned in the same sentence as those previous six bands above.

New England released their debut album titled simply enough New England which was produced by the one and only Mr Paul Stanley and being a KISS FanBoy at the time I got this one at Christmas of 1979! I did review this fantastic piece of work….


Speaking of which here are the Fine Fella’s known as New England!

John Fannon: guitar, vocals
Jimmy Waldo: keyboards, vocals
Hirsh Gardner: drums, vocals
Gary Shea: bass

1980 rolls around and drops Explorer Suite (Produced by Mike Stone and John Fannon)which surprise I asked for Christmas 1980 and I received on vinyl!

Explorer Suite…….The Tracks…

1. Honey Money (4:06)
2. Livin’ in the Eighties (3:26)
3. Conversation (3:20)
4. It’s Never to Late (3:52)
5. Explorer Suite (6:37)
6. Seal It With a Kiss (3:08)
7. Hey You’re on the Run (3:33)
8. No Place to Go (3:58)
9. Searchin’ (3:08)
10. Hope (6:09)
11. You’ll Be Born Again (2:33)

Explorer Suite was my first discovery into what I would call Prog Pop as New England take the rawness of the debut and add a few more musical layers and dive head first and make an album that would to my ears fall into the category of an Styx album and no not the Mr Roboto like Styx but more like an Cornerstone Styx like record.

I’m comparing New England and Styx just to give you the reader an example of the caliber that New England brought to the table in the early 80’s! These records still stand the test of time today and it’s been a great reunion for me as they are available on Itunes!

Here’s a little smattering of some random thoughts….

The album starts with the very good Honey Money and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo know his spot as he would have the Keys/Hammond like sound swirling around but not taking anything away from John’s electric guitaring.

Living In The 80’s is a another great track with John laying down the foundation with a classic rock like opening riff and the rest of the boys joining in with Bassist Gary Shea doing some cool Bass Riffage right before Waldo and his keys take the song into overdrive. I must mention that these guys can all sing as the backing harmonies are what propel this album into songs that will remain etched in the upper portions of your noggin long when the song is done!

Remember what I said about the harmonies. The title track (Explorer Suite) here is 6 plus minutes of a Prog delight! Tons of time changes/keyboards maxed to perfection and Drummer Hirsh joins John in the song as a co- lead vocalist. Explorer Suite is just plain brilliance. You all need to hear it as it’s the video posted!

Seal It With A Kiss leads off and sets the pace for Side 2 as the band is  on all 4 Musical Cylinders as it’s an all out flat rocker! More great backing harmonies propel this song straight forward especially  at the end of the album when John rips out some solo action as its jus this and Hirsh playing out the song….

Hey Youre On The Run is another piece of fantastic rock which once again features those great lead and backing vocals. That’s the thing with these guys as they had all the goods in songs/musical chops. This song should have been mega!

Searchin’ is another track in the Pop Rock realm and should have been another single. Perhaps it was? But man this song is a great track featuring some nice guitar work by Mr Fannon.

Just when you think these guys may just be writing Poppy like singles think again as Hope crosses  into Queen Territory with a big bombastic guitar solos swirling twirling keys. 6 minutes plus. That’s two tracks on this album that are breaking the mold and taking these guys into other area’s of Rock and by Gosh as an 13-year-old in 1980 I take notice!

You’ll Be Born Again sends off the album with nice piano like outro by Waldo. Chill like moment…

It was great revisiting this album as albums like this have shaped my musical  landscape and my bad as I should be giving credit where credit is due and that’s with New England.

You may be wondering what happened with these guys as they should have been mega but like many a great act that should have but switching record company’s after the debut set things back and after one more album 1981’s Walking Wild Produced by Todd Rundgren John Fannon quit New England while Waldo and Shea played in Alcatrazz. 

But here we are in 2017 and New England is back and performing with the same 4 guys which is totally impressive and by the vids on You Tube they all have their Hair! YUP and also the chops and Harmonies!


A live album is going to be released “Live At The Regent Theatre that was recently recorded and it will be a no brainer purchase for me!








Scorpions/Animal Magnetism(1980)

Scorpions in 1980 release Animal Magnetism and how about that album cover? Ha! Them fella’s sure knew how to do some thought-provoking  images didn’t they?

