Filming Location Spotlight – “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for Shadow of a Doubt. The film, which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was released in 1943. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when we visited in September 2014.

This filming location used for the Newton home is located at 904 McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa, CA.

The Cassette Chronicles – House of Lords’ 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.

Full page magazine advertisement for House of Lords’ self-titled debut.

HOUSE OF LORDS – HOUSE OF LORDS (1988)

As I was preparing to listen to this album, I was racking my brain to see if I could remember owning the self-titled debut album from House of Lords when it was originally released.

Sadly, the passage of time has left me with no clear-cut memory of that so at best, it is 50-50 whether or not I had previously owned the album. If I did, the album didn’t survive whatever collection purge I have done over the years.

But when I saw the album sitting in a cassette rack at my local record shop, I just felt a need to pick it up. The fact I’d written about two other House of Lords albums played a part in that buying decision but I remember a couple of tracks from the songs getting airplay on the radio and MTV back in the day.

Happily enough, those two remembered songs are the first two on the album. “Pleasure Palace” has a big instrumental overture to open up the song before a more intensely rocking soundtrack kicks in. Guitarist Lanny Cordola plays a mean guitar lick on this song and throughout the album and when you add in the deeper bold vocal sound from singer James Christian, it doesn’t surprise me that I have fond memories of this song.

And you can’t forget the song “I Wanna Be Loved”, which I believe was the big single/video release for the album. I liked the song back when it was originally released and hearing it now, it still retains a vibrant kind of vitality to it.

As for the rest of the album, even if I did own it, I can’t say that I remembered many of the songs off the top of my head. That gave me the opportunity to listen to the remaining eight songs as one of those new musical experiences that make rediscovering albums such a big thrill.

The last three songs on side one cover the spectrum of song styles for a hard rocking band of the 1980’s. While “Edge of Your Life” has a slow and stark tempo to the beginning of the track, it morphs into a solid rocker after the first verse.

There’s a cover of the Stan Bush song “Love Don’t Lie”. I don’t know which way the wind blows regarding the Bush fans over this cover but I actually kind of liked it. This surprised me a little.

I also loved the fiery rock style of “Lookin’ For Strange”. In fact, I came away incredibly impressed with how aggressively the band could rock out on this particular album without sacrificing the more melodic side of their musical nature.

That’s especially evident on the first song of Side Two. “Slip of the Tongue” takes no prisoners when it comes to that fast aggressive tempo. And the way Christian fires out the lyrics makes this just a flat out killer track. I’d venture to say that it might just be my overall favorite track on the album.

The band’s more grandiose style comes into play most effectively on the songs “Heart of the World” and “Under Blue Skies”. For “Heart of the World”, the epic scale is tempered by more of a driving rock tone. But with “Under Blue Skies”, the sense of the grand epic reigns throughout the song and the sentiments conveyed by the song’s lyrics are pretty interesting too.

The album closing out on hard rocking songs “Call My Name” and “Jealous Heart” leaves the listener amped up on adrenaline.

I know I was pretty jazzed up throughout listening to the album and I can’t really say I was disappointed by any of the album’s ten songs. While that may be coming 32 years too late to mean much to those concerned, the important part for me is the discovery of yet another House of Lords album that I am proud to have in my music collection.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Singer David Glen Eisley, who was the frontman for House of Lords keyboardist Gregg Giuffria’s GIUFFRIA band, co-wrote four of the songs on this album. One of those tracks, “Slip of the Tongue”, was written with Giuffria and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

Though Kiss’s Gene Simmons is listed as the executive producer for this album, it was Andy Johns and Gregg Giuffria who co-produced the music itself.

I’ve seen House of Lords (in whatever grouping of lineups they had at the time) twice in concert. The first time was in 1991 in Boston. The second time was in New Bedford, MA, back in October of 2018. Both shows were pretty darn entertaining!

 

 

The Cassette Chronicles – Poison’s ‘Open Up and Say… Ahh!’

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.

Full page magazine advertisement for Poisons “Open Up and Say… Ahh!”

POISON – OPEN UP AND SAY…AHH! (1988)

I suppose you can say that I’m having kind of a mini-renaissance with the band Poison. After enjoying the Flesh & Blood album when I wrote about it last week, I decided to pull their previous album out of my regular cassette collection and give that a listen.

