The Cassette Chronicles – Whitesnake’s ‘Come an’ Get it’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

WHITESNAKE – COME AN’ GET IT (1981)

Before I get started in earnest with this week’s spotlight album, I want to take a minute to acknowledge a friend of the column. I’m friends with a fellow music fan named Jeff Hogland. We’re pretty active members on his Classic Rock Bottom message board and seeing as how he’s been responsible for getting me a lot of good music on his bargain shopping sprees, I consider him my state of Georgia music consigliere. But I was quite surprised when he messaged me to say that on one of his shopping sprees he’d picked up a bunch of cassettes that he was sending up to me to use in The Cassette Chronicles should I decide to write about them. A box arrived on my doorstep and suddenly I had a bunch more albums to add to “The Big Box of Cassettes”. So thanks go out to Jeff and this week’s album is from that batch of music he sent to me.

In 1981, Whitesnake had yet to become a big name on the American hard rock scene. The band was probably still kind of thought as Deep Purple-lite considering the lineup that recorded this fourth album included Jon Lord on keyboards and Ian Paice on drums. They had success in the UK but hadn’t really broken through in the States.

I hadn’t gotten into the band yet myself. That was still 6 years away with their self-titled album that made them into global superstars. But once I was hooked, I went back and discovered this more bluesy version of the band and I really liked it.

And if you want to know why I liked this Mark 1 version of the band as much as the more glam version, you would do well to check out Come an’ Get It because it is a great primer for music fans to discover the roots of Whitesnake itself.

There is barely a slow down on the album’s ten track running order and even the songs that start out a bit slower tend to end up rocking your socks off. You have to start off with the vocals from David Coverdale whenever you write about Whitesnake and this time is no different. The smoky sound to his voice is by now pretty recognizable but on this album in particular there is also an almost gleeful streak in his performance. This is particularly evident on the less than subtle lyrics for a song like “Would I Lie To You”. Coverdale just seems to be having a ball as he whips his way through the vocals.

The guitar work on each track is just outstanding. Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody formed a pretty potent duo during their time in Whitesnake and every time I listen to any of the material they played on I am reminded of that.

The album opens with the title track and immediately you are transported back to that late 70’s hard rock sound. (Yes, the album was put out in 1981 but it was still steeped in that 70’s sound that made classic rock CLASSIC!) Despite the song’s uptempo pacing, I found that the next song “Hot Stuff” actually rocked a little bit more.

Of course, it isn’t just hit you in the face with one riff after another on this album. The band provides a real sweet groove rocker in “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights”. That same kind of sound is apparent once more on Side Two’s “Girl” as well.

The closing song on Come an’ Get It has that slightly slower start to it that I mentioned above, but the band switches gears midstream and then they just blaze their way to the end with some slick rocking guitars being anchored by Neil Murray’s bass and the rhythm behind the drum kit from Pace.

Surprisingly, this is just scratching the surface of just how much I enjoyed this album. Though as I write that, I can’t say that this is a surprise to me. I’ve been listening to this album a lot over the years. I know that I said Jeff had sent me this album, which is the one I listened to in order to write this piece. But I actually did have this one in my own collection already.

And while I love the flat out rocking “Don’t Break My Heart Again” a whole lot, even that song pales in my estimation to my favorite two songs on this album. The first is the side two opener “Child of Babylon”. If you listen to Whitesnake long enough, you realize that there is always at least one song on their releases that would qualify for the descriptor “epic”. And “Child Of Babylon” is definitely that song for Come an’ Get It.

I’m not even quite sure how to fully write about the song. It just captures your imagination from start to finish and makes you feel as if you are witnessing something that is bigger than you could’ve imagined. I’ve loved a lot of the Whitesnake epics in the past but “Child of Babylon” stands out as one their absolute best.

But without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite song is at the total opposite of the musical spectrum. That song is “Wine, Women An’ Song”. I suppose the more snobbish side of music fans would dismiss the song as trite but there is just something about this song that struck me as being the perfect encapsulation of good time rock and roll party songs. The keyboards from Jon Lord have a huge presence in the mix and both Marsden and Moody get to lay out a solo. But what made this song more than just another kind of “cock rock” track to me is the way Coverdale performs it. I know you are supposed to be more interested in the “tongue-in-cheek” aspect of the band’s lyrics, but there’s really none of that here. Everything is pretty overt and it’s Coverdale’s devil-may-care infectious attitude that made the song a winner from the first lyrical line. And he tells you straight up that “You can tell me it’s wrong, but I love wine, women an’ song”.

