Category Archives: Cassette Chronicles

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – ELECTRIC BOYS’ ‘GROOVUS MAXIMUS’

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.

ELECTRIC BOYS – GROOVUS MAXIMUS (1992)

When it came time to start putting together this article you are now reading, I originally thought I was going to be writing an opening that talked about how I had never heard anything from the Swedish rockers Electric Boys.

And that’s why it is always good to do research. As it turns out, while I’m sure that I haven’t heard much from the band before listening to this second album from the band, I had actually heard the one song that they are probably most remembered for. On their debut album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride, they had the song “All Lips N’ Hips”. I wasn’t sure that I remembered the song but one quick trip to Youtube and I remembered the song (if not the actual video for it). It’s a huge sounding prime cut of 80’s metal with a big chorus and a great overall inviting soundtrack.

That said, while I probably have mostly heard that song via Dee Snider’s radio show The House of Hair, it did bring me back to when the song would’ve been originally released and I liked that metaphorical trip back through time.

I may not have heard anything else from the band, but when I pulled the group’s second album Groovus Maximus out of ‘The Big Box of Cassettes’, I was game to see what I might discover for myself. Of course, this would be one of the rare occasions where the cassette involved would be playing for the first time. Yes, the cassette was still in its original wrapping. It was apparently bought from a Strawberries record store back in the day for the whopping price of $9.99.

The Electric Boys had kind of a hybrid sound, where they crossed their hard rock inclinations with a heaping helping of funk mixed in. It’s a sound that for the most part worked in their favor on this album.

The album opened with the title cut, the first of five straight fast moving rocker type tracks on Side One. The title track has what should be an expected great rhythmic feel to it. The vocals from Conny Bloom (who wrote all the songs on the album) grab you from the start and the song’s one line chorus is an immediate earworm.

The songs “Knee Deep In You” and “The Sky Is Crying” are superb offerings. Meanwhile, there seems to be a slightly grittier tone to the vocals on “Fire In The House”, a song that is definitely more metal than funk driven.

The song “Mary In The Mystery World” starts out with a misleadingly slow intro before the song then bursts out of the speakers in a cacophonous explosion of noisy rock and roll. The main lyrical verses to the song are a bit slower in delivery but the chorus moves quite a bit more lively. I was struck by just how much of a Cheap Trick vibe I got off of the song.

The last track on the first side of the album is the not quite a ballad song “Bed of Roses”. It is near enough to that song style but it does have a bit more of a pulse in terms of tempo. Unfortunately, the song didn’t quite fully endear itself to me.

So for the most part I enjoyed the first side of Groovus Maximus. I had great expectations when I flipped over the cassette for side two and initially that hope for greatness was rewarded.

The opening song of Side Two is the powerfully rocking track “She’s Into Something Heavy”. The album is kicked up another notch on “Bad Motherfunker” which has an incredible serving of guitar work, including a solo that I enjoyed quite a bit.

But I really had trouble getting into the pretty standard power ballad “Dying To Be Loved”. And while they are both somewhat frenetic rock songs, “When Love Explodes” and “Tambourine” were pedestrian tracks at best.

I will say that Groovus Maximus closes out on a high note though. “Tear It Up” is an all attitude song with a fantastic sound to it. I loved the second verse in the song, even though if they tried to put that into a song in today’s climate, they’d likely get a bunch of crap thrown at them.

The last song is an instrumental called “March of the Spirits”. I freely admit that I have my ups and downs when it comes to instrumental music at times but this cut was actually quite good and I would definitely recommend it.

As I researched the album, I learned that Groovus Maximus did not live up to label expectations when it was released. Of course, given that the release came as the grunge sound was taking over music, I don’t think anyone should’ve been surprised that this album didn’t set the sales chart ablaze. And while I do think the second side of the album is a bit of a letdown, overall I can’t help but say that I really enjoyed giving Electric Boys a full first deep listen. The band has a really good sound that appealed to me right off as I played the cassette. I definitely missed the boat on them the first time around but I’m glad that I am on board now.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Electric Boys split up in 1994 but got back together in 2009 and are still active to this day. Their seventh overall studio album is set to be released sometime in 2021 and will be called Ups!de Down.

During the time the band was on hiatus, singer Conny Bloom and bassist Andy Christell spent some time as members of Hanoi Rocks.

Magazine advertisement for Electric Boys’ Groovus Maximus

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – ALDO NOVA’S ‘BLOOD ON THE BRICKS’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

ALDO NOVA – BLOOD ON THE BRICKS (1991)

I don’t think it is that much of a shock to most music lovers that when you think of Aldo Nova, that thought likely begins and then ends pretty quickly with the hit song “Fantasy” from his self-titled debut album. It’s maybe a little unfair to sum up his career that way, but it isn’t exactly totally inaccurate either.

