Classic: Head East, A Different Kind Of Crazy, 1978

head east - a different kind of crazyAhh, fond memories! Playing this on CD really brings me back to my childhood days. Listening to the LP (I still own) on my room, playing it over and over. In all honesty I had never heard of the band before at the time, but picked it up because of the cover. I thought it was pretty crazy and funny. And it never let me down because “leaving you out in the cold is her Speciality”. ­čśë

Listening to it again now it is remarkable how transparent it sounds. For modern standard this is far off what is now called hard rock, it is much lighter in tone. But these guys know how to play and the songs still resonate in my brain. Even know part of the lyrics, how cool is that. Music wise this is typical of the time: the Hammond is not dominant, but there, we have guitar solos,and choruses that stick like flies to the jam spoon. And another feature I still admire is the ability to add some unexpected twists. Sometimes a break, sometimes a middle section that catches you off guard.

So despite the boys never reaching absolute stardom (they are bigger in the USA than in Europe), I always enjoy listening to this. This CD was up for grabs on the internet, so you don┬┤t have to spend a lot to own it. Give it a try! Oh, and they are still (or again) around and releasing music!

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Classic: Mannfred Mann┬┤s Earth Band, Watch, 1978

manfred mann┬┤s earth band - watchWith a career starting in the sixties, Manfred Mann must have seen it all. In the seventies he switched to more complex music, releasing a string of albums that made him even more successful. And in that time it was even possible to get a hit with music like this!

Sung by the ever excellent Chris Thompson, this is a prime example of how intelligent music can be adored by the masses. Besides two evergreens (Bob Dylan┬┤s Mighty Quinn and especially Davy┬┤s On The Road Again), all tracks on offer are quality material that is timeless.
Circles starts the album and sets the mood for all things to come. Starting with Mann┬┤s keyboards, it evolves into a lovely song and the voice of Thompson enchants with ease. The duo of Drowning On Dry Land / Fish Soup is more complex, with extended soloing. But will also make you hit repeat, such is it┬┤s beauty. Chicago Institute is one of the few originals. The opening lines immediately catch your attention and point the way into this fine example of prog combining with pop sensibilities. California starts with acoustic guitar and vocal lines. Underneath comes a lovely bass line and then the synths join in. The mood is mellow, but you try to resist it! The guitar solo by Dave Flett is a biting effort to express real emotions to which it succeeds easily. Between the 2 hit singles the song Martha┬┤s Madman is placed. It is a more up tempo and rocking affair in typical Earth Band manner.

So to all people who only know and own a Best Of compilation, there is a wealth of material to explore from this time frame. Delve in and be amazed!

Classic: Rainbow, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll, 1978

rainbow - long live rock n rollIt’s about time I pay some respect to some of my favourite guitar players and singers. Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio (may he rest in peace), a winning combination. And let us not forget the rest of the band with immense powerhouse Cozy Powell (r.i.p) on drums, Bob Daisley on bass and David Stone on keyboards.

Back in the day I bought this album on vinyl and could not stop playing it. After the switch to CD’s I bought it again and still listen to it from time to time.

To me it is textbook material. A perfect guide to making a classic rock album if there is any. From the instant opening riff of the title track, setting the mood, especially after Ronnie letting us know it’s “All Right”… You get melodic choruses, awe inspiring guitar solo’s all over the place, hard rocking riffs like Kill The King, the awesome voice of Dio, more progressive tracks like Gates Of Babylon, slow burning work out’s like L.A. Connection, and a honourable mention of one of rock’s most intense ballads in the form of Rainbow Eyes. I still get goosebumbs to this day, and that song is over 30 years old. Quite an achievement.

Of course the band members have pleased the crowds with a lot more desirable material over the years. And with Dio and Powell gone, and Blackmore playing minstrel, it’s a good thing we have this to remember them by!