Category Archives: Cassette Chronicles



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.


According to Loudwire, Helloween’s Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 is “perhaps the first genuine power metal album.”

Now, I don’t know if that is true or not, but it sure would be hard to argue with their assessment of the album being one of the Top 25 Power Metal Albums of All Time.

The 2nd full-length studio album from the German metal band took a pretty big leap forward from their debut release Walls of Jericho. Not that the first album is bad, but with the addition of singer Michael Kiske (taking over the vocal duties from guitarist Kai Hansen, who had been the singer beforehand), the band really hit their stride here.

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered Helloween but it was likely through Headbanger’s Ball. It didn’t take me long to get the album in my hands after first hearing the band’s music and what an incredible ride I was in for when I first popped Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 in my cassette player. (Side Note: The cassette I listened to for this article is the one I bought way back then.)

The album opens up with the instrumental overture track “Initiation” and it is a well-named song. Because it serves not only the purpose of setting the table for the rest of the album to come but it immediately ups the dramatic expectations you might’ve had going into that first listen.

There’s no real break in between that opening number and the song “I’m Alive” and Helloween wastes zero time in unleashing a full bore sonic attack. Between the striking and soaring vocal turn from Michael Kiske, the six string blitzkrieg and the insistent and ever relentless drumming from Ingo Schwichtenberg, the song will not only kick your butt from start to finish but even all these years later, remains a track that will resonate with you each and every time you hear it.

While still moving a pretty speedy tempo, the song “A Little Time” is a demonstrably slower track compared to “I’m Alive”. It gives you a chance to catch your breath. But only just. There’s a bit of a sense of the theatrical at the midpoint of the song and then Helloween seems to catch fire towards the end. Overall, a damn solid track.

Of course, then comes the song “Twilight of the Gods” which just explodes from the speakers musically. The song’s tempo feels like the band is playing like they are in a race for their lives or something. But that sense of urgency ends up transferring over to you and there you are figuratively by their side for another amped up killer track.

The first side of the album closes out with the song “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”, which again feels like a perfectly apt song title because the song does indeed feel like a story being told. The music starts out moody and contemplative with Michael Kiske’s vocals serving as a drama-filled yet calming presence to start. The band kicks in after the first lyrical verse but in a restrained manner. It’s only as the song moves towards its conclusion that things begin to take on a more grandiose feel as both the music and vocal performances take on the kind of presentation you’d tend to find more on a theater stage than a metal concert. I’ve always liked the song both because of the title and the way it is constructed.

The second side of Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 features just three songs but two of them are still in the band’s setlist even now. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise because “Future World” was the album’s single and the more than thirteen minute epic “Halloween” continues to be a standard bearer track for Helloween.

I can still remember how I immediately took to “Future World” based off of simply how the song starts. That riff that opens the track is an immediate ear grabber and then you fly off on a soaring musical take as Hansen, guitarist Michael Weikath, bassist Markus Grosskopf and Schwichtenberg give life to that proposed future world that Kiske sings to you about.

And then you get to “Halloween”. And all I can remember when I first heard the full-length track was my reaction to the song being “Wow!”. From the song overture leading into an explosively paced first “act”, you can’t help but be glued to the speakers. You didn’t know where they were going to take you next but you knew you didn’t want to miss a second of the audio version of a cinematic experience.

The song “Follow The Sign” closes out the album but I’m not sure “song” is the right description for the track. It plays more of a performance piece set to a bit of a musical soundtrack. I’ve always felt the track served to put a fine point to the “Halloween” track. I’m not sure if that is an accurate assessment on my part but it is the impression I had the first time I heard the track and it has always stuck with me that way.

It’s been almost exactly 40 years since Helloween released Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 and in the ensuing four decades the power of this album has never diminished for me. It launched the band’s fortunes higher than ever and they’ve kept right on through to this very day providing metal fans with any number of incredible albums and songs with each successive release. If you are a power metal fan, Helloween is a band that should occupy a big spot in your collection and Keeper of the Seven Keys is a must-have release, period.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While he stepped back from singing the lead vocals for the album, Kai Hansen still wrote the majority of the songs. He wrote six of the eight tracks on his own and co-wrote another with guitarist Michael Weikath (who wrote another track on his own). Michael Kiske wrote the song “A Little Time”.

Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 has been reissued at least twice over the years. The first reissue was an expanded edition that added 5 bonus tracks. In 1993, the album was combined with Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 2 which kept those 5 bonus tracks and added two additional tracks as well.

The song “Future World” was released as a single and had an accompanying video. Helloween also had a video made for the song “Halloween” but it cut somewhere around eight minutes from the song’s running time.

I’ve seen Helloween in concert twice over the years. The first time was when they were the middle act on the Headbanger’s Ball tour with headliners Anthrax. Exodus was the opening act on that bill. And then about 4 1/2 years ago, they played Worcester, MA without an opening act on the Pumpkins United tour. The band returns to Worcester on Sunday May 21st, 2023 with Hammerfall as the opening act and I hope to be in attendance once more!



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.


When I wrote about the Tesla album The Great Radio Controversy for The Cassette Chronicles series back in September 2021 I mentioned that it was the album that had kickstarted my fandom for Tesla. I had heard the songs they played on the radio from Mechanical Resonance, which is the band’s debut album, but I had never gotten around to buying the album even though I really liked the music.

Of course, once I became a full-fledged fan of the band, I made sure to go back and get their debut release. And now seems like the perfect time to write about it.

As I said, I heard songs on the radio so I certainly knew of the band’s music. Officially, there were three singles released from the album. While none of them really made an impact on the Billboard singles chart, they certainly hit home on rock radio and the associated lists for the rock genre.

With twelve songs on the album, there’s a wealth of material to dig into so let’s get started, shall we?

Side One of the album opens with “EZ Come EZ Go”, which the band brings forth on kind of a slow boil. The song opens relatively calmly with brief instrumentation, then the vocals from Jeff Keith break in but the tempo still remains relatively sedate. But man, after Tesla hits that first break after the opening lyrical stanza, they are just cooking with fire on this song. You get this explosion of energetic rock that leaves no doubt that the band can bring down some heavy and thunderous rock and roll.

For the song “Cumin’ Atcha Live”, I have a vague recollection of hearing the song on the radio, even though it wasn’t released as a single. There’s an excellent guitar-driven intro to the song that definitely piques your interest before the band comes on in full. It’s a fiery display and the song pretty much soars along as the more rocking pace takes over.

“2 Late 4 Love” is a solid track but I really enjoyed the song “Gettin’ Better” a whole lot as well. The track was the third of the three singles released from Mechanical Resonance and it always gets me the way this song turned out. It starts off as more of a ballad, the softer music and the more restrained, almost brittle-sounding vocal turn from Jeff Keith. But then you get a more vibrantly aggressive turn in the music and suddenly the song becomes powered by Frank Hannon’s and Tommy Skeoch’s guitar lines and raises the stakes for the song.

