Tag: 1976

Scorpions – Virgin Killer

ARTIST: Scorpions

TITLE: Virgin Killer

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Virgin Killer, Pictured Life

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Catch Your Train

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Bucholz, Rudy Lenners. Achim Kirschning played keyboards when needed.  

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The moment when the Scorpions really get their act together and start world domination. Or would have, if that cover didn’t get in the way. (NOTE: There is no way in hell that I’m showing the original cover. Wikipedia got a pass – I don’t think I will).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After three albums, this band of German rockers found their niche, and on this, their fourth album, they pert near perfected their hard rock tracks. The songs written by Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker have caught up to Uli Jon Roth’s contributions (for the most part). And Roth’s guitar work is still as unpredictable and invigorating as ever.

Four of the five songs on the first side, concluding with the title track (a song about time ravaging the youth – no, really). Yet, Roth still sings two tracks (he shouldn’t have), and there were two ballads that interfered with their rock-and-roll fury.

This is close to the pinnacle of the 70’s Scorpions, and got them into bigger venues around Europe and some whispers in the states. Alas…the cover.


NOTES & MINUTIAE: The controversy about the cover is in the Wikipedia page for this album (along with the original cover). It’s…not the smartest thing they ever did.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Nope.

GRADE B:  If they could have stopped with the bland ballads and Roth singing, this would have been a great record through and through, But I’m yelling about this 46 years in the future…so it’s a bit late, right?

ZZ Top – Tejas

ARTIST: ZZ Top 

TITLE: Tejas

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION:  #17

SINGLES: It’s Only Love (#44), Arrested for Driving While Blind (#91), Enjoy and Get It On (#105)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A mediocre record from a tired-sounding band.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: ZZ Top had been touring basically non stop since their founding, and seemingly lost its mojo when they went into the studio to record their fourth (and a half) studio album.

The album is more country and blues based than much of their previous efforts, and utilized a shuffle rhythm more than anything. The songs seem less adventurous and lascivious, repeating many of the same things. Only some interesting wordplay saves some of the tracks (“I’ve gotten good at missing her / I practice all the time” from “Pan Am Highway Blues”) and Gibbons uses his deeper growl for “El Diablo”. The tracks also seem padded out a bit with extended outros on some tracks.

It’s not to say that it’s a horrible album, it’s just flat and uninspired for the most part. After this album and another tour, the band took a 90-day-into-two-year break and came back with a revitalized crowd pleasing album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: On the abomination that was the Six Pack (remixed versions of six of their first seven albums with ‘updated’ Eliminator-like drums and mixes – avoid!), the geniuses cut out the first line to “Arrested for Driving While Blind”. Get the real version.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE: B-: They were worn out here.

REO Speedwagon – R.E.O.

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon      220px-R.E.O.

TITLE: R.E.O.

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #159

SINGLES: Keep Pushin’

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Flying Turkey Trot, (I Believe) Our Time Is Gonna Come

LINEUP: Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath, Neil Doughty, Gregg Philbin, Alan Gratzer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After an exile, Kevin Cronin returns to REO, thankfully.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For their sixth studio album, REO Speedwagon welcomes back Kevin Cronin, who wrote their best-known (to that date) song, yet was forced out (or quit) before it was released and the vocals re-recorded.,

The band had released half-hearted records, but the addition of Cronin gave Gary Richrath some songwriting competition and allowed the material to improve. It still was just mediocre Midwestern rock, but it was an improvement.

“Keep Pushin’”, the lead cut, was the best track since “Ridin’ the Storm Out”, and “(I Believe) Our Time Is Gonna Come” is a pre-cursor to their huge 1980 hits. So, this is an improvement, and not an album you’ll throw out as soon as you hear it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band approached Greg Volz to be the new singer, but he became a Born-Again Christian (and later formed Stryper), thus the return of Cronin.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: It’s not horrible, just a bit blah.

AC / DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

ARTIST: AC / DC                                                                220px-Dirty_Deeds_Done_Dirt_Cheap_(ACDC_album_-_cover_art0

TITLE: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

YEAR RELEASED: 1976 (except for the US, where it was 1981)

CHART ACTION: #3 (finally, in 1981). Top 5 in Australia!

