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THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BRUCE DICKINSON ‘S ‘TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE’

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.

BRUCE DICKINSON – TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE (1990)

The release of the Tattooed Millionaire album came three years before singer Bruce Dickinson would leave Iron Maiden. It all came about after Dickinson had recorded the song “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” for the soundtrack of the NIghtmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child movie.

However, the Dickinson version of the song was scrapped from appearing on the original release of this album when Iron Maiden planned to record a version of the song for the No Prayer For The Dying album.

But you can’t keep a good idea down and so without that particular song came Tattooed Millionaire. I’ve owned the album for a number of years but it isn’t one that I’ve found myself listening to all that often. And I couldn’t really figure out why until I played the tape for this article. It’s not like there aren’t a lot of great songs that make appearances on live recordings and compilations. So I was stumped.

But once I played the album, I kind of figured out what the reason might be. You see, while Charles Dickens wrote A Tale Of Two Cities, Tattooed Millionaire is a tale of two sides…of the album.

Before I get into that however, the rather amusing fact I’d forgotten about was that guitarist Janick Gers played the guitars on Tattooed Millionaire. You’d think I’d have remembered that since Gers went on to join Iron Maiden and has been with them for decades at this point. But nope, I totally wiped that from my memory. He co-wrote all but two of the songs for the original album as well.

Getting back to the album, Side One is an absolute humdinger! You’ve got the opening track “Son Of A Gun” which starts out a bit slow during the intro but then breaks out into a killer sounding rock track.

And that’s not a mis-stating of musical styles by the way. This album was clearly intended to be more of a hard rock sound to differentiate the music from what Dickinson was doing with Iron Maiden.

The album’s title track remains to this day a full-on powerhouse. You’ve got the requisite power driven rock soundtrack but with a nice twist of melody mixed in. And then you add in Bruce’s vocals track which finds him practically spitting out the venom-laced lyrics. If this song didn’t get you pumped up back then, you just didn’t have a pulse.

There are many songs that I absolutely adore from Dickinson’s solo catalog, but one of the very finest examples of his songwriting comes in the form of “Born In ’58”. It’s a nostalgic look back at growing up surrounded by the people who taught you, as Bruce sings in the song, “Old fashioned stuff like wrong and right”. I love the entirety of the song lyrics for this track and as the music alternates between a midtempo beat and a more uptempo rocking style, this song is just perfect.

It’s the ripping and raw vocal delivery from Dickinson that powers “Hell On Wheels” through its pedal flat on the floor soundtrack. The song “Gyspsy Road” closes out Side One and while it does a pretty solid job at rocking out, there’s a slightly softer touch at times as well.

So the first side of the album is really great in my estimation. But when I flipped it over to Side Two, I found myself a little less enchanted with the material.

I thought “Dive! Dive! Dive!” had a lot of fun with its very tongue-in-cheek lyrics while walloping listeners with a hard driving musical rhythm. And though I don’t hate Dickinson’s cover of the Mott The Hoople song “All The Young Dudes”, I found I didn’t quite like it as much as I once did. I don’t know why I felt that way listening to the album now but it just didn’t hit home with me like when I first heard the song. Because of that change of heart, I kind of just wanted the song to be over.

But for whatever reason, despite each of the songs being hard rocking tracks, I just didn’t really get into the last three songs on the Tattooed Millionaire all that much. While “Lickin’ The Gun” does have an interesting delivery from Dickinson when singing the song title, I just couldn’t find my way to being more appreciative of the track.

Meanwhile, “Zulu Lulu” felt like a track that should’ve been left in the vaults. As I listened to it, it was almost like it was trying to be a funny song without actually including anything that would’ve brought a chuckle from me. The album closed out with “No Lies”, which just kind of laid there flat while I kept waiting for it develop into something more.