I have to put myself in this particular category as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other song from Nova until I pulled this album out of The Big Box of Cassettes to write this article.

But for all the prior lack of knowledge about Nova’s music, I can’t help but think that I really missed out by not having listened to Blood On The Bricks before now. The fact that this is the 30th anniversary of the album’s release makes it a perfect time to finally listen to it, I’d say.

The album contains a number of highly charged rockers, full of amped up guitar rock with keyboards adding depth to the overall sound. Throw in a couple of ballads that don’t make you want to puncture your ear drums and it turns out you have quite the overlooked album.

Blood On The Bricks opens up with the title track and it does the intended job of getting things going with a kinetic burst of energy. The song moves pretty fast, with melody aplenty. The song is pretty darn catchy too. It’s a perfect kind of single for the time of the album’s initial release.

The next couple of tracks on the first side of the tape are also full on rock and roll numbers. “Medicine Man” was the third of three singles released from the album and it’s damn good as well. But I really liked “Bang Bang” a whole lot too. It may not have the most original title but the actual song itself was just…COOL!

I mentioned that the album has a couple of power ballads. The song on Side One is called “Someday”. It was the second single released from the album. While it didn’t really make much noise on the singles chart, I thought it was a decent enough track. I was a bit surprised to find that I didn’t really get into the song “Young Love” all that much. It’s an okay sounding rocker (co-written by Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallance) but it just didn’t really do much to differentiate itself to me.

When you flip the tape over to Side Two, you get treated to another solidly rocking opening track in “Modern World”. Of the ten songs on the album, it is one of my favorites. There’s a great feeling of aggressively melodic rock and roll that helps sell the song to you.

While “This Ain’t Love” was a bit disappointing to me, the second power ballad, “Hey Ronnie (Veronica’s Song)”, more than made up for it. “Someday” was decent but this one found me really enjoying the fullness of the track each time I listened to it.

Blood On The Bricks closes out with a couple of straight on rockers. I thought “Touch of Madness” was decent but Aldo Nova definitely saved the best for the very last number on the album. The song “Bright Lights” is over six minutes long and it is an astoundingly great song! It is simply my favorite song on the album and I would definitely say that for me, I like it even better than “Fantasy”. If that’s a blasphemous statement for fans of Nova, so be it.

I’m definitely one of those people who would only think of the song “Fantasy” if someone had asked me anything about Aldo Nova. But after listening to Blood On The Bricks, it has become quite clear that there is a lot more to discover about the artist and this album is the definitive proof of that newfound belief.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album was produced by Jon Bon Jovi and features Randy Jackson (the former American Idol judge) on bass. The Japanese edition of the album contains the bonus track “Dance of the Dead”. This was the first album in six years, the fourth overall album in the Aldo Nova’s discography. According to his Wikipedia page, three more albums (for a total of seven) have been released.

Kenny Aronoff, who spent 16 plus years recording and touring with John Mellencamp, performed all the drum tracks on Blood On The Bricks. Aronoff has had a lengthy and varied career having performed or recorded with everyone from Tony Iommi, Melissa Etheridge (the only time I’ve actually seen him perform live), Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mick Jagger and many more.

Aldo Nova has collaborated with a number of notable artists as a writer and producer. The biggest name among these is undoubtedly Celine Dion.

Magazine advertisement for Aldo Nova’s Blood on the Bricks

The Cassette Chronicles – XYZ’s ‘Hungry’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

XYZ – HUNGRY (1991)

Like many, I first became aware of XYZ when their self-titled debut album was released in 1989. I remember seeing a magazine trade ad for the album and I was intrigued. After all in 1989, I was 18 and in my glory as a rock and metal fan.

That magazine ad stuck with me because I could swear that I remember seeing not only that Don Dokken had produced the album but that Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan being credited in the ad as having a hand in the production as well. But that appears not to be the case since it is just Dokken that got the credits. I’m guessing that it must be my faulty memory playing another trick on me.

I guess that I liked the album well enough, but the band didn’t really stick with me that much and they kind of faded from my playlist at the time. I know that the album disappeared from my collection as well. So it probably isn’t much of a surprise that I never bought the Hungry album.

I don’t even remember hearing the single release “Face Down In The Gutter” when the album got its 1991 release. I know now that there is a video for the song but I didn’t see that either. Apparently it didn’t get a lot of play on MTV at the time because of some controversy about the way women in the video were dressed.

When I pulled the Hungry album out of The Big Box of Cassettes, I was intrigued that I’d now discover what the band had to offer me in the album’s 30th anniversary year. And I’ve got to say that I came away pretty darn pleased!

The single is the opening song on the album and it’s got a fast paced rocking style. Overall, it is just a great sounding track and has a pretty catchy and memorable chorus. I liked it immediately.