I get a cheeky little thrill every time I hear this song and much like the rest of the album, it provides ample evidence that if you only know Whitesnake from the 80’s metal days that brought them multi-platinum success you are only getting half of the story. For me at least, Come an’ Get It is a fantastic representation of the best of the early version of Whitesnake and I will continue to play this album for many more years to come.

 NOTES OF INTEREST: The 2007 remastered edition of Come an’ Get It had an additional 6 bonus tracks included. They were demos and alternate takes of songs from the original track listing.

“Would I Lie To You” was a Top 20 single in the UK in 1981.

The Cassette Chronicles – Overkill’s ‘The Years of Decay’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

OVERKILL – THE YEARS OF DECAY (1989)

 Even the most casual of heavy metal fans have heard the term “The Big Four”. The term is used to signify the four big bands of thrash metal, being Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. You can put them in any order you want depending on your preference, but those are the names that are commonly associated with “The Big Four”. Of course, then there are those people who just have to come up with “The Next Four” and that is where Overkill is pretty well situated by most fans.

But for me this is an issue. You see I regularly commit metal heresy by not really caring all that much for Slayer or Megadeth. Each of the bands have some good songs but they’ve never truly done it for me as a whole.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Overkill they have been far more interesting if not quite as commercially succesful as any of those other bands. Admittedly, there has been times when my fandom for the band has waxed and waned. But it you really can handle the truth as I see it, Overkill produced one of the single best thrash records of all time, better than anything I’ve heard from “The Big Four” save perhaps a couple of Metallica albums.

And that’s the album I’m writing about this week. The Years Of Decay is the band’s fourth album and for my money, their unmatched masterpiece. In recent years, Overkill has released a succession of outstanding albums but even those fail to dent the love I have for this album. Put it this way, if thrash metal had made the Top 40 singles chart, Overkill would’ve had four monster hits from The Years of Decay at the very least!

My first exposure to Overkill was from their previous album Under The Influence. I don’t remember too much about the whole release but I loved the song “Hello From The Gutter”, which I was pretty well exposed to via the band’s video that got played on Headbanger’s Ball.

But when I heard the song “Elimination” on the radio (The Metal Zone on 94 HJY in Providence, RI) I was well and truly hooked. There’s a feel to the music that gets deep into your head, bones and ears. The band is usually going all guns blazing with a rapid fire series of shredding guitars and relentlessly pounding drums. With Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s machine gun of a voice spitting out lyrics over the top, what you get is seamlessly blended brutal heavy FN metal.

But what makes this album for me is that even with all that driving metallic brutality, there is still a sense of melody to the music. It’s not pounding rhythms and spitfire lyrics with no rhyme or reason. The band builds each song into a standout performance, each track building a complete picture of where the band was at this particular time.

While most of the songs are sincerely over the top with the furiously relentless pacing, when the band slows things down for a bit on songs like “Playing With Spiders / Skullcrusher”, the title track or “Who Tends The Fire”, their ability to still stay almost oppressively heavy is fine tuned to the point of perfection. Even then, there’s still spots in each of those songs where the tempo gets the pedal pushed to the metal. This gives the songs a little extra charge of adrenaline. At times, I felt that there was a cinematic feel to the musical score on these songs.

But let’s get back to the non-stop fury songs on this album. The album opens with “A Time To Kill” and right from the start, you can also see that the band is also pretty handy with a turn of lyrical phrase to the point where I think their lyrics get a bit overlooked.

The title “I Hate” might conjure up ideas of what the song is about, but you’d likely be wrong with your first impression. Instead, you’ve got another brilliantly executed rip your throat out track that is kind of incisive lyrically as well.

