THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – RATT’S ‘DANCING UNDERCOVER’

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 – DANCING UNDERCOVER (1986)

As I got around to picking up another Ratt album to check out, I wasn’t sure what I might remember about the band’s Dancing Undercover and what would be completely new to me. Like many of their albums, I’d never heard the full album before now.

I have to say that I found myself quite surprised to discover that Dancing Undercover is quite an enjoyably rocking ride from start to finish. And that’s not just due to the fact of the three singles from the album either.

Those three singles (and the accompanying videos that would air on MTV) are all on the first side of the cassette. The album opens with “Dance”, which despite the fact I remember the song so well, didn’t even make the Top 40 chart. For a time when metal ruled the world, discovering that one of the band’s better known tracks didn’t make a dent in the chart was a bit of a surprise.

The songs “Slip Of The Lip” and “Body Talk” close out Side One and both are fast moving pieces that have quite the melodic hook and that big vocal sound you’d expect from the Ratt. Like “Dance”, I remember both of these songs from back when they were released and since they get played regularly on specialty radio shows, I’ve heard them any number of times in the ensuing passage of time.

Both “One Good Lover” and “Drive Me Crazy” are pretty intense, with the latter track coming through with even more of an aggressively driving sound than you’d usually expect. There’s also a somewhat heavier sound to the chorus, the backing vocals giving a fuller sound to that part of the song overall.

The entirety of Dancing Undercover are balls-out rockers from start to finish, with no ballads to muck up the works. While that lack of a ballad may leave you thinking that the music all sounds the same, there’s enough variation threaded throughout the different songs that even with the pedal pushed down to the floor, the music never descends into annoying noise.

When the second side of the cassette started, I was struck by an feeling of familiarity with the song “Looking For Love”. The chorus was very memorable to me for some reason. But I can’t place why that is. The song was never released as a single and like I said before, I’ve never heard the album before now. Whatever the reason for why I was familiar with it, the song was fantastic!

The band follows that song up with “7th Avenue” which has a nice rhythmic swing to the delivery of the music and Stephen Pearcy’s vocals. I really got into how the song was presented and though I thought the abrupt way the song ended was a bit of a pain, overall this is a song I would love to hear a lot more.

The songs “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Take A Chance” continue that blazing rocker feel to the music but the album’s closing track had a bit more of an interesting makeup for me.

The opening intro of “Enough Is Enough” has a far different sound than the pure speedy blitzkrieg opening riff that most of the rest of the songs on the album employs. The song does immediately turn more towards that fiery rock and roll sound after the opening, but my ear was really caught by the song’s intro.

Dancing Undercover features ten songs in all and while I still think of the Out Of The Cellar album as my favorite Ratt release, there isn’t a bad track on this album. The decision to eschew putting a syrupy ballad on the release and instead just rock out all the way through gives the album a big lift in my eyes as well. This is simply a flat out superb album!

NOTES OF INTEREST: Two of the songs from Dancing Undercover were used in other forms of media. “Dance” was featured in an episode of Miami Vice while “Body Talk” appeared on the soundtrack for the Eddie Murphy film The Golden Child.

According to the song’s entry page on Wikipedia, the opening riff of “Body Talk” had been floating around for guitarist Warren DeMartini for years but it was never developed into a full song until bassist Juan Croucier wrote pretty much the rest of the song in a day when the band was dealing with a deadline.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – GIANT’S ‘tIME TO BURN’

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.

GIANT – TIME TO BURN (1992)

In 1992, depending on what part of the year we are talking about, grunge was either taking over or had already taken over the rock music scene. Record labels lost interest in bands of the 1980’s “hair metal” scene and so a lot of music got lost in the shuffle.

You can count Giant’s Time To Burn as one of those albums that will likely never get the credit it deserves because it got so overlooked when it was released in March of 1992. And I say this as someone who is just as guilty as the rest of the rock community who’ve never heard the album before now.

About three and a half years ago, I wrote about the Giant’s first album Last Of The Runaways. I ended up liking it a lot more then than when I first heard it back in the day. So when I pulled Time To Burn, which had never been opened from its original wrapping, from The Big Box of Cassettes, I figured that after 29 years since it was put out, it might just be time to check out what I’d been missing out on all these years.

As it turned out, I was missing out on quite a lot.

