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THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – DEF LEPPARD’S ‘EUPHORIA’

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.

DEF LEPPARD – EUPHORIA (1999)

It’s been just over two full years since I first wrote about Def Leppard for The Cassette Chronicles. I covered the Pyromania album and in that piece, I mentioned that while there were some albums from the band I didn’t like, Euphoria was one of the releases that I really enjoyed quite a bit.

Strangely, when I decided to write about this album I found that I couldn’t remember exactly when the last time I had popped the cassette in to listen to it. This led me to somewhat of a rediscovery of Euphoria and for the most part, it was well worth the experience.

The first side of the album opens with a rapid fire machine gun rocker in the form of the song “Demolition Man”. Between the fiery musical soundtrack and Joe Elliott going for broke with a blitzing vocal delivery, you get all the full bore blast of amped up yet still highly melodic rock and roll you could want with this track. On top of which, the song has a lyrically involved but repetitively catchy chorus that I couldn’t help but sing along to. Thankfully no one was in earshot of that!

That’s just the first song on the album but Euphoria actually opened up with a triumvirate of great songs. While the song’s pacing was in a slightly lower gear than “Demolition Man”, “Promises” was still an upbeat catchy number. And “Back In Your Face” lives up to its title with not only a direct delivery but there’s some added grit (particularly with Joe Elliott’s vocal performance on the song) that gives some additional heft to the track without sacrificing the band’s harmonious melodies.

“Paper Sun” was an interesting song for me. I’d kind of forgotten how the song rides a midtempo groove until the chorus where the music gets a bit livelier. And I really dug what I can only describe as the funky vibe that “All Night” had. That’s a killer and likely totally underappreciated song.

The album has thirteen songs on it, three of which are ballads in some way, shape or form. On the first side of the album, you have “Goodbye” and “It’s Only Love”. The first time I listened to the album in preparation to write this article, I didn’t really like the songs. The residual disdain I have for a lot of ballads probably played a big role in that. I wasn’t repulsed by the two songs or anything but they just didn’t do “it” for me. But the next time through, I seemed to better appreciate the songs for what they were. For those that look to Def Leppard for their softer side, I’m sure these songs really fit the bill.

The ballad on Side Two of Euphoria is “To Be Alive” but while the sentiments of the song fit the requirements of a ballad, the overall sound of the song is far more melodically uptempo and I actually found that the song was much more to my liking than the other two ballads.

Speaking of Side Two, can I just say how much I love the opening track “21st Centure Sha La La La Girl”? I really dig this one a lot. It’s got a great sound overall and I can’t help but be both bemused by and hum along to the chorus of:

“On a psychedelic space machine, galactic sugar high

Like a caffeinated satellite gone way past ninety nine

Come on, be my

21st century girl, all outrageous, quite contagious

21st century, you got solar fire

21st century girl, sweet romancer, cosmic dancer

21st century sha la la la girl”

Sure it is an entirely silly sounding group of words, but sometimes silly works. And this was one of those times.

While I’m by no means an addict for instrumental music, I have to say that listening to “Disintegrate” was one of those times where I wasn’t left wondering what the song would sound like with a vocal track. Written by guitarist Phil Collen, the song is a rambunctious rocker and shockingly, one of my favorite songs on the album.

The Euphoria album opens with a trio of great songs and it manages to end things with another great trio as well. The song “Guilty” is a solid rocker throughout. Initially I thought it might’ve been included as a fourth ballad if you generously expanded the definition but realistically, the song just ROCKS!  So does “Day After Day”. But going out on the highest of high notes, Def Leppard closes the album with “Kings Of Oblivion”, which is a flat out F’N awesome track!

While this belief is by no means come to by the scientific method, I think most Def Leppard fans would have Pyromania and Hysteria as their favorite two albums. I’d probably say that for myself as well. I know there are those who would make arguments for other releases but let’s just assume for the moment I’m right. If I was to pick albums for the next tier of great Def Leppard releases, there is no doubt that I’d put Euphoria right up there with Adrenalize and Def Leppard. It is another prime example of why Def Leppard is such a great band!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Euphoria album was certified gold in the US. It seems like quite a comedown sales wise for the band but given it was put out in 1999, I’m glad to see that this album did that well. Though sales figure requirements are vastly different in other countries the album went gold in both Canada and Japan as well. The Japanese version of the album has one bonus track called “I Am Your Child”, while the Australian edition has both a cover of the Alice Cooper song “Under My Wheels” and an original song called “Worlds Collide”.

