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Old 08-24-2013, 02:42 AM   #371 (permalink)
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Albums that missed the cut.........
Other good albums worth checking out that were also released in 1977, but weren't quite good enough to make the top 10 and are listed below in no set order, so the best of the rest:

Motorhead
Motorhead 1977


After having their debut pulled the previous year, this official debut took its place and was basically a crude slice of hard rock, served up for beer drinkers and hellraisers!

Triumph
Rock & Roll Machine 1977


The second album from this Canadian hard rock trio, which showed some interesting and well executed forays into progressive rock, and the album is highlighted by its blowing title track.

Uriah Heep
Firefly 1977


The first John Lawton album after the sacking of David Byron. A stripped down affair that doesn’t match the band’s earlier work, but it’s still powerfully sung by the frizzy haired eyeshadow wearing John Lawton. The band also put out the Innocent Victim album the same year as well and it also has some good material on it.

Lone Star
Firing on All Six 1977


The band’s sophomore set which at times it’s long winded and complex and often easy to dismiss, but on repeated listens this Rush influenced record is quite an absorbing album with a good vocal performance by John Sloman and produced by Roy Thomas Baker.

Kiss
Love Gun 1977


With the band at the height of their popularity and Kiss merchandize flooding the market, the band gave us more of the same and this album is just one big party from the band! The following year the band would issue their solo sets.

Krokus
To You All 1977


Like the Kiss album this is an album with a party atmosphere and the overall product is quite different from the debut, there is also some good playing on the album as well.

Nazareth
Expect No Mercy 1977


Starts off as a return to form and the first side of the album is a potent and powerful rocker that ranks as one of the band’s best ever. Then we hit the later part of the album which sadly becomes weighed down in slower and weaker numbers.

Sammy Hagar
Sammy Hagar 1977


Sammy Hagar released two solo albums in 1977 and the eponymous Sammy Hagar was the stronger of the two and contains some strong material such as “Red” and builds on from his Montrose days.
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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-25-2013, 11:39 AM   #372 (permalink)
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The Live Album Section 1977

Rainbow On Stage 1977 (Polydor)
Heavy Metal


A rainbow served up on a platter made of metal.

In keeping with the need for a live album for prestige purposes, even though in Rainbow’s case it came a bit too early in their discography, Rainbow still wasted no time thanks to their commercial success in releasing a live double set. On Stage was recorded over a series of live dates in both Germany and Japan for their ‘Rising World Tour’ in 1976 and covers all their essential material. The album starts off with the customary Rainbow show opener at the time "Toto: I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow!" and this is surely one of the few times, where this much used phrase has fitted aptly in place. The album then goes into “Kill the King” a song that hadn’t appeared on the band’s two previous studio albums and whilst non-album tracks were common fare on live albums, few were ever used to kick off an album, the track though would appear on their next album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. The album then moves into the eleven minute medley of “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Starstruck”. The rest of the album features lengthy versions of Rainbow essentials as “Catch the Rainbow” “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” and an excellent choice in the Deep Purple song “Mistreated”. The guitar work of Ritchie Blackmore was seemingly more focused than ever and his proto-neo classical guitar work would be highly influential of future neo-classical guitar gods such as Randy Rhoads (then still in Quiet Riot) and Ynqwie Malmsteen. The album would also see the break-up of this lauded line-up, as bassist Jimmy Bain would be the first to depart. Producer Martin Birch was on board to give us a lengthy live album that was splattered over four sides of vinyl and it’s Martin Birch that was often the bone of contention for this live album. His production and most reviewers would agree, was that it was both flat and uninspired, but if the listener can take that aside, before them stands an excellent array of six songs that cover sixty four minutes on its original release. In fact there is an extended deluxe version of this live album that came out in 2012 and also the 1991 release of Live in Germany is seen as a more complete live portrayal of the band at this time. Whilst this might not be in the top twenty best live albums of the decade, it’s still a creditable live album from one of the most important bands of their time.

Dio- Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore- Guitar
Jimmy Bain- Bass
Tony Carey- Keyboards
Cozy Powell- Drums

Production- Martin Birch
Germany and Japan 1976

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-26-2013, 08:45 AM   #373 (permalink)
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The Live Album Section 1977

Kiss Alive II 1977 (Casablanca)
Hard Rock

Calling Dr.Love who prescribed the same dosage again.