Even more impressive to me was “Don’t Say No”. Like most of the songs on Hungry, it’s got an in your face aggressively rocking feel to it, but at the same time has a fantastic hook and great melodies. I’ve got to say that I really loved the guitar work from guitarist Marc Diglio. And though I’m sure it’s well established that Terry Ilous is a damn good singer, it is here that I really came to appreciate that fact for myself.

When it comes to cover songs, I’m both picky and fickle about what makes a good cover. And there are some bands that I don’t feel should be covered by anyone because you simply can’t do the original songs justice no matter how hard you try. One of those bands is Free. There’s just something about their music that defies replication in my mind. I don’t know why I feel that way but it also extends to Bad Company and I’m guessing part of the reason may be that I’m so loyal to the vocals of Paul Rodgers. However, I came away highly impressed with XYZ’s cover of “Fire And Water”, the title track of Free’s third album. It may not be exactly like the original but I thought this version really worked well.

The rest of Side One of the album is just as impressive with the songs “When The Night Comes Down”, “Off To The Sun” and the side closing “Feels Good”. That last song pretty much sums up how I felt after listening to the first side and spoiler alert…the album as a whole.

Side Two breaks through from the start with “Shake Down The Walls”. It’s got a rocking immediacy to it and I can just imagine being in the audience at a show and just pumping my fist in the air to this track.

You’ll note that as yet I’ve not described any song with the dreaded “power ballad” term. That ends quickly on Side Two with the song “When I Find Love”. While I’ve found some ballads in recent albums that I’ve actually enjoyed, this song will not be joining the list. While it checks all the expected boxes for a power ballad to be successful, it just seemed to set my teeth on edge.

The song “H.H. Boogie” is flat out awesome and a great showcase for Marc Diglio. There’s a swinging feel to the song’s tempo and everything about this song made me want to hear it over and over again. The band gets even more aggressively paced on the song “The Sun Also Rises In Hell”. The song really got my blood pumping as the band as a whole combined to put on a fantastic performance with this track. I love just how hard-edged the song sounds and along with “H.H. Boogie”, is among my favorite cuts on the album.

Hungry closes out on a continued roll with the songs “A Roll Of The Dice” and “Whiskey On A Heartache”. The two tracks are both rockers and continue to demonstrate that while I may have taken until this release marked its 30th anniversary to “discover” it, better late than never is definitely true.

Seriously, this album is a superbly entertaining release and I know that if the band ever returns to my area whenever lives concerts return, I’m going to be in the audience…fists pumping in belated but fervent fandom!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Hungry album failed to chart when it was released and led to the departure of guitarist Marc Diglio and drummer Paul Monroe. The band recruited new members Tony Marcus and Joey Shapiro for the tour and they are still in the current lineup today.

Personally, I thought the album cover art was a bit cartoonishly silly but I loved the “warning” in the liner notes saying that the recording may contain subliminal messages. The CD release of the album contains the bonus track “Two Wrongs Can Make A Right”. It isn’t on the cassette

Musician Jeff Paris co-wrote three of the songs on the album as well as co-arranged the band’s cover of “Fire And Water”. Over the course of his career he has written songs with and/or for Y&T, Lita Ford, Mr. Big and Vixen and others. He’s sometimes credited as Geoffrey Leib. Paris has released six solo albums as well.

Magazine advertisement for XYZs “Hungry.”

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TOTO’S ‘ISOLATION’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

(WRITER’S NOTE: Welcome to the fifth year of The Cassette Chronicles. Thanks for continuing to read the articles in this series. Just a reminder that for the first six months of 2021, The Cassette Chronicles will be on a twice monthly schedule instead of the usual weekly one.)

TOTO – ISOLATION (1984)

In the interest of full disclosure, the only reason I bought the Isolation album oh so many years ago was on the basis of the lead single “Stranger In Town”. The song became a Top 30 hit but the problem with that is that two years after the Toto IV album, both the band and record label had far greater expectations for the song and album as a whole.

The song has a really catchy pop single feel to it and a lively guitar track as well. And since I was 13 years old at the time, the lyric containing the phrase “son of a bitch” was kind of forbidden fruit for some reason. No, I make no claims to being a great thinker at the time!

What I do remember about the album from when I originally listened to it is that I didn’t really care for the rest of the album. It was all about “Stranger In Town” for me and none of the other songs registered with me like that one did. I can’t even say if I’ve ever listened to the album in the decades since it was originally put out. So as I started listening to the album for this piece, I was surprised to find the first side rather entertaining. Funny how time and growing as a music fan alters opinions, eh?