I’ve listened to this album a number of times over the years, the cassette I bought when the album was first released is still the one I own and listened to for this article. I was able to finally track down an affordable CD copy as well since I’ve been paranoid about the cassette breaking down and being without any copy of The Years of Decay. To coincide with having listened to the album so often, the album’s closing song is called “E.vil N.ever D.ies”. And as fast as all the other songs are, they are incapable of touching what the band does on this number. It’s pure metallic shred with nary a let up on the gas. And Ellsworth’s straight from the depths of hell vocal performance has continually left my pathetic attempts to sing along with the light speed delivery he employs for the lyrics. It’s been 30 years since its release and yet I still trip over my tongue trying to keep up with this song. I find it hard to specify my favorite track on the album but this is definitely one of them for sure.

If you’ve read this series for any length of time, you know that I prefer the more melodic driven side of metal. The endless shrieking caterwauling of the more extreme side of the genre doesn’t usually appeal that much to me. I’d say that Overkill would be the dividing line band for me. They are uniformly thrashing from one moment to the next but they are also driven by an underlying sense of rhythmic melody (at least to my ears). And that is on full display with The Years of Decay. I’ll say it again, this album is their masterpiece and I have no problem touting this as one of the best thrash albums of all time, PERIOD!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album was produced by Terry Date who also worked with Metal Church, Fifth Angel, Chastain and Pantera amongst a host of other acts.

The Years of Decay was the last album featuring guitarist Bobby Gustafson.

The band is still active today having released the album The Wings of War in February 2019.

The Cassette Chronicles – SHY ENGLAND’S ‘MISSPENT YOUTH’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

SHY ENGLAND – MISSPENT YOUTH (1989)

There’s a lot to talk about with the Misspent Youth album but I think the first point to be addressed has to be the band name. Shy England seems to be the name that was used for this particular release when it hit the US. You see, the band is actually known as Shy.

I spent a bit of time trying to research the official reason for why the name change occurred but I wasn’t able to find any confirmable sources. So I reached out to some other music fans on a Facebook group I belong to and I’m led to believe that the name change was due to there being an American band with the name Shy at the time of this album’s release. Again, I can’t seem to confirm this for certain but it does have a ring of truth to it since I’ve known other acts who’ve had to deal with that particular issue in the past.

As for the album itself, I find it a bit amusing that this album is considered a critical misfire in the British rocker’s overall discography. I’ve mentioned in a recent past article that I also write book reviews. In the early days of doing that I read a book that was winning rave reviews and went on to win some awards as well. Problem for me was that I hated the book. I couldn’t understand how others were raving about how good the book when it was just something so bad that I had to pass on doing an actual review because it would’ve just said, “This book sucks!”

How does that relate to Misspent Youth, you ask? Well, the situation is reversed for me here. It was not a well received album from everything I could find online, and yet I really thought it was a pretty darn good album overall.

I did see one source that said the band had a falling out with producer Roy Thomas Baker early in the recording process for the album but whatever the behind the scenes rigamarole was, I still found plenty of music to enjoy.

I think there were a couple of different versions of the album floating around. The version I have opens up with the song “Give It All You Got”. The song is a hook filled uptempo rocker, a prime example of the type of song you’d expect to find on a late 80’s rock album. That’s not a knock on the song though as I really enjoyed it. It got me fired up from the get-go and I couldn’t wait to hear what else the band had to offer. But in poking around online, it seems that “Give It All You Got” wasn’t the lead track in the original release of the album. The first side of the album had a slightly altered order because this song was actually last on Side One at one point.

The songs were written by guitarist Steve Harris alone (it should go without saying but just in case anyone is confused this NOT the Steve Harris from Iron Maiden) or with drummer Alan Kelly. And Harris sure could shred on the guitar! The songs “Burnin’ Up” and “Money” are prime examples of how fleet fingered he could be on the fretboard.

Regarding “Burnin’ Up”, I loved the song musically but I did think singer Tony Mills was a bit over the top vocally on the song. His voice occupies the upper register and that does give him a real soaring quality to his vocals but on this one song, it didn’t quite feel right to me.

The band’s ability for crafting adept power ballads is put on display with “After The Love Is Gone” on side one of the album. I’d like to complain about the sugary nature of the song but there was something about the song that hooked me just a little bit. I’m not saying I lost my marbles over it or anything but it was surprisingly entertaining to me.

The first side of the album closed out with “Never Trust A Stranger” which is not only a great idea in respect to the real world but this song was a flat out rocking track you could really get into and find yourself singing along to as well.

