Tag: 1981

Joe Jackson – Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive

ARTIST: Joe Jackson

TITLE: Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive  220px-Jumpinjive

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #42 US, #12 UK

SINGLES: Jumpin’ Jive (#43 UK), Jack You’re Dead

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All of these are swing-era hit songs

LINEUP: Joe Jackson, Pete Thomas, Raul D’Oliveira, Nick Weldon, Dave Bitelli, Graham Maby, Larry Tolfree.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After he broke up his angry-young-man band, Jackson goes swing (!?!) It was probably a fun record to make.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The swing music era always has affectionados, and revivals every now and then pop up in space and time. Joe Jackson loved the jump blues and swing, so why not put out an album of covers of his favorite songs.

Featuring songs made famous by Louis Jordan, Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, and others, Jackson leads a competent swing band through the paces in what sounds like a fun time.

Yet after a couple of plays, what you want to do is find the originals (which is now much, much easier in the streaming world) than listen to Jackson’s versions. (His voice isn’t always built for these songs). So a fun concept, the tour was probably a hoot, but these aren’t the originals and that’s what you really want.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this tour, Jackson changed directions again, keeping Graham Maby as the only continuum between his first band and 1982.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE: C+: It’s fun, but it doesn’t have staying power since the originals are the ones you need to seek out.

20/20 – Look Out!

ARTIST: 20/20                                      R-2470935-1285873847.jpeg

TITLE: Look Out!

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

 

CHART ACTION: #127

SINGLES: Strange Side of Love,

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you adore power pop

LINEUP: Steve Allen, Ron Flynt, Joel Turrisi, Chris Silagyi.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from relocated Midwestern power-pop quartet is hooky and melodic

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Power pop was either a hit or miss (usually a miss) on the charts, since it fell in between radio-friendly rock, pop, and adult contemporary and only the catchiest tracks could catch on with the radio.

Which means a band like 20/20, who had catchy hooks, harmonies, and interesting songs and melodies, didn’t catch a break in the era when the Top 40 was transitioning away from disco and into new wave and arena rock.

This second foray by the band covers a lot of the same ground as their debut. Some of the tracks near the end didn’t work as well in reality as in concept, and at times it felt like a slight re-write of the first one. Still, there was enough here that it could have done better on the charts had radio taken a flyer on it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They added a new drummer, and after the album only Allen and Flynt remained.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two extra tracks.

 GRADE: B+: A few duds near the end, otherwise another good representation of power pop.

The Neville Brothers – Fiyo on the Bayou

ARTIST: The Neville Brothers    220px-Neville.fiyo.bayou

TITLE: Fiyo on the Bayou

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Sitting in Limbo

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Brother John / Iko Iko

LINEUP: Art, Cyril, Charles, Aaron and Charmaine Neville with a bunch of New Orleans session musicans (including Art’s son Ivan).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A better album from the Neville’s than their debut as a group.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Compared to the greatness of the Meters, to Aaron’s ballad work, and other projects the Nevilles have been associated with, this album still seems a bit of a letdown.

Yet, it’s joyous, and has room for old New Orleans standards (“Brother John / Iko Iko”), Aaron’s balladeering (“The Ten Commandments of Love” and “Mona Lisa”), and a cover of the Meters “Hey Pocky Way” and “Fire on the Bayou”.

What’s bothering me a bit is the way the horns are charted and produced – it seems too generic and sterile for me on some cuts. To me, the horns should have been looser and more in the groove. Here they just seem added on. That’s a downgrade – which is a shame because the underlying funk is there.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Meters released an album called Fire on the Bayou. If it worked once…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B:  Blame this on the horn charts, but it’s good for a quick funky fix.

U2 – October

ARTIST: U2                                     220px-U2_October

TITLE: October

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #104 US, #11 UK

SINGLES: Fire (#35 UK), Gloria (#55 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: With a Shout

LINEUP: Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Disappointing second album sounds rushed and unfocused. Narrator: It was.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After getting acclaim for Boy, it seemed nothing went right for U2 when recording their second album. Famously, Bono’s lyric ideas were stolen, and he had to come up with lyrics basically on the spot without his ideas and notes. They came right from a tour to the sessions, and didn’t have many ideas.

They’re lucky some songs sounded as good as they did. “With a Shout”, “Gloria”, and “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” are just as good as anything on their first record, with the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. all contributing new ideas and sounds into their sonic palette.