I’ve had that cassette for quite a while now but it isn’t like I’ve been playing it a lot over the years. And after listening to it, maybe I should’ve been doing that very thing. I say that because once again, I found myself really enjoying the entirety of the album.

Open Up and Say Ahh!, for those that weren’t paying attention back in 1988 was a pretty monstrously successful album for the band. It spawned four singles, three of which hit the Top 10.

The first side of the album opens up with a real corker of a rock and roller type song in “Love On The Rocks”. It grabs the listener from the start and gives you a shot of energy for what is to come.

Things really get going with the album’s second track “Nothin’ But A Good Time”. Back then and even today, it serves as one of those quintessential good time rock and roll party anthems. You just can’t help but feel energized when you hear this song. The song went all the way to #6 on the singles chart, so you know that a tremendous amount of people felt the same way about the song.

I enjoyed the heck out of both “Back To The Rocking Horse” and “Good Love”. Both songs are pretty uptempo tracks and keep that outsized party vibe in the forefront of your mind. But it was the last song on Side One that really fired me up. “Tearin’ Down The Walls” is simply a killer tune. From start to finish it rocks hard but I really liked the way the chorus was constructed. Between the lyrics and the way singer Bret Michaels delivered that chorus, it just enhanced the song for me. Since I’ve listened to the album, the song itself wasn’t a surprise per se, but I found that I seemed to get something more out of it as I listened to it now.

The second side of the album continued the highly amplified rock and roll show with “Look But You Can’t Touch”, a song about some frustration in search of female companionship. Okay, it’s not nearly that subtle in the lyrical content, but that aside, I just really dug the song.

The closing song “Bad To Be Good” was pretty decent but it was the three songs leading up to that one that really helped Poison’s fortunes soar. The band’s cover of the Loggins and Messina song “Your Mama Don’t Dance” went to #10 when it was released as a single. The song is good but I think for me as I listen to it 30 plus years later, it doesn’t quite have the same staying power for me. But that doesn’t take away from just how much the song did for the band.

For three weeks, Poison had the #1 song in the country. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was their power ballad hit and the only song that ever hit #1 for the band. The song was EVERYWHERE! I’m pretty sure the way the radio and MTV was saturated with the song back then would’ve made me make fun of the song after a while. But the passage of time has given me far more in the way of appreciation for the song. Whenever I hear it on the radio nowadays, I at least hum the song and sometimes, if the mood is right and I’m ALONE, I might even (badly) sing along with it.

But I think my favorite “hit” song from Poison was one that didn’t even make the Top 10 as a single. Sure, “Fallen Angel” hit #12 but saying you had a Top 20 hit doesn’t have quite the same cache as saying a Top 10 hit, now does it?

The song tells a familiar tale of a woman heading to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune but finding things are quite the constant glitz and glamour one imagines. It might not be all that unique of a song, but Poison does do quite a good job at telling their version of that same old song and dance. And the companion video for the song is a conceptual piece that plays along with the lyrics and I still think it is one of the better “story” videos from that time.

I know that it seems a bit crazy to discover that I just might be a bigger fan of Poison than I ever thought I was but getting a new appreciation for a band’s music is never a bad thing in my book. Poison got a huge commercial boost from the Open Up and Say Ahh! album and now that I’ve bothered to really sit down and dig into it with a more open mind, I can see why they became one of the bigger 80’s bands. They just had some fantastically entertaining rock and roll that captured music fans imagination and gave them an exhilarating good time…and nothin’ but!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Open Up and Say Ahh! album was certified five times platinum and ended up hitting #2 on the album chart. The original cover art featured a demonic woman with a long tongue sticking out of her mouth. This caused some controversy and the edited version of the cover art (which is the version on my cassette) showed just the demon’s eyes.

Reportedly, the album was originally supposed to be produced by Paul Stanley of Kiss but he had to drop out and Tom Werman ended up producing the release.

After the release of the album, Poison put out a home video called Sight For Sore Ears that collected the videos they put out for both the Look What The Cat Dragged In and Open Up and Say Ahh! albums.