In 1990, Bruce Dickinson was already a global musical star so it’s not like anything I say in the here and now is going to damage his standing. And believe me, I think the first side of the album is proof positive that he was being highly creative at the time. But glancing back now, the second side of Tattooed Millionaire showed that even someone as great as Dickinson had room to grow.

NOTES OF INTEREST: After Tattooed Millionaire, Bruce Dickinson has released five more solo studio albums. The last one, Tyranny Of Souls, came out after he’d rejoined Iron Maiden. It was my favorite album of 2005.

The Tattooed Millionaire album has been reissued twice. The first one came in 2002 with five bonus tracks. An expanded edition was released in 2005 with a second disc that had eleven tracks on it.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL” (2009)

On the final Friday of every month in 2022, 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 some of the filming locations for the movie The House of the Devil, which was directed by Ty West. The film was released in 2009. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the film while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in November 2020. These photos were taken in Lakeville and Torrington, CT.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TWISTER SISTER’S ‘LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS’

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.

TWISTED SISTER – LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS (1987)

In 1987, the bloom was definitely off the rose for Twisted Sister. The commercial success of the band that came with the Stay Hungry album had faded and by all reports, the band members pretty much all hated each other. This is not exactly a conducive environment in which to write and record a new album.

And technically, they didn’t. The Love Is For Suckers album was actually supposed to be a Dee Snider solo album that was rebranded for Twisted Sister under record company pressure. Hell, drummer A.J. Pero didn’t even play on the material included.

But does the branding of the release make it better or worse? For me, I just love the music so regardless of what name it came out under, Love Is For Suckers is just a great collection of tracks in my mind.

I know that it is mainly focused on the more commercial sound that metal had going for it in 1987 with less of the edginess of some of the earlier Twisted Sister material, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting to me.

In fact, it’s hard to find anything I don’t like about the album. There’s ten songs and I love them all.

Side One opens up with “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)”, an anthemic giant middle finger type of song to the PMRC and their particular brand of evil from what is now considered back in the day. Dee Snider is well remembered for his calm, yet blistering, takedown testimonial in front of Congress. This song is the musical version of that. It’s got a kicking rock sound to it and the vocals are excellent.

That last sentence pretty much describes the rest of the material as well. Other than Side Two’s “You Are All That I Need”, each track is a hard rocking gem with plenty of fast-paced music combined with Snider’s sometimes snarling delivery of the lyrics. And even on the “You Are All That I Need” song, it’s really not too much of a ballad. Yes the lyrics are sentimental in nature (but not remotely sappy), but the music has more of an uptempo edge even if it is slightly slower in pace than the other songs.

As for the rest of Side One, “Hot Love” is a quick-stepping track fueled by lust-driven lyrics. The album’s title track features a pace that is practically blistering with Snider kind of spitting out the lyrics in such a way that your ears can’t help but be drawn to his delivery. And the mid-song more spoken word part of the lyrics is kind of hilarious to me (in a good way).

You can probably guess what “I’m So Hot For You” is about but along with the song “Tonight”, the song rocks and rolls to a strong finish for the first side of the album.

Side Two keeps the motor running with the anthemic rocker “Me And The Boys” and  “I Want This Night (To Last Forever)”. The latter song may sound like it is a ballad but it’s definitely a rocker that will keep the energy flowing through you.

My favorite song on the album has always seemed to be “One Bad Habit”. It kind of fits me in a lot of ways. The song moves fast but what makes the track for me is Snider’s vocals and the ode to a love of rock and roll with a heavy dose of realistic sarcasm to the lyrics at times. If I was ever to request Snider to play a song from this album, it would be “One Bad Habit”.

The album closes out with an anthemic shout out track called “Yeah Right!”. While the song lyrics aren’t going to win any praise about being masterful, I love the way the song brings the album to a rousing conclusion and leaves the listener (ME!) with an amped up feeling that I just want to play the album over again immediately.

