Category Archives: Cassette Chronicles

The Cassette Chronicles – Black Sabbath’s ‘TYR’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

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

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

Black Sabbath’s TYR (1990)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cassette Chronicles – Paul Rodgers’ ‘Now’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

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

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

Paul Rodger’s Now (1997)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

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

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

Babylon A.D’s Babylon A.D. (1989)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

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

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

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

Hurricane’s Over the Edge (1988)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cassette Chronicles – John Norum’s ‘Total Control’

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.

John Norum’s Total Control (1988)

If I remember an article I read correctly, guitarist John Norum left Europe back in the 1980’s because he was unhappy over the more commercial bent of the group’s music. Given that he has been part of the lineup for years with the band’s turn towards a more classic rock sound these days, you can kind of see where he was coming from given the material that was included on this particular album.

With Norum singing lead on eight of the eleven tracks as well as playing guitar, the guitarist was clearly in as much “total control” as possible for the time. While the album’s production is clearly of the 80’s, the material does veer greatly into the heavier guitar driven sound. While keyboards do have a presence on the album, they don’t overwhelm the clearly more aggressive rocking vibe.

There are nine original songs on the album plus two covers. The cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Wild One” closes the album while Norum also covers the Vinnie Vincent Invasion song “Back on The Streets.”

The album does a nice job of keeping the blood flowing with great guitar work on tracks like “Eternal Flame” and “Law of Life,” but the downbeat and moody style employed on “Too Many Hearts” makes for a disappointing song.

When you think about it, the album is kind of a foretelling of what Europe is doing now, musically speaking. And it isn’t a bad thing either. This album is quite enjoyable and I think people will be surprised by what they hear.

Note of Interest: Swedish singer Goran Edman, who would go on to front Yngwie Malmsteen’s band for two albums (amongst many other projects), sings lead on the three tracks where Norum does not have the lead vocal.

The Cassette Chronicles – Eddie Money’s ‘Nothing To Lose’

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 Nothing To Lose (1988)

In a previous installment of The Cassette Chronicles I wrote about Eddie Money’s Can’t Hold Back album and how beyond the two hit songs from the release, the album was otherwise lacking in high quality material.

Nothing To Lose was the follow up album to Can’t Hold Back and it is surprisingly much more of a cohesive album. This is in spite of the fact that it really only has one hit song, the solidly entertaining “Walk On Water.” Working in concert with guitarist Richie Zito (who played guitar on eight of the ten songs as well as co-producing and co-arranging), Money found a real solid groove here.

While the more commercially oriented material is the main component, there’s a couple of full on rocking tracks. “Forget About Love” and “Bad Boy” have a strong guitar that runs throughout each song. The solo on the latter song is electrifying while the more aggressive than expected guitar work on the former song at first surprised and then delighted.

The track “Let Me In” has kind of annoying build up in the chorus but the song was otherwise solid. And the atypically good but not sugary love song “Pull Together” was lyrically potent.

While this was pretty much the last Eddie Money album that I can say that I paid attention to, it did take me a little by surprise and I’m pretty happy that was the case. I’ve got a couple of online friends who rave about Eddie Money to this day and looking back on this album will likely mean I have to break down and check out some of the material that came later on.

Note of Interest: Guitarist Stevie Salas made a guest appearance on the track “Let Me In”.

The Cassette Chronicles – Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘Go Insane’

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.

Lindsey Buckingham’s Go Insane (1984)

When this album was originally released, I loved the title track. But in all honesty, I don’t think I’ve actually heard the song in the proceeding three decades. You can chalk this entire album up to the notion that sometimes feeling nostalgic or indulging yourself in it comes back and bites you in the butt rather than remind you of good times long past.

I’m not one that looks to go negative in a review or hope to be entirely positive. I just want to give my opinion on what I hear for the good or the bad. But since reviews should consist of more than “This Sucks!” here goes…

I’m not entirely sure what the point of the album was for Buckingham. The title track doesn’t live up to my memory of it at all. The vocals are entirely overproduced which leads them to seem either buried in the overall mix or treated as an afterthought throughout.

The “song” called “Play In The Rain” is the last song on the first side of the album and carries over to be the first song on side two. The only problem is that the track comes off more as a conceptual and/or experimental exercise rather than a real song. It’s a mostly existential wankfest. And that’s probably the kindest thing I can say about pretty much everything on this release. It is like the ability to write a quality song somehow deserted Buckingham here. The fact that I actually liked the title track when it was first release is kind of embarrassing now that I’ve looked back at it.

Even the most interesting song, “Loving Cup”, is ruined by the vocal production. I think if I ended up listening to this album again, I just might live up to its title and actually “go insane” for real.