The 20th anniversary CD release included the bonus track “Livin’ For The Minute”. It was originally released as a B-side. Another song was written for the album sessions called “Face The Hangman”. It was also used as a B-side but got an official release on the Crack A Smile…and More! release.

The Cassette Chronicles – Poison’s ‘Flesh & Blood’

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.

Full page magazine advertisement for Poison’s “Flesh Blood”

POISON – FLESH & BLOOD (1990)

It is a funny thing about the band Poison. Despite the fact that they were one of the most successful bands back in metal’s 1980’s glory days, I don’t think they’ve ever gotten much in the way of any critical acclaim.

I distinctly remember watching some documentary type film on the band (it might’ve been a Behind The Music episode, but I can’t be sure) where one of the talking heads interviewed pretty much crapped all over the quality of the band’s material. He basically dismissed them as almost a joke.

Well, more than three decades later, I think the joke is on all of those people who wrote the band off because their music has survived the passage of time and the band is still a going concern today even if in a more limited capacity.

I didn’t completely write the band off back then, but I wasn’t what you would call their biggest fan either. I owned the Open Up and Say…Ahh! album when it came out but while I enjoyed the various singles the band released, it wasn’t until their ill-fated collaboration with guitarist Richie Kotzen on the Native Tongue in 1993 that I truly raved about one of the band’s releases.

But as time has gone on, I’ve really come to enjoy the band’s early catalog a lot more than I did on the first time around. Today’s case in point is the Flesh & Blood album.

I have a bit of a confession here. I’d been listening to this album on CD for a couple of weeks prior to me receiving a cassette copy of the album from a not-so-mysterious benefactor. So I had some renewed passing familiarity with the music before putting the cassette in my player.

But it wasn’t until I listened with the intent to write this article that I really got into the album. Okay, the opening intro piece (I really hesitate to call it an instrumental) “Strange Days Of Uncle Jack” wastes a perfectly cool sounding title on a what I consider to be a thorough waste of time and I wasn’t all that interested in the actual instrumental “Swampjuice (Soul-O)”.

But after that? Poison really killed it with their songs on the album! The fun side of the band is still on great display but they were a lot more serious in their subject matter at the same time.

On side one, “The Valley of Lost Souls” kicks the album off in truth with a blazing highly energetic romp that got my foot stomping and badly singing along. I did strongly remember the album’s nominal title track “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice” from when the album was originally released. It was one of five songs released as a single from the album, four of which hit the Billboard singles chart Top 40.

The first of the two singles that made it all the way into the Top 10 was their big rocker “Unskinny Bop”. Yes, the title really doesn’t mean anything since it was kind of a placeholder but out of accident comes “genius” because tell me you don’t remember the hell out of this song!

As for the rest of the album’s first side, you’ve got killer rock numbers like “Let It Play” and “Come Hell Or High Water” as well as the mid-to-uptempo song “Life Goes On” which mixes power balladry with an amped up rock style at the same time. It’s a great sounding song in my opinion.

The second side of Flesh & Blood kicks off with a song that still gets me to this day. “Ride The Wind” is pretty much a description of living life on a motorcycle cruising the highways and byways with the freedom of the open road your only concern. Despite the fact that I’m a cranky old homebody these days, it still makes me nostalgic for when I was young and wanted nothing more than to leave it all behind and live that kind of life. I sure as heck wouldn’t want that now, but the memories this song stirs up are still up there in my noggin and it always brings a smile to my face.

I loved the slow bluesy intro on “Ball and Chain” and the fast pacing of “Don’t Give Up An Inch”. Poison also hit the top 10 singles chart with their monstrously successful power ballad “Something To Believe In”. That song still gets played on radio stations (and not just classic rock stations) to this day. I’m not sure if I liked the song the first time around or if I might’ve made fun of it but I know that nowadays, I really love the song so there is definitely no making fun of it now for me.

The album closes out on a couple of slow build rockers in “Life Loves A Tragedy” and “Poor Boy Blues”. The “Life” song builds into a kick your tail kind of rocker while the band mines a vein of blues rock for the album closing “Poor Boy Blues”.

I know for sure that I didn’t give this album, and almost certainly the band themselves enough credit back in the day but as I look back on the Flesh & Blood album now, it’s a heck of an entertaining rock and roll record almost from start to finish. How much of an impression did the album make on me? As I’ve been writing this article, I’ve been listening to the album yet again. It just rocks, plain and simple.