The band’s lineup of Dann Huff on vocals and guitar, his brother David Huff on drums, keyboardist Alan Pasqua and bassist Mike Brignardello kicked off the album with the rambunctiously rousing rocker “Thunder And Lightning”, a song that comes complete with fantastic melodic hooks, a killer so and a big vibrant solo that instantly catches your ear.

After that, the band is really off to the races (for the most part). The rest of Side One features two more fiery rock and roll numbers in “Lay It On The Line” (which is NOT a cover of the better known song by Canadian rockers Triumph) and “Stay”. There is the expected “power ballad” to close out the first side in “Lost In Paradise”. It fits the mold of what to expect from that type of song, but it wasn’t half bad in the end.

The most intriguing song to me on Side One was “Chained”. While none of the tracks from this album made a real dent in the singles charts, “Chained” did make a little noise on Billboard’s Rock Tracks sub-chart. I can see why it did too. The song opens up dramatically slower than “Thunder And Lightning”, the track that preceded it. There’s a definite bluesy feel to the song’s intro, but that soon gives way to a far more in-your-face rocker that bursts out of the speakers. That slower, bluesy feel returns later in the song but the mix of the two tempos really caught my ear.

When you flip the cassette over, the music starts off with an extremely brief instrumental called “Smoulder”. It features that same kind of bluesy streak to the sound. It serves as a companion lead in to the album’s title track.

Speaking of that title track, can I just say “WOW!” I was totally blown away by the “Time To Burn” song. Brimming with a heaping helping of melody, the song still features an aggressively rocking pace. It’s like a shot of adrenaline right to the heart. Dann Huff’s rapid fire delivery of the song’s vocals gave an even sharper edge to the overall quality of the song. Along with “Thunder And Lightning”, it is probably my favorite track on the album.

While the title of “I’ll Be There (When It’s Over)” might strike you as a ballad song, it’s actually a really good hard rocking number. But if you are looking for more in the way of slower paced tracks, Side Two of Time To Burn has a double shot for you.

“Without You” is a power ballad that places a good deal more emphasis on the “power” aspect of the music. It starts off slow and steady in its pacing as you might expect. But as the song progresses, the more uptempo feel takes over and doesn’t waste time switching back and forth between the two levels of pace. I enjoyed that one a lot.

If however you are looking for something that is much more in the vein of a “traditional” rock and roll power ballad, check out “Now Until Forever” and you’ll get exactly what you want. For me, I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much.

The album ends on a full bore rocker in “Get Used To It”. It’s all about a six-string fueled attitude and sonic attack on this song and gives Time To Burn the smashing number to bring the album to a fitting conclusion.

Giant’s Time To Burn is an album that never got it’s due, whether from me or the rock audience at large. Hell, there hasn’t even been a reissue of the album like Rock Candy Records did for Last Of The Runaways. But now that I’ve heard the album, I realize just how much of an underappreciated gem the album really is. It’s about damn time for any music fan who hasn’t realized this to take a look back for themselves and discover just what is so special about Time To Burn for themselves!

NOTES OF INTEREST: Time To Burn is the second of Giant’s four studio albums. The band’s third album was released in 2001 and called III. The fourth album, Promise Land, came out in 2010. While vocalist/guitarist Dann Huff wasn’t a member of the band for that fourth album, he did co-write seven of the tracks and played guitar on two of them. Taking his place in the band was singer Terry Brock (Seventh Key) and guitarist John Roth (Winger).

Terry Thomas, who produced the band’s first album Last Of The Runaways, was the producer for Time To Burn as well. Jim Vallance, who is best known for his songwriting partnership with Bryan Adams, co-wrote the songs “I’ll Be There (When It’s Over)” and “Without You”.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE” (1978)

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 I Spit On Your Grave (1978), which starred Camille Keaton and was directed by Meir Zarchi. 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 Kent, CT.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – RATT’S ‘INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY”

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 – INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY (1985)

As I wrote in my article a month or so ago about the self-titled EP from Ratt, other than their debut album Out of the Cellar, the band has been kind of “songs played on the radio” kind of thing for me. I also wrote that I’d heard a couple of their other albums in full, but it turns out I was off a little bit on that claim. Instead, I’ve only heard one other album from the band. That was the 1988 release Reach For The Sky, which had a couple of great songs on it. But truth be told, I never actually bought the album. I had a dubbed cassette copy that I got from a friend of mine.