SINGLES: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (#4 Mainstream, #47 UK), Love at First Feel, Ride On. Jailbreak was on the Aussie album and hit #10 there.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big Balls, Problem Child

LINEUP: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Now a classic piece of wax, this was passed over by their US record company until AC/DC became too big to ignore.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, the geniuses at Atlantic Records thought an album “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Problem Child” wasn’t worth releasing. Well, that wasn’t too bright was it? 220px-ACDC_Dirty_Deeds_Done_Dirt_Cheap_Aus_Front

Sure, some of the filler is definitely filler, and “Big Balls” is fine for 12-year olds everywhere, but there’s enough good stuff here to forgive some of the puerile stuff. Most of the tracks rock despite the cringe on your face, and it’s all in good fun, innit?

The Australian version and the International / US Version had some big differences, and really the latter version flows better but loses two good tracks and adds just one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The International Version added “Love at First Feel” (a plus) and “Rocker” (meh) and loses “RIP (Rock In Peace)” and “Jailbreak” (both minuses).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No unless you count the two versions.

 GRADE B: Any record with “Problem Child” gets an upgrade!

Eric Clapton – No Reason to Cry

ARTIST: Eric Clapton             EC_No_Reason_to_Cry.jpeg

TITLE: No Reason to Cry

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #15 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: Hello Old Friend (#24), Carnival

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sign Language

LINEUP: Eric Clapton, the Band, Yvonne Ellman, Bob Dylan, Ron Wood, Carl Radle, and so many others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Clapton rallies a bit, and makes an album that’s not boring.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Breaking out of the torpor of his previous album, Eric Clapton worked with The Band at their studio, and had a duet with Bob Dylan on the latter’s “Sign Language”. As with any duet with Dylan, Bob’s got his own rhythm, and his gruff growl and Clapton’s reedy voice (which is raspy this time around too) don’t mesh that well, but at least it’s played well by The Band.

Elsewhere, there are a couple of blues tunes, songs written by Rick Danko, and the typical laid-back shuffles that Clapton was specializing in during this time. There’s some energy here, though. I credit The Band.

It’s not a masterpiece, but at least Clapton’s on the right path here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dylan was just hanging around, and not only growled a duet with Clapton, offered another track. Clapton passed, but Ron Wood, also hanging out, grabbed the song “Seven Days” for his solo album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: At least you won’t fall asleep here.

Rush – 2112

ARTIST: Rush                                                           220px-Rush_2112

TITLE:  2112

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #61

SINGLES: The Twilight Zone, A Passage to Bangkok, The Temples of Syrnix (part of 2112)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 2112 (of course), Something for Nothing

LINEUP: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neal Peart. Hugh Syme plays keyboards on the opening of 2112 and on another track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Rush goes for it, and creates a side-long suite that locks in their fan base, and adds new converts. The second side is spotty.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When older Rush fans think of Rush, they probably think of “2112”, the epic suite that sounds just as great live as on record (even if Geddy Lee can’t reach the high notes anymore). While that side-long epic has some down parts (especially some slow guitar wanderings), most of it is a great example of prog-rock done right.

Side two? Well, it starts off with the fantastic “Passage to Bangkok”, and a couple of other tracks are decent. The middle tracks, the songs Neal Peart didn’t write lyrics for, let the side down. I exiled one, even.

I have to downgrade it for side two, but seriously, if you like Rush or prog and you don’t have this record there’s something amiss.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It may be coincidence, but probably isn’t. The ending has two lines: The first seven words are repeated three times (21) and the last four are repeated three times as well (12).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live cuts, and a bonus disc from the 40th anniversary.

GRADE: B+:  I just can’t look past side two, or the droopy parts of the suite. But, man, when it’s great, it’s fantastically great.

 

Journey – Look into the Future

ARTIST: Journey                         Journey_Look_Future

TITLE:  Look into the Future

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #100

SINGLES: On a Satuday Night, She Makes Me (Feel Alright)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, no, no.

LINEUP: Greg Rollie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Ex-members of Santana and other bands try again, shedding some of their prog-rock excursions. The songs let them down.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Journey’s second album finds a quartet trying to find a sound that’s natural for them, but also commercial. They’re kinda successful, in a way. At least they’re trying to be commercial.

The lead cut “On a Satuday Night” is an attempt to have that ‘feel good rock-and-roll’ tune, but it seems a little stiff and lyrically daft. They don’t fare much better with their ballads, nor their more proggy explorations on side two.