Of course, if you are looking for more of that fleet-fingered fretwork, you just have to wait until the next song in the track listing because “Rock Me To The Top” is a full bore rocker right from the start. It shines the spotlight on Hannon and Skeoch but powering out that underlying rhythmic foundation is Troy Luccketa behind the kit and Brian Wheat on bass. If you can’t feel yourself getting amped up by this song, you might just be dead.

The first side of the album ends with the song “We’re No Good Together”. This song is definitely more of a ballad throughout most of the song. But towards the end, the power driven side of Tesla’s music rears its head and makes it more of a rocker. Thus, you could probably get away with calling this a “power ballad”. Oh, and I should mention that I really liked how the guitars came out on the end of the track. There was a great sound there and it helped me get into the song that much more by the end of the song.

As for Side Two,  Tesla really hit the nail on the head with the song “Modern Day Cowboy”. It’s not only a monster track in and of itself, but it stands as one of their classic tracks as well. Not bad for a song from your first album. The opening still gives me a jolt when I hear it and though I did hear them perform the song when I saw them in concert, I’m hoping to get to see them live once again in the near future because I definitely want to hear them do it again!

The song “Changes” has a bit of back and forth to it. Starting off kind of slow, the tempo rises up into more of a full on rocker during the song’s chorus before settling back into a more measured delivery for the next main lyrical passage. But man, when Tesla wants to rock out, they do it quite well on this track.

Tesla next ramps up the volume with a double shot of killer rock songs with “Love Me” and “Little Suzi”. With “Love Me”, it’s just a bouncy burst of rock-n-roll that keeps you feet tapping and your fist in the air. But on “Little Suzi”, things are a bit more interesting. The main reason for that interest is that it is actually a cover song. It was originally done by a group called Ph.D. Now, that information is readily available online but for whatever reason, I’m always forgetting that. The reason for that is because the band does such a great job of making this track their own. Rocked up and in-your-face, “Little Suzi” was released as a single as well. It may not have made a mark on the charts but I’ll be damned if this isn’t another of the band’s standout tracks…even if said track isn’t their own original work.

By the way, when I said it was a double shot of killer rock, I was forgetting about the song “Cover Queen”. It’s another uptempo and lively rocker. Oddly enough, it is a song that I rather enjoy. But I’m not sure just how appreciated this particular song is by the fanbase overall. It isn’t like I took a survey or anything. But every time I do listen to the album, I get reminded how much I like the song. And yet despite that, I never really seem to notice anyone mentioning the song if there is a Tesla conversation going on. I’d love to find out more about that just for my own personal knowledge.

The album closes out on the song “Before My Eyes” and this is the one song that really seems to set itself up as a bit of a challenge. Was Tesla going for the idea of creating something just a bit different than the rest of the music they were offering up on Mechanical Resonance? There seems to be more of a concerted effort to make the song sound like it is being done as more of a dramatic presentation. And is it me or is there some kind of extra effect mixed in on Jeff Keith’s vocal track? It sounds a bit off. Okay, the song overall isn’t bad, just a bit different. It may not be the first song I think about when I want to hear some Tesla music but I like that even on their debut album, Tesla wasn’t afraid to mix things up a bit.

Clearly as you’ve been reading this piece, you can tell that I like the album. Once I went back and got my hands on it back in the day, I was indeed quite taken with it. But what really interests me the most is how the music still holds up so strongly today. And not just the songs that everyone will recognize (though that is always good too) but the more album oriented numbers stand out fine on their own as well.

NOTES OF INTEREST – The Mechanical Resonance album has been certified platinum. My copy of the cassette includes in the liner notes, the story of how Tesla and then the Mechanical Resonance album came into existence.

With the exception of the cover of “Little Suzi”, the remaining eleven songs on the album feature co-writing credits (in varying combinations) from all five members of the band.

Drummer Troy Luccketta is currently absent from the Tesla lineup. Given what I’ve read in online interviews with bassist Brian Wheat, it doesn’t appear he’s going to rejoin the band any time soon, if at all.



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.


I’ve written about three Queensryche albums for The Cassette Chronicles in the past. The self-titled EP that kickstarted the band’s career, Rage For Order and my all-time favorite album Operation:mindcrime.

So I figured maybe now would be the right time to sit down and take a listen to the band’s first full-length album The Warning. As with all of the band’s releases prior to Operation:mindcrime, I came to The Warning late. I didn’t “discover” the band for real until Operation:mindcrime, but once I did that, going back to check out the rest of their music was a great musical journey for me.

While the albums that came out after The Warning showcase the band’s growing creativity, the songs on The Warning are in the vein of a more straight up traditional heavy metal sound. I know that may sound like a backhanded compliment but I assure you it isn’t. In fact, I enjoy the music on this album just as much as any of the band’s other early work.

(Side note: When I decided to sit down and write about the album, I realized that I had gotten dressed that morning in a Queensryche T-shirt so I guess the writing day had an unintentional theme to it for me.)

The album opens with the title track. Well, technically they drop “The” from the song title. So it is just “Warning”. That nitpick aside, I love how you are sitting there waiting for the cassette (which is still the original copy I bought back in the day) to start and then all of a sudden singer Geoff Tate’s voice bursts forth from your speakers with the word “Warning”. The song immediately goes into full throttle mode after that. The guitar playing from Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo is pretty heavy and the drums from Scott Rockenfield really give an extra heavy vibe to the music. When I was first taking notes for this article, I had written down that Tate’s vocals would alternate between a soaring tone and then I said “and a yelp”. But that makes it sound like it was somehow sloppy or just not good. However, that is far from what I was thinking. In the main lyrical passages, when Tate is singing, the way he clips the delivery at the end of each line makes it sound different to me. But I like the way it comes out and it helps make the song sound just that much cooler to me.

For the song “En Force”, the intro kind of gives the song an ominous tone to it. But the intro is only the first part of the musical soundtrack for the track. When you get to the main portion of the song, the music morphs into a far more fast paced straight ahead rocker that feels like the band is going right for the throat. Oddly enough, as the song begins it’s fade out that same ominous tone to the music returns to bookend the song before you get a softer delivery that is similar to the drums you hear in a military marching parade…though far more understated.

And if the pacing of those first two songs somehow don’t get you fired up, I think it is a good bet that the way Queensryche wastes not even a second before hitting you with an explosive sonic wave in the song “Deliverance” will surely get your head banging. The band as a whole is on fire, but what really made this track stand out for me in particular was the way Geoff Tate is in full attack mode with his vocal performance here.

Doing a complete 180, the song “No Sanctuary” is far more deliberate in tone and delivery. At least until the song hits the chorus. Slow moving (though not plodding), the song’s chorus sees the music step up the tempo a lot more. And the more intense playing holds court during the latter part of the song.