Ricky Warwick, currently the frontman for Black Star Riders, is credited with helping to provide the “heys” and “claps” on the “Back In Your Face” track. Former Formula One racing champion Damon Hill played the end guitar solo on “Demolition Man”. The song “To Be Alive” was originally done by guitarist Vivian Campbell’s side project Clock.

Though he didn’t produce the album (the band did that themselves along with Pete Woodroffe), Mutt Lange did co-write three songs on the album and did backing vocals as well.

JOHN CAFFERTY TO HEADLINE VETERANS’ BENEFIT SHOW IN SAUGUS, MASS., ON AUG. 14TH

By CHRISTOPHER TREACY

Some folks get involved in music to try and get famous. Real musicians, however, are motivated by the craft.

John Cafferty is of the latter variety. He formed the Beaver Brown Band in 1972, cutting his teeth in barrooms along the East Coast for a decade before his brush with the big fame machine came along. It was an offer to record the soundtrack for the movie Eddie & the Cruisers (1983), and it certainly boosted his profile.

Curiously, neither the film nor the soundtrack did all that well upon initial release, but subsequent airings on HBO rejuvenated interest and sent the album up the charts. It went on to sell over four million copies, and the ensuing string of hit singles, including “Tender Years,” “C-I-T-Y,” and “On the Dark Side,” has helped keep him and his band on the road ever since.

But it’s the sense of purpose he derives from making music that got him started. And, fifty years on, it’s what keeps him going.

Case in point? A fundraiser he’s playing on Saturday, August 14. It’s an outdoor show at the Kowloon on Rte. 1 in Saugus, Mass., and it benefits an organization called Rockin’ 4 Vets, formed in 2015 to assist veterans dealing with PTSD and substance abuse through live music events. Cafferty has appeared at a half dozen of these events, both by himself and with the band. The show on the 14th is of the latter variety, featuring sax player Michael Antunes, who turns 81 the week prior.

“We like to get involved in doing things that help to make peoples’ lives better,” Cafferty said during a recent call from his Rhode Island home. “Music is a giving thing. When I go see someone play, and they’re delivering the right way, it lifts my heart up and makes me feel better… always has. And I have that ability to do that for other people, so do my friends, and it’s a gift. So, when asked to pitch in, we have a tendency to say yes.”

Cafferty says he originally met Rockin’ 4 Vets founder Jim Tirabassi through bluesman James Montgomery, a mutual friend who helped Tirabassi, who used to do larger shows with artists like Foghat, The Outlaws, and Badfinger, start his organization. As a disabled vet with a passion for organizing events, Tirabassi launched Rockin’ 4 Vets to see if he could deliver a better return to the non-profits of his choosing.

“This is the very beginning of the first foray into doing live shows again,” Tirabassi said over the phone. “I’m also on the Board of Veterans Assisting Veterans (VAV), and they’re doing a unique thing, bringing a dozen vets down to the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Wall in D.C. this September. We started this project a year and a half ago but had to halt it because of COVID, so it’s a long time in coming. This concert fundraiser is one of the final parts of putting this trip to D.C. together for these guys.”

This show is one of Cafferty’s first since the lifting of COVID-related restrictions on large gatherings. A tour itinerary is coming together that will keep him and the Beaver Brown Band busy well into next year, assuming the mounting threat of viral variants doesn’t shutter venue doors once more.

“Our schedule just started,” he said. “We did a couple of spring shows in New Orleans, private ones, not open to the public. But we just started playing to crowds this past weekend at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. We had a year and a half off. But we huddled up together when we could, safely, and continued on making music and writing songs. I felt pretty safe when we played this past weekend, but I tried not to extend myself unnecessarily. I believe in the vaccines.”

Tirabassi is erring on the side of caution.

“Anything we’re planning right now will be outdoors,” he explained. “I know folks want to get back to indoor shows, and I understand that, but I think it’s wise to avoid that right now. I will certainly have masks available at this show so that people can feel as comfortable as possible.”

Cafferty isn’t looking ‘on the dark side’ with regard to the pandemic. Instead, he’s focused on the good it brought out in some of us.

“This was an unimaginable situation we’ve been through,” he said. “If someone told you the week before that it was gonna happen, you wouldn’t have believed it. And then it did. But the world and the individuals in it found a resilience they didn’t know they had. When things were dark, people stood up and helped one another, protected one another… people were willing to put themselves on the line. Look at these essential workers — talk about heroes!”