With Reach For The Sky being Ratt’s fourth studio album, that means I missed out on hearing both Invasion Of Your Privacy and Dancing Undercover. Because I was so taken by that EP I wrote about, I said I wanted to check out those albums I missed. And now seems as good a time as any to get started on that path.

Invasion Of Your Privacy is likely best remembered for the two big hit songs that still make the playlist on specialty shows and any radio station that plays the music of the 1980’s metal era. Both “You’re In Love” and “Lay It Down” are on Side One of the cassette and they are both uptempo numbers with the expected hook to draw in the listener. I still rather enjoy each track whenever I heard them and that didn’t change as I listened to the album in order to write this article.

I was a little surprised to learn that there had been a third single released from the album though. The song “What You Give Is What You Get” is on Side Two of the album, but I had no previous memory of hearing the song on the radio. But as I heard it for possibly the first time ever, I was quite taken with it. Fast moving in tempo, the song had a really cool rhythmic feel to it as well.

But let’s get back to the rest of Side One, shall we.

Like I said, both of the hits from the album are on this side. But the songs “Never Use Love” and “Give It All” join those hits in the harder rocking style employed by the band. However, I didn’t really think they were overly noteworthy. Fine as album tracks but definitely a notch below the better songs here.

The only attempt at a ballad or more accurately put, power ballad is the side closing “Closer To My Heart”. While the title and the song’s lyrical content definitely fall into that softer side lovey-dovey type of song, I didn’t think it quite fit the ballad category. It certainly starts off that way but in my mind, the “power” part of things plays a larger role here than in just the song’s chorus. Because of that, this track sits a whole lot better with me. Yeah, I actually enjoyed it.

Moving on to the second side of the album, the opening track “Between The Eyes” rocked out musically but overall I thought this one was just marking time.

But the rest of the album is fantastic. After “What You Give Is What You Give”, the album burns bright with the track “Got Me On The Line”. Unless I’m misreading how the song plays out, it kind of sounds like the track was inspired by those phone sex lines so prevalent in the 80’s. Now if I’m wrong, don’t lose your mind. I’m just saying that is the impression I got, it’s not like I haven’t misread something before. Still, the song was fantastic and when I play this album again, it will be one of the songs I look forward to hearing the most.

The song “You Should Know By Now” is pretty darn good with the music a strong selling point to me. And the album closing “Dangerous But Worth The Risk” struck me as a song that could’ve been used as a single. Between the guitar work from Robbin Crosby and Warren De Martin and a vocal performance from Stephen Pearcy that was quite enjoyable, it does a great job of bringing the album to a fittingly rocking close.

It’s been over 35 years since the original release of Invasion Of Your Privacy and despite not getting around to listening to it in full in all that time, it was a pleasant little surprise to find out just how much good material there was to be had on the album. So good in fact, that it is keeping alive that spark of curiosity that will have me tracking down other albums from the band that I’ve missed out on until now. I can’t think of a better latter day testament than that.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Invasion Of Your Privacy went double platinum in the US. The songwriting credits for the album are shared (in varying combinations) by every member of the group except drummer Bobby Blotzer.

The album was produced by Beau Hill, who had done the production for Out Of The Cellar. He would go on to produce Ratt’s next two albums (Dancing Undercover and Reach For The Sky) as well. His list of credits as a producer, songwriter and even as a performer are extensive. Hill was one of the founders of Interscope Records.

The cover model for the album is Marianne Gravatte, who was the Playboy Playmate of the Year for 1983. She also appeared in the video for the song “Lay It Down”.

LIMELIGHT MUSIC AWARDS TO AIR ON YOUTUBE

Rather than postpone this year’s Limelight Magazine Music Awards for a fourth time, we have decided to keep the date of Sunday, May 23rd, at 2 PM. However, the event will now take on a different format.

Since singing is not permitted in any indoor performance venue in Massachusetts, we have decided to pre-record the ceremony and have it air on our YouTube channel. Click HERE to subscribe to it.

While we initially considered live streaming, we wanted to have as much control over the presentation as possible. We have participated in several online streaming events during the pandemic and, more times than not, unexpected technical glitches come up, leading to the event’s postponement and usual barrage of negativity on social media.