The first four tracks, including “Stranger In Town” are fast paced rocking type songs. While the side ending “How Does It Feel” is more of a ballad and was released as a single, it didn’t make a dent in the charts. As for the songs “Carmen”, “Lion” and “Angel Don’t Cry”, each track might’ve lacked the pop chart bonafides, but they turned out to be perfect “album tracks”. Strong vocals combined with flashy guitar work and amplified keyboards made for a propulsive musical soundtrack.

The album featured three different people tackling the lead vocals. Fergie Frederiksen was the newest member of the lineup after the firing of singer Bobby Kimball (though Kimball is credited with providing “additional backing vocals” in the liner notes). Frederiksen sang lead on seven of Isolation’s tracks. Guitarist Steve Lukather was the lead on “How Does It Feel” and keyboardist David Paich sang lead on the “Stranger In Town” and “Holyanna” songs. He also sang co-lead vocals on the album opening “Carmen”.

The album’s second side started off with with “Endless”. This song was apparently the band’s choice for the first single but they got overruled by the record label. Still, it’s not a bad song and did eventually get released as a single in the UK in 1985.

The album’s title track is a bit more restrained in tempo at the start but the pace soon picks up. And it does pack in a strong guitar sound with a brief but effective solo too. “Mr. Friendly” was a vibrant little number that comes off to me as one of the stronger overall tracks on the album.

I really got into “Change of Heart”, which is driven by David Paich’s keyboards and the song has an uptempo and epic feel to it. I was also captivated by “Holyanna” which has not only a great musical sound but an interesting story in the lyrics as well.

As I said, when this album was first released, I bought it but found myself essentially uninterested in any of the songs other than “Stranger In Town”. But now that I’ve listened to this as a far better formed music fan, I can see that there was quite a few tracks that I should’ve enjoyed the last three plus decades or so. I didn’t know anything of the behind the scenes upheaval that seems to have affected the creation of the music at the time but whatever the reasons for the relative failure of the album’s commercial fortunes may be, I think Toto fans might just have to give Isolation a new evaluation. They just might find themselves as surprised as I was to see just what they may have missed the first time around.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While the Isolation album did eventually achieve gold status in the US, the prevailing school of thought was that the album was a commercial failure. Compounding matters further was the financially disastrous tour in support of the album. Rock Candy Records released a remastered edition of the album in 2015. It’s one of seven remasters the label has done with the band’s back catalog.

Besides the Isolation album, Toto was working on the soundtrack for the movie Dune. That album was also released in 1984. The first attempt at the cover art for Isolation was designed by the movie’s director David Lynch, but it wasn’t used.

The video for “Stranger In Town” featured actor Brad Dourif, who has had a lengthy career in TV and film. Some of his best known work includes One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Dune and Blue Velvet. He also played “Grima Wormtongue” in the Lord of the Rings film series. He also provided the voice of the murderous doll in the Chucky (a.k.a. Child’s Play) horror films. His TV work includes guest stints on Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5 and a co-starring role on Deadwood.

THE BEST OF THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES 2020 – YEAR 4

By JAY ROBERTS

The year of 2020 will definitely not be remembered fondly by the world at-large. I mean, can you really think of all that much that is worth celebrating this year?

Here in the insulated world of The Cassette Chronicles though, I still wanted to take a look back at some of the albums that really made a mark on me as I wrote about them this year. Looking back, we pretty much topped out in terms of productivity for the series. There were 47 articles written this year and that means I got to discover and/or rediscover an amazing assortment of great music.

The series will be back in 2021 but for now I just wanted to give another day in the sun to some albums that I thoroughly enjoyed both listening to and writing about in 2020.

My thanks go out to the continued support from Limelight Magazine, everyone who reads these articles and to those few bands that made a point of sharing them on their social media pages. Here’s to a wildly improved 2021 and I hope to see you all back here again for another year of exploring the 1980’s and 1990’s with The Cassette Chronicles.

And now…(blatantly ripping off Casey Kasem) on with the “countdown”.

Click on the title of the cassette to read the review.

#1 – METAL CHURCH – HANGING IN THE BALANCE

#2 – TORA TORA – WILD AMERICA

#3 – DAVID LEE ROTH – A LITTLE AIN’T ENOUGH

#4 – MICHAEL MONROE – NOT FAKIN’ IT

#5 – MARIA MCKEE – MARIA MCKEE

#6 – Y&T – TEN

#7 – TED NUGENT – IF YOU CAN’T LICK ‘EM…LICK ‘EM

#8 – HOUSE OF LORDS – HOUSE OF LORDS

#9 – BANSHEE – RACE AGAINST TIME

#10 – GLASS TIGER – THE THIN RED LINE

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – HELIX’S ‘WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HELIX – WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1984)

For longtime readers of The Cassette Chronicles, you might recall that the 1987 Helix album Wild In The Streets was the very first album to be spotlighted. It was the band’s sixth studio album but it was the very first time that I’d ever even heard of the band. Despite my enduring love of that album, I never really tried to hear the early Helix material until just recently. I tried to listen to a copy of Long Way To Heaven a while back but the tape pretty much imploded before I got two songs into it.