“With these veteran events we do that Jim puts together, we’re also honoring and celebrating heroes, people who put themselves on the line. That’s who the vets are, putting themselves out there for the sake of everyone else, and they deserve everything we can give them.”

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band will perform as part of a Rockin’ For Vets fundraiser event at Kowloon on Rte. 1 in Saugus, Mass., on Saturday, August 14, from 1 to 5 PM.  Click HERE to purchase tickets.

THE FIXX & ENGLISH BEAT TO PERFORM IN FALL RIVER, MA, ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH

The 1980s was a great time for music and fans of that era will be exited to know that The English Beat and The FIXX are embarking on a co-headlining U.S. this fall, with a date set for the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on Friday, November 5th. The show marks the 15th anniversary celebration of Limelight Magazine and 10th anniversary of its publisher JKB Entertainment Group. Purchase tickets HERE.

THE FIXX (PHOTO BY LIZ LINDER)

The FIXX, which still features the lineup of Cy Curnin, Adam Woods, Rupert Greenall, Jamie West-Oram and Dan K. Brown, have released 10 studio albums and were a fixture on the pop charts with such songs as “One Thing Leads to Another,” “Red Skies,” “Stand or Fall,” “Are We Ourselves?,” and “Secret Separation.” They have been heralded as one of the most innovative bands to come out of the 80s.

Live, in concert, the band delivers that same sonic authenticity fans have come to expect from their recorded performances because The FIXX are the real deal.

DAVE WAKELING OF THE ENLGISH BEAT (PHOTO BY EUGENIO IGLESIAS)

On the other hand, The English Beat is a band with an energetic mix of musical styles and a sound like no other. Their infectious sound, which crosses fluidly between ska, soul, reggae, punk and rock, has allowed them to endure for four decades and appeal to fans of all ages all over the world.

Throughout their career, The English Beat has scored multi-platinum record sales, sold out shows and, most importantly, universal fan approval because they kept “The Beat” alive.

The band is still lead by Dave Wakeling with an amazing all-star ska backing band that will play all their signature tunes, such as “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It For Later,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Hands Off, She’s Mine,” and “I Confess,” as well as some covers and songs from their 2016 album “Here We Go Love,” the band’s first new release since 1982’s “Special Beat Service.”

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – DAMN YANKEES ‘DON’T TREAD’

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.

DAMN YANKEES – DON’T TREAD (1992)

Since I was such a big fan of the self-titled debut album from Damn Yankees (I wrote about that album for this series back in October 2019), it seems particularly odd that I never bought this follow up album when it was released in 1992. I’m not sure why I skipped over the album but nearly three decades later, I actually own the album on both cassette and CD.

When I realized that I never heard the full album, I found that I couldn’t even recall hearing any of the album’s eleven tracks. Well, until I actually played the album that is. As it turns out, there are two songs that made some in-roads with me over the ensuing years.

The first side of the cassette has both of those songs and they do provide an interesting contrast. The song “Where You Goin’ Now” is the purest power ballad song on Don’t Tread and as it played I found that I actually did remember it and not in a bad way either. I enjoyed this song a lot. It became a Top 20 single when it was released, which was the second and final time the band had a charting single.

The other song I remembered is the album opening “Don’t Tread On Me”. If you ever need a perfect example of how to craft a powerful rock track to kick off an album and really grab the listener from the get-go, this is the song. It’s a superb track that immediately gets your blood moving and never lets up until the last note.

Those are the songs that are still apparently getting some airplay on specialty radio shows these days but after listening to the full release, it is not the end of the quality material Damn Yankees included on Don’t Tread.

As a matter of fact, the first side of the album is a full on rock and roll monster. Besides those two songs I wrote about above you have a straight blast rocker in “Fifteen Minutes Of Fame”. There’s the song “Mister Please”, which starts out a bit more restrained but after the second lyrical verse, the music gets a more intensely rocking pace to it. As for the song “Dirty Dog”, when you listen to the chorus, you will recognize that if they tried to write the song now, the band would be catching a ration of crap. Of course, in 1992 there would’ve been far less hue and cry about the lyrics. Instead, the cool way the music has a swinging rock and roll feel to it will make people sit up and take notice regardless of how they might invariably think of the lyrical content of its chorus.