The second side of Misspent Youth kicked off with another musically rousing song in “Broken Heart”. The pacing gives you another dose of high energy rock and roll and the instantly grabbing chorus ensures that the song completely gels together as a whole.

“Shake The Nations” goes for the fist shaking anthem territory but I’m not sure it quite got there. I don’t know if it is the song itself that didn’t fully get my attention or if it was the slightly muddied feel to the production of the song but I couldn’t see myself pumping my fists to this one. I was also a bit disappointed in the balladry of “When You Need Someone”.

But the album’s closing song “Make My Day” both captured that anthemic feel and finished the release with an in your face rocker that left you a bit spent and rung out.

I admit that other than knowing the band existed and that Tony Mills had been the frontman for the band’s most successful period, I really hadn’t known much about or heard any of the band’s music. Others may think little of Misspent Youth, but I found it a darn good bit of entertainment and I kind of wish that I’d been able to experience the band back in the day. I think I would’ve gone on to become a much bigger fan of the band. I know that because I liked Misspent Youth so much, I’m hoping to go back and check out some of their other early material and see just what I’ve been missing out on for all these years.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band Shy is listed as still active to this day but with a completely different lineup. The band put out a self-titled album in 2011 but there’s been no further releases since that time.

Guitarist Steve Harris passed away in 2011 from a brain tumor.

With the recent passings of both Eddie Money and then Ric Ocasek, the speculation was who would be the third loss, since these things always happen in threes. Sadly, we found out the identity of that third person on September 18th, 2019. Singer Tony Mills (who had a prolific career fronting TNT and working as a solo artist aside from two stints with Shy) passed away after a six month fight with pancreatic cancer. His final solo album, Beyond The Law was released in June of 2019.

 

The Cassette Chronicles – Roughhouse’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HOUSE – ROUGHHOUSE (1988)

As has been the case with a few bands in past articles, the band Roughhouse is one that I’ve never heard anything from. I don’t recall every seeing an ad, hearing a song or even the band’s name from all my time listening to the 80’s metal years. So checking this band out serves as a rather intriguing history lesson if nothing else.

What surprised me is that they existed as Teeze before they switched their name. Under the Teeze moniker, they are credited on their Wikipedia page as having released a self-titled album (that was reissued again the following year).

The music on the album was mostly written by bassist Dave Weakley and guitarist Gregg Malack. Singer Luis Rivera co-wrote three of the tracks as well. The band’s sound is definitely that hard rocking kind of glaMmed up sound that was prevalent in 1988. I wasn’t sure how it would sit with me before I popped the cassette in the player but I was surprised to find a lot to enjoy.

The first two songs on the album are pretty rocking. “Don’t Go Away” and “Tonite” each have a real solid hook to grab your ear. I will say that Rivera’s vocals seemed to be a bit grating on me as I first listened but after that, they really tied into the overall mix of the songs and I ended up liking the way he sounded a lot more. The first impression was not the right one in this case.

This may sound strange but the somewhat slower but not quite a power ballad track “Love Is Pain” had me thinking it came off as a song that the band Vixen would’ve been perfect for. I know that is kind of a backhanded compliment but there you have it.

The first side of the album closes out with two more strong rockers. While I loved “Love or Lust”, I thought the way the vocal was performed on the chorus of “Can’t Find Love” left much to be desired.

As for the second side of the album, it was even more enjoyable than Side One if you can believe it. The song “Teeze Me Pleeze Me” was an electric kick in the pants to open Side Two while the fiery licks of “Midnight Madness” held you in its grasp. The last two songs on Roughhouse were truly outstanding in my book. “Racin'” definitely fired the imagination and lived up to its title with how the song moved from start to finish. The guitar work on this song as well as “Fantasy” were fantastic and kind of set me back on my heels a bit. The guitars blazed and I was surprised enough that a picture of my face as they played would probably have seen a real gleeful look in my eyes.

Despite having no idea what to expect going into this album, I was pretty happy to have added this to my musical memory banks. The band never made it big or anything but their one and only album as Roughhouse was, even decades after its release, a real bit of rocking entertainment!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album is credited as having been partially recorded at Long View Farm Studios in Worcester, MA. I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. I looked it up online and the studio was actually in North Brookfield, MA, which was in Worcester County. Probably a small detail but at least you know I’m doing the research, right? Either way, the studio played host to an incredible lineup of bands from Aerosmith, The J. Geils Band, Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg, Living Colour and many others over the years. And it was apparently used as a rehearsal studio by The Rolling Stones in 1981.