 NOTES OF INTEREST: The Flesh & Blood album was certified triple platinum. The 20th anniversary reissue had two bonus tracks on it including an instrumental cover of the Sex Pistols’ track “God Save The Queen”.

Sadly, the one time I saw Poison in concert, they were headlining over Tesla and they were awful. It was one of the lesser shows I’ve seen and Tesla blew them off the stage.

Poison was supposed to be doing “The Stadium Tour” with Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts during the summer of 2020 but that tour got bumped to 2021 due to the pandemic closure of pretty much everything.

Filming Location Spotlight – ‘The Brady Bunch” (1969-1974)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight the filming location for The Brady Bunch, which aired on ABC from September 26, 1969, to March 8, 1974. The show also  spawned several television reunion and spin-off series. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the TV show while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when we visited the location.

This filming location used for the Brady House is located at 11222 Dilling Street in Studio City, CA.

The Cassette Chroncles – Lionel Richie’s ‘Can’t Slow Down’

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.

LIONEL RICHIE – CAN’T SLOW DOWN (1983)

It’s time for another curveball folks! Yes, this series mostly focuses on rock and metal releases but I do have a love of 80’s pop music in my background as well and occasionally I pull out an album from that time that struck a nerve with me back then and still resonates with me to this day.

I’m not sure if I remember much about Lionel Richie’s time with The Commodores. At least not before I became as fan of his solo work. But while I probably learned more about his time with that group after he hit it big with Can’t Slow Down, it has definitely been more about his solo music that has had me hooked all these years.

And boy did he hit it big with this album! Can’t Slow Down has reportedly sold over 20 million copies, got a 20th anniversary 2-disc reissue release, won the Grammy for Album of the Year and had five top ten singles. Realistically, most artists would take a lengthy career to receive the kind of success he enjoyed with this album alone.

I’ve had this cassette in my collection for a long time, probably pretty much since it was released. But while I’m very familiar with the five classic tracks, it isn’t like I play the album a whole lot.

So, it was a bit of a surprise to me to realize that the album opening title track seems to be a huge missed opportunity. While certainly not a rule, I’ve kind of felt that a title track should generally serve as a way to sum up an album as a whole. Well, if you judged the album by this one’s title track, you’d dismiss it out of hand. The song is totally undersold and Richie’s vocals are barely above a whisper as if they were “accidentally” recorded and added to the musical score. It completely throws off the song and any hope for the track to be a more memorable one.

But the great thing is that the album rebounds strongly from that point. As I said, it had five top ten singles and given that Can’t Slow Down only had eight tracks on the original release, this makes for an almost hilarious level of great music to listen to.

Two songs made it all the way to #1 on the singles chart. The first one was “All Night Long (All Night)” an uptempo track with a party-slash-celebratory vibe to it. Truth be told, from the first notes of the song, I am always drawn into the song. It makes you feel great and sweeps you up into the party atmosphere.

The other #1 hit is the ballad “Hello” which closes the album. In 1983, MTV was actually still playing music videos and I remember the video for this song vividly. It is one of the better storyline videos I’ve seen and unlike most 80’s rock power ballads, I find the ballads on this album to be of a superior quality. Now I love this song but you know what kind of amused me as I listened to it for this article? If you combine the song with the video, it actually comes off as a little bit stalker-like in this day and age. I suppose it is all how you look at the song as an individual but in the right light (or perhaps a more sinister light), I’d say The Police song “Every Breath You Take” might just have a companion piece. I know, way to ruin a song for you, right? Feel free to ignore all that because if you love the song, I’m right there with you.

If every song has its fanbase, I’d like to ask those who like the song “Love Will Find A Way” what makes it work for them? The midtempo pacing makes the song feel like it is just wandering around the musical landscape looking for some kind of meaning.

Eh, but enough about that. Let’s get back to the hits, shall we?

The last two songs on the first side of the album are both rather successful ballads. “Penny Lover” was a #8 single and “Stuck On You” went to #3. These are also great songs and intriguingly enough, as I listened to them I could actually sing (okay, lip-synch) the entire set of lyrics for each one. I don’t know if that loses me points with metalheads, but I don’t really care. I feel not a bit of shame for enjoying the non-cloying sentimentality each of these songs conjures up. It must be true…I’m not always a cold and heartless SOB!