As was previously announced, Stormstress will be hosting the event with “live” performances by nominees blindspot, Kala Farnham, Jay Psaros, and Prateek. All performers were randomly drawn from the nominees.   

Anyone who previously purchased tickets will be allowed to attend in person, watch it projected on a screen inside the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, and pick up an award if you’ve won. All Covid-19 indoor protocols for events in restaurants will be adhered to, including social distancing, face coverings, and capacity limitations. Furthermore, since seated table service must be limited for each party to 90 minutes or less, the Limelight Magazine Music Awards video will not run for more than one hour. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

(Those who purchased tickets but do not feel comfortable attending can get a refund by contacting us by e-mail at limelightmusicawards@gmail.com. Once refunded, those tickets will be made available again).

Thanks again to New Bedford City Councilor Ian Abreu and the New England Music Awards for being the primary sponsors for this event as well as Music Go Round, Athena’s by Michelle M., Boston Rock Radio, East Coast Alice – The Ultimate Alice Cooper Experience, Kokopelli Realty, Rick’s Music World, Seth’s Rock Report, Shell Shock Acoustic, Soundcheck Studios, Taylespun Studio Contemporary Fine Art, Underground Recording Co., Don Burton Media, Purchase Street Records, and the Vault Music Hall for sponsoring the individual awards.

Lastly, here is a recap of this year’s nominees:

Album/EP of the Year (Group)  (Sponsored by Purchase Street Records)

  • Bad Marriage – Bad Marriage
  • The Blue Ribbons – Thoughts and Prayers
  • The DayBreakers – Worn Out Dream
  • First Bourne – Pick Up The Torch
  • Red Reveal – Red Reveal
  • Renegade Cartel – Dear World
  • Special Guests – Alumninaughty
  • The Varsity Club – Cobblestones

Album/EP of the Year(Solo Artist)  (Sponsored by Underground Recording Co.)

  • Katie Dobbins – There is Light
  • Carissa Johnson – A Hundred Restless Thoughts
  • Brandon Manter – Off My Mind
  • Amanda McCarthy – Road Trip
  • Grace Morrison – Reasons
  • Monica Rizzio – Sunshine is Free
  • Brian Sances – All My Might
  • Jennifer Truesdale – Trough the Circle

 Band of the Year (Sponsored by Music Go Round)

  • Bad Marriage
  • Crooked Coast
  • The DayBreakers
  • The Devils Twins
  • First Bourne
  • Lily Black
  • Exit 18
  • Moment of Clarity

Country Artist of the Year  (Sponsored by Vault Music Hall)

  • Back Rhodes
  • Houston Bernard Band
  • Blame the Whiskey
  • Annie Brobst
  • Darren Bissette Band
  • April Cushman
  • Martin and Kelly
  • Carly Tefft

 Female Vocalist of the Year (Sponsored by Athena’s by Michelle M)

  • Giuliana Amaral (of Legacy)
  • Gianna Botticelli (a.k.a. Ghost Grl)
  • Kala Farnham
  • Bethany Lawson (of Plastic Angels)
  • Shonna Lee (of Payback)
  • Sarah Levecque
  • Julie Rhodes
  • Amalia Ververis (of Melic Moon)

Frontperson of the Year  (Sponsored by East Coast Alice – The Ultimate Alice Cooper Experience)

  • Nicole Marie Coogan (The Devil’s Twins)
  • Ben Cote (The Ben Cote Band)
  • Alexa Economou (blindspot)
  • Sean FitzGerald (The NB Rude Boys)
  • Carly Kraft (Coral Moons)
  • Jon Paquin (Bad Marriage)
  • James Rohr (The Blue Ribbons)
  • Jackson Wetherbee (The Elovaters)

 Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year  (Sponsored by Boston Rock Radio)

  • Afterimage
  • Devil in the Mist
  • Heavy AmericA  
  • One Time Mountain
  • Purging Sin
  • Red Sky Mary
  • SiXteenX20
  • Verscythe

 Live Artist of the Year  (Sponsored by Rick’s Music World)

  • The Ben Cote Band
  • Bird Mancini
  • Ashley Jordan
  • Lady Lupine
  • Sons Lunaris
  • Jay Psaros
  • Soul Box
  • We Own Land

 Male Vocalist of the Year  (Sponsored by Soundcheck Studios)