But after 160 or so articles since that first one on Wild In The Streets, I thought it was time to take another listen to the band’s earlier offerings and ended up pulling a copy of Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge out of The Big Box of Cassettes.

As I was taking notes I was surprised to see that the band recorded two covers amongst the ten tracks on the album. I did like their cover of the Crazy Elephant song “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” which was amped up rather nicely. However, I was a little less enthused by the cover of the A Foot In Coldwater track “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”. It’s the only song on the album that you find the band hitting the brakes and making a turn towards balladry. I didn’t think the song was terrible in and of itself, but it just doesn’t really get me excited overall.

As for the rest of the album, what else can I say but…WOW! The band rocks out hard and fast throughout the other nine tracks (including the Crazy Elephant cover). And this is kind of why I seem to have an affinity for Helix. They just come out and rock your socks off with some hard charging rock and roll that sounds like it is the perfect soundtrack for a rocking Saturday night party. The fast fretwork from Brent Doerner and Paul Hackman get the blood pumping and singer Brian Vollmer (the only original member of the band still in the band lineup to this day) draws you in. I hope no one takes this in a negative way but his vocals always seem to be a little tongue in cheek. It’s a playful smart aleck kind of tone that helps enliven the proceedings just that much more. Vollmer’s vocals strike me that he’s having just as much of a good time as the music is intended to make the listener have for themselves.

The album opens with “Rock You” which was the first single released from the album. It’s got a perfectly catchy anthemic sound and sets the stage for the rest of the album’s fast charging rocking bent. The rest of Side One is just as aggresively entertaining as that song. The tracks “Young & Wreckless”, “Animal House”, “Feel The Fire” and the outstandingly cool sounding “When The Hammer Falls” are all designed to get you up and pumping your fists in the air.

The album’s two cover songs are on Side Two but sandwiched amid them are three more uptempo tracks. “My Kind of Rock” is another anthemic track with “You Keep Me Rockin'” closing out the album quite nicely. But it’s the song “Six Strings, Nine Lives” that really showcases just how furiously fast the band could rock out musically when they put their foot on the gas.

As I said, I’ve been very remiss in checking out the early origins of the band. But after listening to Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge, it is high time for me to rectify that gap in my musical experience. This is a hellaciously entertaining good time and show’s just how good a time it was to be growing up in the middle of the 1980’s hard rock uprising!

NOTES OF INTEREST: As I said, I want to check out more of the band’s early work and that should be a bit easier as four of their albums in total have been reissued on CD by Rock Candy Records. Besides Wild In The Streets and Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge (which has three live cuts included as bonus tracks), the No Rest For The Wicked and Long Way To Heaven albums are also available.

The band shot three videos for the album. They were for the songs “Rock You”, “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” and “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. According to the Wikipedia entry for the Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge album, Helix actually shot two versions of the video for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. One was the regular version to be shown on regular music channels. But the second one was the “adult” version which featured topless models in the video. However, I’m not sure that that version is available to see online because one of the models was porn star Traci Lords, who unbeknownst to the entire industry at the time (in 1984) was actually underage during the majority of her adult career. (Additional fun fact, I actually met Traci Lords at one of the Super Mega Fest conventions a few years back).

The song “Rock You” was written by Bob Halligan, Jr. He’s had a pretty prolific career both as a performer and a songwriter. Some of his credits include writing “(Take These) Chains” and “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” for Judas Priest. He also wrote “Twist” for the Halford album Resurrection. He co-wrote seven of the ten songs on the Kix album Midnite Dynamite and co-wrote the band’s biggest hit song “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (from the Blow My Fuse album). He also co-wrote “Rise To It” and “Read My Body” with Paul Stanley for the Kiss album Hot In The Shade. Halligan Jr. has his own band called Ceili Rain.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TOTO’S ‘IV’

By Jay Roberts

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

TOTO – IV (1982)

The first Toto album was a big hit for the band, but after the next two albums weren’t as successful, the group had one last shot to hit it big or face being dropped from their label.

The pressure of having to create music that will please a large audience might crack any performer but Toto rose to the occasion and gave music fans 1982’s IV album.

If you are the least bit familiar with Toto, then you’ve certainly heard their two most successful songs. “Rosanna” opens the album and “Africa” closes things out. If you were only interested in those particular tracks, the cassette makes it easy to play the first, then flip it over and essentially play the second right off as well.

