Deep Purple’s 1974 albums

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Buy Stormbringer

Deep Purple 1974 albumsIn 1974, Deep Purple released their only two albums with the “Mark III” lineup, Burn and Stormbringer. With these records, the group not only replaced vocalist Ian Gillan (who quit) and bassist Roger Glover (who was fired), but also made a stylistic shift towards the popular early seventies style funk rock. Critical response to this new endeavor was mixed (Burn generally received more favorable reviews) while commercial sales remained strong for both albums worldwide.

After Gillan and Glover joined Deep Purple in late 1969, the group’s popularity exploded with each of the initial three “Mark II” albums – Deep Purple In Rock (1970), Fireball (1971), Machine Head (1972) – being more popular and better received than the last. An extensive world tour in 1972 resulted in the double-live album, Made in Japan, which went on to become one of rock’s highest selling live-concert recordings. The 1973 studio album Who Do We Think We Are was an instant gold record but ultimately is a less than spectacular record overall. Exhausted with the frantic pace, Gillan requested a break, but was pushed by management to complete another tour. The resulting tensions ultimately led to Gillan quitting Deep Purple in the summer of 1973, shortly followed by the dismissal of Glover.

In August 1973, former Trapeze bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes joined the group, originally intended to take on the duo roles vacated by Gillan and Glover. However, the band came close to bringing in former Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, before he decided to start Bad Company. The idea of remaining a five-piece but with dual lead vocalists persisted and, after several auditions, the group chose David Coverdale, a then-unknown vocalist from Northeast England.


Burn by Deep Purple
Released: February 15, 1974 (Warner Bros.)
Produced by: Deep Purple
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, Montreux, Switzerland, November 1973
Side One Side Two
Burn
Might Just Take Your Life
Lay Down, Stay Down
Sail Away
You Fool No One
What’s Goin’ On Here
Mistreated
‘A’ 200

Stormbringer by Deep Purple
Released: November 1974 (Warner Bros.)
Produced by: Martin Birch & Deep Purple
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany & The Record Plant, Los Angeles, August-September 1974
Side One Side Two
Stormbringer
Love Don’t Mean a Thing
Holy Man
Hold On
Lady Double Dealer
You Can’t Do It Right
High Ball Shooter
The Gypsy
Soldier of Fortune
Group Musicians (Both Albums)
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitars
Jon Lord – Keyboards
Glenn Hughes – Bass, Vocals
Ian Paice – Drums

 

The self-produced album Burn was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland during November 1973. All members of the group participated in the songwriting but Hughes was not initially given any credits due to past contractual obligations. The title track kicks things off as a hyper-paced mini-epic which frequently returns to the signature riff by Ritchie Blackmore, who later trades off leads with keyboardist Jon Lord. “Might Just Take Your Life” was the lead single from the album and it starts with Lord’s sloshy organ riff before settling into a fine rock groove topped by Coverdale’s soulful vocals.

Burn by Deep Purple On the upbeat “Lay Down, Stay Down” Coverdale and Hughes trade off lead vocals resulting in a heavy Doobie-Brothers-like song, while “Sail Away” is a clavichord-driven rocker with contrasting vocals by the two singers and a later psychedelic-type synth by Lord. “You Fool No One” features a wild drum and percussion ensemble by Ian Paice before it breaks into a pure classic rocker with some sixties influence.

The album concludes with three songs of very differing styles. The blues rocker “What’s Goin’ On Here” features thumping rhythms, a generous use of piano by Lord and crisp guitars by Blackmore for an overall effect that should’ve made this track a hit. “Mistreated” is an extended, droning song that only really comes to life later with another fine guitar lead. The odd, synth driven instrumental “‘A’ 200” closes things out with a rhythm making this sort of a more modern adaptation of the Jeff Beck classic “Beck’s Bolero”.

Burn sold over a million copies worldwide and fared well on the charts, hitting the Top 10 in the UK and the US and reaching #1 in several European countries. In April 1974, this lineup of Deep Purple co-headlined the California Jam festival in Ontario, CA, which drew an audience of more than a quarter million and was broadcast on national Television in the US.

Stormbringer by Deep Purple-Following another world tour, the group returned to the studio in the late summer of 1974 to record Stormbringer. Co-produced by Martin Birch, the album was recorded in both Munich, Germany and Los Angeles and it musically displays Deep Purple even more fully embracing soul and funk elements with Hughes and Coverdale exerting much more influence and Lord providing an exceptionally strong and versatile effort.

The title track “Stormbringer” opens the album strongly as a perfect junction where Coverdale’s and classic Deep Purple’s styles intersect. The song features heavy rhythms, judicious synths, a soaring guitar lead and doomy lyrics to make it a mid-seventies metal classic. The second track, “Love Don’t Mean a Thing”, offers a sharp contrast to the first with duo lead vocals and a cool, bluesy vibe overall. The next two songs are the only not to include Blackmore in composing and they show this stylistically. “Holy Man” is, perhaps, furthest away from Purple’s core – a pleasant enough ballad with plenty of mid-seventies ear candy – but it sounds nothing like traditional Deep Purple. The keyboard-driven “Hold On” closes the original first side by displaying Lord’s skills at both electric piano and clavichord.