While it wasn’t released as a single, the song “The Only One” is actually a pretty decent song. The main lyrical verses are good but I found that the chorus has a great hook to it. I read online that the song is still played during Lionel Richie’s concerts to this day.

Perhaps the song that resonates with the part of me that loves mysteries is the #7 hit “Running With The Night”. It’s got a real uptempo pace to it but at the same time, there’s an edgy sense of atmosphere in regards to how the song is presented. Listening to the lyrics, I got the feeling that if Richie had been writing a crime novel, he’d have a keen grasp of noir conventions.

While he is probably more noted the last few years for being a judge partly responsible for foisting mediocre at best “talent” on the unsuspecting general public via the American Idol TV show, Richie’s place in music history is secure. Turning out a wide array of successful pop songs, love ballads and just get up and dance numbers (No, I didn’t actually do that), the Can’t Slow Down album is likely the masterwork of his catalog and shows that regardless of genre, greatness always shines through.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Singer Richard Marx sang backup vocals on four tracks on the album: “All Night Long (All Night)”, “Love Will Find A Way”, “The Only One” and “Running With The Night”.

Also providing backing vocals on “All Night Long (All Night)” was singer-songwriter Kin Vassy, who was a member of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition in the 1960’s. The video for the song was produced by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith.

Toto members Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather featured on Can’t Slow Down. Porcaro played drums on “Running With The Night” while that song featured a guitar solo from Lukather. Lukather also played guitar on the song “The Only One”. The video for “Running With The Night” features singer-percussionist Sheila E. as a bridesmaid.

The Cassette Chronicles – SCORPIONS’ ‘SAVAGE AMUSEMENT’

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.

SCORPIONS – SAVAGE AMUSEMENT (1988)

“Welcome to a trip into my hurt feelings.” – Klaus Meine

That opening line to the song “Walking On The Edge” sums up my reaction to the research I did on the Savage Amusement album as I prepared to write this article.

I say hurt feelings because it seems that this album is not all that fondly looked upon at all. Which is a mystery to me because I love it. Coming off the twin successes of Love At First Sting and the World Wide Live releases, I think Savage Amusement is a phenomenal follow-up. But it sold less than its immediate predecessors and seems to suffer from claims that it was chasing the trends in metal that ruled the day back in 1988.

To that, I say “PHOOEY!”.

When the album opens up with the rocking “Don’t Stop At The Top” track, the band has a song that pretty much sums up their place in the metal pecking order at the time. The Scorpions had everything going for them.

The first single released from the album was “Rhythm of Love”. While it isn’t all that bad of a song overall, it is rather bland compared to some of the other material on the album.

Meanwhile, “Passion Rules The Game” featured lyrics that could get anyone up for a challenge and it lends itself well to me on a personal level as a way to sum up the passion I once had for coaching basketball. You can’t try to do something and be good at it without a hefty dose of passion.

I know that the Scorpions aren’t looked to for in-depth lyrical exploration of themes, but sometimes you can find some meaning or equivalency to a real world situation. Case in point, check out the lyrics for the rocker “Media Overkill”. Those lyrics are insanely on point for today’s world. When you combine it with a strong music score, you have a great song. I bought the album when it was originally released and I noted that I always loved the kind of clipped delivery that Klaus Meine had when saying the song title. It’s just a small thing that bears no real significance but it has always stuck with me for some reason. Plus, it is just a really cool sounding song.

While the band found huge chart success with the album closing ballad “Believe In Love”, I thought it was actually the aforementioned “Walking On The Edge” that was the better of the two power ballad tracks on the album.

I thought the lyrical slant of “Every Minute Every Day” was overdone but I liked the music portion of the song which helped overcome that weaker set of lyrics.

The second side of the album is where the band seems to cut loose in terms of all out musical fury. “We Let It Rock…You Let It Roll” is lightning fast and really gets your blood pumping. And the song “Love On The Run” keeps that blood pressure rising with it’s relentlessly fast pacing.