The Love Is For Suckers album didn’t do much business for the band and after a brief tour in support of it, Snider officially left the band. It’s kind of the orphaned child of the band’s catalog. I can understand the reasons for why this is the case, but I don’t agree with them. Nearly 35 years after its original release, this is just great album that, to me at least, perfectly encapsulates the metal scene of the late 1980’s!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Love Is For Suckers album was reissued in 1999 via Spitfire Records with four bonus tracks. Those bonus tracks got a separate EP release in 2021 under the title Feel Appeal: Love Is For Suckers Extras.

Beau Hill produced the album, which might account for the various guest appearances of Kip Winger and Reb Beach from Winger (though I’ve read stuff online that suggest they played on the album a lot more than credited for. Not sure if that’s true or not). Both Steve Whiteman and Jimmy Chalfant from Kix show up as well. Hill produced Winger’s debut album in 1988 and helped produce the 1985 Kix album Midnite Dynamite.

Joey Franco was the drummer who recorded the Love Is For Suckers album in place of A.J. Pero. He played in Widowmaker with Snider as well. TNT guitarist Ronni Le Tekro helped arrange the material for the album. And according to Wikipedia actor Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210) made a guest appearance providing “additional shouts”.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – NUCLEAR VALDEZ’S ‘I AM I’

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.

NUCLEAR VALDEZ – I AM I (1989)

I’ve had the Nuclear Valdez album I Am I hanging around ever since I got it when I purchased the Big Box of Cassettes a few years back. I’d never gotten around to listening to or writing about the album and that led to me making an assumption about the album that turned out to be pretty much wrong on all counts. While most of the albums in the box are from the 80’s metal genre, the Nuclear Valdez album is clearly more of a straight up rock album. It may have come out in 1989 when heavy metal was still in it’s prime years but the band certainly didn’t go chasing too hard after that particular vein of glory.

So you can understand I was initially rather surprised when I listened to the album. Those wrongheaded expectations meant I had to work just a little harder to fully get into the album in order to write about it. But once I did that work, I had a much clearer picture of I Am I.

The band had a minor hit with the video for the opening song “Summer” and as I listened to it, I could understand why. It’s pretty uptempo and upbeat with a catchy hook that will draw you in. The music’s pacing is pretty relentless (and melodic) throughout. It will definitely grab your attention.

I thought the songs “Hope” and the side ending “Unsung Hero (Song For Lenny Bruce)” were decent enough but I definitely had to work at developing an appreciation for them. That didn’t happen at all with the ballad “If I Knew Then” which was simply a painfully drawn out exercise for me.

But the intriguingly titled “Trace The Thunder” was a fantastic song. Another faster paced track, I also found that the song sounded like something you might’ve heard from Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite. This is most evident to me in the vocals from singer Froilan Sosa. It actually took me a while to figure out what band this song reminded me of but once I did, the song became even more of a winner in my eyes (I’m a big fan of Honeymoon Suite).

The second side of the album felt a little bit stronger to me. While “Strength” was decent enough, Nuclear Valdez really found a groove starting with the track “Eve”. Lyrically, the song might feel like it should’ve been a ballad, but I thought the much quicker rocking pace to the music elevated the song as a whole. The song “Apache” is a full on rocker that really appealed to me as well.

The band took a deeper lyrical turn on the songs “Run Through The Fields” and “Where Do We Go From Here”. For “Run Through The Fields”, the song moves from mid-to-uptempo in terms of musical pace. Musically, the song is excellent and assuming I’m not overthinking the lyrical content, the band is quite keen on driving a point home. (I’m going to let anyone who checks out the album figure out the specifics of what the band is singing about on their own). Oh, and that Honeymoon Suite sound seemed in evidence on this song as well.

As for “Where Do We Go From Here”, the song tempo moves a bit faster even with that same deeper lyrical take. And like “Run Through The Fields”, the song really takes hold of you.

The last song on the album is listed as a bonus track, but however you designate it “Rising Sun” is a solidly crafted uptempo number (with a guitar solo that I enjoyed a lot) that brings the album to a fitting conclusion.