The band broke up in 1989 or 1991 depending on what source you are reading but has reunited over the years. They have an active Facebook page (Teeze Roughhouse) and fan website (http://www.roughhouse-teeze.com). The band has a show coming up on October 5th, 2019, in Sellersville, PA.

Roughhouse featured two guitarists in their lineup. They had Gregg Malack of course, but their 2nd guitarist was Rex Eisen. He went on to a more high profile musical career as Tripp Eisen playing for Static-X, Dope and Murderdolls before a couple of disturbing run-ins with the law left him in a load of legal troublE.

Exclusive first look – blindspot release new single and video

blindspot’s first single off their upcoming 2020 sophomore EP is titled “Upside Down.” Limelight Magazine has partnered with the band to preview the new music video for the song which can be viewed below.

The video is the fourth collaboration with their friends in 41st Casanova Productions. The EP will be the follow up to their self-titled debut from 2017. They also put out a single and video in 2018 titled “All I Am,” which is their most recent release before “Upside Down.”

“Upside Down” is a new twist from blindspot, exploring the sound that their fans and listeners have come to be familiar with but also bringing that sound to new sonic heights in terms of writing maturity and an increase in modern pop and alternative rock influences. 

Accompanied today’s release is a a celebratory show tonight at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, MA, with Exit 18, Baabes, and Driip. 

The song has inspired the title of their fall 2019 tour to be called “The Upside Down Tour,” which kicks off October 11th in New Milford, CT. The tour will take them to the Midwest and down the East Coast and back, hitting states such as PA, IN, KY, TN, GA, FL, NC, VA, and NY. They have toured the country extensively over the last few years and have played in 28 states and counting. They will be back at the Middle East Upstairs November 2nd for a combined welcome home from tour show and Halloween bash. You can also catch them at Boston Local Music Festival in City Hall Plaza September 28th and Allston Village Street Fair September 29th before they hit the road.

They have been nominated for Rock Act of the Year and Album of the Year by The New England Music Awards for 2019 and Best in State of MA for 2018.

They were a semi-finalist in this year’s 2019 Rock and Roll Rumble hosted by Boston Emissions with Anngelle Wood.

According to Alexa Economou, lead singer of blindspot, “We are so excited to share new music with our listeners and have them finally hear what we have been working on. ‘Upside Down’ felt like the perfect new release from us because it showcases a fun and dancey side to our writing that stays true to the sound people have come to know as blindspot. The lyrics and message of the song explore the themes of human emotions and how difficult they can be to process and make sense of. People, relationships, and life itself can often be confusing and hard to understand, and the song addresses that reality in an upbeat type of way that we can all relate to by almost saying ‘Hey, that’s life.’ The video portrays the song in the perfect visual way with its emphasis on color, energy, and a willingness to take a deep breath and have some fun. We can’t wait to start incorporating this song into our live set and keep releasing all the tunes we’ve been cooking up.” 

For those who have not heard blindspot before, they are an award nominated, female-fronted alternative rock band from Boston, MA. Comprised of Economou on lead vocals and Chris Cormier on guitar and/or drums, they are influenced by artists such as U2, The Killers, Paramore, Kings of Leon, and The 1975. Their unique sound, passion, and drive make them stand out against other musicians of their age. 

Along with being nominated for Rock Act of the Year and Album of the Year in 2019 and Best Band in State of MA in 2018 by The New England Music Awards, blindspot was a semi-finalist in this year’s 2019 Rock and Roll Rumble competition hosted by Boston Emissions. They have opened for artists such as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Gin Blossoms, Candlebox, Plain White T’s, Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, Finger Eleven, and Fuel. They are constantly striving to gain as much exposure as possible in order to expand their fan base and spread the word about their music. Look out for them because they want to change the world.