Deep Purple 1974

Side two starts with a return to thumping hard rock on “Lady Double Dealer”, along with some funk elements in the bridge. “You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love)” is so funk that it is almost pre-disco, while “High Ball Shooter” is a hybrid of harder blues rock and soulful vocals along with a fine extended organ lead and “The Gypsy” features harmonized guitars and lead vocals. The album concludes with the straight-forward acoustic ballad “Soldier of Fortune”, a quiet and haunting way to wrap things up.

Unhappy with the stylistic shifts in the band he co-founded and named in 1968, Blackmore left Deep Purple following the subsequent Stormbringer tour in 1975. Blackmore then formed Rainbow with Ronnie James Dio while Deep Purple replaced him temporarily with guitarist Tommy Bolin and recorded the forgettable Come Taste the Band. They called it quits in early 1976 and would not reunite for nearly a decade to come.

~

1974 images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of 1974 albums.

 

Dosage by Collective Soul

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Dosage by Collective SoulCollective Soul finished their nineties output by making a return to the mid nineties sound that brought their greatest success. In early 1999, the group released their fourth album, Dosage, with both a step back towards familiar styles and some addition of slight sophistication in the song composition and arrangement. The results of this strategy were somewhat mixed as the album was not quite as successful commercially as past releases, but it did pose as a bit of a comeback critically.

Collective Soul was formed after the production of a high quality demo by guitarist/vocalist Ed Roland made some serious waves, eventually becoming the group’s 1993 debut, Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid. Collective Soul’s self-titled sophomore record became their pinnacle of success, spawning several radio hits and spending over a year on the album charts. However, 1997’s Disciplined Breakdown, which followed a split with management and some legal wranglings, fared significantly lower critically and commercially.

Roland produced Dosage and derived the title from a common catchphrase the group used to describe burnout from touring. The album was meticulously recorded in Atlanta and Miami over a six-month period in 1998 and was the first to feature keyboardist and orchestra arranger Anthony Resta, who played a significant role in forging this record’s sound.


Dosage by Collective Soul
Released: February 9, 1999 (Atlantic)
Produced by: Ed Roland
Recorded: Tree Studios, Atlanta & Criteria Studios, Miami, 1998
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Tremble for My Beloved
Heavy
No More, No Less
Needs
Slow
Dandy Life
Run
Generate
Compliment
Not the One
Crown
Ed Roland – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Ross Childress – Guitars, Vocals
Dean Roland – Guitars
Anthony J. Resta – Keyboards
Will Turpin – Bass, Vocals
Shane Evans – Drums, PercussionDosage by Collective Soul

 

 

The album’s opening track, “Tremble for My Beloved”, was also one of the first songs written for the album. Ironically, this would take nearly a decade to find widespread fame after it was featured in the 2008 film Twilight. “Heavy” was a more immediate hit, as rose to the top of the Mainstream Rock Tracks for nearly four months in 1999. With a theme about outside pressure, “Heavy” features a catchy guitar riff and fine lead by Ross Childress. The intro to “No More, No Less” is driven by electronic percussive effects along with fine bass riff by Will Turpin, while “Needs” starts with finger picked acoustic and strings and picks up intensity from there.

“Slow” was co-written by Ed’s brother and band guitarist Dean Roland, featuring a wild main riff with barked out vocals during the verses, making this tune very catchy and entertaining overall. Conversely, “Dandy Life” was penned by Childress, who also takes over lead vocals on this sticky-sweet dance-styled pop tune. The hit track “Run” follows, featuring steady acoustic strumming guided by piano leads and a strong but short guitar lead.

Collective Soul

As the album winds down there are a few more interesting moments. The synth-driven track “Generate” features an odd-time percussive effect and a very mechanical vibe throughout, making this unique on the album and one of the better tracks on it’s latter half. “Compliment” starts with cool synth arpeggio before breaking into a standard moderate rocker, much the same as “Not the One”, a ballad driven by the steady beat of drummer Shane Evans. “Crown” is the last official track as a slow and methodical acoustic ballad with plenty of electronic décor and a fine guitar lead. After this fades and about a minute of silence, the “hidden” track “She Said” kicks in as a quality song with nice, alternating use of synths in chorus.

Dosage peaked at near the Top 20 on the Billboard albums chart, making it a moderate overall hit for Collective Soul. This album would find temporary new life in 2012 when the group performed the album in its entirety during their “Dosage” tour.

~

1999 images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1999 albums.

 

Skid Row

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This album review is provided by Merry Mercurial, a writer of fiction, essays, reviews, and the “highly subjective” music blog, The Music According to Merry.

Skid RowEvery bit as fun as candy cigarettes, if not as addictive as the nicotine-laced real deals, Skid Row released their self-titled debut album on January 24, 1989. From the beginning, the biggest criticism leveled against the band was the extent to which they blended in with the big-hair, big-chants, “Big Guns” era of metal at the turn of the ’90s. They weren’t here to reinvent pop-metal. They didn’t offer some special recipe inimitable by the likes of Bon Jovi or Guns ‘n’ Roses. Rock purists who considered the genre transgressive, or at least inventive, by nature weren’t forgiving to Skid Row—to many, the band was a formula filler.

  • The feathery blond hair that shimmied perfectly under stage lighting to the radio-friendly thump of “Shake, shake—shake it like a rattlesnake.”
  • The leather.
  • The decade-appropriate guitar distortion and solos.
  • The earnest, angsty, but ultimately good-guy anthems from the POV of, well, youth gone wild. Their very song titles seemed borrowed from a manual called Getting by in Glam Metal.