When you flip the cassette over, the quality doesn’t abate in the least. I will say that I had a bit of a problem connecting to the song “Silence Is Broken” but it is still a decent song. After that song opens up Side Two, the rest of the musical ride is flat out fantastic!

You get a couple more attitude driven rockers in “This Side Of Hell” and the album closing “Uprising”. That latter track is infused with a strong drum track from Michael Cartellone. In a band with Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent, Cartellone is easy to overlook but he really made this song something special. In between those songs the band weaves in cuts like “Someone To Believe”, which has an uptempo pacing to go along with some damn good lyrics. While the main musical thrust of “Double Coyote” is hard driving rock and roll, the band works in quite a few bluesy flourishes to give the song an extra musical dimension. It’s a track that caught my ear the first time I listened to Don’t Tread for this article and with each successive play of the album, it continued to be a song I looked forward to hearing.

My favorite song on the album is the song “Firefly”, which is an aggressively fever pitched rocker with a blitzing guitar solo that hooks you hard. As I listened to the song, I thought back to the band’s first album and the song “Piledriver”. The two tracks feel like companion tracks, but I think “Firefly” is even heavier, musically speaking. Still, no matter how you look at it, the band is on another level with this song’s performance and whenever I listen to the album from here on out, this is the showcase song for me.

While the Damn Yankees album went double platinum, I can’t find any information on how well Don’t Tread sold upon its release. However, all these years later, what I do know is that I really missed out on one hell of a gem by not listening to Don’t Tread back in 1992.

Damn Yankees may have released just two studio albums, but by any method of measurement you care to use, Don’t Tread, like its predecessor, is an incredible example of pure hard rocking melodic rock and roll that will light the fire of any music fan who cares to listen.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Don’t Tread, as with the band’s debut album, was produced by Ron Nevison. The 2020 Rock Candy Records reissue of the album contains two live bonus cuts.

According to the album’s Wikipedia entry, the original release of the Japanese version of the Don’t Tread had two bonus tracks. One is a live version of “Come Again” from the Damn Yankees album. The second song is a studio track called “Bonestripper”. However, that song is included on the first album’s 2014 Rock Candy Records reissue. By the way, the song is another fast paced ballsy rocker and it would’ve been a great song to include on the regular US release of Don’t Tread.

Robbie Buchanan played keyboards on Don’t Tread. Besides his musical career, he had a small role as a piano player in the 1978 Bette Midler film The Rose.

Magazine advertisement for Damn Yankees Don’t Tread

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – NEVADA BEACH’S ‘ZERO DAY’

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.

NEVADA BEACH – ZERO DAY (1990)

You’ll have to pardon my ignorance when it comes to the band Nevada Beach. Despite their album Zero Day having been released over 30 years ago, it wasn’t until I started listening to the cassette for this article that I’d ever even heard of the band.  I’m not quite sure how it is that I completely missed out on so much as even hearing the name of the band before, but somehow I managed it.

That’s the downside of things. The upside is that I got to hear this as a completely new album. And let me tell you, this was a fantastic listening experience!

Nevada Beach hailed from New Hampshire. And while that wasn’t exactly a hotbed of metal bands in the 80’s and early 90’s, the lineup of Hank Decken (vocals and writer of all ten tracks on the album), Geoff Safford (guitars), Tony Rivers (bass) and John Murphy (drums) sure had their collective fingers on the pulse of what a rock/metal album should be back then.

Originally, the first side of Zero Day presented me with peaks and valleys when it came to the songs. There were two songs that just didn’t quite hit the mark with me the first time I listened to the album. So it’s a good thing in my book that I listened to the album a few times because those two songs grew on me a lot and that made the entire first side of the album a winner for me.

The first of those two tracks was “On Zero Day” and it started out with a bit more of a methodically paced sound and got heavier as the song built to the chorus.  The second song was the side closing power ballad “Only The Fool”. It has a heavier musical sound than what you might expect from a standard power ballad and I think that is what helped the song grow on me over time.

Of course, the other three songs on Side One were instant hits for me. Fast paced rockers with a catchy vibe and a chorus that hooks you from the start. The album opens with “Rough House” which should’ve been a single release because it has a immediately memorable melody line and the vocals from Decken remind you of a Bon Scott vocal performance. The comparison to Bon Scott is best exemplified by the song “Action Reaction”, a balls out rocker that hits you hard and fast yet has a compelling sense of melodic timing to it as well. The song “Waiting For An Angel” might make you think the song is a ballad, but it’s actually quite the rocking little number and the one song that had a video made for it. (You can find that on Youtube.)