LINKS TO CHECK OUT!

www.blindspotmusic.org

www.facebook.com/blindspotMA

twitter/instagram: @blindspot_music

smarturl.it/blindspotSpotify

smarturl.it/blindspotAppleMusic

smarturl.it/blindspotiTunes

www.youtube.com/blindspotmusic.com

www.soundcloud.com/blindspot_music

www.blindspot-music.bandcamp.com

The Cassette Chronicles – Saraya’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

SARAYA – SARAYA (1989)

 When I first started looking up information for the self-titled debut album from Saraya, I was surprised to see that some of the push on the band’s behalf included promoting them as a female-fronted version of Bon Jovi.

I don’t know if that is entirely true or not, but if so I don’t think it served to help the band in the least. They just didn’t seem to be even close to the level that Bon Jovi was on at that time. I’m talking song quality, etc.

Now, don’t take that for saying that I think the music is bad. Quite the contrary actually. But I know that I only barely remember the band myself so it isn’t like these songs have that “timeless” quality to them that makes you hum them decades later like “You Give Love a Bad Name” or “Living on a Prayer”.

Though I didn’t buy this album when it came out, I remember the song (and accompanying video) for the lead track “Love Has Taken Its Toll”. However, I thought that would be it for me in terms of recognizing any of the material on this album. So you can imagine how happy I was to realize that the songs “Gypsy Child” and “Back To The Bullet” were also songs I remembered. I can’t offer an explanation as to why I know the songs but as they played while I was listening to the album in order to write this article, I could sing the lyrics in my head right along with singer Sandy Saraya.

With “Love Has Taken Its Toll” kicking the album off, I’d hoped for a nice run of rocking songs but the very next song on Side One of the album was “Healing Touch” and I just could not get into it at all. I thought it kind of squandered whatever momentum the first song had built up in my mind.

All was not lost though. The last three songs on Side One are all pretty darn good. There’s the aforementioned “Gypsy Child” but the closing track, “One Night Away” rocks pretty hard too. As for “Get U Ready”, I thought the band was their most aggressive sounding on the number. The vocal take was more aggressively performed and I thought that Sandi Saraya going that way made the song that much better.

The majority of the songwriting featured Saraya, guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey and keyboardist Greg Munier but Sandy Linzer received a co-write credit on 8 of the 11 songs on the album. He also executive produced the band. When I looked up information about him, he’s been a pretty active songwriter since the the 1960’s, even if it wasn’t in the more rock or metal driven arenas.

But whatever the collaboration between them all, the second side of the album continued to bring about some really strong songs for me to listen to. There was a soft opening with Munier’s “Alsace Lorraine” instrumental but that song fed directly into “Runnin’ Out of Time” which was another fast paced rocker that really catches your ear. After the “Back To The Bullet” song you had the song “Fire To Burn” and that was a damn fine listen as well.

You’ll note that I’ve yet to discuss any songs that would be classified as a ballad. This would be down to the fact that the band really hadn’t put one on the album’s running order to this point. That changed with the song “St. Christopher’s Medal” and I kind of wished it hadn’t. There’s nothing to see or hear with this track and I was rather glad when the song faded to black. The last track “Drop The Bomb” finished off the album in a more rocking style and for that I’m pretty glad.

I actually listened to this album at work and my co-worker that hates everything I play was somewhat complimentary towards this album. He said he’s heard far worse (I did say SOMEWHAT) and thought Sandi Saraya reminded him of Pat Benatar with Tony Rey’s guitar had him thinking Rick Derringer.

For me, my prior knowledge of the band’s music was very limited. I’ve found that my ignoring of the album 30 years ago was a mistake because they actually had some real quality music for rock and metal fans. Whether they are all that well remembered now is besides the point for me. Saraya put out a really good album and I wish I hadn’t been so clueless back then.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band would go on to release one more album, 1991’s When The Blackbird Sings, before breaking up. They also had the song “Timeless Love” on the soundtrack to the Wes Craven movie Shocker. That track does not appear on either of their albums. There was an attempt to put on a reunion show at a British rock festival in 2010 but it didn’t end up happening.

Most of the band seems to be out of the music business these days, but Tony “Bruno” Rey has gone on to work with acts like Joan Jett, Enrique Iglesias and Rihanna. He was also a part of Danger Danger in 1988 – 1989 and appeared on a number of tracks on their first album.

Keyboardist Greg Munier appeared on the band’s second album but left the band over the direction the music was taken. Sadly, he passed away in 2006.