Yet, as a whole, it’s unsatisfying. The lyrics and music sometimes don’t meld very well (understandable), and had they had more time, they may have turned out something as good as their debut. They didn’t have the time, and it showed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Also, there was an existential crisis in the band. Bono, the Edge, and Mullen were involved in a group called The Shalom Fellowship, and began to question rock-and-roll and its lifestyle.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Singles, b-sides, BBC sessions, live cuts. You know the drill. 

GRADE: C+-: Three great cuts save this album, and probably saved the group.

Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry

ARTIST: Def Leppard                     220px-Def_Leppard_-_High_'n'_Dry

TITLE: High ‘n’ Dry

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #38 US, #26 UK

SINGLES: Let It Go (#34 Rock), Bringing on the Heartbreak (#61)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)

LINEUP: Joe Elliott, Steve Clark, Pete Willis, Rick Savage, Rick Allen

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A commercial and MTV breakthrough for the hard-rockin’, hard-livin’ band – at least in the US.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While still showing inconsistency and still sporting a few lackluster songs, Def Leppard’s second album started the process of their US domination.

The video for “Bringing on the Heartbreak” brought US fans to the band, even if the single didn’t make a radio impact. That showed the band could slow down and be emotional and powerful, while still showing the heaviness that hard rock fans wanted.

The second side is a bit lackluster, but overall this is a slight improvement from their debut and has a few all-timer songs. This may be the best place to start for those dipping in past the hits collections.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Still not streaming, for no damn good reason as I can see.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a B-side (great) and an unneeded ‘enhancement’ of “Bringing on the Heartbreak”

GRADE: B:  It’s the same grade as the debut, as the whole second side isn’t that hot all in all, but I’d start here for an immersion of Deep Leppard.

 

Joe Jackson – Beat Crazy

ARTIST: Joe Jackson                    beat_crazy_joe_jackson_band_album_-_cover_art

TITLE:  Beat Crazy

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #41 US, #42 UK

SINGLES: Mad at You, Bat Crazy, One to One

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Someone Up There, Biology

LINEUP: Joe Jackson, Graham Maby, Gary Sanford, David Houghton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A somewhat mixed album from Jackson – the last from his classic band for many years. Sequencing is a big problem here.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some great songs on this album. “One to One” is a classic Joe Jackson piano ballad, “Biology” hearkens back to the origins of the band with some interesting production, and Jackson’s band handles reggae beats well with “In Every Dream Home (A Nightmare)”.

The main issue here is sequencing. There’s some weaker songs here, and they stand out thanks to their placement. Also, opening with “Beat Crazy” instead of “One to One” (which to me sounded like a classic album opener for Jackson) is off-putting to my ears. “Mad at You” is great, but then goes on for about 30-45 seconds too long.

The album shows the bands versatility, and Jackson’s knack for songwriting in many genres and styles, but it seems more of a tossed together collection than a cohesive unit – even with the songs blending into each other.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was credited to the Joe Jackson Band, which would break up after the European tour for the album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-:  If it was sequenced properly, it would probably be a B or B+.

Spandau Ballet – Journeys to Glory

ARTIST: Spandau Ballet                           spandau_ballet_-_journeys_to_glory_coverart

TITLE:  Journeys to Glory

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #5 UK

SINGLES: To Cut a Long Story Short (#5 UK), The Freeze (#17 UK), Musclebound (#10 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope

LINEUP: Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Steve Norman, Martin Kemp, John Keeble

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album from New Romantic heartthrobs concentrate on the dance floor and pop hooks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first rule of Spandau Ballet, especially on this album, is that you don’t listen to the words. The lyrics aren’t as well thought out here as they could have been.

What matters is the hooks and the rhythms. Gary Kemp, the songwriter and musical leader, knew what was up and how to get noticed. They dressed up in suits and emphasized the pop sensibilities and the dance floor.

It is a bit like cotton candy, sweet but not substantive. Each track has some merits, even though “Mandolin” makes me cringe. “Toys”, though, should have been a hit – there’s no reason the US didn’t embrace that cut. Ah, in due time, though.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was released just 10 days after recording was finished.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The single mixes, the 12” mixes and BBC sessions associated with the album.