And that’s kind of what I remember most about Savage Amusement, it is just a hard rocking album that has great hooks to draw you in and it is the total package you could desire for a metal album of its day. I’ve never been able to see The Scorpions in concert but I do think Savage Amusement is an album that coincides with my hopes for the band’s live show where the band just leaves you feeling fully satisfied and thoroughly entertained!

NOTES OF INTEREST: When the band reissued a large chunk of their catalog to celebrate their 50th anniversary, Savage Amusement contained seven bonus tracks. There were six demo tracks and the band’s cover of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain”. (By the way, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of this version of the CD release without breaking the bank, let me know.)

Canadian rocker Lee Aaron provided backing vocals on the song “Rhythm of Love”. Ex-Accept bassist Peter Baltes did the intro vocals on “Every Minute Every Day”.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “DARK SHADOWS” (1966-1971)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows which aired on ABC from from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the series while the photo underneath is what the location looks like today.

This filming location used for the Collinswood Mansion, the home of vampire Barnabas Collins, is the Carey Mansion, located in Newport, R.I.

 

The Cassette Chronicles – Quiet Riot’s ‘QR III’

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.

QUIET RIOT – QRIII (1986)

Though this album is titled as if it were the third release from Quiet Riot, QRIII is actually the fifth album the band put out. Confusing I’m sure but I think fans have had plenty of time to figure things out considering this album was released just about 34 years ago.

QRIII is an album that I have never heard before now. I am vaguely familiar with the song “The Wild And The Young” though. It was released as the album’s single but I don’t really recall hearing the song at the time of the original release. I’m pretty sure that the reason I know the song is because I’ve heard it on various specialty heavy metal radio shows.

The first thing I noticed about the song when listening to it is that while I like the track, it does seem to go out of its way to ruin itself about midway through with some cutesy but ineffective studio tricks. It’s a bit heavier and obviously anthemic in nature. There’s a decent hook but the production on the song kind of echoes throughout each of the songs on the album.

By that I mean the sound of the album is very overproduced. It isn’t just that it has that “80’s sound” that is so identifiable to many records released in the decade. When I started playing the album, the first song “Main Attraction” made me think that the production stripped away a lot of the more metallic side of Quiet Riot’s sound. The weird sounding keyboard intro to the song didn’t help matters either.

Regular readers of this series will recall that I do seem retroactively down on a lot of ballads for the albums featured. Would it surprise you to learn that the two ballads on QRIII struck me as being surprisingly decent? Side One’s “Twilight Hotel” does pick up the pace during the song’s running time but it is definitely a ballad. The song “Still Of The Night” is on Side Two and I really enjoyed that one a lot.

The last two songs on Side One of the album are “Down And Dirty” and “Rise Or Fall”. Both tracks are straightforward rockers.

The second side of the album was interesting for a number of reasons. It opens strongly with another action-packed rocker in “Put Up Or Shut Up”. I thought it was one of the better songs on the album. That was followed by the “Still of the Night” ballad.

Following a brief instrumental called “Bass Case”, the song “The Pump” was an uptempo song that got ruined by what seemed to me a muffled sound. “Slave To Love” was pretty good and “Helping Hands” closed out the album on an anthemic high.

The “Helping Hands” song was also interesting for being the song playing when the tape slot in my stereo decided to crap the bed. It was about halfway through the song. Thankfully it is a double tape deck so I switched slots and finished the album. But it was still a bummer that another piece of equipment died on me.

The QRIII album kind of finished off Quiet Riot as a major force in the music world. Sales were bad and after listening to the album myself, I can see why it didn’t generate much buzz. I liked a bunch of the songs but the way the album was produced made it seem like the band was chasing trends instead of charting their own course, sonically speaking. It is by no means a bad album but things just felt “off” with it at times. Still, it is worth a listen if for no other reason than for you to make up your own mind about where QRIII stands in the band’s catalog.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The comings and goings for this band were particularly intriguing. This album was the last to feature singer Kevin Dubrow before he returned to the lineup for the Terrified album. Also, this was the first album where bassist Chuck Wright, whose previous contributions to the band came as more of a hired gun, was an official member of the group.

In the liner notes, Bobby Kimball (best known for singing with Toto) is credited with backing vocals on the song “Still Of The Night”. Meanwhile, “Weird Al” Yankovic is listed in the album’s Thank You section.