I had some ill-conceived notions about the album before I listened to it but being a bit challenged by what I did end up listening to turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable in the end. While Side One of the album is not quite as strong as the second side, Nuclear Valdez’s I Am I is quite the new discovery for me!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The I Am I album was the band’s debut but they have released three more albums over the years: 1992’s Dream Another Dream, 2000’s In A Minute All Could Change and 2017’s Present From The Past.

The band got their name from a co-worker of bassist Juan Diaz. The co-worker reportedly had an explosive temper. Original guitarist Jorge Barcala left the band after the Dream Another Dream.

The I Am I album featured guest appearances by Bruce Brody (ex-Lone Justice) and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) on keyboards. Singer Meredith Brooks provided backing vocals on the song “Rising Sun”.

TJ’S MUSIC FALL RIVER ARTS ACADEMY STUDENTS TO PEFORM AT GRACELAND

By CHRISTOHPER TREACY

Just as it was in 2019 with Carnegie Hall, Fall River Arts Academy Director, Todd “TJ” Salpietro knew he couldn’t say no to a performance at Graceland.

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, twenty-two of his music students from the Fall River Arts Academy (FRAA) will rock the Guest House at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, and he couldn’t be more proud.

“I know some of the younger students don’t exactly get it yet,” he beamed during a recent chat.  “But as they grow up, they’ll certainly come to appreciate it. And as for the parents, they’re really excited to have their kids perform not only at the home of the ‘King of Rock and Roll,’ Elvis Presley, but in Memphis, which is considered rock’s birthplace.”

The appearance on the Memphis stage—a 400-seat theatre on the Graceland property—is part of yet another honor bestowed upon the school: FRAA has been nominated for Music Academy School of the Year. The final chapter in this competition is tied into the trip to Memphis.

“FRAA is one of eight schools that’s up for the prestigious Music Academy School of the Year award,” Salpietro explained. “That’s amongst a group of several hundred other music schools across the country. We’ll be presenting in front of a panel of industry professionals at the Graceland Guest House on April 5, explaining our amazing growth— specifically, what approaches we’ve taken to grow our school to 550 music students. All eight schools presenting for School of the Year will be hosting student performances that week.”

For the music portion of the trip, Salpietro says there are two significantly different FRAA showcases planned for April 7 that will include students ranging in age from seven to sixty. The first, an early afternoon set at 12:45 p.m., will consist of ten vocalists singing with a combination of backing tracks and accompaniment supplied by instructor Giulia Khoury, as well as solo viola and piano spotlights. 

The second showcase is an evening gig, slated for 7:45 p.m., which will feature a trio of band configurations: a house band, including Salpietro on drums with FRAA instructors Jim Denour, Nolan McGovern, and Giulia Khoury. The other two are plucked from TJ’s Music Allstar ensembles: Level Up and On a Thursday, both of which will play a four-song set.

“I’ll be participating as the house band drummer,” he said. “I’ll be performing a few songs with students and also with Luciano Jacques, an amazing 14-year-old multi-instrumentalist and relative of mine. He’ll play with On a Thursday during their set, and he’ll also feature during the house band’s set, singing and playing fiddle on the Charlie Daniels classic, “Devil went down to Georgia” to close the show. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get on stage to perform with him. This performance means a lot to us both… we’re looking forward to tearing the house down.”

Salpietro seems excited to get back to an ongoing trajectory of live student performances after the pandemic put a forced pause on his plans. He intends to continue building on the success of the school’s 2019 trip to Carnegie Hall where the FRAA players received a standing ovation.

“We’ve hosted some of our rehearsals, and you can just see how pumped everybody has been and how much preparation is going into this performance. My mission as director of FRAA is to introduce as many performance opportunities as possible that will inspire our students to really practice. Personally, I feel they practice more diligently knowing they have a higher profile performance coming up.”