While the first side of the album took a little work for me to fully grasp ALL five songs, it was love at first listen when it came to Side Two.

That side started off with a trio of songs that captured the blood pumping anthemic nature of the Nevada Beach songwriting. “Back For Blood” goes for the throat while “Walking Dead” is a rocket fueled burst of anthemic choruses and some fast moving fretwork. “Stand” is a stand out rocker as well.

The song “Big Zero” is probably the slowest track on Side Two. It moves back and forth in tempo but it grows into a big ball of sound that will stick with you.

As for the album ending “Gagged and Bound”, it’s a burst of frenetic energy powered by an aggressive burst of music and a fiery vocal take. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album!

I know that we’re talking about an album that was released 31 years ago here. It’s long since past time for my enthusiastic raving about this “new” discovery of mine to do much good for the band’s fortunes. But how can you not love the possibility of discovering something you missed out on turning out to be this stunningly fantastic example of entertaining hard rock / heavy metal?

Nevada Beach might not have struck it big in 1990, but it certainly wasn’t because they lacked the material to do so. Zero Day has at least three songs that could’ve / should’ve been huge single hits for them and there’s not a bad track amongst the entire collection of tracks. If there was ever an album that Rock Candy Records should be salivating about reissuing, it’s this one!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band had a five track self-titled EP that was released in 1990 before the full-length album came out. Years after disbanding, Hank Decken put the band back together and in 2016 they self-released the 10 track album Read It On The Wall. The album reportedly features material that was originally written in the 1990’s. You can check out the band on social media by clicking HERE.

Hank Decken released the solo albums Life Around The Edges (1999), Another Seven Days (2002) and Fading Forward (2014).

The one nitpick I had with the album has nothing to do with the music. The sleeve design made the white text on it a little hard to read. It wasn’t anything that affected my enjoyment of the music but it was annoying when I was trying to read some of the information.

Magazine advertisement for Nevada Beach’s “Zero Day” from 1990.

THE TUBES TO PERFORM AT VAULT MUSIC HALL IN NEW BEDFORD, MASS.

The Tubes, the San Francisco-based rock band known for their satirical satire and songs “Talk To Ya Later,” “She’s A Beauty,” and “White Punks on Dope,” will perform at The Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, Mass., on Saturday, October 23rd. Purchase tickets HERE.

The Tubes still consists of original members – the irrepressible front man Fee Waybill, world-class drummer Prairie Prince, virtuoso guitarist Roger Steen, and oh-so-steady bassist Rick Gator Anderson. The band continues to delight fans across the country and around the world with their iconic live shows.

Led by singer Fee Waybill – known for his classic characters, including the glam-rocking, stack heeled Quay Lewd, the dangerous Mr. Hate or the gnarly punk parody Johnny Bugger – The Tubes released five albums on A&M Records, starting with the Al Kooper-produced self-titled debut in 1975, which included “White Punks on Dope,” dubbed an absurd anthem of wretched excess” later covered by Motley Crue, German chanteuse Nina Hagen and most recently the Joe Elliot led Down-n-Outs, as well as set staple, “Mondo Bondage.” “What Do You Want from Life?” was yet another signature song for the band, a prescient satire of consumerism and celebrity culture that calls out Bob Dylan and Randy Mantooth along with “a herd of Winnebagos, we’re givin’ em away”. With the help of Kenny Ortega, they mounted the stage show for which they’re still known, using videos as part of the presentation long before MTV was born.

After Young & Rich (1976), produced by Ken Scott (of Beatles fame) highlighted by the salacious “Don’t Touch Me There,” The Tubes released Now (1977), the live What Do You Want From Live (1978) and the concept album Remote Control (1979) their final album for A&M before leaving for Capitol Records.

Their new label teamed them up with producer David Foster for the group’s most commercially successful (and radio friendly) release to that point, with two hit singles in the power ballad, “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” (their first to land in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart) and the now classic Top 10 Rock radio anthem, “Talk to Ya Later,” a collaboration between Fee, Foster and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather that was #1 in 17 countries.

The Tubes’ current tour set list includes such classics as “White Punks on Dope”, “Mondo Bondage”, “What Do You Want from Life”, “Out of the Business”, “I Want It All Now” and “She’s a Beauty” and many more.

This concert is presented by JKB Management & Booking and is Limelight Magazine’s 15th anniversary event!