As far as sequels went Kiss were far ahead of their time, as the future 1980s would be littered with the dreaded movie sequels that were based around maximum economic profit for little creativity. Now Kiss were never the most creative of bands, but they knew that their fun loving hard rock come heavy metal was both original in its execution and also viable commercially, because for the last couple of years they had been one of the biggest box office draws in the USA! Since that huge commercial breakthrough on the Alive! album in 1975, the band had released the multi-platinum selling albums Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun (see full reviews for first two) and thus came up with the idea, of now releasing another live album at the height of their popularity. The band realised though, that a duplicate album wasn’t fair on their fanbase and therefore Alive II would be based around the prior three studio albums mentioned, which of course came after the Alive! album. Then there is the added bonus of some pumping original material which is based at the back end of the Alive II album. The album was unsurprisingly produced by Eddie Kramer who had done a fantastic job on the previous Alive! and most of the album choices were garnered from the Los Angeles Forum on the band’s “Love Gun” tour. The album highlights include adrenalin charged tracks like “Detroit Rock City” “Ladies Room” “Makin’ Love” “Calling Dr.Love” “Shock Me” “God of Thunder” and “Shout it Out Loud”. The band would then use their huge popularity the following year, to go on and release four solo albums in 1978. The great thing about both Alive! and Alive II is that for anybody wanting to get into the band or wanting to enjoy this period of the band again, there is no need to hear all their earlier studio albums (you should though if you’re a proper music fan) or mess around with a ‘greatest hits’ or ‘best of’ selection, because in these two live albums, you’ll the get the cream and so much more of their first six studio albums in a live setting, that still sounds as good today as it did back then and as music critic Martin Popoff would surely say “Knock It Back”.

Paul Stanley- Rhythm/Vocals
Gene Simmons- Bass/Vocals
Ace Frehley- Guitar/Vocals
Peter Criss- Drums/Vocals

Production- Eddie Kramer
Los Angeles Forum 1977

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-27-2013, 02:11 PM   #374 (permalink)
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Hard, Heavy and a Classic 1977

Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell (Epic) 1977
Rock Opera

A series of stylish mini-epics in one bombastic delivery!

Bat Out of Hell was possibly one of the silliest albums ever made when it came out back in 1977, but then again it was silly in the most grandiose style possible, certainly no easy achievement here! Bat Out of Hell was a hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, arena rock, pop and most of all a rock opera all rolled into one, with everything about it being VERY BIG including its vocalist of course, the soon to be legendary Meat Loaf (the name of course for any non-Americans including myself, is based on a recipe of chopped meat in the shape of a loaf, btw I’ve still never ever tried it, or if I have it was under a different name) The brains behind the whole thing, were of course its two principal players Meat Loaf real name Marvin Lee Aday, who had already been in a number of previous bands of which there are too many to mention here. But most notably he had been a singer in the Los Angeles production of the long running Hair, before being scooped up by Motown to record the Stoney & Meatloaf album back in 1971. It was not too long after this, that the much travelled Meat Loaf ran into his future principal collaborator Jim Steinman. So when the duo formulated their battle-plan, we had Meat Loaf with his fuse-blowing voice (yes it was that powerful and was known for blowing monitors) and Jim Steinman both composer and songwriter extraordinaire, and the duo would unleash one of the biggest selling rock albums ever recorded! But the duo also had a vital helping hand, in coruscating recording artist and producer Todd Rundgren, who when he got things right, he certainly got them right!

Bat Out of Hell would go onto to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide and be named on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. The album surely attracted its original buying public on the strength of its ‘heavy genre’ album cover, but just how prepared were listeners for its theatrical bombastic musical and vocal approach that was contained within? Bat Out of Hell ranks as one of the most important albums ever released, quite simply because it matched fellow grandiose projects such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Close to the Edge for grandiose and meticulous preparation, but in contrast to those two albums, Bat Out of Hell was having a good laugh at itself. Quite often music listeners are flooded with albums that they should have in their album collection as a sign of good taste, regardless of whether they like the album or not and albums like Exile on Main Street and Dark Side of the Moon come to mind here. Bat Out of Hell is one of those albums, especially if you don’t take things too seriously in life.

Meat Loaf- Vocals
Jim Steinman- Keyboards
+ a whole host of other musicians

Production- Todd Rundgren


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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-28-2013, 12:00 PM   #375 (permalink)
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Alive II should have been recorded on the Dynasty tour.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:35 PM   #376 (permalink)
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Alive II should have been recorded on the Dynasty tour.
It would have made more sense, because the final side of Alive II lacked enough post-third album material to put on it.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:49 PM   #377 (permalink)
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Hard, Heavy and a Classic 1977

Max Webster High Class in Borrowed Shoes 1977 (Anthem)
Hard Rock

Quirky shoes, wacky clothing and unconventional songs.