If there’s one reason Skid Row broke free of the pack, it was a tall, Bahamian-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter named Sebastian.
As lead vocalist of the band starting in ’87, Sebastian Bach knew how to accentuate simple phrases (like the “Hey, man!” of “Youth Gone Wild”) in a way that hinted at history and place—this wasn’t someone who’d scrubbed his voice clean for mass appeal; this guy was from somewhere. And this was a guy who went for it, full tilt, with everything he sang.


Skid Row by Skid Row
Released: January 24, 1989 (Atlantic)
Produced by: Michael Wagener
Recorded: Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1988
Track Listing Group Musicians
Big Guns
Sweet Little Sister
Can’t Stand The Heartache
Piece Of Me
18 And Life
Rattlesnake Shake
Youth Gone Wild
Here I Am
Makin’ A Mess
I Remember You
Midnight/Tornado
Sebastian Bach – Lead Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitars, Vocals
Dave Sabo – Guitars, Vocals
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Vocals
Rob Affuso – Drums, Percussion
 
Skid Row

 

Though never released as a single, “Here I Am” may offer one of the best examples of Sebastian Bach’s stylistic range, and of Skid Row’s potential. Musically, the song doesn’t exactly break down barriers of rhythm and arrangement—but it sure is fun. Hinged on aggressive guitars that screech occasionally toward dog-whistle heights, the music doesn’t bother ebbing or tapering; it stays loud and proud until inter-track silence falls.

As for Sebastian? He growls and he throws out low-tone vocal punches. On choruses, he aims for the back-most benches of the stadium bleachers. The way he trills about “her German cigarettes” exemplifies the happy medium between drama and shtick, as does the jump-roping beat of his ensuing “no-no-no.” True, this vocal quirk may not be such a different beast from Axl Rose bringing the world to its “shun n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n knees” in GNR’s “Welcome to the Jungle” from their ’87 album Appetite for Destruction. But Sebastian doesn’t just master the sexy/slapstick stutter or just theatrically accentuate his rs. Or just slingshot from low-lows to seraphic-highs. He packages the full suite in a way that feels effortless. His voice, in fact, can create the impression of a feline when catnip’s being tossed around the room—free, fast, moody, everywhere at once.

Skid Row in 1989

Also comprised, at the time, of bassist Rachel Bolan, guitarists Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo, and drummer Rob Affuso, Skid Row recorded their first album in Geneva, Wisconsin. Under the banner of Atlantic Records, they worked with producer Michael Wagener, also notable for his work with Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Megadeth. The auspicious debut would reach number six on the Billboard 200 and earn 5× platinum certification by the RIAA. Of the album’s four singles, “18 and Life” became the band’s most popular, reaching number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

After a nine-year run, Sebastian Bach parted ways with Skid Row in 1996. That he went on to perform in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway along with The Rocky Picture Horror Show — and that, to fresh generation of fans, he will forever be Gil from the band Hep Alien on Gilmore Girls — should come as no surprise. The same theatrical acumen that helped him elevate Skid Row from the midlist made (and make) him an all-around great performer. Skid Row is still together today, now with Rob Hammersmith on drums and ZP Theart leading the vocals. Check out their latest music, outrageous fonts, and tour schedule on thier official website.

~

1989 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1989 albums.
 

Mutations by Beck

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Mutations by BeckFor his sixth studio album, Beck and company decided to move in a decidedly non-commercial direction. The result is the lo-fi, psychedelic-oriented potpourri of Mutations. Released in late 1998, the songs on this album are masterfully composed to appear simple and straightforward at first, but reveal more sonic depth upon subsequent listens. Despite being less commercially successful than previous records, the album reached the Top 20 in the US and has gone on to sell over a million copies worldwide.

Beck’s previous album, 1996’s Odelay, was a commercial breakthrough as a fine blend of diverse genres such as country, blues, rap, jazz and rock with a methodical, “cut-and-paste” type method of production. The ensuing aftermath of success saw the normally reclusive artist land a Grammy nomination along with appearances on mainstream television. With this sudden rise, a proper strategy for a follow-up had less time to mature.

Entering the sessions for Mutations in Los Angeles, Beck and his touring band recorded over a dozen songs in two weeks with producer Nigel Godrich. In contrast to the previous album’s production, much of this captured the performance of the musicians live as they recorded with heavy use of acoustic guitars, keyboards and strings.


Mutations by Beck
Released: November 22, 1998 (DCG)
Produced by: Beck Hansen & Nigel Godrich
Recorded: Los Angeles, March–April 1998
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Cold Brains
Nobody’s Fault but My Own
Lazy Flies
Canceled Check
We Live Again
Tropicalia
Dead Melodies
Bottle of Blues
O Maria
Sing It Again
Static
Beck Hansen – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Piano, Keyboards, Harmonica, Percussion
Smokey Hormel – Guitars, Vocals
Roger Manning – Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
Justin Meldal-Johnsen – Bass, Vocals
Joey Waronker – Drums, PercussionMutations by Beck

The opening track and single release “Cold Brains” features some oddly poetic lyrics which Beck compared to the humorous side of Leonard Cohen with a musical vibe that is “like country music on the moon”. “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” was another single release which went on to become one of the most beloved songs in the artist’s library as it builds from a sparse setting into a rich orchestral arrangement.

