David Lee Roth – Crazy From The Heat (1985)

David Lee Roth released this whilst still in Van Halen. That’s the irony of this four track EP. He could have waited, but did not. Diamond Dave was too impatient to move on from Van Halen. However, this is a taste of what his potential was on his own. Surely the Van Halens weren’t bothered by this?

Starting off with whimsical lyrics and piano, David Lee Roth carves out some new territory here. Easy Street is a colourful and solid piece about having a good night out on said street. Saxophone and other arrangements are here too. This sounds nothing at all like Van Halen. Perhaps it was for the better. Some interesting guitar work is here too, it sounds very 1980’s. Mint.

The next piece is a medley Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody is an almost Frank Sinatra like piece which is almost like David Lee Roth’s most important solo piece. It’s hilariously laughable in some parts. Particularly the old school “bop” piece in the middle. It’s still a great song, though.

California Girls is a cover of The Beach Boys, but more uptempo and better listening, to be frank. It’s a good idea for David Lee Roth to cover here. It’s rather hilarious for him to cover here. A nice one.

Coconut Grove is a good sort of West Coast America piece here. It sounds so chilled and awesome, you have to give that David Lee Roth is a good musician here. A nice song. More whimsical lyrics are here again.

Although Eat ‘Em and Smile came afterwards which was a significantly larger and more popular statement, this is a short and sweet vision of David Lee Roth musically. Very enjoyable listening here. A good summer time listen.

8/10

Joy Division – Closer (1980)

Joy Division released this second, and last, album of theirs in 1980. It seems like a suicide note musically, complete from the album cover to the music within. It’s still a great listen, provided you are in the mood for such music. So without further a due, here is a glimpse into the music of this album, and perhaps the mind of Ian Curtis.

We begin with the pumping drumbeats of Atrocity Exhibition. It’s a personal statement from Ian Curtis about his representation in the music scene and his life. It’s a bleak statement and dark song at that. It is captivating listening though, with strange sounds within.

The next piece, Isolation, reveals a figure totally alone and isolated in the world. Ian Curtis’s voice is tripped out here, sounding very distorted. The music is very synth pop like, but the intention is completely different here. Ian Curtis was not very happy by the sounds of things.

Passover sounds more dark and deep than the previous song. “This is the crisis that I knew had to come…” it begins. Everyone in the Joy Division camp was concerned about Ian Curtis at the time, but unfortunately were unable to deal with him at the time. The music doesn’t sound happy here at all.

Colony continues the sparse and dark sound on offer. The chugging guitar and drumbeats work well here, boosting the song along. “God in his wisdom took you by the hand, God in his wisdom made you understand…” These are seriously disturbed sounding lyrics from Ian Curtis. But, a good listen at hand.

The next song A Means To An End sounds more depressing. With its descending bassline and ongoing sparse sound, it seems sad in retrospect with Ian Curtis’s passing that the music was made here of this sort. He repeatedly sings, “I put my trust in you” towards the end of this piece, just before the slowed down outro.

The follow up Heart and Soul tries to put some light on a very dark musical backdrop, but only ends up sounding more dark. “Heart and soul…what will burn…” sings Ian Curtis. It sounds very dark indeed. He talks about concepts of space and time throughout this song. It sounds dark and surreal here.

Twenty Four Hours is an intense and pacing song. It sounds like an incredibly urgent and sad statement from our vocalist. Society does not understand depression and other mental health issues well enough. Had people intervened, they could have saved Ian Curtis’s life. Sadly, this did not occur. It’s another good song here though.

The Eternal is likely a contender for the most depressing song ever made. It has a super depressing piano piece and funereal drumbeat. And it does actually talk about a funeral like experience. It’s a very dark, disturbed and depressing song. Listen to this with caution.

The last song on the album Decades is another hugely depressing listen. It is driven along by a good keyboard patch and harsh sounding handclaps. It sounds very atmospheric here with all the sounds in place. A good way to end this dark, dark album.

Ian Curtis committed suicide two months after the release of this album. He had problems with epilepsy and depression, plus he had divorced his wife Deborah Curtis. Despite all this, the music will last forever though.

9/10

Van Halen – 5150 (1986)

It was a strange turn of events for Van Halen. David Lee Roth and the rest of Van Halen parted ways for some time in early 1985. After a short time, the successful solo artist Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen as their singer and occasional guitarist. By 1986, the group were ready to dominate the charts with this release, beginning the “Van Hagar” era.