Now, I’m a big fan of both songs. Whenever I hear them on the radio I still harken back to the days when I would listen to the track on the radio in my room at the time and sing along with each verse. Not that I was any good at it but I got the joy out of the song regardless.

I’ve owned this particular cassette for decades and while I probably should upgrade, the fact that I didn’t lets me write this article and come to realize that I really didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the material on IV.

I never realized that they had five singles released. And while “Waiting For Your Love” didn’t make a dent in the charts (which isn’t surprising because it fell flat as I listened to it), the other four songs certainly did. “Rosanna” went to #2 while “Africa” became the band’s only #1 hit.

But what I never knew before now was how “Make Believe” became a Top 30 hit (and was actually released before “Africa”.)  I vaguely remember the uptempo number but hearing it now gave me a new appreciation for the song. Oh, and the ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back” was went to #10. I remember the song well enough but since I haven’t paid enough attention to the album and the track listing in all these years, I didn’t remember the song was on this album. Instead, my familiarity comes from the fact I hear it on the radio station that plays at my job. The song is really low-key but rather enjoyable.

The surprise of the album’s first side for me was the song “Good For You”. A lively quick pacing had me tapping my foot along to the music and it was almost like hearing the song for the very first time.

I will say that I wasn’t all that fond of “It’s A Feeling”. The big reason for that was the completely undersold way the vocals were performed. I know that Toto is sometimes referred to as “soft rock” but this was just WAY too soft for my tastes.

The album’s second side started off superbly with the catchy beat of “Afraid Of Love”. It’s a pretty standout song really. But the weird thing is that it doesn’t really seem to get a proper ending. Instead, the next song “Lovers In The Night” seems to just start as one flowing from the other. That might’ve been okay if I’d like the song but I really got nothing out of it.

But you soon forget that when you hear “We Made It” which is another bit of lively rock and roll from the band.

It’s no great shakes to say that IV is Toto’s most famous album and that it is jam-packed with a host of great songs. Both statements are solid facts. But if like me, you haven’t spent years obsessing over the band’s music, it is quite the nice experience to learn or perhaps be reminded that the album not only stands the test of time but is always waiting there for a new generation of listeners to discover of their own accord.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The IV album was certified triple platinum in the U.S. and has reportedly sold 12 million copies worldwide since its release. Rock Candy Records did a reissue of the album in 2015.

Timothy B. Schmit from The Eagles sang backing vocals on the songs “I Won’t Hold You Back”, “Good For You” and “Africa”.

Singer Bobby Kimball was fired from the band two years after the release of IV, but returned to the band a second time for a 10 year stint. Reportedly, he’s battling dementia now.

Toto is reforming after a hiatus but only guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Joseph Williams are listed as current members of the band.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BANG TANGO’S ‘DANCIN’ ON COALS’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BANG TANGO – DANCIN’ ON COALS (1991)

It’s a little crazy I know, but I’ve never really found myself drawn to the music of Bang Tango. Oh sure, when the band’s first album, Psycho Cafe, came out in 1989 I heard and saw the video for “Someone Like You” a number of times. It was a decent enough song but when the song would end, I would move on and put the band out of my mind.

When Dancin’ On Coals, the band’s second album, came out in 1991 the process pretty much repeated itself. I remember hearing the album’s title track but continued to move on without really checking out the rest of the band’s music. I don’t even remember hearing the song “Untied and True” which was one of the songs released as a single from this album and apparently even shot a video.

All this is to demonstrate that I pretty much know nothing about Bang Tango besides a couple of songs that got them played on the radio. But I really don’t have any kind of explanation for why I never delved further into their catalog.

This week, when I pulled Dancin’ On Coals out of The Big Box of Cassettes, I was tempted to put it back and pick another album. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hear it. But following the rules I established for myself, I put the cassette in the player and it was off to the races.

So to speak anyway. See, if you look the band up on Wikipedia part of the descriptors for their sound is funk rock. I’m not opposed to that stylistic choice but like anything else, you can go overboard with it. And that’s pretty much what happened with the album’s first song “Soul To Soul”. I found it an entirely underwhelming track in large part because it mostly forgoes any real rock sound (there are little flourishes) and focuses more on a pop/funk vibe that worked against the song in terms of me being drawn into it.

As if to illustrate the notion that I can like a funk sounding song, the album’s closing song “Cactus Juice” feature a heavy funk and rock soundtrack in equal measure that makes for quite the interesting song. This is a song that I really enjoyed and there’s a nifty little solo as well.

But let’s head back to the first side of the album. After the disappointing to me opening track, the more rock driven tempo asserts itself on “Untied And True”. There’s a nice rhythmic feel to the music and it stands out amongst the material. Yes, I probably should’ve known this years ago but let’s move on from my well-documented musical ignorance, yes?