  • Sam Luke Chase
  • Nate Cozzolino
  • Shaun England
  • Chris Fitz
  • Joe Merrick
  • Sam Robbins
  • Michael Spaulding
  • Sam Vlasich (of Red Sky Mary)

 New Artist of the Year  (Sponsored by Music Go Round)

  • Amplifier Heads
  • Blacktop Strut
  • Coral Moons
  • Left of Love
  • Major Moment
  • Melic Moon
  • Red Reveal
  • Abigail Vail

Singer/Songwriter of the Year (Sponsored by Taylespun Studio Contemporary Fine Art)

  • Cara Brindisi
  • Katie Dobbins
  • Kathleen Healy
  • Mary McAvoy
  • Brian Sances
  • Hayley Sabella
  • Ilene Springer
  • Matt Zajac

 Song of the Year (Sponsored by Shell Shock Acoustic)

  • Beautiful Tuesday – “Manteca”
  • Coral Moons – “Fall In Love”
  • Crooked Coast – “Summer”
  • Mark Erelli – “Her Town Now”
  • Lockette – “In the Dark”
  • Amanda McCarthy – “Tiki Bar”
  • Parts Per Million – “No More Days”
  • Magen Tracy & the Missed Connections – “Dirty Little Secret”

Tribute Band of the Year  (Sponsored by Music Go Round)

  • Abraxas – A Tribute to Santana
  • The American Who – A Tribute to The Who
  • Heartbreaker – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin
  • Judas Rising – A Tribute to Judas Priest
  • Live Bullet – A Tribute to Bob Seger
  • The Sickness – A Tribute to Disturbed
  • We Are Hydrogen – A Tribute to Phish
  • The Young Americans – A Tribute to David Bowie

 Video of the Year (Group)  (Sponsored by Seth’s Rock Report)

  • Bad Marriage – “Gateway Drug”
  • blindspot – “Upside Down”
  • Damnation – “Fighting For”
  • Grenon – “Goodbye”
  • Groundlift – “Outta My Head”
  • Major Moment – “May Leave Scars”
  • Special Guests – “Spring Break”
  • The Wolff Sisters – “Drive”

Video of the Year (Solo Artist)  (Sponsored by Don Burton Media)

  • Lisa Bastoni – “Nearby”
  • Kate Eppers – “The Wishing Well”
  • Will Evans – “Family Tree”
  • Kala Farnham – “David”
  • Jamie Hart – “Get Closer”
  • Josh Knowles – “Same”
  • Daniel Miller (featuring Ward Hayden) – “Your Man”
  • Prateek Poddar – “The Gang’s All Gone”

Young Performer of the Year  (Sponsored by Kokopelli Realty)

  • American Ink
  • Sam Chetkin
  • Color Killer
  • Grenon
  • Off Kilter
  • The Nolan Leite Experience
  • Morrissey Blvd
  • Roll Over White

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – AC/DC’S ‘DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP’

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.

AC/DC – DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP (1976)

While this series generally covers albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s, on occasion I like to throw in an outlier album just to mix things up. This week, I’m doing that very thing by taking a look at the 1976 AC/DC album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

There’s two reasons for this. The first is that I was able to pick up a remarkably well preserved copy of the album on that same recent shopping trip that yielded that Ratt EP I wrote about in the previous article I did for The Cassette Chronicles. The other reason is that as luck would have it, this is the 45th anniversary of the album’s original release. Since I’ve never heard the album in full, it seems like the perfect time to mark the occasion.

While I freely admit that my knowledge of the band’s earliest material is a lot more spotty than stuff that has come later in their career, I am slowly acquiring those early albums when I can find them cheap enough. What I discovered with this album is that it features not only some timeless hits for AC/DC but in its entirety, the album is quite remarkable.

Usually when I write about well known albums, I tend to skip over the “big hits” because everyone knows them and everyone has written endlessly about them. I don’t have much new to say about the songs.

But on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, the three staple songs are ingrained with me on a personal level that I can’t simply say I like them and move on. All three songs are on Side One of the cassette and I’m going to start with the side closing “Problem Child” first. I’ve heard the song on the radio numerous times before and I’ve always liked hearing it. But as I sat listening to it for this article, I seemed to take to the song on a deeper level than when I’m hearing it on the radio. I came away newly impressed with just how killer the music sounds on the song. Given the expectations of an AC/DC song, the track is a hard-hitting rocker but there’s something just out and out cool about how the band just cuts loose throughout the track and then even ups the ante towards the song’s end. Oddly, this made me think that Bon Scott’s vocals for the song are actually the lesser light in a battle being the singer and the music. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying he did a bad job. I just mean, the music seemed to overwhelm me to point that I wasn’t paying quite the same attention to his singing as I normally would.