This is the best offering by Van Halen with Sammy Hagar, so let’s check it out.

Good Enough begins with “Hello baby!” before launching into a very solid riff driven piece equating food to sex. It’s an awesome sounding tune, which changes tempo midway through the piece. The group sound relentless here in their approach, a great start to the album. The outro is fantastic too.

Why Can’t This Be Love is a great piece by the group. Rocketed along with keyboard riffs and Sammy Hagar’s great singing, it is not at all like David Lee Roth era Van Halen. It is a much more deep and meaningful statement than David Lee Roth could ever do. Plus, it was a radio hit at the time as well.

Easily the worst piece on this album is Get Up. It sounds horrible and also has dated really badly. Seriously, this could have been done better. Although Alex Van Halen drives this song very well with his drumming, it is rubbish. Could have been rethought here. Worth avoiding.

The next piece is much better. Dreams has some awesome keyboard sounds and great varied instrumentation here. Sammy Hagar apparently was hyperventilating during recording vocals here, as you can probably guess from his delivery. A great guitar solo is here as well. Mint tune. Beautiful.

Summer Nights is a great chilled sort of tune. Eddie Van Halen plays guitar very well here, and on the other songs on the album. Although this recording sounds somewhat dated overall, it has great tunes here. “Summer nights and my radio, that’s all we need baby, don’t you know?” Brilliant.

Best Of Both Worlds is a great pop song. It’s about said topic in a relationship, which is about bringing the best out of both ends of the relationship. It is very well done and the chorus is totally uplifting. Good pop/rock music here.

The first real synth ballad that Van Halen ever did arrives. Love Walks In is typically 1980’s and written about aliens. More importantly, it is a song about love as well. It still sounds fantastic today, mind you. Definitely touching and worth listening to. The guitar solo here is stunning and awesome.

The title track 5150 is a somewhat melancholy piece. It’s solid though, mind you. It fits the album nicely, even if it seems nonsensical lyrically. A great little number here. Eddie’s guitar playing here is wonderful.

Inside is seemingly nonsensical rubbish, but it is likely a musical stab at David Lee Roth. Obviously, the band had not forgotten what had happened beforehand. It ends the album on an okay note, although it could have been shorter in length. It’s somewhat humourous listening though.

The 5150 album went to #1 on the Billboard charts and sold many millions of copies. It’s often considered the best “Van Hagar” album, and is worth listening. The divide of Van Halen fans begins here, but that is seriously is unnecessary as the material here is good.

Enjoyable listening.

8/10

The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

The 1980’s was a strange time in musical history. Keyboards were everywhere, mullets were considered cool and Conservatism was rife. Mind you, one of the quality acts of the decade were the Gothic styled band named The Cure, led by Robert Smith as their lead vocalist.

This is their best album, so let’s have a listen to it.

Plainsong begins with some beautiful wind chimes, before launching into an atmospheric musical synth driven piece. It’s surprisingly lovely and good to hear. A nice way to kick start this album. There is some subdued and beautiful guitar here as well, which adds a nice touch to the song. When Robert Smith sings, he sounds very New Order-ish. A great way to begin this album.

Pictures of You follows with its snappy drum beat and intricate guitar work. It sounds incredibly dated here. Having said that, it’s not a bad piece. It just sounds a little bit too 1980’s in retrospect. Robert Smith does sing from the heart on this album, and shows his distinctive tone and voice here. A good effort overall.

The following piece Closedown is a dark and groove based piece, perhaps a nod to the Acid House music of the time. Still, it’s The Cure for sure. Lyrically, it is a song about running out of time to do things. Robert Smith doesn’t come across as a person with happiness lyrically, it follows the tradition of bands since Joy Division.

The next piece sounds very poppy. Lovesong is a good piece to listen to, and sounds much less dated than the other parts of the album. Robert Smith sends a love based plea, “I will always love you.” A good tune.

Last Dance is another overly 1980’s sounding piece. In fact, although this album is a great listen, it hasn’t aged well with some of the production techniques at hand. Still, a tune is a tune, regardless of what it sounds like.

Lullaby sounds a better song with some intricate guitar playing and another punchy drum beat. There is some great instrumentation here as well. Some Nine Inch Nails like whispering is here as well. It is a sonic, funky textured piece here. A good listen.

The creepy sounding Fascination Street is such a good piece, even today. It shows that quality, not quantity, matters in music. This is a dark trip of sorts. Good effort. Nice music for Goths out there. It has an awesome funky bassline to boot as well.

