Pure ’80s Rocks
The ’80s were a decade of musical consolidation more than one of innovations. Just as little businesses disappeared when the Big Box stores like Toys ‘R Us and Home Depot took over, a number of Big Box Sounds arose out of the ashes of an earlier revolution. Disco morphed into club music. Punk somehow merged with ska, landing in a single bin at the record shop. Stadium rocking guitar bands let their hair get tall, their androgyny become canonized, and their sound smoother and more uniform. We know then as “headbangers.” This awkwardly titled disk brings together a dozen and a half of the pre-Jumbotron hard rock bands, each with what is pretty close to their signature hit. Stuff like Billy Squier and “Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me,” Golden Earring with mega-MTV hit “Twilight Zone,” and the Judas Priest anthem “Living After Midnight”. There’s Ratt doing “Round and Round,” which still sounds to me like a rip of Van Halen’s “Panama.” My favorite song is Kingdom Come doing their level best to sound like Led Zeppelin on “Get It On.” The guitar riffs are dang close, the vocals nearly there, and if you just found it on an unlabeled acetate at a swap meet, you’d think it was a Robert Plant demo.
There are few obscure bands like Y&T, and Aldo Nova doing “Fantasy.” I know I’ve heard it somewhere in my career, but I’d never guess the name of the band or the song. A few clunkers lurk here, like post-makeup Kiss doing “Lick it Up” The chorus “Lick it up! Live it up!” is vaguely embarrassing; no small feat for these boys, and the tune is a real dud. Still, all in all, for what appears to be a late night TV disk, the sound is surprisingly consistent, the number of power ballads is mercifully small, an it sounds great while riding to the beach in your bitchin’ Camaro. This assumes you’re a headbanger — but then, you are, aren’t you?
UTV Records: http://www.utvrecords.com