While I did quite enjoy the more energetic pacing of songs like “I’m In Love” and “Big Line”, I wasn’t at all into the song “Emotions In Gear”. The reason? I really did not like the soft peddled delivery when it came to singer Joe LeSte’s vocals.

The first side of the album closes with a ballad but before any regular readers skip over this mention because of my disdain for the song genre, this actually turned out to be a pretty good track. Okay, at first I didn’t start out liking the song but once it hit the chorus, I did enjoy that immensely and that helped the song grow on me as a whole.

While the first side of the album was somewhat hit or miss, the second side of Dancin’ On Coals really got my adrenaline flowing.

After the title track, which remains a damn fine song, you’ve got great rocking songs like “Dressed Up Vamp” and “Last Kiss” which show off the rest of the band nicely. Of particular note is the guitar work from six string duo Mark Knight and Kyle Stevens.

Bang Tango’s Dancin’ On Coals album features eleven tracks and I ended up liking nine of them. Proof positive that I needed to do a far better job of vetting the bands I decided to check out back in the day. If I had, maybe it wouldn’t take me nearly 30 years to discover that this album was pretty damn good!

NOTES OF INTEREST: While Psycho Cafe did nicely for Bang Tango, the bloom seemed to already be off the rose when Dancin’ On Coals was released. It only made it to #113 on the Billboard album charts.

Bang Tango had a few breakups over the years. They’ve also featured a revolving lineup during their inevitable reunions. However, since 2019 the original lineup of singer Joe LeSte, guitarists Mark Knight and Kyle Stevens, drummer Tigg Kettler and bassist Kyle Kyle have been back together in full.

Singer Joe LeSte formed the band Beautiful Creatures with guitarist DJ Ashba in 1999. They release a self-titled debut album in 2001 and Deuce in 2005.

The Cassette Chronicles – Banshee’s ‘Race Against Time’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BANSHEE – RACE AGAINST TIME (1989)

You’ll have to forgive me this week because I have to claim complete ignorance about the album I’m writing about. It doesn’t happen often but the debut full-length album Race Against Time from Banshee had me stumped.

I do not remember either the band or the album at all. This is a pretty rare experience for me because when the album was originally released in 1989, I would’ve been at the height of my personal musical investment in the decade of metal ruling the world. I might not have heard every album but usually I would’ve at least heard a song or two. Hell, I would probably have heard of the band at least. But sadly, that is not the case with Banshee.

The band’s sound at the time of Race Against Time’s release was what you might expect. It was a highly commercial melodically infused rock/metal blend. In other words, it was what is now called “hair metal”. And while that term is generally used as an insult, it isn’t that to me. It is a fitting way to describe a large portion of what made the 1980’s musically relevant for me.

The album features eleven tracks, but you can quickly discount two of them right off the bat. Unless you are an instrumental purist, the songs “Circular Flight Of The One Winged Sparrow” and the album’s closing piece “Desert Moon” amount to little more than musical doodling. I know that might seem a little harsh but neither piece really serves to enhance the overall listening experience for me.

But that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy what else the album has to offer. The first side of the album opens up with the song “Shoot Down The Night”. If your goal is to offer up a track that perfectly encapsulates what your band is about, Banshee did a superb job with this song. The funny thing about this song is that when I was first listening to the album and making my notes for the article, I wrote “single worthy” about this song. Turns out that I called that right because if you do a YouTube search, there’s an official video for the song. Again, the fact that I didn’t know anything about Banshee before now leads to these “new” discoveries for me.

The song “All Alone” is also fast moving but there’s a little bit of a moody atmosphere to the overall sound of the song as well. Singer Tommy Lee Flood has a deeper sounding vocal presence than a lot of other singers of the era but his delivery is pretty spectacular and I really dug into his vocals on the majority of the album’s tracks. Also, while the album lists all the songs as being written by the band, all the lyrics are separately credited to Flood.

The guitar-driven speediness of songs like the album’s title track and Side Two’s “Drive Like Hell” are a testament to the talents of guitarist Terry Dunn. Each track lives up to the titles of the songs and you find yourself incredibly amped up as you listen to the songs.

I also quite enjoyed the closing song on Side One, “Call of the Wild”. It’s another hard driving and rocking song which fits in perfectly with the rest of the album.

The band’s music focuses mostly on hook-laden fast paced rockers. This gives it a slight edge with me since they don’t get overly bogged down with pursuing “balladry” immortality. The one power ballad that is included doesn’t show up until late in the second side of Race Against Time. It’s called “Missing You” and my reaction to the song was about as generic and uninspiring as the song itself. It is just not my cup of tea at all.

But that’s the essential low point of the album for me because tracks like “Precious Metal” which is lively rocking throughout helped fuel the growing appreciation I had for this album.