GRADE: B:  I was expecting the worse, and while it’s not essential, it’s a decent 80’s dance record.

The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash

ARTIST: The Replacements      the_replacements_-_sorry_ma_forgot_to_take_out_the_trash_cover

TITLE:  Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I’m in Trouble

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Takin’ a Ride, Kick Your Door Down, Johnny’s Gonna Die

LINEUP: Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson, Christopher Mars

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Legendary punk album from legendary Minneapolis band. It’s smart-aleck sass and shambling sound are refreshing and timeless to this day.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Who hasn’t been in love with the girl working the cash register at the mini-mart? Who hasn’t got a throbbing noggin from a concert by a shitty band? Who hasn’t been in trouble, with their parents or their girl? Who hasn’t made bad puns?

Everyone who is or was a teenager can relate to these songs. Paul Westerberg’s songs have a lot of sass and attitude, while the backing by the Stinsons and Christopher Mars may be punk in spirit, but is quite accomplished in practice (especially Tommy’s driving bass lines). This was a punk band that could play – when they wanted to.

“Johnny’s Gonna Die” may be the highlight. It’s a tender song (an outlier) about Johnny Thunders and his heroin habit. It opened Side 2, right after “I Hate Music” (it’s got too many notes), and “Shiftless When Idle”, which is my favorite pun, ever. (I’m lame.)

This has to be in your collection. Has to be. Yeah.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The owner of their record company (Twin-Tone) was their manager and co-producer (Peter Jesperson).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A rare B-side (another tender one) and a bunch of demos and outtakes.

GRADE: A+:  When I was making plans to review this, I thought I may give it a lower grade, but as I listen to it again, all of the reasons I love rock-and-roll and love music are evident here in this album – feedback, snark, and all.

 

Iron Maiden – Killers

ARTIST: Iron Maiden                                   iron_maiden_killers

TITLE:  Killers

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #78 US, #12 UK

SINGLES: Twilight Zone (#31 UK), Purgatory (#52 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wrathchild, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Killers

LINEUP: Paul Di’Anno, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Steve Harris, Clive Burr

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A move away from the punk influence, and more into classic heavy metal territory, this album exposes Di’Anno’s ill-fit as a metal vocalist.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Having changed a guitarist (adding Adrian Smith), Iron Maiden’s second album was more in the now-classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) vein, with only a few punk influences (thanks to Di’Anno).

Steve Harris’ songs are getting more complex and could use a vocalist to really nail and punch the songs through the air. Di’Anno wasn’t it. He was fine for a song like “Murders in the Rue Morgue” but a songs like “Wrathchild” and “Killers” needed a soaring vocalist. That wasn’t him.

Even with the Di’Anno issue, the rest of the Iron Maiden pieces were there. Next time…next time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The US version added the UK single “Twilight Zone” – and the Australian version added another single (a cover of a song by the Aussie band Skyhooks called “Women in Uniform”).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: See above

GRADE: B: A better sounding album, but Di’Anno’s vocals are a worse fit here than their debut.

Prince – Controversy

ARTIST: Prince                                                  prince_controversy

TITLE:  Controversy

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #21

SINGLES: Controversy (#70, #3 R&B, #1 Dance), Let’s Work (#104, #9 R&B), Sexuality, Do Me, Baby

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Jack U Off

LINEUP: Prince, Lisa Coleman, Dr. Fink, Bobby Z. Prince did almost everything though.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After the advances of his last two records, Prince seems to stall in place with an album filled mostly about sex, again, with a couple of weird things to keep you off guard.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Prince mined the same territory as his Dirty Mind album for a lot of his record (all of side one, plus  a couple on side two). Sonically, it’s almost the same as well, with some hot funk, one of his best slow-jam sex ballads (“Do Me. Baby”).

There’s nothing wrong at all with songs like “Controversy” or the brilliant “Let’s Work”, it seems that Prince was content at this time to keep things about the same. Well, except for a couple of tracks.

The one problematic one for me is “Annie Christian”, which seems just odd, and lyrically is kind of disturbing and oblique. It may have some deeper meaning (no doubt it does), but for me it just stops the album cold and the last track can’t get the mojo back.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The last track, “Jack U Off”, is a mini-revolution recording with Dr. Fink, Lisa Coleman, and Bobby Z. along with Prince.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+: A track can ruin a record, or at least make it less essential.