Geez man I started High School a little over a year later in September 1981. Should have drawn up this image in art class! Haha….Would have bought me some Instant  Street Cred  until the Principal came knocking than I would have said it was Tbones drawing! Hahahaha!

Seriously the Scorps put out one decent Piece Of Rock and if you’re keeping score it wasn’t until 1985 (after I purchased Scorpions World Wide Live ) that I got  around to purchasing Animal Magnetism. A full 5 years after its release! (On cassette none the less and a few years ago rebuying it  on ITunes)

Alright  Kids…time for some  Good Ol Hard Rock….

Must also mention that I hooked up with those Two Crazy Southern Ontario Amigos, Mikey And Mr Books! Check out there spin on this album as well. Click the links provided Peeps! Seriously for top notch writings go there……Do It!



Cast Of Characters-Klaus Meine(Vocals),Herman Rarebell(Drums) Francais Buchholz(Bass) Matthais Jabs(Guitar) and Rudy Schenker(Guitar)

Make It Real opens the album and the first thing you notice if you were weened on World Wide Live like myself is that the 1985  Live version of this song is at a much quicker pace than the studio version.  1985 and the Scorps were the big deal …Selling out Arenas! Check! Selling Shitload Of Albums! Check! Hot Chicks Digging Ugly Dudes! Check! Ingesting A Ton Of After Hours Party Treats! Check! So of course the live version is a different beast but the studio version has a real cool slower like chill tempo and I love the production on this album courtesy of Dieter Dierks.

Don’t Make No Promises(Your Body Can’t Keep) blasts right out of the gate kinda like that Blackout tune that would surface a few years later(1982) Kinda surprising this is not the opening track as it just rips your noggin apart especially during Jabs solo. Klaus Meine you can hear  his tonsils shredding apart on this song. Yep you want rock! Look no further than track 2!

Some cool power chords open Hold Me Tight while Herman Ze Drummer plays a straight ahead rock groove and keeps the troops on board. Pretty cool snappy chorus! Klaus hollers ‘Alright!” Jabs dips n doodles a pretty slick little solo while Rudy holds the rhythm  end down on guitar.

Twentieth Century Man once again begins with the guitars and speaking of, they must have been just cranked up loud in the studio to make the paint peel off the walls. This song is a no frills straight ahead mid tempo German Stomper. Jabs basically takes the three minutes and 5 seconds to solo under everything and makes it sound cool so I don’t puke and push skip! Atta Boy!

Lady Starlight is the ballad and the first half is filled with acoustic guitar work,strings,perhaps a symphonic element added as well but later on the song stops and all  you hear is the sound of electric guitar and Bam here comes  the slow to mild build up with a  real nice guitar solo that  ramps up whereas the song in the background stays at the same tempo. Kids this is the way you do PowerBallads…

Ok…the first 20 seconds of this opening guitar  riff of Falling In Love Warrant nicked for their song Mr Rainmaker ten years later in 1990. Scorps pick up the pace with this song and the guitars are so loud! Jabs rocks the solo and to be honest the chorus I find so so. If they would have stopped the repetitive   Falling In Love  yada yada sing-song  chorus this could have been a real good track.

Only A Man begins with Klaus leading  the vocal charge before the rest of the Scorps join in. Klaus almost sounds like his voice is double tracked to make him sound sinister to make this sound like Black Scorpions but there’s is no Sabbath Doom like music stomp just Klaus sounding evil caused by some crazed groupie!

The ZOO…..man what an opening and groove! The guitars are so good here. Herman plays a straight ahead groove on his drums. Just a great tune! Classic! The chorus is Gold! how about tossing in a talk box and a ton of riff n roll during the chorus.Dreams we call The Zoo! Think these guy’s have played The Zoo every four since 1980! That’s saying something about the song folk’s!

How often is the name of the album the last song on the album? Mmmm…not to many! Except here! Animal Magnetism is a slow plodder of a track this is actually more with its mid tempo Sabbathy like vibe. Its a heavy devy slow  kick to the ass beat.

All in all a pretty good Hard Rock Album! Even with the ballad. Scorps were smart they were doings these kind of tunes before any real success in North America so for that I give them a Hall Pass! They didn’t just do it with later day albums as it was the thing to do in the 80s with so many bands….

Also this album was a good lead in for The Blackout album which was to follow a few years later when Klaus almost lost his voice!