Classic: Ambrosia, Road Island, 1982

ambrosia - road islandAmbrosia, the seventies prog band that turned Westcoast AOR. But damn, they were good at both! Still, since my love for them started with this, their fifth album, it is only fair to talk a little about this ditty. Should you need references, think Toto, Player and a dash of Steely Dan. Because one of the good things of the album is them combining their strengths old and new on this album.

Opening with For Openers (Welcome Home), that shows traces of their roots with extended soloing, great hammond organ (throughout the album by the way) and of course the expert melodic vocals of David Pack. Still Not Satisfied would feel at home on any early Toto album, including a powerful groove and more great guitar playing. Kid No More is a shorter track that strangely keeps reminding me a bit of Gentle Giant, but that may be because of the quirky rhythm, the brass and the keyboard sounds. Feeling Alive Again is a ballad that about anyone would wish to have written, such is its power and delivery. Vocals harmonies galore! How Can You Love me is another melodic rock hit that never was to be. A bit of Christopher Cross here, but a great song it is, and should have been as big as Toto’s Hold The Line. Another special mention goes to Ice Age, with over 7 minutes the longest track on offer and a clear proof of how they were able to combine melody with intricate musical arrangements and intelligent song ideas.

While a lot of their albums were impossible to find, the great people of Rock Candy have made at least part of their catalogue available again and in impeccable remastering, so grab one!

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Classic: Rush, Signals, 1982

Rush - SignalsWhat better way to start the new year than with one of my favourite bands of all time, Canadian power trio Rush. With the back catalogue they have, it is virtually impossible to pick out that one outstanding album. They have a lot of those actually. So I decided to go for the album with the first song I ever learned to play, in this case 1982 album Signals and the song being Subdivisions, the albums’ opener.

Starting with that powerful sequence of brass typed keyboards, soon followed by guitar and drums, before Geddy Lee starts singing. Mid tempo, but still a damn catchy tune. Next is The Analog Kid, full on and with a inspiring story. Lyrics have always been important to the guys, and on this album we again find a couple of beauties (quite common for Rush). My personal fave being the lyric to Losing It. Which in itself is already a beautiful slow paced song, with a glorious violin solo, and the picture painted in the text only adding to the total result. Other topics are the exploration of space in Countdown, communication in Chemistry, and the Digital Man kinda speaks for itself.
This album showed Rush relying more heavily on keyboards, thus introducing the next stage. Still a fantastic album to listen to and a band that just won’t get old and continues to inspire many…

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Classic: April Wine, Powerplay, 1982

april wine - powerplayThis is one of those albums that immediately puts me in a certain time frame when I hear it. In my case, that would be the middle of the eighties, and I would be listening to it with a couple of my then band mates.

April Wine were one of those 3 guitarists bands, and are enjoying a very long career (starting in the 70 I think), though we don´t hear a lot of them lately. Most of the songs are written by singer (and one of the guitar players) Myles Goodwyn.

This album is filled to the brim with highly melodic rock and some songs have instant melodies that I can listen to for days in a row. If only I had the time :-p
Opener Anything You Want, You Got It is a good introduction to rock, April Wine style , as is next track Enough Is Enough. But 3rd track If You See Kay is the song all the world should know, but alas most don´t. To me, one of the best songs ever. The ballad What If We Fall In Love is not only beautiful, but also has one of those magnificent signature double guitar solos and is fitted with guitar lines.
Then again a couple of rockers follow, Waiting For A Miracle, the more basic Doin´It Right, and the mid tempo based Ain´t Got Your Love.
Next track Blood Money has a very spell binding groove and riff and is another highlight. Tell Me Why is the second ballad on offer and album closer Runners In The Night is proof of what you can achieve when you put 3 guitars to good use. Great arrangement that, despite the different feel, proves a very fitting closer.

Great stuff, own it!

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Classic: King Crimson, Beat, 1982

KING CRIMSON - BEATMost people will have expected the first King Crimson album In The Court Of The Crimson King. And I fully understand everybody in that respect. That is an absolute cracker, with songs like for instance 21st Century Schizoid Man and the title track being timeless.

But to me, Beat is the one to discuss here. Besides it being the record that got me into King Crimson in the first place, I feel this album sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

The four piece consisting of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford were creating some very powerful and imaginative music at the time, which has stood the test of time remarkably well.
Whether it´s the groove of Sartori in Tangier (where Tony Levin is beating his stick to everyone´s joy), or the instant addictiveness of Neal And Jack And Me or Heartbeat, or the absolute melting drama of Two Hands (just listen to the voice of Belew and his clean guitar, counter-parted by Fripp´s frippertronics), this album still grabs me by the throat every time I hear it. Needless to say that if music does that to you, it has got to be a classic.

For people unknown to the Crimson King, this album is a good way to start educating yourself. I am sure it will whet your appetite, leaving you wanting more.