Tag: 1980

Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations

ARTIST: Diamond Head 

TITLE: Lightning to the Nations (The White Album)



SINGLES: Sweet and Innocent (#39 UK Indie)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Prince, Am I Evil?, It’s Electric, Helpless

LINEUP: Sean Harris, Brian Tatler, Colin Kimberly, Duncan Scott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An album from a small band in the UK inspired many cover versions due to tape trading.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Diamon Head was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but unlike some bands they struggled to find a record company that would sign them. So they recorded their best songs, pressed them on their own label, and sold them at their shows.

The record got them noticed, and people traded tapes of the album and sent them all around the world. That’s how Metallica heard them and recorded some of their tracks as B-sides. This got them noticed, and soon enough they were signed.

The record definitely is worth the underground hype, and then some. The seven tracks feature riffs a plenty, fast tempos, intricate solos, and the swagger and heft that metal needs. 

One can hear how this record, little known at first and heard only on tapes made from tapes, inspired metal heads in the US to go faster and more intricate. It should be on any music fans list of records that inspired 80’s metal.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: At first, 100 copies were pressed, then another 1,000. The cover was blank because their manager could print blank sleeves at no cost. The first pressing didn’t have song titles on the cover either, and Lightning for the Nations was chosen as the title by others since it was the first track.

The tapes were sent to Germany for a pressing, but never came back. Some faulty remixes were released on CD before they finally found the tapes again and that’s what’s streaming now. They also re-did the album in 2020 but you don’t need that.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a B-side and their singles that bridged to their second album. Those show why their career derailed quickly, as they tried to get more commercial, slicker and less metal. They also re-recorded songs from this record. Sigh.

GRADE: A: It fit right in there with Iron Maiden, and is still a classic of the NWOBHM.

Motorhead – Ace of Spades

ARTIST: Motorhead

TITLE: Ace of Spades



SINGLES: Ace of Spades (#15 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Love Me Like a Reptile, (We Are) The Roadcrew, The Chase Is Better Than the Catch

LINEUP: Fast Eddie Clark, Lemmy Kilmesiter, Philthy Animal Taylor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Landmark album from as Lemmy says, “a rock ‘n’ roll band”.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Every rock ‘n’ roll fan worth their salt knows “Ace of Spades”, right? How about 11 other tracks almost as good?  You got it here folks!

Riffs? Yeah, Fast Eddie has the riffs. Power? Yeah, Lemmy and Philthy Animal bring that? Swagger and attitude? In spades, as it were. Volume? The switch is broken – it’s full blast all the time.

Motorhead came into their own here, and it was due to producer Vic Maile that they harnessed their power. He was a no-nonsense producer that didn’t cotton to their outlandish behavior and arguments and got them to focus on the songs. He also mixed the album himself, making it clear and bright (well, as bright as Motorhead can be). The result? A rock ‘n’ roll classic.

Some of the songs may not be…um…suitable. But it was a rock ‘n’ roll album that celebrated the lifestyle of the 70’s. It also included a tribute to the road crew. I fully believe Lemmy and Motorhead lived this album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Lemmy summed up this album: “We only thought of ourselves as a good time rock ‘n’ roll band, really… But we weren’t trying to get a message across, apart from have a good time, you know: get pissed, get stoned, and fuck a chick. And that’ll do.”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, their EP with Girlschool is appended.


GRADE: A+: You gotta crank this record, if only to piss off the right people.

Saxon – Wheels of Steel


TITLE: Wheels of Steel



SINGLES: Wheels of Steel (#20 UK), 747 (Strangers in the Night) (#13 UK), Suzie Hold On

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not around these parts

LINEUP: Biff Byford, Graham Oliver, Paul Quinn, Steve Dawson, Pete Gill

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from UK band becomes a NWOBHM classic and showed the commercial potential of that genre in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Saxon’s second album was a revelation to the UK music business. It hit #5 and spun off two singles, showing that the New Wave of British Heavy Metal could be a commercial force.

The album is full of riffs, guitar interplay, melodic solos, driving tempos – you know, the usual NWOBHM menu. Not only do they have riffs and guitars all over the place (the title track riff – my goodness), they also can write hooks on occasion.

A lot of the record is at a quick tempo, but I think the detriment of singer Biff Byford. His high-pitched vocals don’t have a lot of power when he’s got to sing ultra fast. When he slows down a bit, his vocals really work, and that’s why “747 (Strangers in the Night)” is such an effective track.

I can see why this was a hit in the UK – the US music industry didn’t have the machine to bring this out to the general public, so it became a underground metal community gem.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “747 (Strangers in the Night)” was written about the Northeast Blackout in 1965 and how a Scandanavian airliner had to land in the dark.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, demos and live cuts and a b-side

GRADE: B+: One of the hard-to-get albums (in the US) that kick started the tape-trading era of metal, which then developed into a full-out metal scene.