The album’s title track opens Side One and that instantly identifiable and ever so memorable guitar sound that kicks off the song resonates with me as strongly today as when I first heard the song (a few years after the album was released). I love the fantastic lyrical content contained in the song too. While listening, I realized that I still found myself banging my head and doing a really poor impression of Bon Scott’s vocals as I sang along. Seriously, I am terrible at singing but I did get the phrasing right at least.

As for “Big Balls”, what can I say? I just love the song. When I wrote about the Back In Black album for The Cassette Chronicles back in May of 2018, I felt I had to go back a bit further to explain how I came to know of AC/DC. In that article I wrote about “Big Balls” saying the following:

“Now before I talk about the album’s track list I should go back a little further. Despite not being a full-fledged rock and metal fan until about 1983-1984, I was at least a little bit aware of AC/DC, much to the chagrin of a few nuns and laypeople who worked at the Catholic school I was attending while in the fourth grade.

It was about that time that the boys in the school discovered the band’s song “Big Balls” and for totally immature males, this was THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL TIME! And you haven’t lived until you see the horrified faces of the teachers in the school as they hear a bunch of pre-adolescent boys running down the hallway singing the lyrics to the song. I managed to get in trouble for that despite the fact I wasn’t involved, having the misfortune of bad timing as I came out of the bathroom at the same time one of the teachers caught the other boys in the hallway. Still, it was freaking hilarious at the time.”

And that still rings true for me. In some ways, “Big Balls” might just be my favorite AC/DC song. I love the double entendre lyrics, though seriously, does anyone really believe they are more than single entendre? And the way Bon Scott delivers the vocal performance really gives the song such a memorable spin. He manages to make it seem like he’s delivering a serious set of lyrics while at the same time you can just feel that he’s got that “I aim to misbehave” mischievous grin on his face.

After those three songs, the other two tracks on Side One might be be in danger of being seen as a bit of a letdown, but they are actually incredibly impressive. “Love At First Feel” is another rocking stomp and Bon Scott delivers the last line in the song’s chorus in such a way that he’s practically cackling with glee.

Meanwhile, “Rocker” bursts out of the speakers with no break between it and the preceding “Big Balls” track. Angus and Malcolm Young are immense on this track which initially struck me as being very similar in tone to a 50’s or 60’s pop rock track. Obviously, the band injected a far harder rocking sheen over the material but that feeling of the bare bones of the song being inspired by old time rock and roll didn’t disappear for me. And the way Bon Scott tears into the vocal track with such vicious abandon really drove the song home for me.

And that’s just the first side of the album. For Side Two, things start off with “There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin'”. This song is pretty good all by itself but it made an even deeper impression on me when I found the swinging tempo of the music had me snapping my fingers to the rhythmic beat of the track. I like when I get moved to do something like that when you consider I probably wouldn’t do it if asked to do it by the band or fellow fans.

The lyrical content of “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting To Be A Millionaire)” could probably describe the life story of pretty much any musician ever. The pacing was just a slight downturn in tempo from the full on bluesy rock fireworks. It seemed like it would cut loose at any moment but it doesn’t really do that until the late going.

As I said, my familiarity with the earlier material from the AC/DC discography is mostly, if not totally, from the “hits”. So you’ll have to forgive me that I really had no way of realizing just how amazing the song “Ride On” was until now. First, I’d never heard it before and then the way the song was structured blew me away. It’s a very slow moving song, almost sedate in its pacing. But what really got to me was the thoroughly amazing way the understated vocal take from Bon Scott came across. There’s no gleeful ribald slant to the vocals, not ballsy rocking delivery. Instead, it is an emotional wallop that plays it straight from start to finish and it just killed me with its sincerity. And when you add in a rather impressive guitar solo from Angus Young, you can throw “Ride On” onto my list of favorite AC/DC songs right now.