The upbeat and pulsing “Lazy Flies” follows, leading to a break for the Western flavored tune “Canceled Check” and the harpsichord laden “We Live Again”. The album’s third single, “Tropicalia” was inspired by world music, especially music from Brazil. The song was written by Beck while riding on a tour bus.

Beck

As the album progresses it features many lesser known tracks which continue to touch on diverse musical areas. “Dead Melodies” is an acoustic ballad with subtle backing vocals, “Bottle Of Blues” lives up to its title’s promise, “O Maria” features a piano-driven swing, while “Sing It Again” and “Static” each feature a subtle musical landscape. The most interesting track of the latter album is “Diamond Bollocks”, a track with many twists and turns while maintaining a catchy groove and consistent, moderate beat. The album then concludes with the minimalist “Runners Dial Zero”.

Mutations was originally intended to be released by the indie label Bong Load Records. However, after the executives at Beck’s major label, Geffen, heard the finished product they reneged on their permission to let the smaller label release the record. This led to years of litigation between the artist and label over this album which eventually won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music.

~

1998 Page

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1998 albums.

The Final Cut by Pink Floyd

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This guest album review is provided by Merry Mercurial, a writer of fiction, essays, reviews, and the “highly subjective” music blog which you can read at her website, The Music According to Merry.

The Final Cut by Pink FloydPink Floyd’s 12th studio release, The Final Cut, debuted on the heels of a hit-heavy album that had the nerve to recruit schoolkids to chant, in heavy British accents, about not needing “no education”. The Wall would go 23 times platinum in the US, fuel a bizarre but beloved movie, and become a capital-m Moment in rock. In a way, fallout from The Final Cut makes perfect sense. If the titular wall of Floyd’s 11th and best-selling album had been a maximum-security border – penning the narrator in with every last fear passed down from his own mother and Mother England – it came to have more in common with the high, dangerous structure from Humpty Dumpty. There really was nowhere to go but down, a bad break was coming, and nothing would put Pink Floyd, as the world knew and loved them, together again.

The Final Cut was conceived of as soundtrack for the 1982 movie adaptation of The Wall, but a different event in ’82 changed its direction. The UK responded to Argentina’s play for sovereignty of the Falkland Islands with a military assault that many – including bassist and primary songwriter Roger Waters – considered trigger-happy. The themes of war and loss that had been scattered throughout The Wall became the focus of The Final Cut. Of Pink Floyd’s albums dating back to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (’67), this one may have offered the clearest message: the past blood shed by soldiers, including Waters’s father, had been spent like water. The post-war dream was dead.

Production efforts were bruised in the melee of a band that would eventually be known nearly as well for their friction as their giant pig float that lumbered over concertgoers. Guitarist David Gilmour protested that several of the songs had originally been trimmed from The Wall; he couldn’t imagine they’d become album-worthy with time. Tensions between Waters and Gilmour escalated until the two would or could no longer work together. They largely recorded like divorced parents communicating through their children. Completed in the latter months of ’82 across eight studio locations, The Final Cut is the only LP on which all writing is credited to Waters and the only to not feature founding keyboardist Richard Wright.

 


The Final Cut by Pink Floyd
Released: March 21, 1983 (Harvest)
Produced by: James Guthrie, Michael Kamen & Roger Waters
Recorded: Mayfair Studios, RAK Studios, Olympic Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Eel Pie Studios, Audio International Studios, and The Billiard Room, London, 1979-1983
Side One Side Two
The Post War Dream
Your Possible Pasts
One of the Few
The Hero’s Return
The Gunner’s Dream
Paranoid Eyes
Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
The Fletcher Memorial Homee
Southampton Dock
The Final Cut
Not Now John
Two Suns in the Sunset
Group Musicians
Roger Waters – Lead Vocals, Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
David Gilmour – Guitars, Vocals
Nick Mason – Drums

 

The album opens with and continues incorporating the faintly disorienting effects Pink Floyd is known for. While the music is as accomplished and mood-appropriate as ever, there are no hooks, no shower singalongs, no delightful sonic montages to show the fun side of Floyd’s dead-serious subject matter. Furnished by Raphael Ravenscroft, even the saxophone – perhaps the instrument most frequently described as “smooth” – sounds throaty and raw in a way that matches Waters’s vocals.

Waters did some singing on The Wall as well – sometimes to powerful effect – but with him taking lead on 12/13 songs, The Final Cut makes it clear that his abilities lie more in conception, composition, and bass. Which isn’t to say his singing was a bad idea altogether. While Gilmour’s voice transitions liquidly from peacenik lullabies to screw-the-man power anthems, it doesn’t simmer with quiet rage the way Waters’s does. He has a way of sounding as volatile when he whispers as when he belts.

What’s more, there’s something about his untrained voice that works on an album that appears to be purposefully unsmooth – sometimes downright uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable that you can hear the movement of Roger Waters’s mouth during spoken-word sections of songs such as “Paranoid Eyes” and “The Fletcher Memorial Home.” It’s uncomfortable that the music bows so low in deference to his undecorated but also unflinching voice: there’s absolutely no place for the political frustration and depression and fury to hide. But that’s likely the point.

Pink Floyd in 1980s

The musical restraint exercised on most of the songs is effective in exposing subtleties of mood. On “Paranoid Eyes,” for instance, the music feels like a brew being stirred in the background. Things reach a boil with the airplane sound, explosion, and jarringly jaunty opening of “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert,” a short (1:16) song that keeps up an album-long indictment of Margaret Thatcher.