In between presenting for the award on April 5 and the sold-out musical showcases on April 7, the group will enjoy a pre-show party for 75 people on a Memphis Riverboat dinner cruise with a live band, dinner, and dancing. The good news for the rest of us is that the April 7 musical performances will be live-streamed. Click HERE for more information.

“As far as I am concerned just being nominated and nationally recognized amongst this amazing group of business professionals is an honor to me,” Salpietro said. “But I’m going to give it my best to bring home the win.”

SOME STUDENTS FROM TJ’S MUSIC FALL RIVER ARTS ACADEMY PERFORMING TOGETHER (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

MICHAEL SCHENKER TO CELEBRATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN NEW BEDFORD, MA

Former Scorpions and UFO guitarist, Michael Schenker, is celebrating his 50th anniversary as a touring artist with a date at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on October 19, 2022. It is one of the smallest venues he is playing on this tour and there is no opening act for this show. Purchase tickets HERE.

Michael Schenker Group (MSG) is a legendary name. After two phenomenal records under the guise of Michael Schenker Fest, a true guitar hero is returning to his roots. By forming Michael Schenker Group (MSG) back in 1979, Michael Schenker laid the foundations for one of hard rock’s most glorious solo careers. And while nobody expected anything less from a former guitarist for Scorpions and UFO, it’s close to impossible mentioning everything Michael has built over the past 50 years, or the countless people he influenced or played with. This, truly, is the stuff that hard rocking myths are made of.

Very few guitarists can be cited as a primary influence for the likes of James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, Dimebag Darrell, Slash or Kerry King. However, to understand Michael Schenker means to understand one primary thing: he’s not here to be worshipped or adored, he’s not here to get rich, he’s here to play. And he’s doing it with the same swagger, verve and dizzying artistry as always.

The Vault Music Hall is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. Street parking is available for free.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – LEATHERWOLF’S ‘LEATHERWOLF’

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.

LEATHERWOLF – LEATHERWOLF (1987)

I wrote about the Leatherwolf album Street Ready back in 2017 and it was an article that became one of the first that got rather enthusiastically shared by a band that I featured. In fact, the band shared the article when it first went up and then shared it again a couple years later.

I love that album and I have always wanted to revisit the band’s catalog with another of their releases. But while I’ve had the Leatherwolf album in my Big Box of Cassettes for a while now, I have only now gotten around to checking it out.

The strange thing is that while I know that they did a video for the song “The Calling” that got some airplay on MTV, I can’t rightly recall if I ever saw it back then. As I listened to the first side of the album, the song kind of sounded familiar but I can’t figure out if it is a memory from the distant past or if I’ve heard it over the years in other ways.

But what I know now is that “The Calling” is a pretty damn good song! It demonstrates the band’s grasp of hooking the listener into the song that would come to the forefront even moreso on Street Ready.

The first side of the album opening with “Rise Or Fall” gave you a real sense of heavy grandiosity and melody with a big vocal presence from Michael Olivieri. Plus the triple guitar attack filling up a lot of space lets you really experience a jam-packed musical soundtrack to each song.

The song “Share A Dream” lends itself more to a power ballad type song style, but still has something to it that makes it feel “heavier” still. As for the side closing “Cry Out”, the song’s slow start soon gives way to a far deeper and heavier sound that revs you up. There’s an excellent solo to be found here as well. A impressively cast backing vocal also amps up the song’s energy.

The second side of the album has an interesting cover song. Leatherwolf covers the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Bad Moon Rising”. I’m not fully versed in the CCR catalog but I do know their hits and I actually quite love “Bad Moon Rising”. And while I’m thinking that those CCR diehards will probably not like Leatherwolf’s version, I think what the band did with the song works perfectly. They turned it into a pure powerhouse metal track that finds the band just blowing the roof off the place as they rocket through their rendition.

