Category Archives: Cassette Chronicles

The Cassette Chronicles – Eddie Money’s ‘Can’t Hold Back’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Eddie Money’s Can’t Hold Back (1986)

While classic rock radio will always keep “Two Tickets To Paradise” in their rotation when called upon to play an Eddie Money track, this album contains two more of his biggest hits in “Take Me Home Tonight (Be My Baby)”, the rocking track that features Ronnie Spector on guest vocals, and “I Wanna Go Back” which is a nice nod to nostalgia. That kind of struck me funny considering I’m listening to the full album for the first time as it has only recently had its own 30th anniversary.

The thing about this album is that despite containing two smash hits that the pop charts wholeheartedly embraced, there is nothing else really approaching the quality of either track throughout the rest of the album. I liked the song that opens up side two, “We Should Be Sleeping”, but that was mostly for the smoking guitar work in the song (particularly the solo on the outro).

While nothing is truly noteworthy for being bad, the album is top heavy with the hits and then just kind of meanders its way to the end. Pop music in the 1980’s had such a diverse roster of artists from various genres so you had to have radio friendly hits to make yourself heard in such a crowded field. However, it is very disappointing to me when an artist doesn’t back up those hits with some good old fashioned album tracks as well.

Notes of interest: Randy Jackson (now best known as a judge on American Idol) played bass on three tracks while Mr. Mister members Richard Page, Pat Mastelotto and Steve George pop up on the song “One Chance”.

The Cassette Chronicles – Autograph’s ‘Sign In Please’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Autograph’s Sign In Please (1984)

“Day time, night time/Things go better with rock/I’m going 24 hours a day/I can’t seem to stop.”

For anyone listening to the radio in early 1985 when the Autograph song “Turn Up The Radio” gave the band their signature (and only) hit, that lyric was a great summing up of how it was to be a rock fan in the mid-1980’s. The song is still a hard rock anthem to this day.

As for the album the track was released on, Sign In Please had a few good companion songs but nothing that compared to the celebratory anthem that made the band so memorable today. The debut album’s 1980’s production decision to add keyboards to everything in an attempt to give songs a glossy sheen left the band sounding what is today described as an AOR sound as opposed to a straight up hard rock sound.

Sometimes that keyboard heavy sound works, such as with the track “Night Teen & Non Stop”, but for the most part it robbed songs of an edge that the material could’ve used. But when they weren’t overwhelmed by the keys, songs like “Deep End” really shined. And despite the impossibly cliched novelty song title and lyrics to “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me” is a rather catchy rocker.

Steve Plunkett had a really cool voice with a full throated rasp that gave the band’s sound a little bit of roughness that didn’t get polished over. Unfortunately, the majority of the songs on the album just kind of fell flat.

As much as I enjoyed the big hit song when it was playing on the radio back in the day, the band quickly fell off my own personal radar after that. They didn’t have the staying power given the quickly growing slate of rock bands. But even with their status as a kind of one hit wonder band, you could do far worse than being remembered for “Turn Up The Radio”.

Notes of Interest: The band played 48 shows opening for Van Halen before they were even signed to a record label. They broke up in 1989 without ever really benefiting from the whole 80’s metal scene beyond “Turn Up The Radio.” However, guitarist Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand got the band back together in 2013. Steve Plunkett declined to take part in the reunion but gave his blessing as the band recruited a new singer and drummer.

The Cassette Chronicles – Helix’s ‘Wild In The Streets’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Helix’s Wild In The Streets (1987)

photo-helixIn 1987, heavy metal ruled the music world and there was a seeming endless supply of new bands each week. While Canadian rockers Helix had already been around since 1974, it was the band’s Wild In The Streets album that got my attention.

I’ve owned the album on cassette since it was released, but I haven’t heard it in a number of years because I kind of unsurprisingly wore it out by playing it so much. When the opportunity to grab up what turned out to be a brand new and unopened copy of the album for the inexpensive price of a cassette, I had to have it once again.

It is kind of amusing how I stumbled onto my love for this album. I was on a school trip for the cooking class I was taking at the time. We went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, for a tour. After the tour was over, we all ended up in the school bookstore where I stumbled upon the album and really got drawn in by the intriguing cover art. I had never heard of the band before but after listening to the album that first time, I was hooked.

The 10 song collection features a bluesy party rock vibe combined with a raspy vocal performance from singer Brian Vollmer (still the singer more than 40 years into the band’s run). Not only does he have the requisite power in his voice but it comes paired with a leering sort of grin in the vocal inflections depending on the subject matter of the lyrical content for a given track.

The opening guitar riff on the title track is an invitation to experience what the band has to offer. The phrasing and big backing vocals on “Never Gonna Stop The Rock” make for an immediately endearing chorus.

The album’s material features nine straight out rockers and one power ballad. This being an album released in 1987, the inclusion of said power ballad was to be expected, but this was before the power ballad movement became too overly crass. Thus, “Dream On” (NOT the Aerosmith song) was sentimental but not sickeningly sweet and sappy.

The underlying bluesy tones from the band helped give a nice extra something to the track “High Voltage Kicks”. The band’s lack of artifice about their party rock material is pretty much confirmed with the song “What Ya Bringin’ To The Party”. Also, since I was 16 at the time and hated everything the music labeling group the PMRC stood for, any song that had some sort of swearing in it was a big draw. So you can imagine how much my idiotic teenage brain loved the album closing “Kiss It Goodbye”.

Like I said, I hadn’t listened to it in years. However, as I listened to it for the purposes of this article, I was singing along with every lyric as if it was that first day I owned the album.

There’s really not a single bad track on the album. While the band never really had much in the way of huge commercial success, this album should’ve been one of the biggest of the 80’s. I’m most assuredly in the minority opinion on this, but for me Wild In The Streets is that good.

Notes of Interest: Don Airey and Mickey Curry make guest appearances on the album. Airey (who would go on to join Deep Purple in 2002), is one of three credited players on keyboards. Curry was one of three credited drummers for the album. He has played with a who’s who of artists in his career and was the drummer for the Bryan Adams smash hit album Reckless.