The next song, the melancholy Prayers For Rain is an even more trippy sounding piece that is very memorably and catchy to the listener. It’s so good to hear this sort of thing, and makes a great listen. The guitar riff played here is fantastic. The lyrics are about desperation here.

The Same Deep Water As You starts off with rain sampled in the background, before going into a more slow tempo piece than before. It continues the theme of the previous song with more desperation styled lyrics here. A good effort.

Disintegration is the title track. It sounds like a good jam at hand, but seriously, is much better than you’d expect. It shows a person lyrically who is self-decline. Typical Gothic style stuff, but fits the album very well. A nice mash up here. The outro is super cool too.

The next piece sounds rather depressing. Homesick begins with a sad sounding piano riff and cleanly plucked guitar parts, then it launches into some very good yet subtle drum driven piece The subsonic bassline then follows and then the lyrics here seep right into the song. Some intelligent and poetic lyrics are here for the listener at hand.

The Untitled last piece here starts with an accordion sound, before launching into the last track on the album. Some dark and surreal lyrics are here, and this is a nice way to finish the album. The pounding drum beat here is awesome.

Disintegration is now viewed as a classic in its own right, and made The Cure critically acclaimed for their work in music. Although that may be the case, the album could have benefited from some editing of the sounds and the length of the songs. Still, it is an interesting listen anyway. It is gloomy and dark, but not overall depressing, fortunately.

7/10

Van Halen – 1984 (1984)

Keyboards and Van Halen? Sounds a little odd when put to work. But Van Halen was onto a winner here. It seemed like a perfect fit for the time and was the last album in Van Halen’s original David Lee Roth era.

It’s a great album from start to finish, second only to the self-titled debut album by Van Halen. Let’s check out this album, track by track.

We begin with the introductory 1984. No guitars, just some very 1980’s keyboard sounds. It’s a great way to kick off this album. Soothes the soul well indeed.

Next up is the most popular Van Halen song ever Jump. It features some great keyboard playing by Eddie Van Halen, some subdued guitar playing as well and David Lee Roth’s holler, which is very good. It sounds great. Armin Van Buuren remixed this song recently, which is just as good as the original. A pop classic.

Panama follows and features Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer 5150 guitar, which he built himself in the Kramer factory. It’s a great rock song with some great lyrics: “Model citizen, zero discipline.” It has some great singing from Diamond Dave. An awesome song.

Top Jimmy has some great harmonic based guitar parts, before launching into an interesting song about a rock star. “They love it when he rolls his eyes” indeed. It has some truly great guitar work by Eddie Van Halen here. A good piece to listen to.

Sex aplenty in California arrives with Drop Dead Legs. It’s a strange fetish, but one which is covered well here. This is likely the dirtiest sounding album from Van Halen and certainly shows it off here too. Drop Dead Legs is laugh out loud funny. Keep the feminists away from this one, for sure.

The next song is the classic Hot For Teacher. Yes, you read correctly. It’s a great story without any morals whatsoever. Just listen to it and laugh out loud to the story here. But musically, it’s great too. It is one of the fastest Van Halen songs too but done so well.

I’ll Wait is a keyboard lead song about a creepy pervert. The Van Halen crew obviously lacked morals here, but without that in mind, it sounds like a weird love song. Either way, it’s effective here as well.

Girl Gone Bad continues our tales of lust without love. It’s a good song about a girl who does something along the lines of stripteasing for a profession. It’s an interesting topic, and very macho sounding indeed. The outro is fantastic.

Lastly, House Of Pain talks about S&M more out there than The Velvet Underground ever did. It’s a great song about the topic and ends the album nicely. A great listen.

This album is a classic from start to finish. It truly sounds great in every way, and cemented Van Halen as rock legends. After this, David Lee Roth left and Sammy Hagar joined the group, making a different direction for Van Halen. But despite all that, this is a great album and not a bad song is here.

9/10

Public Image Ltd. – The Flowers Of Romance (1981)

Public Image lost Jah Wobble, their bassist after the release of Second Edition. He went off for an ordinary life driving trains for a while. Stumped, John Lydon thought of a way to go on. So,  in response, this album has no bass guitar on it.

Having said that, this album is still really very good. It is still up to a great standard of John Lydon, and is a great listen.

We begin with Four Enclosed Walls, with its unusual intro and John Lydon chanting and wailing away. It then leads into a very catchy drum part and subtle instrumentation. It’s a great way to kick off this album, and sounds very artistic.