As for the original songs on Side Two, the album opens with “Gypsies And Thieves”. While the song is pretty good overall, it is the song’s last part where the pace is given a shot of electricity where I think Leatherwolf really hit the groove for the song.

“Princess Of Love” has a killer rocking vibe to it and the song’s chorus really got into my head. Of course, when the kinetic ball of fire that is the song “Magical Eyes” burst out of your speakers you can feel yourself torn between doing the whole “bang your head” thing or maybe doing some Olympian level air guitar. An absolutely killer tune!

I love the last song on the album a lot too. “Rule The Night” has a relentlessly aggressive pacing to the music and the lyrics (the chorus in particular) does lend itself to being quite an anthemic call to arms.

While there were reports of a studio album due out in the spring of 2020, to the best of my knowledge that release has yet to happen. I’m guessing that’s due at least in part to the pandemic but it sure would be nice to hear a new album from the band after a mostly silent last 15 years. (They did release one new song on their Youtube channel in 2019 called “The Henchmen”).

Until then though, reaching back to 1987 to check out the band’s Leatherwolf album will certainly tide you over. Why? Because once again, Leatherwolf leaves you wanting more despite nine powerfully melodic (yet truly heavy) tracks that pack a full on assault in every note!

NOTES OF INTEREST – While Leatherwolf still hasn’t released a full length album since 2007’s New World Asylum, the band remains active. But their lineup has been a constantly changing thing. Singer Michael Olivieri has been out of the band since February 2019 with Keith Adamiak as his replacement.

Bassist Paul Carman also returned to the lineup in 2019. It is his fourth stint with Leatherwolf. He originally joined in 1986 as the replacement for Matt Hurich who had left to join Stryper.

The producer for Leatherwolf was Kevin Beamish. Other bands that he’s worked with include Saxon, Jefferson Starship, Y&T and Keel. He also produced five albums for REO Speedwagon, including their monster hit album Hi Infidelity (an album I wrote about for The Cassette Chronicles as well).

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BADLANDS ‘VOODOO HIGHWAY’

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.

BADLANDS – VOODOO HIGHWAY (1991)

Back in August 2019, I wrote about the self-titled debut album from Badlands. I loved it and said it was one of the best debut albums of “The Metal Years”.

While there might be some kind of expectation for a second album slump, the release of Voodoo Highway instead only served to confirm just how great the band was. But what made this album seem that much more of a great thing is the circumstances it was made under.

I didn’t know it until I started looking up information about it for this article but the creation of Voodoo Highway was not without its problems. There was friction between guitarist Jake E. Lee and singer Ray Gillen. I’m not sure if the problems extended to bassist Greg Chaisson and new drummer Jeff Martin (replacing the departed Eric Singer) but when your singer and guitarist aren’t getting along, it can make for many a troubled day in the recording process. At least that’s what I would guess.

But for whatever behind the scenes problems the band had, it didn’t carry over to the music. It’s not much of a spoiler alert but I loved this album a lot! I’ve listened to it so many times over the last three decades so I’m quite familiar with the material. But I did find myself getting a new appreciation for a trio of the songs while I played the album for this piece.

The album opens with the song “The Last Time” and it does a pretty succinct job of getting the listener primed and ready for everything that is coming on Voodoo Highway. With Jake E. Lee producing the album with James A. Ball as well as co-writing most of the material with Gillen (Chaisson and Martin had a couple of co-writing credits mixed in as well), there seems to be a pretty clear-cut vision for how the album would sound.

The down-and-dirty hard driving blues rock sound that fuels “The Last Time” bleeds into the majority of the songs. That consistent feel makes for quite the entertaining start to finish listening experience.

The song “Show Me The Way” starts off a little bit slower with Ray Gillen’s voice taking on a kind of silken quality in the first lyrical verse. But that restraint quickly gives way after the first verse and the song takes on a sharper musical edge from that point forward. The song “Shine On” is a solidly energetic track as well.

