Wednesday, September 24, 2014

30 Years On - 1984 Killer Albums (Part 4)

INXS - The Swing

Much like Queen's The Works, this was one of the first albums I ever bought, and for similar reasons. While I had heard the odd single on the radio that INXS had released to that time, it was when "Original Sin" and "Burn For You" hit the airwaves that my ears really pricked up, and I was encouraged to spend my hard earned pocket money on this album.

Four singles were released from this album, and throughout 1984 they were on heavy rotation on Australian radio. They have been generally regarded as the shining lights of the album, and while for the most part I agree, there are some gems here that, if you have never heard The Swing, you are missing out on. "Melting in the Sun" is a great song, as is the title track "The Swing". "Burn For You", as the penultimate song on the album, brings it altogether nicely. However, the star attraction for me has always been "Johnson's Aeroplane", a nondescript song that has slipped through the cracks when the very best INXS songs are spoken of. It has always been a favourite for me.
For some reason The Swing seems to be a forgotten masterpiece in the INXS catalogue, with surrounding albums such as Shabooh Shoobah, Listen Like Thieves and Kick rated more highly by fans. For me, with the possible exception of Kick, The Swing is INXS's finest album, with a mix of popular singles and classic tracks that showcases the exceptional variety that the band had in its prime.

Rating: Four long lines one darker than the rest. 3.5/5

Dokken - Tooth and Nail

I still find it difficult to understand why it took me so long to get around to listening to Dokken. It wasn't until 15 years after this album was released that I really heard much of the band, and I still regret not having had this album while I was in high school.
This was the real start for Dokken after a couple of releases that made a ripple without starting the wave. The fabulous foursome of Don Dokken, George Lynch, Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson come together here and put together an impressive slate of high energy hard rock. Mixing Don's smooth vocals with George's at times electrifying guitar licks, and the effervescent rhythm of Jeff's bass and Mick's drumming, the basis for Dokken's rise through the 1980's is in place here.
The start of the album is just terrific. The instrumental opening "Without Warning" rides straight into the title track, a fast track emphasised by Lynch's solo work and a punchy chorus. From here the album slides straight into "Just Got Lucky" which relies heavily on Don's great vocal work, and never fails to remind me of George's solo, which in the video for the song he was playing on the side of a volcano, and his boots were apparently melting from the heat while he played. I still love this song.
The second half of the album gets itself into a good groove, though it can appear to be a bit repetitive on the surface, with songs like "Heartless Heart", and "Don't Close Your Eyes" and "Into the Fire" and "Bullets to Spare" all of a similar ilk when it comes to rhythm and pace of the song. Each has their own differences of course, but they all sound very similar in structure. Not necessarily a bad thing, and it is only a small criticism, as I enjoy each of those songs mentioned.
The power ballad "Alone Again" was the song that got some attention in the radio market, and to me is the weak link on this album. I know bands "have" to write and perform this kind of song, but they can be album killers. Probably the fact that this is the penultimate song on the album means that it doesn't detract as heavily as it may have. Also, it is followed by the impressively fast and aggressive "Turn on the Action", which makes up for the flaws of the previous song and ends the album on an upward trend.
I really enjoy this album, though I think the potential of the opening tracks is not fulfilled. It's an easy listening album, and given it has been playing at work almost non-stop for two days on this rotation, it still remains so.

Rating: You were just using someone, and I was the one!  3.5/5

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