The Cassette Chronicles – Black Sabbath’s ‘TYR’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s 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.

Black Sabbath’s TYR (1990)


Singer Tony Martin’s third album fronting Black Sabbath found the band putting out an album that only slightly sounds like their trademark sound. I know it might not be seen as the most successful version of the band, but I’ve always kind of liked Tony Martin’s vocal work with them.

I remain slightly bemused at myself over the fact that the original version of Sabbath (with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals for those not paying attention), always seems to come out as my least favorite version of the band. Or if not the least, certainly pretty much on an equal level with the stuff that Martin did with Sabbath.

The music remains heavy but the doom laden methodical stomp is lightened for the most part. Initially, the lyrics make the album seem like a concept release surrounding Norse mythology but a little research online shows that while some songs are connected by that wtheme, the album was not conceptual in nature.

There’s a very cinematic feel to most of the tracks and I think that kind of stylistic approach helps make the music feel heavier than it seems at first listen.

Tracks like “The Law Maker,” “Heaven In Black” and the killer “Valhalla” find Tony Iommi’s guitar work in fine form. He just shreds on “The Law Maker,” a song that I wish could’ve been somehow included in the band’s live set during the two times I saw them in recent years. It would’ve made for a spectacular addition.

Since I hadn’t ever listened to this album before picking up the cassette, the album played like a brand new release to me. This gave it an extra kick because it was like discovering a hidden treasure. The potential of this kind of musical revelation is what makes me keen to check out the rest of the Sabbath albums with Martin’s vocal work.

Note of Interest: The band’s rhythm section for this album is drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray. They played together in the 1970’s as part of the group Cozy Powell’s Hammer and then again in the 1980’s in Whitesnake.

The Fixx to perform the hits with classic lineup at the Narrows Center

FALL RIVER – British rock band The FIXX return to the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on Friday, August 11, 2017. The band, which still features their classic line up of Cy Curnin, Adam Woods, Rupert Greenall, Jamie West-Oram and Dan K. Brown, will perform an evening of Fixx greatest hits and fan favorites! Purchase tickets HERE.

Formed in 1979 in London, The FIXX came to prominence in the MTV-era when their 1983 release, “Reach the Beach,” delivered the hit singles “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Saved By Zero.” The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts and was certified double platinum for selling over two million copies.

Throughout the band’s career, The FIXX have released 10 studio albums and were a fixture on the pop charts with such songs as “Red Skies,” “Are We Ourselves?,” and “Secret Separation.” They have been heralded as one of the most innovative bands to come out of the MTV era.

Live, in concert, the band delivers that same sonic authenticity fans have come to expect from their recorded performances because The FIXX are the real deal.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

PHOTO BY LIZ LINDER

The Cassette Chronicles – Paul Rodgers’ ‘Now’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s 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.

Paul Rodger’s Now (1997)

It isn’t much of a secret that I am a huge fan of both Bad Company and singer Paul Rodgers. In fact, I could swear that I once owned this album on CD but it must’ve gotten lost somewhere along the way. Thankfully, the cassette copy of the album was a way to rediscover the gem that is the Now album. The entire first side of the album is chock full of one great song after another.

The album opens with “Soul of Love” which is just the first of a number of blues and R&B infused rockers. You get the classic vocal sound from Rodgers (who is in fine voice throughout the album) as well as getting to listen to guitarist Geoff Whitehorn.

While Rodgers wrote nine of the eleven songs on the album, it was quite invigorating to listen to how Whitehorn ran through the guitar lines on each song whether it called for him to cut loose with a shredding solo or restrain his playing to a soulful lick here and there. Other rockers to check out include “Saving Grace” and the closing track “Holding Back The Storm.”

There’s an effectively moving ballad in “All I Want Is You” and the low key style of “Love Is All I Need” is enhanced by the use of a vocal choir.

While at times the music might make you think that this could be a “lost” Bad Company album, the album really stands on its own as a solo recording for Rodgers.

The one knock on the album would be with the song “I Lost It All”. While the middle of the song grows into a big pounding stomp with some outstanding guitar riffs and an unrestrained vocal turn, it is book-ended by a slow mournful cadence to the music that makes you long for things to get going.

While the idea of Paul Rodgers being involved in yet another quality music project isn’t a groundbreaking assertion, getting to listen to Now like it was a new musical experience helped make me dig what I was hearing all the more.

Note of Interest: Journey guitarist Neal Schon co-wrote the song “Saving Grace” along with Rodgers and guitarist Geoff Whitehorn.