The first song that I gained a new appreciation for is the track “Whiskey Dust”. It’s a full on rocker but the tone of the music and Gillen’s vocals give the track an extra dimension. Living up to the first half of its title, there’s a boozy, bluesy blast to the delivery and re-discovering that made this song stand out a lot more to me.

The brief Lee instrumental “Joe’s Blues” had a nice vibe to it and the song leads into the foot-stomping rocker “Soul Stealer”. There’s such a powerful undercurrent to the song that even all these years later, this one track stands out to me as one of the band’s better (if lesser known) songs.

When you flip the cassette over to the second side, you start things off with “3 Day Funk”, a real kick you in the pants uptempo number. And I love the scattershot musical delivery of the opening on “Love Don’t Mean A Thing” too. These two tracks really get the rock out for the listener.

Meanwhile, you’ve got Jake E. Lee providing a killer dobro guitar on the album’s title track. The song runs less than 2-and-a-half minutes but between the sound that Lee’s guitar has going for it and the whiskey soaked throaty rumble of Ray Gillen’s voice, the song packs more into that short time than some songs that are double in length.

That dobro guitar from Lee returns on the album closing track “In A Dream”. The song is probably the most different from the other tracks on the album given that it features just some slight guitar and a little bass from Chaisson playing along with a mostly a capella vocal turn from Ray Gillen. And the best thing about it is that it is just an incredible song. I liked it so much when I first heard it that it was one of the more instantly memorable tracks on Voodoo Highway. In fact, it might be the most well known of the Badlands songs because a version of it was performed on the American Idol TV show and people went kind of bananas over the song when Bo Bice sang it.

Speaking of cover versions, Badlands provides their own cover on the album when they perform a rendition of the James Taylor song “Fire And Rain”. I’m not sure how any Taylor fans that may have heard this version feel about it. But for me, the way the band turned this into a much heavier sounding rock and roll song really worked. It fit right into the way the whole album sounded and though it is markedly different from the original, it is a fantastic cover version.

I mentioned before that listening to the album for this article gave me a new appreciation for a couple of songs and both of those songs show up on Side Two. To be clear, it’s not like I didn’t pay attention or didn’t like these songs before. It’s just that listening to them at this point, something about them caught my ear in a way that I’d either forgotten about or they just hit me right this time out.

The first song is “Silver Horses”, a rocker that has a racing pace to the music and another great vocal take. The other song is “Heaven’s Trains”, which is just an all-out blistering rocker that finds the band just shredding all over the place and blowing away any preconceptions a listener could’ve expected before the song started.

According to what I read online, there were four singles released from the album. But none of them made any noise on the charts. The album itself only managed to peak at #140 on the album charts. But for all the in-fighting, bad timing and lack of mainstream success, the Badlands Voodoo Highway album strikes me as a completely immersive in-your-face hard rock musical experience. This is simply a FANTASTIC release that should’ve made the band a huge success!

NOTES OF INTEREST: After the immediate release of Voodoo Highway, Ray Gillen left the band. According to the band’s Wikipedia page,  Badlands hired a replacement singer in Debby Holiday. However, by the time the band got ready to head out for a UK tour, they had gotten Gillen back in the lineup for said tour.

The “Joe’s Blues” was reportedly inspired / written about future Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Joe Holmes who was working as Jake E. Lee’s guitar tech during the recording of Voodoo Highway.

Bassist Greg Chaisson came back on my radar in a big way in 2020. He was part of the band Kings Of Dust. The band released a self-titled album that sounded like a cross between a modern day rock and roll album and like something you could’ve heard from a 1970’s classic rock group as well. It was so good that it made my Top 10 list in 2020. Sadly, the band split up without recording another album when they parted ways with singer Michael Beck.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “THE INNKEEPERS” (2011)

On the final Friday of every month in 2022, 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 some of the filming locations for the movie The Innkeepers, which was directed by Ti West. The film was released in 2011. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the film while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in November 2020. These photos were taken in Torrington, CT.