The title song is perhaps the most emotional of a very emotional collection; it’s wisely arranged to give way to “Not Now John,” which besides being the most swear-laden of all Pink Floyd’s songs, reintroduces a bigger and more traditionally Floyd sound: prominent guitar, energetic female chorus, and David Gilmour’s voice. And while it’s a relief by this point to hear him, there is little sense of harmony between his and Waters’s vocals.

Though The Final Cut did well in England and climbed as high as number six in the US, it was also the group’s lowest-selling since Meddle, released in ’71. Its lyrics deserved and received praise.  Its overall sound, execution, and very existence were subject to bitterly mixed reviews. This is the last studio album Roger Waters would make with Pink Floyd. The others would continue under the Floyd mantle, against his wishes, without him. They would not come together again until the Live 8 concert at Hyde Park, London, in July 2005. At the time, drummer Nick Mason would emphasize that the performance was a one-time thing. It didn’t spell reunion. He would also, however, make it clear that if the band were to reunite properly, his bags were already packed.

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1983 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of 1983 albums.

 

Dire Straits

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Dire Straits 1978 debutBritish quartet Dire Straits launched their fruitful career in 1978 with an impressive self-titled debut studio album. This album features nine tracks composed by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler who blended elements of American roots music with a distinct guitar style and a reserved, husky vocal for an appealing overall style which found receptive audiences worldwide. The multi-platinum selling Dire Straits topped the album charts in several countries and reach the Top 5 in several more, including the US and the UK.

The group was formed in the mid 1970s by Mark and his younger brother, rhythm guitarist David Knopfler. Originally from Newcastle, England, the brothers migrated to London where Mark was working as a teacher while performing with pub bands at night. Bassist John Illsley and veteran drummer Pick Withers were eventually recruited and the band was formed with a name that referenced to their current financial situation. The band borrowed money to record a five-song demo tape, which was well received by a local disc jockey and the airing of “Sultans of Swing” led to a recording contract with the Vertigo Records division of Phonogram Inc.

The debut, Dire Straits, was recorded in early 1978 with producer Muff Winwood. Following its recording (but months prior to its release), the group began heavily promoting the songs with a European summer tour which created much anticipation for the album.


Dire Straits by Dire Straits
Released: October 7, 1978 (Vertigo)
Produced by: Muff Winwood
Recorded: Basing Street Studios, London, February-March 1978
Side One Side Two
Down to the Waterline
Water of Love
Setting Me Up
Six Blade Knife
Southbound Again
Sultans of Swing
In the Gallery
Wild West End
Lions
Group Musicians
Mark Knopfler – Lead Vocals, Guitars
David Knopfler – Guitars, Vocals
John Illsley – Bass, Vocals
Pick Withers – Drums

 

“Down to the Waterline” features a methodical entry to the album before the full band arrangement kicks in with a bit of a western swing and direct, narrative vocals with ever-present guitar licks. Right from the jump, the rhythm and lead dynamics of the Knopfler brothers is established as a dynamic on this album. Withers introduces “Water of Love”with some methodical percussion. Soon the rootsy, acoustic song proper arrives with methodical vocals for an overall pleasant effect. “Six Blade Knife” is a rhythm-fronted textural song which seems to draw much influence from Fleetwood Mac rhythms on their then-recent Rumours album. Released as a single, this song actually charted on Country charts in both the US and Canada. The Southern rock influenced “Southbound Again” completes the original first side with a repeated riff motif played much during its short, less than three-minute duration.

Dire Straits in 1978

“Sultans of Swing” is the best and most popular track on the album, a true masterpiece from beginning to end. Each group member is at top form in support of Knopfler’s mastery on lead guitars and vocals with variety, movement and distinction between verse licks and solo leads. The song became the group’s first international hit in 1979 with its descriptive lyrics inspired by Knopfler witnessing a jazz band playing in the corner of a deserted pub in South London, and is uniquely delivered as they describe a musical genre much unlike the excellent, rhythmic rock song, right up to the rather ironic lyrics;

they don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band, it aint what they call rock n’ roll…”

The duration of the album features three quasi-jam tracks of differing sub-genres. After a pleasant intro, “In the Gallery” morphs into a quasi-reggae beat for the verses with interesting drum fills and lyrics written as a tribute to Leeds sculptor/artist. “Wild West End” is a pleasant acoustic ballad with a repeated riff under the verse and chorus hooks, along with some sparse vocal harmonies. The closer “Lions” has a walking rhythm guitar and a bluesy lead guitar above a strong, rhythmic rock storyteller.

Dire Straits spent no time enjoying the success of their debut record. Soon after its release, they jumped on the circuit with Talking Heads on their first North American tour and before the end of 1978 they traveled to the Bahamas to begin work on their second album, Communiqué.

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1978 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of 1978 albums.

 

Abandoned Luncheonette by Hall & Oates

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Abandoned Luncheonette by Hall and OatesFor all the success that this Philadelphia-based duo would experience later on in their career, Daryl Hall and John Oates struggled to find a commercial footing early on. That’s not to say that they didn’t produce interesting and creative music as demonstrated brilliantly on their second album, Abandoned Luncheonette, released in late 1973. Despite only reaching #33 on the album charts during its initial run, this album slowly grew in stature and would finally reach platinum-selling status about three decades after its release.