The closing song on Side One of The Warning is “NM 156”. And no kidding here, it is one of my all-time favorite songs from Queensryche. There’s a definite science fiction aspect to the song lyrics (in fact, they kind of remind me of an episode from the original Star Trek TV series). While they do a great job telling this particular tale in about 4 1/2 minutes, the song hits hard enough for me that they could’ve made this song into a concept album all on its own had they wanted to. Everything about this song is just flat out amazing!

Now on Side Two, I had to really focus for this one. Because the second side opens and closes with two songs that are tentpole type tracks for Queensryche. And because they are so noteworthy, I think the other two tracks “Before The Storm” and “Child Of Fire” kind of get lost in the shuffle and perhaps get shorted when people think of this album. So, I decided to really give a good listen to those songs for when I wrote about them in this piece.

And the thing is, I’m pretty guilty of not giving the songs their proper due too. So as I listened to both tracks now, I find that they are both straight forward rockers, fast paced with loud guitars and strong rhythmic foundations. Definitely good tracks. But they are definitely going to always be overshadowed by “Take Hold Of The Flame” and “Roads To Madness”. It may not be fair because the songs are damn good but they just have the unfortunate luck to be on this side of the album.

Of course, we do need to talk about those two classic tracks before the article ends, and when the second side opens with a song like “Take Hold Of The Flame”, how can it not become one of the band’s calling card numbers? I’m not sure I’ve ever read the story behind the song’s creation but whatever it was, I’m certain that it wasn’t supposed to be co-opted by the fan base as Queensryche’s clarion call anthem. You know, the song where the band uses the chorus to get the audience fists pumping in the air as they scream out “Take…Hold”. But that’s exactly what has happened. I’ve seen Queensryche a number of times in concert and when they play this song, the audience really gets going.

As for the closing song “Roads To Madness”, it is the band’s big epic track. Nearly 10 minutes long, Queensryche creates one hell of a track here. The funny thing is, this song inadvertantly served as a way to identify true fans of the band and those who somehow found their way to a concert because of the “Silent Lucidity” track on the Empire album. I saw the tour for Empire twice and when you start seeing 70-year-old gray haired couples walking into the show, you know they came because of the ballad track that gave Queensryche their biggest hit single. But as I said to the friends I went to the show with, “there’s no way they are going to stay for the show once they realize that Queensryche is a heavy metal band.” Sure enough, when they started playing “Roads To Madness” at the concert, those same couples were last seen heading out the door never to return. As for the song itself, well what can I say that wasn’t already implied by me saying it is one of the band’s tentpole songs? You can almost get lost in the song as you listen to it. There’s lots of musical passages that you can wrap yourself up in, and they go hand in hand with the vocal portions of the song. The song is nearly forty years old and yet it still retains the same kind of power that it had the first time you heard it.

Listening to The Warning with the aim of writing about the album gave me a chance to re-evaluate just what I thought of the release, particularly those songs that aren’t quite as well known. But even with that re-evaluation, the opinion doesn’t change for me. It showcases the band just before they really started breaking out. But instead of being found just a little lacking, The Warning is a pretty powerful statement for the band at the time and place it came out.

NOTES OF INTEREST: During the tour for The Warning album, Queensryche would open for both Kiss and Iron Maiden in the US. In Europe, they opened for Dio and Accept.

According to a quote from Geoff Tate that is included on the Wikipedia page for the album, the band hates the mix of the album. Also, the running order of the tracks were changed from how the band originally wanted them to appear. All the songs on The Warning were written, in varying combinations by Geoff Tate and guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo.

When The Warning was reissued in 2003, there were three bonus tracks added to the CD. This included two live tracks and the song “Prophecy”. Over time, the album has achieved Gold certification status.



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.


While 1990 is just slightly outside of the usual range The Cassette Chronicles covers, I felt the need to write about Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves album this week because I heard one track somewhere recently and just wanted to listen to the full album. And since I have this one on cassette, why not write about it for the series.

The funny thing to me is that this album is seen as far less successful than the past Dio releases. For some reason, the material didn’t seem to connect with audiences. This strikes me as more than a bit odd because there is some unquestionably fantastic music on the album.

Having added 17-year-old wunderkind guitarist Rowan Robertson to the lineup, the new Dio material had a real burst of new fire running through the songwriting. And they waste no time showing off the kind of pyrotechnics Robertson could bring to the music on the album’s opening cut “Wild One”. That razor sharp and blazingly fast musical soundtrack serves as the catalyst to not only introduce you to Robertson, but lets Ronnie James Dio delivery a scorching vocal take that still gives me goosebumps whenever I put that song on.

The song “Hey Angel” is a bit slower in overall pacing but it is still pretty much a heavy rocker of track. When Dio calls out “Hey Angel…”, you almost expect someone to reply.

The music switches things up to allow for a slow burn pacing on the follow up song “Between Two Hearts”. The song, while not plodding per se, does have a very focused and deliberate tone to the music. Meanwhile, I have to say that the song “Night Music” just draws me in when I hear it. I like the slightly understated way the guitars flow freely in the music. Plus you get a real rhythmic pounding on the drums from Simon Wright. I really like the way the song lyrics serve as kind of an extended anthem about what makes rock and metal our very own “night music” too.

The album’s title cut closes out Side One and I found myself really getting into how the song’s opening gives it such a dramatic presence from the start. At well over eight minutes in length it not only is the longest track on Lock Up The Wolves but it definitely lives up to the idea of being the album’s central track.

The song moves along in a slightly uptempo pace but you can see exactly how this track could be mistaken for one of those epic tracks Dio sang for Black Sabbath as well. For me, I loved that the song played out so long because I invariably always find myself swept up into the music and then Ronnie’s vocals bring the song fully to life as you feel yourself sinking into the song.

On Side Two, the album kicks off with the song “Evil On Queen Street”, which sounds like a horror movie or novel title, is a really intriguing song. There’s a cool vibe threaded into the song’s music. It moves along at a jaunty pace but at the same time feels like it could just explode and switch gears into a full bore rocker at any time. It doesn’t happen but I like the way the song plays with your expectations here. And when you add in one hell of an insistent performance from Dio himself, this song is utterly fantastic.

But if you want some more fiery guitar driven rock, you’ve got the song “Walk On Water”. Man, the adrenaline pumps through both you and the music as you listen to the song. The same could be said for the song “Born On The Sun”, even though the songs are completely opposite to each other in terms of pacing. “Born On The Sun” has a heavy tone to the delivery even with its overall uptempo style. And I loved the lyrics for the song, especially when Ronnie James Dio delivers the line “You believed in something / Now it’s just a lie”. I thought the line itself was great already but I liked the phrasing Dio used when singing the line a lot as well.

That great sense of great lyrics combining with a stellar delivery continues on the song “Twisted”. The music is lively and rocking but then you have lines like “He told you the truth but you were sure of it, lies” is amazing when you hear it in the song. Plus, I thought “They told me I was guilty / so I thought I did the crime” was another great line in the song.