The worst idea is covering a mediocre deep Beatles cut (“It’s All Too Much” – a song that was shunted off to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack) and doing it in a sped-up way that ruins any meaning and spirit the song had.

By now, it was obvious that Rollie and Schon and company needed help to gain success, especially in song writing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Original member George Tickner left during pre-production having co-written two songs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C:  Well, um…the best that I can say is that they’re trying. But this album is trying, too. EXILED.

Bruce Cockburn – In the Falling Dark

ARTIST: Bruce Cockburn                               in-the-falling-dark

TITLE:  In the Falling Dark

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really

LINEUP: Bruce Cockburn, Michael Donato, Bob Disalie, Bill Usher, Dennis Pendrith, Kathryn Moses, Fred Stone, and others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  On his seventh (7!) album, Cockburn moves away from his almost entirely acoustic material into a sound incorporating jazz and rock with his environmental folk tunes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cockburn had released six albums since 1970 in Canada (they’re all streaming, but they really didn’t make an impact here (barely released if at all))but this is where he moves towards a more contemporary sound.

There’s a lot of jazz elements here, especially when Kathryn Moses’ flutes mingle with the bass, drums, percussion and guitar. Cockburn’s guitar picking is outstanding, as he really lets it fly on the instrumental “Water into Wine”.

The long, acoustice “Gavin’s Woodpile” stops the record cold on the middle of side two. I’m sure fans of his previous albums appreciated it, but it’s an eight minute long acoustic diatribe that I just wanted to end.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s pronounced CO-burn, you pervs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Some outtakes have been appended.

GRADE: B-: Folk / jazz / soft rock ain’t for everyone, I know, especially when it’s kind of environmentally preachy. But this works on a lot of levels, except for the one long long long song.

Blondie – Blondie

ARTIST: Blondie Blondie_album_cover

TITLE:  Blondie

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #75 UK

SINGLES: X Offender, In the Flesh, Rip Her to Shreds

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Man Overboard?

LINEUP: Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Gary Valentine, Jimmy Destri, Clem Burke

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album by NYC CBGB band has some hooks, some very memorable songs, and shows some of what Blondie would become.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Blondie was still kind of finding their way around (after evolving from a girl group parody / tribute way back when) when they dropped this record on the public to yawns and sighs in late 1976. But, if the public would have listened, they would have found a lot of things to like about it.

Jimmy Destri’s organ is the star of the music – full of fun hooks and fills all over the place. Harry is the star of star, of course. You can’t help but listen to her. The songs are about 50/50 hit or miss, though Harry makes most of them decent, and makes songs like “In the Flesh” and “Rip Her to Shreds” stellar. When she coos, “I could give you some head and shoulders to lie on…” you take notice!

About half the record stands up with their best work, and since it’s relatively unknown it’s like bonus Blondie, right?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was originally released on Private Stock records. The original single mix for “X Offender” was, well, not good. Then they dumped out of their contract to sign with Chrysalis, and that company re-released it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, demos and those Private Stock mixes.

GRADE: B+: It’s a fun record with some pretty great songs balancing the mediocre ones.

Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny

ARTIST: Judas Priest 220px-Sad_wings_of_destiny_cover

TITLE:  Sad Wings of Destiny

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: The Ripper

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Victim of Changes, Deceiver, Tyrant, Genocide, Island of Domination

LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Alan Moore

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A mostly metal showcase for the band that has several legendary Priest songs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Victim of Changes” is my favorite heavy metal song of all time. It glides through several movements and features some great guitar playing and the ultimate vocal gymnastics from Rob Halford. It’s a damn near perfect way to start this record.

This one is packed with songs that would become tour staples for many years to follow, and many were immortalized on live records and bootlegs in future years. Hearing Halford’s vocals on the intro to “The Ripper” gives one chills.

It’s not a perfect album. They kept trying to make ballads happen and it really wasn’t their strength, though “Dreamer Deceiver” picks up at the end as it morphs into “Deceiver”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this record, they left Gull Records and were signed by CBS, but Gull owned the rights to their first two albums. Thus, the endless repackaging of them in later years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: As much as I wanted to give this an A or A+, the ballads drag it down so it’s not a complete heavy metal extravaganza.