The duo first met in 1967 while each was leading a separate group during a band competition. They later discovered that they had common musical interests and that both attended Temple University. The Hall & Oates musical duo was officially formed in 1970, with a recording contract at Atlantic Records. Their debut album, Whole Oates, was produced by Arif Mardin and released in November 1972 but failed to have any commercial success.

For Abandoned Luncheonette, the group and production team moved from from Philadelphia to New York where their disparate influences of folk, rock and soul were refined with the help of expert session players to forge the album’s musical tapestry as well as the group’s signature sound for the next decade. Much like on their album, the compositions and to a lesser extent lead vocals are split between the two with Hall & Oates penning just a few co-written songs.


Abandoned Luncheonette by Hall and Oates
Released: November 3, 1973 (Atlantic)
Produced by: Arif Mardin
Recorded: Atlantic Studios and Advantage Sound Studios, New York City, 1973
Side One Side Two
When The Morning Comes
Had I Known You Better Then
Las Vegas Turnaround (Stewardess Song)
She’s Gone
I’m Just A Kid
Abandoned Luncheonette
Lady Rain
Laughing Boy
Everytime I Look At You
Primary Musicians
Daryl Hall – Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
John Oates – Guitars, Vocals
Chris Bond – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Gelfand – Bass
Bernard Purdie – Drums, Percussion

The album begin’s with Hall’s “When the Morning Comes”, a subtle acoustic reggae beat sprinkled with a cool mellotron by Chris Bond . It allows plenty of room for Hall’s vocals to expand through his generous range. Rhythmically, the song is kept moving by the drums of the legendary Bernard Purdie. Oats provides his initial composition with “Had I Known You Better Then”, a folk singer/songwriter type song with just a hint of the rock n’ soul sound driven by a slight electric piano by Hall. “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” has a fine, unique musical groove, highlighted by the saxophone lead of Joe Farrell and the main lyrical subject appears to be Hall’s girlfriend Sara Allen, the later subject of the 1976 hit song “Sara Smile”.

Another future hit for the duo is the fantastic “She’s Gone”, the true classic song from album. With a building arrangement starting with Steve Gelfand‘s bass and the subtle soul piano. A true duet, the atmosphere continues building atmosphere through its duration with horns introducing the strong outro section. Although released in 1974 as a single, it wouldn’t chart until it was re-released two years later, when it became a Top Ten hit in 1976. “I’m Just a Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like a Man)” revisits the somewhat tacky acoustic folk/rock by Oates, albeit with good harmonies throughout and an interesting use of keyboards.

Hall and Oates, 1973

The album’s title song commences the original side two, as a nostalgic storyteller suite interesting arrangement of piano, horns and further orchestration. “Abandoned Luncheonette” rapidly shifts a few times in style and shift, expressing the past moments of the now defunct location. “Lady Rain” is a funky folk tune with good combined vocals and an interesting dark string arrangement and bluesy guitar licks by Hugh McCracken, while the simple ballad “Laughing Boy” features Hall solo on piano and vocals and just some very subtle orchestration, providing a mood which sounds like it would fit better in a thematic or concept album. The extended closer
“Everytime I Look At You” starts as an upbeat funk/rocker with a heavy guitar and bass presence that make this heavier than anything else on this album. Hall provides an excellent guitar lead before Hall’s climatic vocal part followed by and unexpected outro of banjo and fiddle to an escalating tempo to finish the album.

Both Hall & Oates have allegedly cited Abandoned Luncheonette as their favorite album in their catalog. The duo released their third album, War Babies, in 1974 before moving on to RCA Records and much success in subsequent years.

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1973 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1973 albums.

 

Infidels by Bob Dylan

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Infidels by Bob DylanIn 1983, Bob Dylan released his studio album, Infidels. With this, Dylan received his highest critical and commercial success in nearly a decade. Still, through time, Infidels received criticism for not including some classic tracks like “Foot of Pride”, “Someone’s Got a Hold of My Heart” and “Blind Willie McTell”, which were both recorded for this album but ultimately omitted. The latter of these would not be released until an outtakes album in 1991 but has come to be considered a true classic in Dylan’s expansive portfolio.

Late in the 1970s, Dylan became an evangelical Christian and, after dedicating three months of discipleship, he decided to release a trilogy of Gospel influenced music. Slow Train Coming (1979) was well-received critically, won Dylan a Grammy award for the song “Gotta Serve Somebody”, and marked his first work with Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler. The subsequent albums Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) were less regarded by critics and fans.

Co-produced by Knofler, Infidels was seen as a return to Dylan’s secular music roots. He initially wanted to self-produce the album but capitulated due to his lack of knowledge of emerging recording technology. Dylan had spoken with David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello about producing this album before hiring Knopfler.

 


Infidels by Bob Dylan
Released: October 27, 1983 (Columbia)
Produced by: Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan
Recorded: The Power Station, New York City, April-May 1983
Side One Side Two
Jokerman
Sweetheart Like You
Neighborhood Bully
License to Kill
Man of Peace
Union Sundown
I and I
Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight
Primary Musicians
Bob Dylan – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Harmonica
Mark Knopfler – Guitars
Mick Taylor – Guitars
Alan Clark – Piano, Keyboards
Robbie Shakespeare – Bass
Sly Dunbar – Drums, Percussion

 

The album begins with its strongest tune, “Jokerman”, which is musically led by Robbie Shakespeare‘s thumping bass and the subtle duo guitars of Knopfler and former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. Meanwhile, Dylan provides potent lyrics and great melody and, although very repetitive, the song has much forward motion due to the increasing vocal intensity as well as the subtle building of musical arrangement and fine harmonica leads late in the song. Released as a single in 1984, “Jokerman” simultaneously spawned Dylan’s MTV-era music video. “Sweetheart Like You” follows as a rather standard ballad with a good hook. Knofler’s influence is very evident in its arrangement which also features keyboardist Alan Clark.