The album closes out with the song “My Eyes” and I have to say that I’ve long thought it is just an absolutely killer track. There’s a soft intro that leads into a more frenzied delivery before Dio’s opening vocal line comes through your speakers in a slower pace. You could make a case for calling this a ballad but there’s much more to the track than such a simple designation like that. Once the first verse is finished, the song explodes into a heavier delivery and Dio’s vocals change tact as well. His delivery is far more intensely delivered to coincide with the change in musical tempo.

I consider myself a huge Dio fan and I’m also a big fan of the Lock Up The Wolves album. So every time I read about how the album began a downturn in Dio’s commercial fortunes as a solo performer, I’m mystified as to why. This album is chock full of some killer rock music and it always leaves me wanting more when the final notes fade out. I’d say give the album a new listen and I think I you’ll find yourself rather amazed at just how incredible Lock Up The Wolves is. It’s a tour-de-force for Dio the band and for Ronnie James Dio himself.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Lock Up The Wolves album featured an entirely different lineup than past releases. Besides Robertson, the new lineup featured Teddy Cook on bass, Jens Johansson on keyboards and Simon Wright on drums. This was the only album Rowan Robertson recorded with Dio. After the tour, Dio would shelve his solo band as he returned to the Black Sabbath lineup for what would turn out to be the Dehumanizer album and tour.

Despite the departures of bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinny Appice, they both have multiple co-writing credits on the album.

The CD edition of the album contains the song “Why Are They Watching Me” but the song was not on either the cassette or vinyl editions of the release. Guitarist Rowan Robertson has said there were two more songs that were demoed that never made the album either.



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.


Back in 2017, I wrote a couple of articles covering the John Waite solo releases Temple Bar and Rover’s Return. However, since then I haven’t returned to Waite’s catalog to write more about him.

The decision to cover another of Waite’s releases now came about not because I pulled the cassette out of The Big Box of Cassettes this time around. Rather, it was a post by a music friend of mine, Rob Keib, over on Facebook that served as the catalyst for this piece. I know Rob through seeing him at shows and shopping at the same record shop. He posted that he’d seen a documentary on Waite a week or so back (from the time this article is posted). It’s called John Waite: The Hard Way and he enjoyed it.

Seeing as I consider myself a big fan of John Waite, I looked up the movie and checked it out for myself. Rob was right, it was a very compelling look at the singer’s career and how he was dealing with life during the pandemic when touring was shut down.

Starting with his time in The Babys and then focusing mainly on his solo career after that (the Bad English days gets some mention but they don’t go into that band too deeply), the movie paints a picture of Waite as a driven, fiercely independent artist trying to make music on his own terms. Again, just a really great look into his life and career.

And so I thought that while Waite considers the Temple Bar album his finest work, I would go back and take a listen once again to my personal favorite album of his. And so now, here’s what I have to say about the No Brakes album.

Because “Missing You”, which remains a quintessential 1980’s power ballad, was such a massive hit back in the day, anyone not familiar with Waite might be expecting an album chock full of similar sounding tracks.

Well, that assumption gets upended pretty damn quickly with the opening song “Saturday Night”. This track is a ferociously rocking number that explodes out of the speakers with a relentless drive. You can’t help but get pumped up by this track. The guitar work, by the song’s co-writer Gary Myrick, is absolutely killer and John Waite takes no prisoners with a vocal turn that will knock your socks off.

That leads into “Missing You”, so the tempo shift is quite dramatic between the two songs. Now I make no secret of the fact that I had never heard of John Waite before I started hearing this song on the radio. And for a ballad, I not only loved it back then but even now when I hear it on the radio station I have to listen to at work, I’m always transported back to when I first heard the song. It’s a song that holds up even all these decades later. Hell, I can still remember how the video for the song played out without even seeing it.

I can remember how I was immediately taken with the album as a whole when I first got my hands on the cassette. Oh, and yes, the cassette I listened to in order to write the article is the one I bought back in the day.

I really liked the song “Dark Side of the Sun”, it had a kind of dramatic presentation to the music and the way Waite’s vocals came off in the song gave the song an added sense of life. When I would sing along (badly) to this particular track, I always liked the way “It’s a rock and roll wasteland” came off.

The song “Restless Heart” was the one song that John Waite wrote on his own for the album. (He also co-produced the album). It’s an intriguing track with a mid-to-uptempo pace. There’s a sweet guitar lick in the song that I like a lot as well.

The first side of the album ends with the song “Tears”, which was the album’s other single. While it wasn’t nearly as successful as “Missing You”, it did crack the Top 40 singles chart peaking at #37. It’s a solid rock number and I love the lyrics. I think John Waite was just incredible in his performance on this song.

The second side of No Brakes opens with the song “Euroshima”, the second song on the album that was a co-write between just Waite and guitarist Gary Myrick. When I first heard this song back in 1984, I remember thinking the way the music comes off, the song had kind of an post apocalyptic feel to it. Now, that was just my first impression back when I was all of 13-years old so it is likely wrong, but it’s funny how first impressions stick with you. Plus the song title kind of leads you that way. The song switches back and forth in tempo, the main lyrical passages are delivered in a slightly slower and hushed manner, but during the choruses, the music is far faster and the vocals grow into something far more intense. I always loved when I got the end of Side One because I knew I’d be flipping the cassette over and getting to hear this song right off the bat.

On “Dreamtime / Shake It Up”, you get a pretty damn enthralling rocking soundtrack to draw you in and then Waite seals the deal with his vocal turn on the song. The No Brakes album has an abundance of killer music to go along with Waite’s sometimes searing, sometimes soaring vocals and this song is a perfect blend of both aspects.

The intro for the song “For Your Love” immediately captures you with a burst of energy musically. Start to finish, the song rocks! And call me crazy, but I think one of the reasons for this is that the song is credited to the four main players on the album. Waite and Gary Myrick of course, but bassist Donnie Nossov and drummer Curly Smith have co-write credits for the song as well. I think the nucleus of the band being involved in the creation of the song gives it that much more in terms of a cohesive whole. Oh, and lyrically the song is damn good as well. I loved the line “My mind wanders / To the nights when I had you alone / Reality becomes science fiction / And my heart’s in the war zone”.

That creative foursome is also credited on the album closing “Love Collision”. While still more of an uptempo delivery, it’s not quite as intensely rocking as “For Your Love” but it is still a pretty damn good track and a nice way to tie the album up in a metaphorical bow.

To the best of my knowledge, the only John Waite solo release that has gotten reissued in the so-called modern day is the album Ignition. That came via the British label Rock Candy Records. If there have been others, I’m not aware of them.

That said, I think the No Brakes album would be a perfect candidate for a reissue/remaster release from either Rock Candy or some other label that specializes in such releases.

The reason I say this is that while Waite cites Temple Bar as his finest work, the No Brakes album was, is and shall always be my own personal favorite solo release from John Waite and I would love for more people to come around to my way of thinking about the album. It’s packed full of some incredibly rocking music outside of the massive “Missing You” hit song and every time I think of the album, I remember anew just how much I love it!