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The Cassette Chronicles – Wang Chung’s ‘Points on the Curve’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

WANG CHUNG – POINTS ON THE CURVE (1984)

As it is stated in the heading of this series, the music I write about for The Cassette Chronicles covers the rock, pop and metal genres. Of course, it is plainly easy to figure out that the majority of the articles really focus on rock and metal. But I do like to throw in a pure pop music album every so often, just to keep me and everyone else on their toes. And that’s part of the reason for how this week’s article came to be about Wang Chung.

Back in the days when American Top 40 was my musical bible, the Sunday morning countdown was the be all, end all of the week for me. And Wang Chung played a part in that with the songs “Dance Hall Days” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”. I remember those songs well and still hear them somewhat regularly on the radio station that I listen to at work.

That radio station and a co-worker are a secondary reason for why I picked up this album on cassette when I had the chance. That co-worker is a huge blues and jazz fan and every time I play something at work that is rock or metal, he hates it. His reaction to the band Nightwish was like he had a peanut allergy or something.

Oddly enough though, when he was first hired and our musical preferences had been established, we were listening to the station and “Dance Hall Days” and he simply stated that he really liked the song. This kind of blew my mind since it wasn’t jazz or blues. Even though I like the song, I just wasn’t expecting his positive reaction. And then he heard “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” (from the album Mosaic, which may be a future article in this series) and raved about that one too. This made me even more assured of buying the albums when I had the chance so that he could hear them at work and I wouldn’t have to listen to his whining about the music I picked. So yaaay to Wang Chung on that front.

The funny thing is that while researching this album, I discovered that they actually had five Top 40 hits in their heyday. But since I never bought any of the albums back in the day, the two previously mentioned songs are quite honestly the only ones I actually remember. So this meant I would have no preconceptions about Points on the Curve since I only knew about “Dance Hall Days”.

What I learned is that while others might really enjoy the group’s music, besides the hit singles I know, Wang Chung had some songs I was surprised to find myself enjoying and then a whole bunch of other material that just left me cold. The album opens with “Dance Hall Days” and I learned that this was a second version of the song. The track had been originally released as a single in 1982 and the band re-recorded it for this album. And I still really dig the song. It was the most successful of the four singles released from this album. The song “Wait” featured a jaunty little uptempo and quite intriguing musical soundtrack. I will say that I thought “Don’t Let Go” was pretty darn good song as well. However, “Don’t Be My Enemy” was a song that I found wanting for something more.

As for the album tracks on Side One, “True Love” came off a bit too strident in the vocal area for me. As for “The Waves” and “Look At Me Now”, I just wanted to get through them and move on to Side Two.

As I said, I liked “Don’t Let Go” and didn’t care for “Don’t Be My Enemy”, but sadly the other three tracks on this side all fell into the “Dislike” category for me. While “Even If You Dream” and “Talk It Out” were songs that just didn’t appeal to me, “Devoted Friends” just seemed to drag endlessly on ad infinitum.

Now I realize that pop music, even during the era when I was actually listening to it, may not be my area of even the slightest level of expertise for me. That said, for me Points On The Curve kind of amply demonstrates why I’m (with notable exceptions) more of a singles kind of listener these days when it comes to 80’s pop.

NOTES OF INTEREST: This was the band’s second album, but the first released as “Wang Chung”. Their original name was “Huang Chung”, which served as the title of their first album as well. Despite the pronunciation being the same, they reportedly changed the spelling of the name because fans were pronouncing it “Hung Chung”.

While their have been other band members in the group over the years, the mainstays of Wang Chung have been singer/guitarist Jack Hues and guitarist Nick Feldman. The group split up in 1990 but got back together in 1997. During the separation, Feldman formed the group Promised Land with Culture Club’s Jon Moss. They released a self-titled album in 1992. Jack Hues did a one off project with Tony Banks from Genesis called Strictly Inc. and they released a self-titled album in 1995.

Wang Chung is still active to this day and are featured on this summer’s Lost ’80s Live 2019 tour. [The co-publisher of Limelight Magazine attended their concert at The Theatre at Grand Prairie in Texas last weekend and said they were one of the best live acts on the bill.]

The song “Don’t Let Go” was used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!