Rik Emmett to celebrate the music of Triumph in Fall River

Rik Emmett, lead singer and guitarist of the rock band Triumph, returns to the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. Emmett will celebrate the music of Triumph with a special acoustic performance with Dave Dunlop. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

Emmett gained international notoriety as the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist of the rock trio Triumph. From 1975 until 1988, the band released nine albums that were certified gold or platinum in the US and Canada thanks to the massive singles “Follow Your Heart,” “Magic Power,” “Lay It On The Line,” “Hold On,” and “Somebody’s Out There.” After leaving the band, Emmett went on to form a successful solo career, which showcased him as a proficient songwriter and guitarist.

Audiences marvel at the versatility of Emmett as he continues his prolific run of solo indie CDs, from classical to jazz to acoustic pop and folk vocal stylings through to the hard rock and heavy metal that made his reputation in the first place. His wide catalogue of songs garners radio airplay on classic rock stations throughout North America. A former VP of the Songwriter’s Association of Canada, and formerly the Artistic Director of the Humber Songwriting Workshop, Emmett helped to develop the Music Business course in the Humber Music program and currently teaches songwriting there, as well as consulting on several student recording projects.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Rik Emmett (PHOTO BY STUART HENDRIE)

The Cassette Chronicles – Babylon A.D’s self-titled debut

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s 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.

Babylon A.D’s Babylon A.D. (1989)

The self-titled album from Babylon A.D. came out just a few months after I graduated high school and the two best known tracks from the album landed with an amped up fist upside the head.

For me, there’s no doubt that the two lead tracks from this album, “Bang Go The Bells” and “Hammer Swings Down,” represent some of the best adrenaline fueled anthemic rock that the genre had to offer at the time. Both songs capture everything that made the 80’s metal era so special.

Now I would like to say that I worship this album like a religious artifact or something but the truth of the matter is that beyond those two songs, I initially didn’t really get into the rest of it. I had the cassette, but I kind of bypassed the rest of the album with only a cursory interest. I have no reason why except to say that the band and album just simply fell through the cracks for me. The album disappeared from my collection and I have no idea what happened to it. So when I got the chance to pick it up again, I knew that I had to do so.

I’d heard other songs from Babylon A.D. over the years and had really grown to appreciate what I had so casually ignored in the past. But what really got me interested in the album was when my friend Roger [Chouinard], who owns Purchase Street Records, showed me a damn near pristine vinyl edition of the album when I visited the shop one day. He put it on and we listened to the whole album and I was kind of blown away, albeit 28 years after the fact.

The songs “Maryanne” and “Sweet Temptation” keep things on a fast paced track while the extended guitar opening on “Shot O’ Love” provides one of the few quieter moments on the album.

The late comedian Sam Kinison appears on the track “The Kid Goes Wild.” The song was featured in the movie Robocop 2. While the song is pretty good, it actually could’ve done without Kinison’s mid-song ranting. The band may have been “Angry and young, under the gun” but Kinison was merely a distraction.

While the band is categorized as glam metal, singer Derek Davis (billed solely as “Derek” in the liner notes) has a bluesy timbre to his voice that gives the band a little different edge than number of bands from that time period. This is most on display in the closing track “Sally Danced” which is starts off as a blues/blues rock song before gaining more of an in your face hard rock vibe as the song progresses.

The strength of “Caught Up In The Crossfire” comes mainly from its chorus, which is just killer. Also falling into the make or break chorus category is the band’s “power ballad,” the song “Desperate”. The other saving grace is how the intensity of the song grows (much like most power ballads from the 80’s) toward the end of the song.

It may have taken me a long time to really get into this album, but believe me I’m there now. This album is a hugely underrated gem from the mid-to-late period of when metal ruled the world. If you like pure, honest and unadulterated rock and roll, you’d do right by yourself to pick this album up and make your ears bleed in the good kind of way.

Notes of interest: While Babylon A.D. hasn’t released a studio album since 2000, they’ve had four different periods of activity including their latest reformation (with 4/5 of the original lineup) that began in 2013.

Jack Ponti, a prolific musician/songwriter/producer/label executive, co-wrote five of the album’s 10 songs. He produced two mid-90’s albums by Doro Pesch and went on to be the CEO of the Merovingian Music label.

The Cassette Chronicles – Hurricane’s ‘Over the Edge’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s 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.

Hurricane’s Over the Edge (1988)

While this second album from the band is by far their most successful, I have to say that I found myself a little disappointed by it. Now, I remember the band when they first hit the “big time” with their top 40 charting “I’m On To You” from this album. But I can’t remember if I actually owned Over The Edge or not back then.