High Class in Borrowed Shoes may well have been one of the most idiosyncratic releases of the year, from an equally quirky and distinctive Max Webster. Contrary to what the name suggests, Max Webster was a band name and not that of a solo artist (for anybody not familiar with the band) Max Webster had formed several years earlier in Toronto and with an ever changing line-up, only frontman Kim Mitchell and lyricist Pye Dubois (the unofficial fifth member of the band, who also worked with Rush) were the only ever present members of the band. So by the mid-1970s the Canadian rock scene was either dominated by artists like Rush who were huge internationally, or bands that were by and large only really popular in their native Canada and Max Webster were one of these bands. But that’s where any real comparisons end, as Max Webster were distinct in every way to their Canadian contemporaries such as Moxy, Triumph, Hunt, Teaze and Mahogany Rush etc and of course Rush themselves! Max Webster were hard to label and their debut album is an ideal place to start with them (for some people their best album) but it is often agreed that High Class in Borrowed Shoes is their best and a hidden gem, and it’s an album that sounds quite unique for its time. The album is melodic yet haphazard, heavy yet tranquil, proggy yet contemporary, easy listening yet quite complex and gimmicky yet professional. High Class in Borrowed Shoes requires a deep listen to unearth its quality and has some really great quality material in songs like its title track “Gravity” “America’s Veins” “Rain Child” and “In Context of the Moon”.

Max Webster were certainly hard to classify as a band and thus hard to promote to a wider audience, but in hindsight they were extremely relevant to their time-period and fellow Toronto based band Rush were often noted as being one of their biggest fans. The Rush link was also there for the group, as their producer Terry Brown would literally become the in-house producer for Rush for their golden period and is still remembered for his work with Max Webster. The great appeal of Max Webster and High Class in Borrowed Shoes, is that when listening to their music you can pick up so many influences from other bands, but to actually identify those bands with any great authority, is certainly no easy challenge! High Class in Borrowed Shoes is basically a great way to pass 37 minutes of listening time and then a number of hours after that divulging what you’ve really listened to.

Kim Mitchell- Guitar/Vocals
Terry Watkinson- Keyboards/Vocals
Mike Tikka- Bass
Gary McCracken- Drums

Production- Max Webster and Terry Brown

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-01-2013, 03:45 AM   #378 (permalink)
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Thor Keep the Dogs Away 1977 (RCA)
Heavy Metal

A cheeseburger with a metal dressing!

When people think of cheesy metal, they normally think of the less serious sounding power metal bands of the 1980s or some of the excessive sounding glam metal bands from that same decade as well. But before these two genres were even coined, a certain ex-Canadian bodybuilder and stage-wrestler called Jon Mikl who was simply known as the Norse God Thor, may well have had a strong case for being the originator of all the cheesy aspects, that would go on to affect metal over the following couple of decades. He had already recorded a debut album with his band the previous year, under the name of Thor and the Imps and it was titled unsurprisingly Muscle Rock, and despite its shortcomings the album was deemed a success in Canada and the band soon attracted attention in the USA from the RCA label. After a stint on stage in Las Vegas, Jon Mikl Thor now simply known as Thor, reshaped his band and they released their first album under the Thor name Keep the Dogs Away and this album certainly had a one mother of a chessy and camp album cover to accompany it.

Song wise most of the songs here are as cheesy as hell and they’re not helped by watching Thor performing on stage in his leather clad muscle man outfit either, but the songs by and large have an almost subdued and lazy feel to them, and surprisingly the whole thing comes across as a kind of enjoyable easy-listening metal. Despite the furor that circulated around Thor at this time, success outside of the club circuit never quite happened for them and despite the odd EP release over the next few years, the band never released another album until 1984 and by that time their music slipped into the power metal labelled box. This album is strictly for metal fanatics that don’t take their metal too seriously.

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-04-2013, 02:36 AM   #379 (permalink)
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The Queen Phenomenon 1975-1977 Part 2
(The first paragraph has been cut & pasted from part 1)

It should be said that I’ve never been much of a Queen fan at all, but credit where its due, as the band were truly capable of portraying a sound that at the same time ensconced elements of hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock and theatrical rock all in a viable commercial sound. The band presented their musical array as a densely layered sound, with operatic overtones and were able to appeal to glamsters, rockers and popsters. The band was always stable with Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May with his coin picking guitar style providing the backbone of the band. But of course it was vocalist Freddie Mercury, who was the undoubted frontman and shining light of the band. The consummate frontman and with a voice to die for, which was full of distinctive power, that was able to saunter from heavy edged rockers to casual humour with equal aplomb. Queen were certainly able to compose a number of great songs with great playing that kept within the unique confines of the band sound, but these songs were often few and far between compared to some of their main rivals back in the 1970s and the band may well have been one of the best advocates around, for knowing how to bulk out their albums with quality filler based around the voice of Freddie Mercury!

