Classic: Kate Bush, Hounds Of Love, 1985

kate bush - hounds of loveJust realised I haven’t done a classic in quite a while, so here we go again. Guess it is pretty obvious that most people know at least 2 songs from this album:  Running Up That Hill (covered many times) and Cloudbusting. Heck, a lot of people from around my age will even remember the videos for those, as this album was released at a time when music TV actually meant something… That is, if you were a teen in the eighties. And I am still not tired of hearing them.

Well for me this album was the start of my admiration of Kate. In all honesty I don’t care much for the dancing, but to me her voice and song writing has magic to it. Well okay, she is pretty as well 😉
Not just for those two hits, this album has a lot more to offer. The lyrics have a bit of mysticism surrounding them, and often this is transferred to the music. Under Ice and Waking The Witch still give me the creeps! But a song like Mother Stands For Comfort is so beautiful it almost hurts.  Originally released on vinyl of course, the album has 2 distinct sides: Hounds Of Love with the singles and the more warm and upbeat stuff. And The Ninth Wave is in essence a 7 song suite depicting the story of someone who is in the water and is visited by past present and future to keep them awake to avoid drowning. Strong imagery here!

For many her best ever, and even more impressive when you realise she wrote and produced it herself, at the age of 27. Still recording and releasing music, even if not very regularly, Kate Bush remains an exceptional talent.

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Classic: Paul Young, The Secret Of Association, 1985

paul young - the secret of associationOne of the fun things about the Classic series is the diving into my CD collection and revisiting old favourites. Always a trip down memory lane, bringing back wonderful feelings for things long gone.
Today I picked up my copy of the second Paul Young album The Secret Of Association. Probably best known for the hits Everytime You Go Away (Daryl Hall), Tomb Of Memories or Everything Must Change. To me there are other tracks on here that are of the same level, if not better.

Opening with the groove of Bite The Hand That Feeds, we hear that fabulous bass of Pino Palladino at work. Combined with Paul´s immense voice and the oh so clever arrangements, both from the other instrumentalists as from the backing vocals of the Fabulous Wealthy Tarts, cumulating into  a track that has staying power. Third track I´m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down is another contender. The bass line is unforgettable, and the sum of all parts greatly exceeds that, turning it into the monster it is.
Paul covered some interesting tunes in his career, and here there are quite a few surprises. His rendition of Tom Waits´ Soldier’s Things is impressive in delivery and arrangement. Another chilling track is G. Sutherlands I Was In Chains. Goosebumps! Thumbs up for the tracks that were his own writing as well. All this beauty led to the criminally overlooked third album Between Two Fires. But that is another story…

Classic: Vandenberg, Alibi, 1985

vandenberg - alibiWith recent new emerging that Adrian Vandenberg is again working on new songs to be released, I thought it would be nice to write a little about the band. Of course many will know songwriter and guitar player Adrian Van den Berg mainly from his work with Whitesnake, but he has done a lot more. Manic Eden comes to mind, and also the band bearing his name. Biggest hit Burning Heart is on an earlier record, but I choose the 1985 Alibi album.

Why? Well I happen to think it is their best! All trademarks of this fantastic band (saw them live a couple of time) are present: melodic hard rocking songs like All The Way, Pedal To The Metal or Fighting Against The World, the beautiful ballads Once In A Lifetime  and How Long (which in my humble opinion are better than their hit), a short instrumental track Prelude Mortale, where Adrian proves he also masters the acoustic guitar and the stunning instrumental Kamikaze that ends the album with a bang!
In between we are also treated with more rockers (Voodoo, Dressed To Kill and the title track) which just prove the adagio all killer no filler. All still sounding great, from one of the best Dutch bands ever.  So now just wait what is next…

Classic: Streets, Crimes In Mind, 1985

streets - crimes in mindSome people in this band have been featured here before. Steve Walsh (vocals and keyboards – Kansas) and Mike Slamer (guitars – Seventh Key, City Boy). Together with  Billy Greer on bass (Seventh Key, Kansas) and Tim Gehrt on drums, the pair delivered this melodic hard rock album that ranks very high in my all time favourite rock albums list.

This album is filled to the brim with timeless songs. Walsh performs at his peak, Mike Slamer delivers stunning fretboard techniques in every track (and makes you wonder why he isn’t on top of every best guitarist list, and Gehrt and Greer provide the backbone to these performances.
What makes this album so special to me, is the fact that they infused their melodic rock with various progressive styled elements. No wonder with City Boy and Kansas roots present. Yet the melodies present carry every tune and set the room on fire.

Listening to this again, with tracks like Don’t Look Back, The Nightmare Begins, Broken Glass, or the title track, it is unbelievable how these songs have stood the test of time. Still sounding fresh after all those years! Okay, the drums do sound a bit electronic, but it fits the overall feel of the album well. A pity it never got the recognition it deserves (at least the way I see it). Make up for that and buy it at all cost…

Classic: Pendragon, The Jewel, 1985

pendragon - the jewelRiding on the waves of the so called neo prog movement (don´t ask) Pendragon is a band that alas never reached the heights of the likes of Marillion or Pallas.
Yet I always had a soft spot for the band, and their first album in particular. In recent years I again picked up on them, and was surprised to find how good they still are.

This album started the career of Pendragon. First tracks Higher Circles and The Pleasure Of Hope succeed into merging pop sensibilities with prog arrangements. Thus creating songs that are instant. No mean feat.
Next tracks to me are the real core of the album. Singer Nick Barrett is no Peter Gabriel but delivers his songs with the panache a front man needs. His guitar playing is very worthwhile though, as he so aptly demonstrates in tracks like Leviathan, Alaska or Circus.

Alaska is a true masterpiece with awesome fret-less bass, long instrumental parts with beautiful keyboard arrangements and a thought provoking lyric. Circus has a great tension and a very varied structure and build. This track is impossible to resist to any serious prog lover. Next Track Oh Divineo opens with a stunningly beautiful guitar solo over a soft keyboard sound. When the band picks up, the soloing continues and the song gets a spellbinding hook and minutes pass without you looking at the clock… The feel than evolves into soft as is the playing. But as you´d expect, moods swing back and forth, without losing momentum. The original album is closed with the epic The Black Knight, almost 10 minutes of pure symphonic bliss. Again Barrett tortures his six string to much excitement.

This 1990 edition features 2 bonus tracks and was issued by Toff Records, the bands own label. I recommend this album and band to any prog lover, they deserve far more credit than they get.

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