The Vault Music Hall is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

Please note that one MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “THE WONDER YEARS” (1988-1993)

On the final Friday of every month in 2021, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for The Wonder Years, which aired on ABC from January 31, 1988, to May 12, 1993. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the TV show while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when we visited in September 2016.

The filming location used for the Arnold family home is located at 516 University Avenue in Burbank, California.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – DIRTY LOOKS ‘TURN OF THE SCREW’

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.

DIRTY LOOKS – TURN OF THE SCREW (1989)

In 1989, rock and metal was still in the midst of its decade plus run of glory years. I was 18 and enjoying not only the soon to occur release from the shackles of high school life, but musically speaking it felt like I was in the prime years of my fandom as well.

But as always seems to occur writing this series, despite knowing so much about the music of my teen years, I always seem to learn that there was still so much that I both didn’t know and completely missed out on.

Such is the case with the band Dirty Looks. The band with a heavily AC/DC like sound (though as I listened to this album, I got a huge Kix vibe as well) had gotten some pretty big notices with their 1988 album Cool From The Wire and the single “Oh Ruby”. While I knew the band existed, I only have a vague recollection of that song and I can’t say that I ever really paid much attention to them.

So when I pulled this album out of The Big Box of Cassettes, I knew that I would be in for pretty much a brand new listening experience. And I have to say, I came away pretty impressed by what I heard.

The first side of the album is a raucously entertaining rock and roll show. The six songs on Side One are all hard rocking in nature. The album opens with the instantly affecting “Turn Of The Screw (Who’s Screwing You)”. The song has all the earmarks for a rocking single from the 1980’s. There’s a big vocal, massive guitars and just a hook laden chorus that will soon have you singing along. The same could be said for the next track “Nobody Rides For Free”, which has that same kind of melodic driving rock feel combined with a big backing vocal sound for the song’s chorus.

I’m a fan of the thrash metal band Overkill. One of the things I really enjoy about some of their songs is the way the pace is so unrelentingly fast that the only way to make the vocals keep up with the music is to deliver them with a machine gun rapid fire pace. While Overkill and Dirty Looks are far apart in musical styles, that machine gun delivery shows up on the song “C’Mon Frenchie”. It’s the most balls out aggressive track on the first side and that unrelenting (yet still full of melody) delivery of both the music and vocals made this track really hit home for me.

The main lyrical passages for “Take What Ya Get” are delivered in a slightly more restrained vocal tone with the soundtrack remaining fully uptempo. The intensity of the vocals picks up immensely during the chorus. The rhythmic feel of “Hot Flash Jelly Roll” helps offset what even the most ardent Dirty Looks fan has to admit is just a goofy song title.

The first side of the album closes out on the hard-charging “Always A Loser” which also manages to whet the appetite for what’s to come on Side Two.

But a funny thing happened on the way to flipping over the cassette to Side Two. I found it a little harder to fully get into the five songs on that side the first time I listened to the album. I don’t know what the problem was but my mind seemed to wander in and out and I know that I didn’t get to appreciate the material enough to write about it after just one listen.

Of course, once I focused and listened again, a clearer picture emerged and it turned out that Side Two was damn good too. It opens with the song “L.A. Anna” which is a lively paced rocker. The first time through I thought the main lyrical passages were great but that the chorus was a little muddied in the mix. As it turns out, my ears must’ve been playing tricks on me because that actually wasn’t the case. I will say that I thought the song’s fade out was a little weakness for the track as a whole but still, I did enjoy the song.

The song “Slammin’ To The Big Beat” was just a flat out great song with a huge hook to draw you in while “Love Screams” is fast rocking with a kicking musical pallet and a big vocal sound. The solo for the song was particularly noteworthy to me.

The band’s “power ballad” song “Go Away” breaks up the album’s full-on rocking nature but the song isn’t all that bad when it focuses more on the power part of the song style’s description.

And when the band closes out the album with a teeth-gnashingly aggressive “Have Some Balls”, it just confirms that Turn Of The Screw stands up as one immensely entertaining album of gritty, aggressive and melodic hard rock and amply demonstrates just how much I’ve missed the boat on Dirty Looks!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album’s producer was Jon Janson. According to what I was able to find online, his name is actually John Jansen and he’s had a hell of a varied career as a producer (among other jobs) in both rock and pop music. Among his credits (as a producer or otherwise) are the artists Jimi Hendrix, Warrant, Cinderella, Britny Fox, Billy Squier, Meatloaf, Barry Manilow, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler.