 

The Cassette Chronicles – Tora Tora’s ‘Wild America’

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.

TORA TORA – WILD AMERICA (1992)

It has been a pretty long and winding road that led me to finally hearing Tora Tora’s second album Wild America.

I’d written about their debut album Surprise Attack for The Cassette Chronicles back in early 2018. In doing so I actually discovered that the band had released Wild America and recorded a third album (Revolution Day) which ended up not being released until 2011. But I didn’t know any of that before writing that first article on the band. Then in 2019, Tora Tora released the phenomenal album Bastards of Beale and I got to see them live in concert (and met them before the show) in August 2019. I had such a great experience reviewing both that album and show that I started seeking out the two missing albums. I thought that I’d had a line on getting CD editions for both releases but that fell through on me. And the online auction sites either had them for a big cost or not at all.

And then comes my record shop owning friend Roger. He purchased a large collection of CDs and cassettes recently and sent me some photos of cassettes he got and there in the bottom of one stack was Wild America! I HAD TO HAVE IT!!!

The day after I picked up the cassette, I got up and once I puttered around the house for a bit I popped the cassette in the stereo to get my first listen to an album I’d been eagerly anticipating to say the least.

Let’s just say I was not disappointed. I vaguely recall reading something online that said Wild America showed the band in a much more mature light in terms of songwriting. I’d be hard-pressed to argue with that contention because the album is just marvelous.

Seriously, the band kicks off the album with the title track and never really lets up from there. The “Wild America” song is a fast rocking and butt-kicking track that gives the listener a jolt of energy which is continually replenished throughout the album’s 11 tracks.

The mix of hard rock with bluesy soulfulness blends together seamlessly as the singer Anthony Corder’s vocals range from shout it out loud to a whiskey soaked inflection depending on the needs of the song. Guitarist Keith Douglas, bassist Patrick Francis and drummer John Patterson can rock out with a metallic fist or a velvet glove and do so effortlessly.

I loved the song “Amnesia” which has an up-tempo kind of swinging rhythmic feel to it. Corder’s vocals and the big backing vocal sound on the song’s chorus help enhance the song as a whole.

The Memphis Horns are featured on the song “Dead Man’s Hand” and that really gives the song an extra edge to it. There’s a sweetly rocking groove to the song and the solo from Keith Douglas is fantastic.

While most of the material on Wild America leans towards the more rocking side of the band’s nature, when the slow things down on songs like the lyrically contemplative “As Time Goes By” or the heavily bluesy sounding “Nowwhere To Go But Down”, I found them to be just as intense even if they were lacking in the pure adrenaline feel of their faster material. On “Nowhere To Go But Down”, I loved the way the opening verse was a spare musical arrangement with Corder’s vocals before the full musical soundtrack kicked in.

That blues rock side of the band gets more of a spotlight throughout the album but I thought the intro that fueled “Lay Your Money Down”, combined with a rather impressive vocal take made the song one of the stronger highlights for the album. There’s a strong rocking groove on songs like “Dirty Little Secrets” and “Faith Healer” as well.

And though I don’t want to be seen as diminishing any of those songs in the least (because I’m not), I really came away impressed when the band just fed the listener a blazing rock number too.

You had songs like “Shattered” which hit that benchmark but I think it really all came together on that particular songwriting front with the song “Cold Fever”. It is an aggressively rocking tempo that finds Tora Tora bleeding fiery fury. The killer chorus for the song also ups the amperage on the song too.

I really can’t say anything bad about this album. I didn’t have any kind of nitpicky issue with any of the eleven songs and the performances are seamlessly blended together to show just exactly what Tora Tora had going for them at the time. I know that I say this with the benefit of being nearly three decades removed from the original release of the album but good is good no matter when you hear it. And I find that Wild America surpasses the “good” designation with barely a sweat broken. Instead, this is a GREAT album and I’m glad that I’ve finally gotten to hear it because it has only increased my ever-growing fandom for the band.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Stan Lynch, best known for his work as part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers co-wrote the songs “Dead Man’s Hand” and “Nowhere To Go But Down”.

The late Jimi Jamison contributed backing vocals to the Wild America album. However, he’s credited as Jim Jamison in the liner notes.

 

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!