The Circle Jerks – Group Sex

ARTIST: The Circle Jerks 220px-Circle_Jerks_-_Group_Sex

TITLE: Group Sex




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lots of you saw the Decline of the Western Civilization

LINEUP: Keith Morris, Greg Hetson, Roger Rogerson, Lucky Lehrer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Short (14 songs in 15 minutes) burst of LA punk from a band formed from castoffs of Black Flag and Redd Kross.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Decline of the Western Civilization, the Penelope Spheeris look at the punk scene in LA in 1979 and 1980 was the coming out party of the Circle Jerks to a somewhat wider audience than the insular scene they came from.

This burst of short songs is one of the better documents of a piece of that LA scene. Keith Morris was in Black Flag at their beginning and guitarist Greg Hetson was in the original lineup of Redd Kross. They brought a few songs from their old bands and wrote some other now-punk classics like “Beverly Hills”, “Deny Everything”, and “Live Fast Die Young”.

The songs don’t linger, so there’s no energy drop off. Unlike other punk bands, they didn’t pad out their album to make it more than they were. That’s refreshing – you get in, and in 15 minutes, you’re out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Black Flag didn’t like Morris changing some of the lyrics (and not crediting Greg Ginn), so they wrote a track that blasted him: “You Bet We’ve Got Something Personal Against You”


 GRADE A-: This still brings the early LA punk scene to life.

Barry Goudreau – Barry Goudreau

ARTIST: Barry Goudreau

TITLE: Barry Goudreau

YEAR RELEASED: 1980220px-Barry_goudreau


SINGLES: Dreams (#103)


LINEUP: Barry Goudreau, Sib Hashian, and Brad Delp or Fran Cosmo signing lead.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: When Tom Scholz put Boston on hiatus, he encouraged other band mates to do other projects. Ta da!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Barry Goudreau was the ‘other’ guitarist in Boston (basically learned Scholz’ stuff for the stage for the most part), and when Boston went on hiatus while Tom Scholz fought the record company, he grabbed drummer Sib Hashian, and singer Brad Delp to record some tracks that Scholz rejected for Boston albums.

Kind of “Boston” light, in a way, and that’s how it was promoted.

It kinda had the Boston sound thanks to Delp being on vocals on 2/3 of the record (Fran Cosmo sang on the other 1/3 – and in the mid-90’s Cosmo became Boston’s studio vocalist – go figure) but it didn’t have the meticulous Boston sound (airtight and oh-so clean), and the songs didn’t quite have the same impact or power. Only in a few instances do you get that Boston guitar sound, and it’s not exactly right either.

But I really was expecting worse, for some reason. This is a passably decent rock-and-roll record, and if it wasn’t related to Boston it may not have had the high expectations that some put on it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: By 1983, Goudreau and Cosmo had formed Orion the Hunter, and later Goudreau and Delp formed RTZ


GRADE B-: There’s some Boston-esque sounds here, and some decent rock-and-roll tracks. So if you’re into that, it doesn’t hurt to give this a whirl.

Talking Heads – Remain in Light

ARTIST: Talking Heads 220px-TalkingHeadsRemaininLight

TITLE: Remain in Light



SINGLES: Once in a Lifetime (#103 US, #14 UK), Houses in Motion (#50 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On), Crosseyed and Painless

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Franz, Brian Eno, Nona Hendryx, Adrian Belew, Robert Palmer, session percussion and horns.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Never standing still, Talking Heads move into a groove-based rhythmic sound with plenty of room for experimentation and production tricks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Crafting the songs from jams, adding crucial elements like Nona Hendryx’ backing vocals and Adrian Belew’s out-there guitar, Talking Heads overcame David Byrne’s writers block and created a forward-thinking album that is still far beyond what many bands have done.

Using African music and rhythm as an inspiration, the Heads dove in to create an outwardly rhythmic and inwardly introspective album. Many songs feature element upon element of sound, yet the rhythm is always forward. There also couldn’t be two different grooves and sounds than “Crosseyed and Painless” and “The Overload” (a homage to Joy Division, even though no one in the band had heard them before), and they exist here on the same record by the same band.

The last part of the album seems to run out of steam, probably thanks to the joyous first part, yet it’s a crucial album in music because of its emphasis and inspiration.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There were plenty of disputes between Byrne and the band, and Eno and some of the band related to credits and production.


GRADE A: Bona-fide classics and lots of grooves to get lost in.

Devo – Freedom of Choice

ARTIST: Devo                                       DevoFreedomofChoice

TITLE: Freedom of Choice



SINGLES: Whip It (#14 US, #8 Dance, #51 UK), Freedom of Choice (#103 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Girl U Want, Gates of Steel

LINEUP: Mark Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale, Bob Motherspaugh, Bob Casale, Alan Myers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The ‘breakthrough’ thanks to a fluky single, but it was a decent album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Regrouping after a disappointing second album, Devo moved toward a synth pop sound while keeping guitars for flourishes and fills. The heavy lifting was on keyboards and synths.