Beau Hill was the original choice to produce Turn Of The Screw but the band didn’t like the way he was making them sound so the two parties parted ways.

Some of the percussion on the album is credited to “Buddy Love” but on the minimal liner notes for the cassette it says he appears courtesy of Frankie La Rocka. I knew I recognized that name but it took me a minute to place it. He was the drummer for the band Scandal (I wrote about them in previous article in this series). It turns out La Rocka used the Buddy Love alias to appear on some recordings including Turn Of The Screw.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – RATT’S ‘REACH FOR THE SKY’

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.

RATT – REACH FOR THE SKY (1988)

As I’ve continued “discovering” the Ratt back catalog the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned in articles how their Reach For The Sky album was one of only two Ratt albums I had in my collection. And given that my copy of this album was a dubbed copy, I think I only get half credit for it.

Now that I have a real copy of the tape in my possession, it seems like the perfect time to give the album a new listen. While I had that dubbed copy all these years, I don’t think I’ve really listened to it much, if at all, since I first got my hands on it.

I was interested to see just what it was about this album that made me dub a copy of it from a friend of mine back in 1988. I knew that I loved the two songs (“Way Cool Jr.” and “I Want A Woman”) as I heard them on the radio and saw their videos on MTV. But was there more to it than those two songs?

As I listened to Side One of the album, I started to think that perhaps that it was the two singles that made up the entire reason I wanted the album. “Way Cool Jr.” is still a good song though I wasn’t quite as captivated by it as I was back then. But man, “I Want A Woman” holds up stunningly well. I loved the song then and that feeling remains the same after listening to it for this article. The chorus flows perfectly and I really dug the various turns of phrase for the rest of the lyrical content. I’d go so far as saying that if I was making a list of my all-time favorite Ratt songs, this one would definitely make the list.

But I was somewhat taken aback by the rest of the songs on Side One. While the opening song “City To City” and “Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds” are decent enough songs, they didn’t really stir up fond recollections for me or anything. As for the album’s sole ballad track, “I Want To Love You Tonight”, did absolutely nothing for me. Even the fact that it featured far more of a power driven musical score than the softer ballad pacing, it just falls completely flat on my ears.

So after Side One finished, I have to say I was thinking that Side Two might continue the slight letdown I was feeling.

But Ratt struck like a bolt of lightning out of the blue with the opening “Chain Reaction”. The song is a blazing rocker that has a killer sound to it and I just loved how the song turned out. It sees the band shining more of a spotlight on the faster and more aggressive side of their music.

I should point out that as I listened to this side of the album, I found that I had very little memory of each of the five included tracks. So it was almost like a completely new listen for me. But as I moved through each song, it became pretty clear that I just flat out loved this side of the album a LOT!

The songs “No Surprise” and “What’s It Gonna Be” are solidly uptempo numbers that get you hooked quickly and the rocker “Bottom Line” has a great chorus with a nice melodic hook of its own. The album finishing track “What I’m After” is pretty damn fantastic all on its own too but I really liked the track’s guitar solo as well.

The fact that I had a completely different reaction to those three non-single tracks on the first side of Ratt’s Reach For The Sky is something I’m chalking up to the passage of time giving me a different perspective on those individual tracks. But what I do know is that the album has plenty of music that will give listeners a continued jolt of excitement. The two singles will always draw in the fans but what really got me was rediscovering the great music that is contained on Side Two of the album. Go ahead and take a new listen to Reach For The Sky and I think you’ll agree!

NOTES OF INTEREST: While the album did go platinum, the general reception for Reach For The Sky seemed to be less than what the band had been hoping for. Their supporting tour was a relatively short seven months. When Ratt’s next album (Detonator) was released, the B-side for the first single “Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job” featured the Reach For The Sky song “What’s It Gonna Be”. According to the album’s Wikipedia entry, this was done in a bid to get fans to go back and check out Reach For The Sky.

The original plan was to have Mike Stone produce the entire album but due to recording issues, Beau Hill was brought in as a co-producer to “salvage” the material. It would be the last album Hill would be involved with for Ratt. He also co-wrote six of the album’s eleven tracks.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “A QUIET PLACE” (2018)

On the final Friday of every month in 2021, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for A Quiet Place (2018), which was directed by John Krasinski. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in October 2020. These photos were taken in Pawling and New Paltz, NY.