The first three albums Queen, Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack were covered in part 1 back in the 1974 year section (see review) So by the time of the band’s fourth studio album A Night at the Opera, the band had made their huge international breakthrough on Sheer Heart Attack, which was a bold and heavy statement from the band and the most solid album in their discography. Like a lot of bands now at the top of the pile, Queen painstakingly worked on A Night at the Opera (named after a Marx Brothers film) and the album would be their most diverse and bombastic offering to date and would soon be regarded by many as their best work! A Night at the Opera truly encompasses all the diverse aspects of the band and shot them and producer Roy Thomas-Baker into the stratosphere. Personally I think much of the album’s prestige lays in “Bohemian Rhapsody” as I’d be hard pressed to believe that the average music listener would fully appreciate a lot of the rest of the material on offer here, which ranges from moments of diverse brilliant originality to typical Queen filler. The following year’s A Day at the Races is largely seen as the high-profile sequel to A Night at the Opera, but tends to have a lighter overall tone than the previous album and in my opinion it’s probably the album most representative of the band and easiest on the ear. The same couldn’t be said though for 1977’s News of the World, which despite having a great album cover and containing two of the bands best known anthem tracks, is an often brazenly harder affair that despite its diversity, just hangs together in places and is too disjointed to be seen as a great album.

Queen A Night at the Opera 1975 (EMI)


Queen A Day at the Races 1976 (EMI)


Queen News of the World 1977 (EMI)








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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-06-2013, 11:45 AM   #380 (permalink)
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Hawkwind and Space Rock: A Serious Session in Brain Damage 1975-1977 Part 2
(The below paragraph has been paraphrased from part 1)

Part 1 had shown how Hawkwind and their brand of space rock, were firmly based around the science fiction and astronomical themes of writer Michael Moorcock and on that basis, they turned out to be one of the most bizarre bands on the rock circuit throughout much of the 1970s and certainly one of the most impregnable to listen to, for the untrained ear that is! With the band’s main focal point always being frontman Dave Brock and with a revolving cast of band vitals such as Nik Turner, Lemmy, Robert Calvert and the crucial Simon House who arrived on Warrior on the Edge of Time album. The band had over the years, solidly taken space rock and turned it into a far heavier creature, which usually lumbered around in some kind of daze most of the time! Their own unique melange of guitar based heavy space rock with ambient electronica and strong experimental touches, had become their dominant sound by the middle of the decade. But as the decade went on, their newer sound started to challenge the albums that the band had laid down earlier in their discography. There was certainly a band transition from the Warrior on the Edge of Time to the following album Astounding Songs, Amazing Music just a year later. It’s around this time that the band became less focused but more unpredictable in their music and direction. Their sound actually lightened up quite a bit after the departure of Lemmy and also due to the influences of Lemmy’s replacement Paul Rudolph (for one album) of the Pink Fairies and the return of Robert Calvert who steered the band in this lighter direction, and the band were now taking on a more cleaner and theatrical musical stance to their overall sound. It now seemed that the band were evolving from their manic spaced-out brain damaged state, to that of a band that sounds like its rehabilitating itself, but without ever trying to find sanity again and Quark, Strangeness and Charm is the perfect example of this.

Warrior on the Edge of Time: Stylish and atmospheric and possibly the best constructed album in the whole Hawkwind discography. With Del Dettmar having already left the band, it would now be the turn of Lemmy after this release, which would also spell the end of the band’s classic line-up and their heavier sound. When I re-listened to this album, it became my overall favourite in their discography.
Astounding Songs, Amazing Music: Interesting songs, lighter music may well have been a better album title here. Here the band attempt to shift from the dense and impregnable space rock sound of which they were known for to a more accessible lighter brand, but that’s not to say that it was particularly listener friendly either.
Quark, Strangeness and Charm: The new sound of the band has fully flowered here and an album that is held very high in esteem by the band’s devotees. The album is a charming kaleidoscope of diverse sounds and is one of the band's essential releases.

Hawkwind Warrior on the Edge of Time 1975 (United Artists)


Hawkwind Astounding Songs, Amazing Music 1976 (Charisma)


Hawkwind Quark, Strangeness and Charm 1977 (Charisma)







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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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