NOTES OF INTEREST: According to Wikipedia, the No Brakes album was certified gold in 1984. In the nearly 40 years since that certification, there doesn’t seem to be any further update on if the album ever got a higher level like platinum. It peaked at #10 on the Billboard album chart.

I got to see John Waite in concert back in 2018 in New Bedford, MA at The Vault. He put on a great show!

Despite my love of the No Brakes album, I had never really dug into the behind the scenes creation of it before now. What I found out was very interesting. There’s a HUGE Kiss-related component to the album’s songwriting! The song “Dark Side of the Sun” was written by Jean Beauvoir. Besides being with the Plasmatics and leading his own band Crown of Thorns, Beauvoir co-wrote and played on two tracks for the Kiss album Asylum.

Meanwhile, the song “Tears” is credited to Vincent Cusano and Adam Mitchell. Any Kiss fan knows Cusano better as Vinnie Vincent, but I was surprised to discover that Mitchell wrote songs for the Kiss albums Killers, Creatures of the Night, Crazy Nights and Hot in the Shade.

Bruce Brody, who played keyboards on the album, has worked with artists such as The Pretenders, Patti Smith, Joe Bonamassa, Rickie Lee Jone and both Lone Justice and that group’s singer Maria McKee in her solo work.



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.


With apologies to Angela Lansbury, the story of Metallica’s Master of Puppets album is a tale as old as time. Or at least as of just a few days before this article is posted online, a tale that started thirty-seven years ago.

Back in 1986, Metallica was coming off two well received albums that had taken the metal underground by storm. But I don’t think anyone was prepared for what the band would put forth on their third release. And that’s where I think we can leave off with any kind of in-depth recap of the history of the album and the band.

Yes, the band has sold at least six million copies of Master of Puppets. Yes, their bassist Cliff Burton died during the tour for the album. And yes, the album to this day remains not only a touchstone for the thrash metal genre but continues to be one of the most influential metal albums of all time.

There’s not much I can add to those facts and surely nothing I might come up with would likely be considered new information. So let’s just skip all that and head right into my own experience with the album and band.

The first thing you should know is that this is where I came to discover Metallica. I had never heard of, much less listened to, Kill ‘Em All or Ride The Lightning before getting into the band with Master of Puppets. I’m not sure where I heard it first, but my introduction to Metallica came courtesy of the song “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. It’s the last song on Side One of the cassette but it definitely was the first song I’d ever heard from the band. Come to think of it, it might’ve been Dr. Metal on 94 HJY’s “The Metal Zone” radio program where I first heard the song. I remember being taken with the way the song started off. I had no way of knowing when I first heard the song that the band’s songwriting had taken on a whole new dimension for Master of Puppets. But I did know that I loved the way Metallica created this creepy sound to give a depth of feeling to a song that I still marvel at. As the song’s vocal kicks in, things are moving in an insistent but methodical manner. But when you get to the chorus,  you can hear how things kick up and you wonder how long it will be before Metallica just blows off the slower side of their music to go full on blitzkrieg. You don’t have to wait all that long. As you get past the second chorus, the slower stylization on the song disappear and listeners get a full-throated roar from James Hetfield. Add in the explosive solo and killer overall extended outro and you have a song that is hard to beat.

I should mention that the cassette I’m listening to for this article happens to be the one I bought back in the day. And I can tell you that I remember hearing the opening strains of “Battery”, which starts off far slower and more deeply intense than the rest of the song, that when the song’s more untamed fury kicks off in full, it felt like you were being repeatedly punched in the face by an in his prime Mike Tyson. It was just savage the way you were buffetted by each new sonic attack in the song.

And there’s no let up on the album’s title track which still holds me entranced as it plays even now. It captures you and doesn’t let you go until the final notes.

Of course it isn’t all razor sharp guitars and rip snorting vocals either. No instead James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, the aforementioned Cliff Burton and Lars Ulrich, turn the pace of the album down a bit with “The Thing That Should Not Be”. If you think it sounds like the title of a horror movie or something, go with that feeling. While the pacing is far more stripped back in terms of speed, there’s still a strong current of ripsnorting fury employed in a noticeable but still somehow subtle manner.

And when you flip the tape over to Side Two, you are once again immersed into a relentlessly unforgiving metallic explosion. I’m not sure where the song “Disposable Heroes” ranks in Metallica’s catalog, but I know that when I was listening to the album all those years ago, this song did it for me. You don’t really get a chance to breath with this song. You listen to the guitar work alone and it’s like being hit with the kind of G-forces that keep you locked into your seat unable to move. But the way Hetfield blows the roof off with his vocals always gets me. He wrote all the lyrics to the songs and really killed it with the anti-war sentiments for this song. I still find myself singing along (badly) to the track whenever I listen to it and I’m amazed how powerful it remains still.

In the 80’s, it wasn’t exactly uncommon for metal bands to have an anti-religion song at some point along the way. Seems only fair considering how much religious charlatans made from attacking metal music at every turn. And that’s exactly what Metallica does with “Leper Messiah”. It’s still rather timely even now and nothing is spared in the lyrical tirade. And since I have no use for religion myself,  you can be assured that this song hit home with me both back then and even now.

Now, I’m not going to blow smoke here or anything but as much as I love this album, it took me a long time to really appreciate the song “Orion”. It all really boils down to the fact that at the time of the Master of Puppets release, I was not really a huge instrumental fan. Hell, it would probably still be a stretch to call me one now. Sure I like a lot more instrumental music now but it generally isn’t something I seek out FIRST. That said, as years passed, I became far more into the song. It’s essentially built around Cliff Burton’s bass playing but there’s so much going on in the song that hearing any lyrics might’ve taken away what everyone got to experience with the track being an instrumental.

The “Orion” song is over eight minutes long so at first, I needed the near masochistic thump of the album closing “Damage, Inc.” But the song is a lot more than just a relic of a pick-me-up impression I had a long time ago. It rockets the listener along yet another explosive shockwave of sonic fury. And as Hetfield rages vocally, you get Hammett, Burton and Ulrich thundering alongside of him until you are finally almost quite physically spent and welcome the end of the album because you need to rest up if you want to listen again.

When I decided to listen to the album in order to do this article, I realized that it had actually been a while since I had sat down to give it a good listen. Now more than ever, I’m glad I did. Because Metallica really did hit their stride perfectly on Master of Puppets. No matter what you think of how their career trajectory has gone since this album, the eight songs that comprise Master of Puppets did more for Metallica’s legacy than practically any other band in metal. It was a masterpiece then, it is a masterpiece now. Go on, dig it out and take another listen and be prepared to be hit with an unstoppable sense of shock and awe at just what this album accomplished.

NOTES OF INTEREST: I didn’t see Metallica in concert until the tour for the …And Justice For All album. But when they played songs from the Master of Puppets album, they just absolutely killed me in that live setting as much as the studio versions of the songs do even now.

I own a CD edition of Master of Puppets but I never got the 2017 box set or that digital reissue that is mentioned on the Wikipedia page for the album.