Much of the material on Infidels has a solid rock or pop arrangement, displaying how far musically Dylan had strayed from the folk or roots based music he proliferated in the 1960s while still touching on the topical issues of the day. “Neighborhood Bully” has a new wave edge with a bit of Southern-style guitar slide while lyrically using sarcasm to defend Israel’s right to exist. “License to Kill” closes the first side as a slow and steady rocker with plenty of twangy and guitar motion with lyrics that address man’s relationship to the environment.

Bob Dylan in 1983

The surprising rock arrangements continue into the second side with the layered electric guitar riffs, Hammond organ of “Man of Peace” and the crisp rocker “Union Sundown”, with Clark providing some nice rocking piano in mix and guest Clydie King adding some backing vocals. “I and I” is an interesting tune with subtle verses and more forceful choruses, making it perhaps the best song on the album’s second side. The album concludes with the pleasant, upbeat ballad, “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight”, a purely traditional love song.

A gold selling record, Infidels Reach the Top 20 in the US and the Top 10 in the UK. This achievement would mark the artist’s best success in the decade of the 1980s up until the 1989 release of the classic Oh Mercy.

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1983 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1983 albums.

 

Wake of the Flood by The Grateful Dead

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Wake of the Flood by Grateful DeadThe Grateful Dead‘s long awaited sixth studio album, Wake of the Flood, marked a new era for the California band. Their first studio album in nearly three years, this was the first album on their independent Grateful Dead Records label as well as the first to feature the couple Keith Godchaux on piano and keyboards and Donna Jean Godchaux on backing vocals. This seven track album features compositions which draw from a blend of influences, ranging from the roots genres of country, folk and ragtime to a seventies modern fusion of funk and jazz rock.

In 1970, the Grateful Dead released two critically acclaimed studio albums, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, where they scaled back their sound with heavy folk and country influences. Following this breakthrough success, the band did extensive worldwide touring and would release three live albums in three years – Grateful Dead in 1971, Europe ’72 in 1972, and Bear’s Choice in 1973. Keith Godchaux joined the group in 1971 as a pianist alongside founding keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, when Pigpen was moved exclusively to Hammond B3 organ at the time. In 1972, McKernan’s health deteriorated, leaving him unable tour, and  ultimately lose his life in March 1973 due to complications from liver damage. Percussionist Micky Hart also temporarily left the band during this era, leaving drummer Bill Kreutzmann as the sole member behind the skins.

In August 1973, the Grateful Dead took a break from touring to record studio versions of new songs which had been in live rotation. The band chose to record Wake of the Flood at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, near their Bay area home base. The band self produced the album along with help from staff engineers and recorded everything is less than two weeks.


Wake of the Flood by The Grateful Dead
Released: October 15, 1973 (Grateful Dead)
Produced by: The Grateful Dead
Recorded: The Record Plant, Sausalito, CA, August, 1973
Side One Side Two
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away
Row Jimmy
Stella Blue
Here Comes Sunshine
Eyes of the World
Weather Report Suite
Group Musicians
Jerry Garcia – Guitars, Vocals
Bob Weir – Guitars, Vocals
Keith Godchaux – Keyboards, Vocals
Phil Lesh – Bass
Bill Kreutzmann – Drums, Percussion

Sonically, Wake of the Flood moves from very simple to more complex as the album moves along. The opening “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” has a real loose, live feel as a down-home bluegrass track featuring the fiddle of guest Vassar Clements throughout. Jerry Garcia‘s lead vocals are somewhat low in the mix of this track which likely got its title as a play on “Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champs”, a mid-sixties bluegrass group started by Garcia, McKernan and guitarist Bob Weir. “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away” introduces Keith Godchaux to the listening audience as lead vocalist and co-writer with lyricist Robert Hunter. The first single from this album, this song has some strong melodic ideas and harmonies which are not completely formed on this recording.

Garcia’s complex and rhythmic “Row Jimmy” is the first sonically satisfying song on the album as a ballad accented with clavichord and percussion to complement the usual fine bass by Phil Lesh along with dual guitar licks. The exquisite “Stella Blue” is the best showcase of Garcia’s emotional vocals and is an overall well produced and tight ballad with an original and beautiful vibe with Hunter’s lyrics telling a story of lost love and sadness.

Grateful Dead in 1973

The album’s second side starts with the song that gives album its title. “Here Comes Sunshine” features another rich musical mix with an optimistic story of better days to come. The funky track “Eyes of the World” furthers the group’s sonic advancement into the fine mixes which they would display later in the 1970s, with great chord progressions, rudiments, rhythms and lead guitar. This leads to the album closer, Weir’s fantastic, three part “Weather Report Suite”, which showcases incredible, layered guitars and a smoothly put together and exquisitely produced jazz-influenced musical journey throughout. The “Prelude” section is an acoustic instrumental with slowly building rhythmic accompaniment, leading to “Part I”, featuring lyrics by guest Eric Andersen. The song addresses the seasons, and their relationship to the narrator’s state of mind. “Part II (Let it Grow)” feature’s Weir’s longtime lyrical partner John Perry Barlow and is the most upbeat part of the suite with music is perfectly laid out with various elements, including rich horns and a closing dual sax and harmonica lead, all making for a fine closing of this album.