The standout track for me on the second side of the album was the song “Get It On The Run”. It’s a song that is just purely energetic and drives home the band’s signature sound.

It isn’t often that I find myself utterly flummoxed by a lack of any kind of knowledge about a band from the time when I was growing up as a music fan. But I will tell you that I really found myself enjoying Race Against Time. Whatever the circumstances that surrounded Banshee not becoming a bigger presence on the music scene at the time of this album’s original release, I have to acknowledge the fact that I really missed out on them back in 1989. If I had heard it then, I think that I would’ve been a big fan of the band.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While the band broke up around 1993, they did reunite for various concerts throughout the ’90s and 2000s. When the band played a reunion show at the 2008 Rocklahoma festival, Tyson Leslie played bass for them. You might know him best today as the keyboardist for Vixen.

Bill Westfall, who played bass on Race Against Time, was a part of the band during three separate occasions. However, he is listed as having passed away during 2020 on the band’s Wikipedia page.

The band released an EP and two studio albums before their original breakup. They are still active today though. Terry Dunn is the only founding member of the band still in the lineup. Banshee has released two further albums this decade. Mindslave (2012) and The Madness (2019) mark a dramatically different and much heavier sound for the band. This might turn some people off but I checked out a couple of tracks from the albums on YouTube and found them to my liking.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – COREY HART’S ‘fIRST OFFENSE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

COREY HART – FIRST OFFENSE (1984)

It’s funny how some songs stick with you even with the passage of decades without giving much thought to the artist who performed it.

For better or for worse, that’s how it works for me regarding singer Corey Hart. He had a monster hit from this debut album in the song “Sunglasses At Night”. The song went to #7 on the Billboard singles chart and I can distinctly remember loving the song as it climbed the charts each week on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio program.

I won’t admit to wearing sunglasses whenever I heard the song during the night as I would either sing or lip-synch along to the song, but if you want to assume that I did, I probably couldn’t truthfully argue with you about it. The song was just a really cool track. The funny thing is that I can’t remember the video at all. I know it got some heavy rotation on MTV but even after reading the Wikipedia information about what goes on in the video, I can’t recall it. This seems strange to me since I usually have a good memory regarding videos from the 80’s.

This is another one of those albums that I never got around to buying back in the days when I barely had started working so I wasn’t exactly flush with cash to buy everything I might’ve wanted. So when I listened to First Offense for this article, I was surprised that the album isn’t merely a pop music album. It’s got some decent rock and roll sounds to it. While the only other song released as a single was the ballad “It’s Ain’t Enough” (#17 on the singles chart), there are actually a number of songs that struck my fancy.

On the first side of the album “Lamp At Midnite” and “She Got The Radio” are strong tracks while I found “Peruvian Lady” to be a bit of a drag despite the quick moving pace of the song.

The second side of the album opens up with an incredibly strong rock track “Does She Love You”. It’s not only got a great rock vibe but the guitar work on the song is fantastic. Setting aside the strength of the album’s two singles, this is probably my favorite track of the rest of the album.

The song “Cheatin’ At School” was a bit less interesting but there’s some more strong guitar work in the song, particularly the solo. I wish I could say even that much about “The World Is Fire” but I just didn’t like that one all that much.

I’m about as uncoordinated and lacking in the necessary rhythm to be anything but an embarrasment to myself and others on the dance floor but the jaunty pace and delivery of the song “At The Dance” does get your foot tapping and if you were inclined to dance, this would be a song you might’ve heard on the audio system back in the day. It’s a get up and go type of rhythmic track and despite my inability to dance, I enjoyed the song.

It’s funny how you sometimes make connections that make no sense between songs. When I first heard the opening of the album’s closing track “Jenny Fey”, I was reminded of the song “Jenny of Oldstones” that was featured in the “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms” episode of the TV series Game of Thrones. I don’t know why my brain tied the songs together because the tracks really don’t share much in common beside the name “Jenny”. But the connection was made nonetheless. Whatever the reason, I found the ballad to be quite intriguing and it made for quite the all-encompassing way to end the album for me.

It isn’t always a good thing to revisit the pop music of the early-mid 1980’s. There’s been an album here and there that made me question why I had ever liked that track or group back in the day. But I have to say getting the full album exposure to First Offense was a pretty good experience for me. Sure, it’s not perfect but it is rare that any album is and despite a couple tracks that I found wanting, this is a pretty darn good release.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The First Offense album has three versions. The first two were Canadian releases in 1983 before the US version (all three are slightly different) came out in 1984. The US release is the version of the album I have. The US release was certified Gold.

Corey Hart was nominated for four Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammys) in 1984 and won for “Best Video”. He was also nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy Award for the same year.

The song “Jenny Fey” features Eric Clapton making a guest appearance on the Dobro guitar.