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.


If it is possible to love and album and still feel as if a large portion of it is fraudently credited, the self-titled debut album from Witness is definitely a candidate. While the band lineup for their sole release is listed as Debbie Davis on vocals, Joey Huffman on keyboards and guitars, Eddie Boyd on drums along with guitarist Damon Johnson and bassist Eddie Usher, both Johnson and Usher never played a note on the album. And almost the entire album was written by outside writers.

This has left me torn over the past few decades because I love the album but knowing the band’s creative contributions were relatively negligible is a thorn in my side. But setting that aside, the Witness album always entertains me when I pull it off the wall mounted cassette rack.

Released in 1988, there is a highly commercially accessible sound to the band’s rock and roll style. Which makes the fact that it pretty much sank like a stone upon its release particularly galling to me. I know I bought this in a store but I can’t remember if I knew about it beforehand or if it was one of those albums I bought on spec. I know the Side One track “Do It Till We Drop” with its highly-charged sexual lyrics sure made an impression on me back in the day. Of course, the case could be made that it was referring more to simply rocking out when everyone else didn’t want you to, but I was 17 when this album came out so I went with the sex overtones interpretation which has stuck with me to this day. That was the album’s single and it did apparently get some airplay on Headbanger’s Ball (though I don’t remember ever seeing it). The song is a slice of pure 80’s rock with a killer chorus that gets stronger with the big bold backing vocals behind Davis.

As for the rest of Side One, the album opens with the song “Show Me What You Got” and it is a surefire way to kick things off. It’s got an immediate earworm melody woven into the fast moving tempo of the music. You know, each time I listen to the album I just get a charge running through me. I know that the album is not very well known but as I move through each song, I come away impressed with how fantastic the music sounds and the great vocal performance from singer Debbie Davis. Plus, the lyrical content flows nicely and features some really great individual lines at times.

The song “Am I Wrong” (co-written by Michael Bolton) seems like it would be a ballad given it’s title but the song is anything but slow. Rather, it bursts out of your speakers and just kicks your butt. It’s a killer track start to finish, period.

The start of “Desperate Lover” is slightly slower in tempo at the start but that doesn’t last long and soon the sonic fireworks take over and suddenly you are bingeing on another choice hard rock gem. If you want a ballad, then the side closing song “Let Me Be The One” is for you. And hold on to your hats, it’s one for me too! Yes indeed, I actually quite enjoy this song a lot. It conveys the expected emotional content of the lyrics but doesn’t cross over into saccharine sweetness and thirty-five years later, still holds up rather well.

As for Side Two, things start off with a pretty interesting track. Yes, “You’re Not My Lover” is a pretty fantastic track but what really made this one interesting was its pedigree. While I believe I read somewhere that there was some contractual issue that forced them to be credited as the songwriters under pseudonyms, the track was written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child. As for the song, it’s pretty damn good. It’s got a great hook and when you combine it with a killer chorus, this is a hit single worthy type of track.

While keyboardist Joey Huffman plays a big part of the music on each track, I thought he was most especially featured on “Jump Into The Fire”. Not only does his intro set up the song but his playing informs the rest of the music throughout the track.

Meanwhile, another song that could’ve or should’ve been a hit single is “When It Comes From The Heart”. It quickly establishes itself with a full on hard rocking pace and the performance gets into your blood. Debbie Davis sounds so damn good here.

On “Borrowed Time”, the music is so relentless all I could think of as a description of how the playing came off was “take no prisoners”. Just fast and powerful, you can’t help but feel energized as you listen to the song.

The album comes to a close with a straight ahead rocker called “Back To You”. It’s got the same kind of energy running through it as with most of the rest of the album and as the track hits the fade out, I was struck by how much I just wanted to start playing the album again.

My cassette copy of the Witness album is still in great shape and that is a good thing because I’m not sure it is all that widely available on CD. While I haven’t checked eBay in a good long while, I remember being shocked a number of years ago when some small record label had put it out on CD. My brother actually liked the album so I ended up getting it for him as a present for either his birthday or Christmas. Of course, it was an opportunity missed for me because I should’ve bought two copies so I had one for myself. I say that because soon that company was gone and I was out of luck.

Then I believe UK record label Rock Candy Records had announced they were going to reissue the album. They always do a great job with their reissues so I was excited to get the chance to buy it again. But for whatever reason, they ended up pulling the album before it ever got released. I wrote to the company asking why and while I don’t remember exactly what they said, I think it was some kind of rights issue. Occasionally, I still send them a message asking if they might get around to putting it out again.

You might ask why I keep doing that for an album that very few people likely even remember. But the simple fact is I think this is an absolute lost classic of 80’s melodic hard rock. People really missed the boat on Witness the band and Witness the album. If you have been paying attention above, I like every track on the album and for me, it is pretty much a perfect album. It sounds of its era but you just can’t go wrong with any of the songs on the album. This is an album that should’ve put Witness on the big stage and if you are a fan of this type of music, it needs to have an exalted place in your collection. I know it sure has that in mine!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The majority of the guitar playing on the Witness album seems to have been provided by Journey’s Neal Schon (who also co-wrote the songs “Borrowed Time” and “Back To You”)  , Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis and .38 Special’s Danny Chauncey. Journey drummer Steve Smith also appears on the album.

While guitarist Damon Johnson didn’t play on the album, he didn’t do too badly for himself after the breakup. He fronted his own band Brother Cane, was part of Alice Cooper’s band and played for both Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders. He also has a solo career. I saw him open for UFO and got to meet him after the show. I mentioned that I had this album and thought about bringing it but didn’t know if he would’ve wanted to sign it because he didn’t play on it. Surprisingly, he said that I should’ve brought it because he would’ve been glad to sign it.

Debbie Davis co-wrote three of the songs on the album. Keyboardist Joey Huffman was part of Brother Cane with Johnson and would also play with Matchbox 20 and Soul Asylum.

Former Europe guitarist Kee Marcello is thanked in the album liner notes, though its not clear what he was being thanked for.

The song “You’re Not My Lover” was first released by the Swedish hard rock band Dalton in 1987 on their album The Race Is On. The song is officially titled “You’re Not My Lover (But You Were Last Night)” on their version of the track.



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.


Spoiler alert! The Cinderella Heartbreak Station album is by far my favorite album from the band.

Now originally, that statement of fact was because I didn’t much care for the band’s first two albums (other than the hit singles) when they were first released. The Night Songs and Long Cold Winter releases never really found a home in my music-loving heart back in the day.

Of course, that changed when I wrote about both of those albums for this series back in 2018. As I listened to both of them for the pieces I was writing, I finally made the connection with the material that I wish I’d had back in the 1980s. Suddenly, I loved both albums a LOT!

But Heartbreak Station was still at the top of my album rankings for the band. However, it has been a little while since I took the time to listen to the album. I still own the original cassette I bought back in 1990 (though I also recently bought the album on CD as well), so I decided it was time to pull it off the wall mounted cassette rack and immerse myself once again in the album that found the band’s reconfigured sound compared to both Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones.