The album closing “Squealer” starts off in much the same fashion as “Ride On”. The slow and steady delivery and the far more restrained vocals. But as the song progresses, the pace picks up and then a killer musical soundtrack kicks in. The guitar work from the Youngs as well as the rhythm section of Mark Evans and Phil Rudd from the solo through the final fadeout pushes the song towards greatness and brings the album to a fittingly superb conclusion.

While I knew of three songs on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, I got to have a new appreciation for them as I listened to the album in its entirety for the first time ever. But more importantly, I got to discover that the full nine track album is a marvelous collection that spotlights the early part of the band’s career and provides the listener with a fantastic musical experience, bar none.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The original Australian release of the album contained the song “Jailbreak” but this was dropped from the international release. According to Wikipedia, the song didn’t get released worldwide until 1984.

The international versions of the title track, “Problem Child” and “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)” are shorter than how they appear on the Australian version of the album. Over the years both versions of these songs have made their way on to various reissues.

George Young, the brother of Angus and Malcolm Young, produced the album and is credit with playing bass on “Big Balls”.

The Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album has sold over 6 million copies in the US making it the band’s best selling album behind Back In Black and Highway To Hell.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “BENSON” (1979-1986)

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 Benson, which aired on ABC from September 13, 1979, to April 19, 1986. 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 the location.

The filming location used for exterior shots of the “governor’s mansion” is located at 1365 South Oakland Avenue in Pasadena, California.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – RATT’S SELF-TITLED EP

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 – RATT (1983)

If ignorance is not an excuse, then I have no real way to explain how it is that I either never knew or somehow blocked from my memory that the band Ratt released a self-titled EP before they put out their full-length debut album Out of the Cellar.

I say this because on a recent shopping excursion to my favorite local independent record shop, I learned the store had purchased a sizeable cassette collection. While I dug my way through the tapes that seemed to be in rather amazing condition, I came across the Ratt EP and couldn’t for the life of me remember ever hearing about it. Obviously I had to buy the cassette.

What I learned about the album is that it was surprisingly good. For me, I’ve always loved Out of the Cellar as the band’s best release and after that, Ratt was more of a “songs that got played on the radio and MTV” kind of band. I heard a couple of their other albums in full but the singles always seemed to outshine the album tracks for me.

The EP showcases the band in their most rocking style, forgoing any attempt at a ballad track. Each of the six songs is a pretty fast moving rocker and given that this is the earliest recorded output for Ratt, their sound seems a bit more raw than the polished production sound of their other albums.

The opening song “Sweet Cheater” is probably my favorite track on this EP. It’s a really hard-driving and hard-hitting number that struck me as being one of the heavier sounding tracks Ratt has in their song catalog. And that previously mentioned rawer feel to the music is fully evidenced here.

The song “You Think You’re Tough” is pretty fast moving as well but it is just a bit slower in tempo than “Sweet Cheater”. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure what I thought but when I went back and listened to it again, I really thought it hit home with me a lot more the second time around.

I will say that I thought the chorus for “U Got It” came off a bit more simplistic than I think I would’ve liked. I mean, it fit the song fine but it just felt like it was missing a little something extra to make it more memorable. But that said, I did like the song as a whole. I liked “Tell The World” as well.

There’s an earlier version of the song “Back For More” on the EP as well. The song got the re-recorded treatment for the Out of the Cellar album but it made for interesting listening to hear this previous version. There’s some noticeable differences in the song but the basic framework of the song is pretty much the same with both renditions of the track.

The EP closes out with a cover of the Memphis blues and soul singer Rufus Thomas song “Walkin’ The Dog”. Aerosmith did their own version of the song back in 1973 but it was Thomas who originally wrote and performed the song. This rendition is likely more comparable to the Aerosmith version but I enjoyed listening to it.

One of the things I found out while looking up information on this release online was that when the band hit it big with Out of the Cellar, their record label remixed the EP to give it more of a polished production sheen and bring it in line with how the group sounded on their debut album and then reissued the EP. I’m not actually sure which version of the album I have here but I’m probably going to say that it is the remixed edition. Still, despite the possible production changes, the band’s somewhat rawer feel for this earliest material manages to still shine through.

I was pretty pleased to discover (or thanks to a potentially faulty memory, re-discover) this EP. It gives me a new viewpoint on the band’s music and I’m glad to say that I found the music pretty entertaining. So much so that I may just have to think about checking out some of their other albums all over again and write about them down the line.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The European version of the Ratt EP contains an additional track. It’s an earlier recording of the song “You’re In Trouble” which found its re-recorded way onto the Out of the Cellar album as well.

