Today I read a list of "The Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums for 1988". It was interesting. In 1988 I was in my final year of high school and Heavy Metal music was a rather large part of my life. As I read the list though I reflected that the albums that really mattered to me at that time were, not surprisingly, from the previous few years. Here are the ones that I played non-stop and a few comments. If you're not a metal fan then you may wish to skip forward - look for the ****.
Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)
Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation (1987)
I bought this album on the strength of the "Dude Looks Like A Lady" video clip which I guess I saw on MTV. I'd certainly not had any exposure to the band prior with the exception of their collaboration with Run DMC. "Permanent Vacation" is very much a comeback album for Aerosmith and plenty of fans and critics think that it is patchy. Personally I like it as a complete listen from start to finish. It flows well and I never thought that there were any dud tracks. It was an excellent introduction to the scratchy guitar style of Joe Perry. Track: Dude Looks Like A Lady - https://youtu.be/nf0oXY4nDxE
The Cult - Electric (1987)
I bought this album for two reasons. One was that I'd heard the "Love Removal Machine" single and the other was that the cover art was awesome! This is one of my favourite albums of all time. The Cult, produced by Rick Rubin, are a stripped down, AC/DC style version of themselves and it really resonated with me. We could've done without the dreadful guitar solo on their cover of "Born To Be Wild" but the rest of the album is strong. Of course, a more "Cult" sounding version has since appeared and it's almost as good. But the 1987 release of the album, to me, was about as honest as rock and roll could get without having Angus and Malcolm on guitar. Track: Wildflower - https://youtu.be/_NxrphVL7bQ
Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)
I'll be honest here. This album did absolutely nothing for me to begin with. My taped copy sat on a shelf for quite a while until MTV came to the rescue - yes, video clips were important! After seeing "Animal" on the telly I returned to the album and it all clicked. I guess I wasn't used to their almost overproduced sound. These days "Hysteria" is an absolute classic having sold over 25 million copies and spawning 7 hit singles. Now I prefer earlier Def Leppard as it has a tougher sound but at the time, this was a killer album. Track: Armageddon It - https://youtu.be/YI6Ms0b4q-4
Guns n' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
This album isn't one I love. I bought the single for "Sweet Child of Mine" and the 12" of "Paradise City" and I almost wore them out. The rest of the album didn't do anything for me at all until a few years later when they released "Use Your Illusion" I and II. I thought that those were a bit ho-hum and as a result had a listen to "Appetite for Destruction" in a different frame of mind. I liked it but still wasn't a huge fan. That happened a couple of years ago. These days I think it is a stellar album and amazing for a debut. It has the swagger of Rose Tattoo and Thin Lizzy combined with the power of Iggy and the Stooges. Track: Welcome To The Jungle - https://youtu.be/o1tj2zJ2Wvg
KISS - Crazy Nights (1987)
Another album sale that the band owes to MTV. Gene Simmons' bass with the flame thrower attached was a winner. The title track is a great song full of energy and the "you're all part of this" vibe that KISS had. The rest of the songs are probably never going to set the world on fire (ha ha) but it's a solid group and they work well together. Bruce Kulick on lead guitar is awesome as well; shame he isn't still in the band. "Crazy Nights" is an unashamedly stadium rock album and it never fails to make me feel good. Track: Crazy Crazy Nights - https://youtu.be/8g4ygMGXU7Q
Manowar - Fighting The World (1987)
I wish I could remember who gave me this LP to make a cassette copy of because I'd thank them profusely. It's loud, it's fun and the vocals and guitar work are superb. The lyrics to "Blow Up Your Speakers" which are about radio and TV not playing good music made a lot of sense to me back in the the late 80s. We were lucky to have a community station that played a heap of good stuff though. MTV might only play one or two hard rock tracks a night. I've listened to a lot of other Manowar albums over the years and none affect me like this one. Track: Defender - https://youtu.be/-AMi-vCfAWw
Metallica - The $5.98 EP (1987)