Any thoughts that I might feel differently about Heartbreak Station than I had in the past were pretty much immediately laid to rest. The side one opening “The More Things Change” was everywhere when the album was first released and it is an explosive hard rocking number that gets you fired up and sets the stage for what’s to come on the rest of the album. The pure stomp of “Sick For The Cure” also gets your heart racing too!

Meanwhile, the song “Shelter Me” was the band’s hit single from the album. It hit #36 overall and I loved the way the song was propelled by a solid musical score and some great incisive lyrics. The song started off a bit low key but then hits you with much more of a whallop as the song played through.

I mentioned that the album’s sound got compared to Aerosmith before and I think the strongest evidence of that is on the song “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time”. It’s got a lively step to the music but there’s a funky vibe at the same time. And Tom Keifer’s vocals really do give off that Steven Tyler flare for the dramatic delivery too.

The other two songs on Side One lean more into the soft pedal delivery. The album’s title track is a power ballad of sorts. But with a solid sense of style and lacking in the watered down muck that is power ballad lyricism, the song remains both beautiful and strong even now. About halfway through the song, the music gets more intense but carries through with the reflective sounding lyrics to the end.

That kind of lyrical looking back is also infused into the song “One For Rock And Roll”. It’s not remotely a ballad, featuring a slightly restrained yet uptempo pace. The song just gives off a great vibe and the lyrics are a clear case of looking back at what was.

All in all, a strong six songs before you flip the cassette over and head on in to Side Two.

 If you were expecting Cinderella to kick off that second side of the album with another fists in the air hard rocking anthem, you would find yourself in for a bit of a twist. Instead, the band gives you “Dead Man’s Road”. And if you close  your eyes after hitting the play button, you will almost certainly find yourself feeling like you were listening to that music with a side of twang that features in almost every western movie. You can feel the wind blowing and the tumbleweeds passing by throughout the song, even though the music does change to a more uptempo style after the first lyrical verse of the track.

But if it is that electric charge of rock and roll you want, you are going to get it in spades on the song “Make Your Own Way”. Fast moving from the start, I loved the guitar work that fueled the music as a whole and the chorus was outstanding here.

While I still like  the song “Electric Love”, I found that as I listened to it for this article, the groove based rocker didn’t quite hit home with me as it has done in the past. I don’t know why I thought that way when I listened to the song but there it is.

Still, the album does close out high on the hog with two songs that really shine bright. You’ve got the blazing rocker “Love Gone Bad”. This one is made magic by the perfect combination of some smoking hot music and the biting and vicious sounding vocal delivery from Tom Keifer. Not that I didn’t love the song before now, but this one probably rose up in my favorite songs list because of how it came off to me now.

And then comes the song “Winds of Change”. It is similar in tone and style to the album’s title track. It’s got a restrained feel to it at first, kind of slow and deliberately paced. But the song draws you in. There’s a bit more musical drama set forth towards the end of the song but nothing that really calls to mind the word “rocking”. Instead, the album just fades out on a softer note but yet you feel satisfied nonetheless. It’s a great song and shows off (yet again) the balancing act Cinderella had down pat between their various song styles.

As I said at the start, the Heartbreak Station release is my favorite Cinderella album. While it may essentially cast off the glam rock stylings that were at least mostly prevalent from the first two albums, the blues rock sound that is threaded throughout this album is just plain badass in my eyes. Cinderella really hit their peak on this album and the album is still a great listen to this day. I agree with what Tom Keifer sings on “One For Rock and Roll”…”as long as I’ve got rock and roll, I’m forever young!”

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Heartbreak Station album ended up being certified platinum and hit #19 on the album chart. Singer Tom Keifer wrote all of the songs on his own except for the song “Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time”, which has a co-write credit for bassist Eric Brittingham.

Former Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley is credited for playing the organ on the songs “Sick For The Cure”, “Make Your Own Way” and “Love Gone Bad”.



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.


After releasing the Born in America album in 1983, Riot was absent from the metal scene until the 1988 album Thundersteel. But the band turned right around after that with the release of The Privilege of Power in 1990.

I’ve had only a passing acquaintance with most of the band’s catalog. Besides this and the Thundersteel album, the only Riot releases I’ve heard have been 1997’s Inishmore and 1999’s Sons of Society. And if I’m being honest, Inishmore was the only one I well and truly liked start to finish.

I had never heard The Privilege of Power before listening to it for this article. According to the Wikipedia listing, the album’s material is considered a bit more experimental than their past material and a bit of a concept album. Adding a horn section to a couple of songs doesn’t seem overly experimental to me but I guess I’ll let that slide. But as for the notion of this album being a concept album, I’m a bit mystified as to how. Riot does use a variety of audio clips to set the stage for most of the songs, but I’m not quite sure how that by itself makes it a concept release.

Side One features five songs bookended by tracks that showcase Riot’s ability to craft explosively fast metallic fury. On the opening track “On Your Knees”, the long audio clip intro was kind of wearying but once the music bursts out of your speakers, you are in for one hell of a ride musically. I loved the way this track got me pumped up big time. Sadly, I was brought back down to Earth a little bit because I wasn’t all that taken with singer Tony Moore’s vocals on this track.

For me, it seemed the soaring vocals were kind of lost in the mix at times and I found it a bit distracting.

But things quickly turned around with the next track “Metal Soldiers”. The pacing is a bit slower but still uptempo. The sound delivers quite a musical thump than an all-out blitkrieg. In all you get kind of an anthemic vibe from the track. And Tony Moore’s vocals are far more definitive here.

“Runaway” impressed me. The song starts off much, much slower. The guitar line accompanying the song through the first verse is incredible and it recurs throughout the song. After that first verse, the song moves towards a more uptempo peace with an impressive vocal turn.

Guitarist Mark Reale, who also produced and co-wrote seven of the ten tracks on The Privilege of Power is a beast on this record. The song “Killer” features a sizzling edgy riff. If that wasn’t enough to make the song cool, the use of the horn section gives an added heft to the musical score and the guest vocal appearance from Joe Lynn Turner further enlivens the track.

As I said, the first side of the album is bookended by songs that are similar in structure. “Dance of Death” is lightning fast. Much like “On Your Knees”, the music is just amazing. But once again, Tony Moore’s vocals gets lost in the mix again. I like his vocals in general but it seems whenever he had to hit the upper stratosphere of his vocal range, the music buried what he was singing at times.

The second side of The Privilege of Power opens with the song “Storming The Gates of Hell” and if ever a song lived up to its title, it would be this one. The pacing is relentless as Riot attacks every note of the song like it was actually storming those gates. I have to say I was getting a little psyched up as I listened to the song.