Now with “I’m On To You”, aside for the “na na na” part in the chorus, it was a killer song. There’s no denying how much of an earworm the track was at the time. The video for the song was all over MTV. Unfortunately for me at least, there wasn’t much else that caught my ear aside from the song “Shout” which was also a stand out number.

Instead, I found that they recorded one of the worst covers I’ve ever heard with Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” and then closed the album with the track “Baby Snakes” which uses “recorded” phone conversations of a guy too clueless to realize that the girl he keeps calling for a date wants nothing to do with him. Believe me the song is not the least bit entertaining and in fact is rather embarrassing to realize that it passed muster to be included on the album at all.

So, while the album did have those two decent standout cuts, I seem to have otherwise missed the boat on this band because the rest of the album just didn’t appeal to me. I guess you can chalk this one up to being another case of when nostalgia for the music of your youth didn’t pay off by bringing back any fond memories. It isn’t that I think the band was necessarily horrible or anything. But in going back and listening to the album, I realized they really did very little to set themselves apart from what was at the time a bevy of similar sounding bands.

In writing this piece, I talked to the guy who runs the local comic shop I frequent about Hurricane and this particular album. He’s also big metal fan and when I brought this topic up in conversation, he was very insistent that the band’s first release, Take What You Want, was a far superior album.

Notes of Interest: The band is actually around these days with original members Robert Sarzo (guitars) and Tony Cavazo (bass) leading the group. Original singer Kelly Hansen has been fronting Foreigner since 2005. When Sarzo left the band in 1989, he was replaced by Doug Aldrich who would later go on to play for Dio, Whitesnake and he currently plays with The Dead Daisies.

O Town & Ryan Cabrera to perform at Narrows Center in Fall River

Originally formed on the ABC/MTV reality show Making The Band, which chronicled their formation and rise to fame, O-Town is touring with Ryan Cabrera this summer. They will make a stop at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on July 25th. Purchase tickets HERE.

O-Town’s story began in 1999, when TV network, ABC, produced the very first musical reality show in major network history. “Making the Band” was produced in conjunction with Lou Pearlman, creator of both the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC . The show chronicled the creation, development, and rise to success of O-Town throughout three seasons of the series; the first two on ABC and the final season on MTV. The group became the first to be signed by Clive Davis to his label, J Records, and released two full-length albums, which included #1 singles, “Liquid Dreams” and “All or Nothing.” The latter of which was nominated for “Song of the Year” at the Radio Music Awards in 2001.

By 2003, O-Town found themselves amidst an industry that was beginning to experience dramatic changes, former mentor, Lou Pearlman’s, legal battles and eventual conviction regarding embezzlement of more than $300 million, as well as a complex contract that left the group in dire financial strain.

“We really had little choice but to close up shop at that point”, Jacob Underwood explains. “We learned so much during those four years, but it was obvious the time had come to walk away, hoping we could do it again one day, differently”.

Reunited in 2014 as a four-piece, following the departure of member, Ashley Parker Angel, band members Underwood, Trevor Penick, Dan Miller and Erik-Michael Estrada, released their third studio album, Lines & Circles, and set out on a national tour for the first time in 10 years in support of the album. Additionally, the group made their acting debut starring in Backstreet Boy member, Nick Carter’s cult film, Dead 7, amongst members of all of the generation’s biggest boy bands, which was premiered on the Sy-Fy channel.

After touring for the last three years and realizing the incredible support of their loyal fans, it seemed clear to the band that they could produce their fourth album free of any label, and could rely solely on their fans for funding. In October 2016, the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to do just that. The campaign was so incredibly successful that they met their initial goal of $47,500 within the first seven hours. At the end of the 30 day campaign, they nearly doubled that goal, proving their loyal fan base will continue to support the group as they pursue new musical endeavors.

O-Town is now preparing to release their fourth studio album, which will be split into two EPs. The first single, “Empty Space” will premiere this month on Yahoo! Music. The group will then head out on a series of tour dates throughout the summer, including the Narrows Center on July 20th.

Joining O Town for the tour is Ryan Cabrera, the platinum-selling singer/songwriter and architect behind ubiquitous smashes such as “On the Way Down,” “True” and “Shine On,” as well as albums including 2004’s Take It All Away, which hit #8 on the Billboard Top 200, You Stand Watching (2005), and The Moon Under Water (2008). Ryan was asked to join O Town for this tour and is delighted to be on the road with them.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!