The model for the EP’s cover art was Tawny Kitaen. At the time, she was the girlfriend of Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BLACKEYED SUSAN’S “ELECTRIC RATTLEBONE”

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.

BLACKEYED SUSAN – ELECTRIC RATTLEBONE (1991)

Due in large part to the fact that I wasn’t much of a fan of Britny Fox beyond the song and video for “Girlschool”, I don’t see it as unreasonable that I never bothered checking out singer “Dizzy” Dean Davidson’s new band Blackeyed Susan after he left Britny Fox.

However, seeing as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Blackeyed Susan’s debut album Electric Rattlebone, I thought it would be the perfect time to at least give the music a chance.

And I have to say, I really am quite surprised to find just how much I loved the album! While Britny Fox was squarely in the glam rock side of the 80’s rock era, Davidson took Blackeyed Susan into a more blues rock driven sound and style. This choice, even three decades after the fact, turned out to be the right one in terms of getting me to enjoy what I was hearing.

If you didn’t know that the music was going to be bluesy hard rock before listening to the album, the brief title track that opens up side one of the album clues you in pretty quickly. That song bleeds into “Satisfaction” which is a fast moving rocker with a real catchy vibe to it. It didn’t take that long for me to find myself humming along to the song’s chorus.

The song “Sympathy” brings that bluesier sound even more to the forefront and gives you one of the album’s best tracks. The “Old Lady Snow” song has a great sound to it as well, with a rocking tempo and a perfectly cast female backing vocalists that helps enhance the vocals for the track. You can chalk this up as another of the album’s highlights.

And given that this was 1991 and the power ballad was still a necessary evil for any rock band to include, you have a song like “Ride With Me”. But with this particular song, I thought the songwriting bypassed being overly emotionally manipulative. Sure it is sentimental, but not in a sappy kind of way. This actually worked to give the song a bit more gravitas in my mind.

The side-closing “Don’t Bring Me Down” is a power rocking track. It’s not quite as fast moving as a couple of the other songs on Side One (at the start anyway) but it definitely doesn’t lack in the rock right in your face department.

The second side of the album opens with “Indica”, a brief instrumental with a Middle Eastern sound from the use of a sitar. I can’t say it did much for me, but it certainly does serve as a table setter for the rest of Side Two.

While I didn’t think much of the instrumental, I loved “She’s So Fine”, another great rocking anthem for the band. The song “How Long” is slower in pace but is no less effective as it goes for a heavily blues flavored down and dirty vibe.

The album closes out on a very high note with the songs “Holiday” and “Heart Of The City”. Both tracks have a rocking intensity that leaves you wanting more. The latter song is an ode to the city of Philadelphia but the lyrical sentiments could work for anyone that has an attachment to their own hometown.

My relative disinterest in Britny Fox left me on the outside looking in when it came to Blackeyed Susan. It is safe to say that I just assumed the music would be the same thing as Britny Fox. For that, I definitely made an ass of myself. Thirty years later, I found myself rocking out to music that freely admit that I should have discovered long before now. However, now that I’m finally on board I can honestly say that I’m glad to find out that Electric Rattlebone is an excitingly energetic slice of driving blues rock that I hope to keep playing many times over!

NOTES OF INTEREST: While I really like the album now, Electric Rattlebone did not catch on with the music world at the time it was released. It was branded a commercial failure and the band’s record label pulled support for the band while it was on tour for the album.

The ballad “Best Of Friends” is dedicated to original Britny Fox drummer Tony “Stix” Destra, who was killed in a car accident in 1987.

The only other release that I saw listed for the band came in 1992. According to Wikipedia, it was a self-released demo called Just A Taste.

Guitarist Rick Criniti had been Cinderella’s keyboardist before joining Blackeyed Susan. But he left Blackeyed Susan midway through the tour. I’m not sure of the timing, but I’m guessing his departure came BEFORE the label pulled the band’s support.

Magazine advertisement for Blackeyed Susan’s Electric Rattlebone

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ” (1979)

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 Escape From Alcatraz (1979), which starred Clint Eastwood and was directed by Don Siegel. 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 September 2014. There were renovations taking place on Alcatraz Island at this time so I did my best to get the shots to align.

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