While Riot was exactly trying to court the reiging musical sound in 1990, I thought the track “Maryanne” came closest to sounding like a power ballad that you’d hear from any band that had struck it big with a similar type song. There’s a great sounding hook to the music and I thought the song’s lyrical content was pretty darn good as well. While “Little Miss Death” employed a far quicker pace, much like “Maryanne”, the song was made that much better with a strong vocal turn.

The last two songs on the album are both over 7 minutes long but not a note is wasted nor feels drawn out in the least. “Black Leather and Glittering Steel” starts off with an attacking tempo at the start and continues that non-stop explosiveness until the very last note. If you can’t feel yourself getting amped up as the song hits your eardrums, you have to get yourself checked out.

The closing song is actually an instrumental cover song. When I first read the song on the album’s track listing, I wondered how it would be serving as part of this supposed conceptual piece that The Privilege of Power is reputed to be. Well, I’m still not sold on that aspect of the album but I know that I found that Riot’s cover of the Al Di Meola song “Racing With the Devil On A Spanish Highway (Revisited)” made me worry less about a concept album and just jam out to how monstrously good this song sounded. I’m not exactly the biggest instrumental fan in the world but when I find a piece that I actually like, it really has struck a chord with me. Such is the case with this song. I’m going to seek out the original version so I can compare the two versions.

So in the final analysis, I had a slight issue with how singer Tony Moore’s vocals came out on a couple of the songs. Other than that, I would say that with The Privilege of Power, I have now found a companion piece to their Inishmore album. Yes, in a totally cliched way of complimenting the album, this was an album that was a privilege to listen to at long last.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Privilege of Power has been reissued twice. The first time came in 2003. The second reissue was as a vinyl combo with the Thundersteel album in 2013.

Drummer Bobby Jarzombek has played with a who’s who of metal bands including Fates Warning, Halford, Iced Earth and Sebastian Bach. He is currently part of country megastar George Strait’s Ace in the Hole backing band.

Guitarist Mark Reale passed away in 2011 due to complications from Crohn’s disease. The band has continued onward but they are currently known under the name Riot V.



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.

(WRITER’S NOTE: Welcome to the 7th year of The Cassette Chronicles series! I hope you enjoy this year’s batch of articles as much as the previous years and thanks for continuing to come back and read with each new published piece.)


It was nearly three years ago when I featured the Great White album Hooked for The Cassette Chronicles series. I had thought about doing another album from their discography but never quite got around to it.

But I finally got the urge to write about the band once again and I have a big purchase of CDs to thank for it. My local independent record shop has been making some huge CD collection purchases in recent months and I’ve been buying up a lot of what I could find that interested me. It’s a case of filling in holes in my collection. One of those buying trips saw me grabbing up a bunch of the Great White albums that I didn’t have beforehand. After I had wiped out what the shop had, I had a good portion of the band’s music. But I was missing their first two releases (as well as their last two). I really wanted to check out the early two so I wandered over to the cassette wall in the store and as luck would have it I found a copy of Shot in the Dark.

My memory may be playing tricks on me but I have a vague recollection of having once had a dubbed cassette copy of this album. But I don’t really remember thinking much of it at the time other than the song “Face The Day”. And it is long gone from the collection. So I now had the chance to give a much better listen to the album nearly 37 years after its original release.

What did I think? Well…it’s much, much better than I gave it credit for back in the 1980s.

The first side of the album opens with the song “She Shakes Me” and while I did think there was a bit too much of an echo chamber sound with the vocals from Jack Russell, it still comes out as a pretty hot rocking song. Fast paced and fuel injected, the song gets you fired up from the get-go.

As I was listening to “What Do You Do” I had a bit of trouble the first time around. I didn’t really get into the song. But on successive listens, I liked the way the song flowed rhythmically. It has a great uptempo drive to it and there’s a bit of a swinging swagger to the overall performance. This track ended up growing on me quickly.

Great White closed out the first side of Shot in the Dark with two cover tracks. The first is “Face The Day” which was originally done by The Angels. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the original version but I know that I love Great White’s version. It’s starts off a bit slow in the intro but the band quickly turns up the volume and pacing. Everything came together nicely and the song turned out to be an early classic track for them.

The second cover was of the Spencer Davis Group song “Gimme Some Lovin'”. I actually like the original version so I usually find that covers of songs I already like sometimes annoy me. That was not the case here though. While Great White’s version is seemingly a lot faster paced and way more “rocked” up, I think the band did a great job making their own version of the song.

For the second side of Shot in the Dark, the band kicks things off with the title track. And I thought it was kind of cool that the song’s intro is constructed so that it kind of reflects the album’s cover art. There’s a bit of a musical flourish after that before a slightly slower delivery is used for the vocals in the main lyrical sections. Of course, when the chorus comes in, so does a faster paced delivery of the vocals behind a musical score that gets more intense as well.

Though the song does feature more of an uptempo feel musically, the way the vocals are done for “Is Anybody There” give the song a darker and cinematic feel. It made for an interesting mix and therefore I was really digging the song a lot as I listened.

While “Run Away” starts off with more of a midtempo beat, the song grows into a much faster paced rocker over the course of the song.

The closing number is “Waiting For Love”. Now, I’m sure you will think this song is a ballad based on the song title. I know that I did. That might’ve given me some pause before the song started coming out of my speakers.

I’m a big fan of Great White’s “Save Your Love” and find it very hard for them to top that one with any other ballad track. (Though a couple of songs on the 1999 Can’t Get There From Here album comes pretty damn close.) The one time I saw Great White live, when they played “Save Your Love”, Jack Russell delivered such a performance that he held the crowd in his thrall and got a standing ovation for that rendition alone.

So you can understand my feelings of reluctance regarding “Waiting For Love”. And the song does start off in a ballad-like fashion. But after the first verse, instead of going towards the traditional and/or expected power ballad territory, the song abandons the balladry for a surprisingly effective mid-to-uptempo rocker. The lyrical content is still what you would find in a ballad but the more powerful soundtrack accompanying the vocals makes it a far better track than I was expecting at the start.

The liner notes for Shot in the Dark make note of the fact that the album was recorded in just 15 days. That probably accounts for the rawer feel to the sound of the release. But the quick recording process doesn’t diminish how good the songs turned out to be. I know that is speaking with a whole bunch of hindsight since I didn’t think much of the album when I first heard it back in the day. But time can help change an opinion when you have distance and a better grasp on things. And that’s definitely how I came to find that Great White’s Shot in the Dark is a fabulous listen, a look at the early days of the band just before they were about to explode in full on the music scene!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The version of the album I have is from Capitol Records. But Shot in the Dark was originally released by Telegraph Records. There are some differences between the two including slight title changes, different mixes and some slightly different music on certain songs. (Look up the album’s Wikipedia page for full details). The album got a remastered release on CD through Razor & Tie. The Japanese version of the CD has a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song “Red House” as a bonus track.

While Michael Lardie has been a longtime member of Great White, he’s only credited as an “additional musician” on Shot in the Dark with the band officially being a four piece at the time. This album was the debut of Audie Desbrow on drums.