The story goes that Metallica had just recruited Jason Newsted on bass and wanted to punch out some tracks with him prior to recording a full album. So, depending on who you believe they either built a small studio or rented one, and recorded an EP of cover songs. This was my first foray into Metallica's music and it's a lot of fun. Indeed, when "...And Justice For All" was released a year later I was a bit confused as it was nothing like this EP. It didn't cost $5.98 in Australia but it was still cheap. No doubt that appealed to the Scotsman in me as well! Track: Crash Course In Brain Surgery - https://youtu.be/xZcZ2ndsYI4
Motley Crue - Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
"Theater of Pain" (1985) was probably my introduction (other than KISS) to the glam side of heavy metal and it's a great album. "Girls, Girls, Girls" is heavier and a bit tougher on the whole. The video clip for the title track was risque at the time and positively tame these days. Look; motorbikes, leather, girls, studs and guitars was an excellent combination. "Dr Feelgood" would follow this album and make the band huge stars but "Girls, Girls, Girls" is probably them at their best in my opinion. They aren't hungry for success the way they were on previous release but they aren't huge celebrities just yet. Track: Wild Side - https://youtu.be/6nm1BJPe-pg
Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (1988)
In my opinion, Bon Jovi are a completely different band these days and I don't like them. "Slippery When Wet", however, is a top notch hard rock album. It was the first one of theirs that I was aware of as well. A stream of hit singles ensured its success. I remember being so excited that I could play "Wanted Dead or Alive" on my acoustic guitar and it sounded right. Bon Jovi looked like a band having fun making good music. Springsteen-esque lyrics and melodic hard rock. Track: Wild In The Streets - https://youtu.be/LPa1HswSc2o
Europe - The Final Countdown (1988)
I had this album on the other side of the cassette to "Slippery When Wet" and as such I always associate both bands with each other. Europe, their mega-hit notwithstanding, rocked hard and used cool video clips to ensure album sales. They're still around but never had the success of this album again. They keyboards on this album sound a bit dated and cheesy now but they worked well at a time when having them in a metal band could be tantamount to treason! Track: Rock The Night - https://youtu.be/ELtpTBf-pMU
Stryper - To Hell With The Devil (1988)
When I became a fan of Stryper I had access to copies of this album as well as their 1986 release, "Soldiers Under Command". These days I prefer "Soldiers" but "To Hell With The Devil" still has a place in my heart. I remember thinking that this was a metal band who could really sing! There were soaring guitars and harmonies as well. I wasn't in it for the religious message; I just liked the fact that these four guys in bumblebee suits rocked out. I'm still a fan of the band to this day. Track: Calling On You - https://youtu.be/qT-kYZWrHag
Van Halen - 5150 (1988)
The first album that Van Halen recorded with new vocalist Sammy Hagar is, for me, one of their best. I'd been a fan of their first album (self titled from 1978) for a little while due to a couple of friends playing it non-stop. But this was a different Van Halen. Maybe one that had grown from playing backyard parties to playing sold out stadiums. It's probably their only album that I still play from front to back without skipping anything and that says something. Track: Summer Nights - https://youtu.be/NqG7hXwXXv4
There you go. There were plenty of other releases in 87/88 that I grew to enjoy later on but those are the ones I listened to at the time.
For those of you waiting patiently to see/hear the new Junk Sculpture track you can rest assured that it's almost here. Final touches are being done to the audio mix and the clip so watch this space. George and the boys have more recording planned for 2018 and I'll keep you all in the loop.
Last week I played a track by Father John Misty. I've been listening to a lot of his stuff this week and I'm really impressed. It's like a most bodacious mix of Elton John and Bob Dylan. Highly recommended. This track is 13 minutes long - treat yourself.
Father John Misty - Leaving LA - https://youtu.be/WfnXM_DmEzo
Other than that I've been doing my best to immerse myself in the music of The Pogues and conduct an investigation into the Progressive Rock genre. The Prog stuff is taking a bit of work as it's a bit nebulous as to what actually is and isn't included. To me Pink Floyd were once an experimental noise band who became a rock band. But apparently they are Prog. Jethro Tull too. I thought they were folk rock. Bands like Dream Theater are as much metal to me as they are prog. The obvious ones like Yes, Rush and Camel challenge me mainly in a rhythmic sense and who knows how Frank Zappa fits in. I'll keep working on it.
The Pogues - Dirty Old Town - https://youtu.be/122isznJdto
Jethro Tull - North Sea Oil - https://youtu.be/jAgfxRQldAc
That'll do for now. Have a great weekend. Rock on brothers and sisters!