Tuesday, September 23, 2014

30 Years On - 1984 Killer Albums (Part 3)

Lita Ford - Dancin' on the Edge
Lita Ford's follow up to her first solo album Out For Blood has moved away from the 70's sound that it based itself in, while still retaining the hard rock edge that she was looking for after the demise of The Runaways. The album has not been over-produced to throw in anything that is not necessary in the mix, like synths or overblown guitars. It is a straight forward hard rock album that sounds that way. The rock tracks are great, nothing extravagant, just simple hard rock lines with catchy choruses and a bit of attitude. "Gotta Let Go", "Dancing on the Edge", "Dressed to Kill", "Fire in my Heart" and "Run With the $" are my favourites
While it may have an 80's feel to it, it doesn't have the more pop/hair metal edge that her big hit album Lita, and still stays true to her roots. Lita proves here that she can sing, and she can play guitar. Whether she can write lyrics is probably open to question, because some of them here are either really silly or trying to aim directly at a young teenage audience. C'mon Lita, there are older people who like your music too! Still well worth a listen.
Rating: Don't you want to be the main attraction.  3/5.

Queen - The Works

Following on from the experimental haze and daze that was Hot Space, Queen continued to push ahead with their trailblazing feats with The Works, an album that mixed radio hits that reclaimed their identity as one of the world's biggest bands, but mixed style and substance with a variety of music genres that continued to allow them to market themselves to the widest possible audience.
Hot Space had divided Queen's fan base, with many unable to dissect what they were trying to achieve with the vast change in style the album contained. The Works probably did not win back all of those disgruntled fans, the ones that had been with the band since their inception. However, a new crowd of teenagers climbed on board with their radio hits, and then could absorb the different approach of the songs that make up the whole album.
Kicking off with the unapologetic pop anthem "Radio Ga Ga", this is very synth based in the style of the previous album, but comes through tougher in the chorus with a crowd-like chant which gives it a rock feel that defies it's musical background. This kicked goals for Queen on the radio as it was given huge airplay. "Tear it Up" follows, and is Brian May's attempt to revive the hard rock edge of Queen, hailing back to a style more reminiscent of their earlier albums. This is replaced by Freddie Mercury's "It's a Hard Life", which is dominated by his soaring vocals and melodies, only broken up by May's wonderful guitar solo in the middle of the song.
"Man on the Prowl" is reminiscent of another of Freddie's rockabilly songs, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". However, on an album where I find every other song has an impact and a place, this has always been the one song which makes me a little less enthused. Even on a album that has this much variety in its song structure, I still find this is out of place. This is recovered by the unique and brilliant "Machines (Back to Humans)", a song that again has a heavy use of synths to create the robotic performance the song was looking for.
John Deacon steals the show again with his hit single "I Want to Break Free", which got mega air time on music channels with the video for the song. Like his best songs, "I Want to Break Free" juts along with his terrific bass line, while the others fall into line around it. "Keep Passing the Open Windows" is another Freddie special, where he again writes spectacularly for his own vocals, which convey all the right emotions of the song. It has always been my second favourite song on this album. My favourite, perhaps obviously, is the thundering "Hammer to Fall", which, while always sounding great in this studio version, has always been a live song, and one that grows in stature in that environment. The album concludes with the thought piece "Is This the World We Created?", which was written about the poverty in Africa, and was subsequently played at Live Aid as an encore.

Fans reactions to this album has always been a mixed bag, with many fans of the band who had followed them from the start of their career being less enthused about it than those who were only just discovering the band at this time, or had been drawn to the band by the success of the radio singles. The Works was one of the first albums I ever bought, and though I had heard earlier singles from the band on the radio in my pre-teens, it was this album that made me a fan of the group, and subsequently went looking for their earlier albums from this point. While I don't consider this to be their masterpiece (that is probably still A Night At the Opera or perhaps even The Miracle), I still have very fond feelings and memories of this album. It is still prominent in all of my memories of 1984 and 1985, and is part of the soundtrack of that time of my life.

Rating: We just wanna scream it louder and louder.  4/5

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