Deep Purple In Rock (1970): It's 1970, and the members of Deep Purple have a meeting. Ritchie Blackmore declares himself head honcho, so he gets one over-the-top guitar solo per song. Agreed. But then Jon Lord points out how Purple's keyboard sound sets them apart from heavy metal competitors Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, so he should also get one solo per song. Agreed. Drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover stew in silence - nobody would ever back their demands for a solo per song. So they throw their votes in with singer Ian Gillan and he gets one (yes, a vocal) solo per song. This album quickly followed.
801 Live (1976): 801 was a project led by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and featured fellow geek Brian Eno (I'll use both names because I can) and some art-rock sidemen in the band. (Though to be fair, drummer Simon Phillips wasn't just some art-rock sideman: He played with everybody.) I had forgotten how much of an influence Eno was on New Wave. His songs on this live album prove it: they're cold, distanced, and rather dorky. I do remember being blown away by his Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy album, so now I'm all confused. The songs that aren't Eno's have long, boring solos. The cover of "You Really Got Me" actually is kind of funny in an ironic way, but I blame it for Devo so fukkit.
Pete Townshend - All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982): I hadn't listened to this in years and recalled it as being the equal of the brilliantly passionate Empty Glass. All I can say now is: A couple of great songs, but mostly just weird. Do I dare slap White City on?
Nick Lowe - Pure Pop For Now People (1978): I dug this one out because I thought it had "Cruel To Be Kind" on it. It doesn't. (But thank you Morpheus!) I remember buying this because the Rolling Stone Record Guide (the red one) gave it four stars. I also remember where I bought it - a used record store that operated in the old Budget Records space just south of what would become the Pleasure Palace in Grand Forks. I remember when I got it - August 1983. I remember seeing my high school crush (check it - Ms. February on your calendar!) on a bike during my drive home. I do not remember ever enjoying this album. Until now, almost twenty years later. "So It Goes", "Heart Of The City", "Rollers Show", "They Called It Rock" ... this stuff is genius. And it's out-of-print in this country and I don't wanna get the import (though I should for its UK title: Jesus of Cool), so thank God for little record stores in crush-infested Grand Forks in the early eighties.
Ratt - Invasion of Your Privacy (1985): Hair-metal damners (myself included) be damned. Not only were these guys tougher than wuss-LA contemps like Crue and Poison, but side one of this album is as good a side of hard rock as you would hear in the eighties. The opening lyric is You take the midnight subway train / You're calling all the shots, and for whatever reason I always dug it. (To this day, I still have never seen a subway outside of movies or TV or strip malls.) "Lay It Down" centers this side of vinyl, within it Ratt manages to slow down the beat and still slay. The song is all about how Stephen Pearcy can please this woman, if only she'd give him a chance. You know you want to lay it down / Right now. Uh-huh. He also throws in a fave of mine: You take what's good for your pleasin' / I'll take what's good for the crazy evenin'. (Hey I thought he was into pleasuring HER!) Side two ain't much, but it does contain "You Should Know By Now," which is an okay song with a killer chorus. I saw these guys in Grand Forks touring behind this album. The opener was a band called Bon Jovi. The previous year, they had had a hit with "Runaway," but their then-current second album had bombed. Obviously, these guys were headed to one-shotdom. During Bon Jovi's set, their lead singer mentioned playing on the shores of Jersey. After he namechecked Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, I yelled out a "yeah!!" in recognition. My yell was the only noise heard in the arena. It's been over fifteen years, so by now I swear Jon looked in my direction and shrugged.
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