Starting off strong with “Girl U Want”, the album announced Devo as a vanguard of synth music in the 80’s. “Whip It”, a fluky hit (catchy as heck, and the meaning zoomed past everyone almost). The closest song to the old sound is the title track, a martial call to individualism and a condemnation of complacency. Normal Devo stuff, as it were.

The album has some filler, but there’s no stunning lows or head scrathers as on their last album. The high points, though (including “Gates of Steel” and “Mr. B’s Ballroom” along with the other cuts listed above) raise up the grade.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Gates of Steel” was co-written with two friends from the Akron music scene.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live versions and demos..

 GRADE A-: There’s some real Devo gold here, as it were!

Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier

ARTIST: Adam & the Ants            220px-Adam&theAntsKingsoftheWildFrontier

TITLE: Kings of the Wild Frontier



SINGLES: Kings of the Wild Frontier (#19 Dance, #2 UK), Dog Eat Dog (#19 Dance, #15 Mainstream, #4 UK), Antmusic (#19 Dance, #14 Mainstream, #2 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Physical (You’re So) (US Version)

LINEUP: Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni, Kevin Mooney, Chris Hughes (Merrick), Terry Lee Miall

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A swaggering, brazen, spirited record where things come together for Adam Ant and his Ants like lightning in a bottle.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Malcolm McLaren stole the Ants and the “Burundi Beat” for Bow Wow Wow, but Adam Ant joined up with Marco Pirroni, found other Ants (including two drummers), and released an outstanding group of tracks expounding on his “Antmusic” philosophy (whatever that was).

There are swipes at the press, braggadocio about the band, tributes to Native Americans, pirates, and spaghetti westerns, and a couple tracks that could be themes to horror movies (especially “Ants Invasion”).

Any one within earshot of this album in the early 80’s was drawn to it. When MTV came on board, Adam Ant was one of the early stars because of his visual sense and themes as much as his music. It’s a unique album by a unique band for a unique time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Released in 1980, this was the best selling album in the UK in 1981.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. In the US, the vinyl dropped a cut and added two B-sides (including the sublime “Physical (You’re So)”. The cassette and CD originally had the great B-side “Beat My Guest” and the next single “Stand and Deliver”. The deluxe CD drops those two, adds another B-side, an outtake, and a live show and restores the missing UK track. Whew.

 GRADE: A+: The early 80’s wouldn’t be the same without this record.

Van Halen – Women and Children First

ARTIST: Van Halen                 220px-Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First

TITLE: Women and Children First



SINGLES: And the Cradle Will Rock… (#55 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Everybody Wants Some!!

LINEUP: David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony. Nicolette Larson sings backup on “Could This Be Magic?”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their songwriting has improved, but it still seems too short .

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s eight listed tracks, though one is an intro, and another (“Fools”) has a long intro as well. The songs, though, are almost as good as their debut album – with no covers and somewhat enhanced sonic range.

Eddie Van Halen’s electric piano adds depth to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” There’s some good work in incorporating acoustic guitars into their repertoire on the second side, and while many of the tracks are party songs, at least one sounds like they’re kickin’ it on the back porch and it doesn’t sound half bad.

Still, it just seems too short. I think leaving them waiting for more is a great idea, but I really want more, especially since some of my favorite Van Halen deep cuts are on this one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “In a Simple Rhyme” ends with a track called “Growth”, which was faded out until this album was released on CD. It was a way to start a jam or a medley into other songs on tour. Also, almost every live clip of “Romeo’s Delight” has Roth forgetting the second verse.


GRADE: B+: Savant David Lee Roth said “Everybody Wants Some!!” but I want more than this album gave me.

Loverboy – Loverboy

ARTIST: Loverboy                            LoverboyLB

TITLE: Loverboy



SINGLES: Turn Me Loose (#35, #6 Mainstream), Lady of the 80’s, The Kid Is Hot Tonight (#55, #42 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Deep tracks aren’t a strong suit of Loverboy

LINEUP: Mike Reno, Paul Dean, Doug Johnson, Scott Smith, Matt Frenette

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mainstream Canadian rockers debut makes some waves, and positions them for an MTV career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I mean, it’s Loverboy. Nostalgia for Generation X and 80’s kids, and fodder for arenas and classic rock radio.

Their debut started out strong, with the two biggest hits, and then, well, went straight to filler land. Which means songs with half-hearted hooks, lazy lyrics, 80’s synthesizers, and some showing off but always keeping it safe. Which is probably what you’d expect.

It’s not horrible by any stretch, and the filler doesn’t make you want to get up and change the station. But it’s not great art by any stretch. And I don’t think anyone will ever release a track named “Prissy Prissy” now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first gig was supporting Kiss in Calgary in 1979.


GRADE: C+:  Not really as bad as I originally thought, but the records just blah after the hits. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting that much anyway.