Reaching the Top 20, Wake of the Flood fared better on the pop charts than any previous studio album. The Grateful Dead Records did not last all that long, collapsing in 1976, which resulted in this album all but disappearing from the marketplace for about a dozen years until it was issued on CD in the late 1980s.

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1973 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1973 albums.

 

Rattle and Hum by U2

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Rattle and Hum by U2With some major commercial success in the bag by 1988, U2 decided to try something different. The ambitious double length LP Rattle and Hum is a hybrid of new studio tracks and live recordings comprised of select cover songs and previously released originals and this record was released along with a companion documentary film. The result is a collection that is both interesting and entertaining as well as uneven and disjointed, all of which was reflected in the album’s mixed critical reception.

The idea for this album was spawned in mid 1987 during the tour supporting their highly acclaimed and commercially successful The Joshua Tree. Film director Phil Joanou pitched the idea to the band and they ultimately chose a late 1987 show  at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado as the concert to film and record the bulk of the live material. The project’s title was derived from a lyric from the song “Bullet the Blue Sky”, which appears here as one of the live tracks.

Rattle and Hum was produced by Jimmy Iovine, with studio tracks recorded at several studios, including the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Much of this new studio material incorporated elements of American roots music such as folk, blues, Gospel and soul into U2’s distinct rhythmic sound.


Rattle and Hum by U2
Released: October 10, 1988 (Island)
Produced by: Jimmy Iovine
Recorded: Sun Studio, Memphis, TN; Point Depot, Danesmoat & STS Studios, Dublin, Ireland; A&M Studios & Ocean Way, Los Angeles; McNichols Arena, Denver, CO; Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ; 1987-1988
Side One Side Two
Helter Skelter (Live)
Van Diemen’s Land
Desire
Hawkmoon 269
All Along the Watchtower (Live)
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Live)
Freedom for My People
Silver and Gold (Live)
Pride (Live)
Side Three Side Four
Angel of Harlem
Love Rescue Me
When Love Comes to Town
Heartland
God Part II
The Star Spangled Banner
Bullet the Blue Sky” (Live)
All I Want Is You
Group Musicians
Bono – Lead Vocals, Harmonica
The Edge – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Adam Clayton – Bass
Larry Mullen, Jr. – Drums, Percussion

The album opens with an odd sequence of songs, starting with a live cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, which is a bit smoother, cleaner and calmer than McCartney’s original. Next comes “Van Diemen’s Land”, featuring guitarist The Edge on lead vocals for this sparse arrangement with picked electric and much reverb. The lead single from the album, “Desire” is the first place where the heart of the album is reached with a Bo Diddley-like rhythm working well as bedding for Bono‘s soaring vocals and fine harmonica. The song reached the Top 5 in the US and later won a Grammy Award. “Hawkmoon 269” finishes the original first side as a methodical track, built on repeated rhythms and lyrical motifs along with fine overdubbed, layered guitars.

The album’s second side features all live tracks, starting with a cover of Bob Dylans‘s “All Along the Watchtower”, recorded in San Francisco. Although upbeat throughout, the overall vibe is rather lethargic, not even coming close to capturing the magic of the Hendrix version on Electric Ladyland. “Silver and Gold” is a strong rocker with a folk-like lyrical delivery and a strong bass presence by Adam Clayton along with an explosive ending guitar lead by The Edge. Also included on side two are live versions of previous U2 hits “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, with the former track featuring a Gospel-like arrangement with a chorus by The New Voices of Freedom.

U2 in 1988

The third side of Rattle and Hum is the album’s finest, starting with the exquisite “Angel of Harlem”, a fine, lyrically rich Soul rendition which shows the group’s musical versatility. Released as the album’s second single, the song was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. “Love Rescue Me” was co-written by Bono and Bob Dylan and it slowly fades in with harmonica and picked electric guitar. Arranged like a classic ballad, the track is quiet during the verses, exploding during choruses where Dylan joins Bono on vocals, and later on features The Memphis Horns. “When Love Comes to Town” features B.B. King on lead guitar and co-lead vocals and is held together with Clayton’s thumping bass and rolling drums by Larry Mullen, Jr., all adding further unique elements to this album’s potpourri of sound. “Heartland” closes the side through a slow, methodical intro before slowly building towards a full-throated, high octave chorus and arrangement.

The fourth and final side commences with “God Part II”, an intense, rhythmic rocker with some dance elements and the chorus hook “I Believe In Love”. The song was written by Bono as a sort of sequel to John Lennon’s song “God” from his 1970 album Plastic Ono Band. After a short inclusion of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock performance of “The Star Spangled Banner”, comes the climatic live track “Bullet the Blue Sky”, recorded at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, featuring a persistent, mechanical motion. The album concludes with the ballad “All I Want Is You” with fine sonic effects over simple, strummed guitars along with an orchestral arrangement which adds to the song’s beauty.

Despite the critical panning, Rattle and Hum topped the charts in over a half dozen countries and went on to sell over 14 million copies worldwide. It also marked the end of an era for the group as they headed into the 1990s and forged a new sound on future albums.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1988 albums.

1988 Images