The follow up, Track 8 is a strangely named piece. It seems a lot more mellow and laidback, even sounding Syd Barrett-ish somehow. It seems like a weaker track though, and this album seems like a step back in cohesiveness overall.

Phenagen has a very strange musical arrangement, with music that would not be anywhere far from voodoo witch doctor music. John Lydon sings very well here, and shows that even so-called punk rockers can carry a song and melody, no matter what you think of their ability to do so.

Flowers Of Romance is next up, with its elastic drum beat and a multitude of experimental sounds to boot. It has John Lydon questioning the decisions that one makes, peaking in the chorus and has some psychedelic edge to it. A brilliant song, and surely a mockery of romance itself? Who knows.

The next piece up, Under The House, has a super long intro. It’s a bit weaker, but still satisfying enough to listen to. It seems like a freaky sort of song, because it probably is. This album is certainly Leftfield for sure, if you know what I mean.

After that, we hear an unusual drum led piece called Hymie’s Him. It is an instrumental, but a poor instrumental at that. It lacks structure and is all over the place. Still, it fits on the album nicely though.

Banging The Door has John Lydon telling people nicely, to place their problems elsewhere. It is a great statement, and continues Problems by The Sex Pistols thematically. It’s a good tune though.

Go Back is the real track 8. This is difficult to make of the purpose of the song, with John Lydon singing lyrics about impressionist style values. It is a random piece for sure.

The last one on the album, Francis Massacre, is really quite good. Without a load of different instrumentation, sounds and chanting, it’s a good way to end this album. John Lydon has really improved as a singer at this point, and sings this album very well.

There are many remastered reissues of this album with a few extra cuts which were recorded around this time. Is this the best PiL album? It quite possibly is. It is a pure statement of artistry by the group and John Lydon. It blows away the bad synth pop which was arising at the time. It is a very underrated album, and deserves listening.

9/10

Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986)

The American band Slayer had slowly been gathering momentum. Although their music was in no way mainstream, especially lyrically, Slayer had set themselves up to be the pioneers of Death Metal. It was faster, harder and more aggressive than anything before in music.

This album is the best of Slayer’s back catalogue and began the Death Metal scene that still exists today. It’s a headbanging rush from start to finish.

From the beginning, we have the story of a Nazi butcherer in Angel Of Death. It’s so awesome but scary. You may think that Metallica could not match this, and certainly could not in terms of pace. It’s horrific, but awesome at the same time. It breaks down in the midsection and then rushes into a super fast pace. Good stuff.

The next one along, Piece By Piece, is a brutal sonic onslaught. Hard to believe that this is a metal-based genre. But it’s truly amazing what is done here, and has proper song structures and different tempos. This reveals the variety of Slayer as a band.

Necrophobic reveals the sick and twisted nature of Slayer, at least lyrically. The title says it all but it’s, fortunately, such a short sonic assault that it makes up for any twisted or sick nature lyrically.

Altar Of Sacrifice obviously refers to the hypocritical nature of religion. It’s so catchy that it is easily stuck in your mind for days after. Perhaps these people were Marxists politically? We may never know, but they are Satanists for sure. It slows down towards the end, with our heads still banging away.

The next piece, Jesus Saves, is even more upfront. It starts off slowly, and you can really hear some of the band’s Iron Maiden/Metallica likes influences. It then speeds into a raging track about the hypocrisy of Christianity. A tough pill for some to swallow, but the music still is rocking.

The follower Criminally Insane begins with a basic drum beat, some palm muted riffing, and laughter. It’s so good to hear something that is different than everything on the radio. It is so well arranged by Rick Rubin that it deserves listening on.

Reborn starts off with a sort of jam, before erupting into a sonic assault referencing Satanist activities. Even though the band here gives little variation in their sound, it just is so good. No track sounds out of place on this record. “I won’t be reborn!”.

Epidemic is the next song up, and it is a bit slower than others on the album. The guitar solo sounds like something out of a B Horror film. “Pain results in screams, bleed eternally.” Surely, these guys were on something like meth? It’s a rather sinister song.

The wicked Postmortem is up next. It rolls along nicely in the first half, being very song like and slower than usual for this album. It then bursts into a truly great riff, and screaming galore.

The last song, Raining Blood, is creepier and more evil sounding than anything Black Sabbath ever did. It finishes off the album with more horrific imagery and ultra thrash paced metal.  At the end, we hear the pouring rain of blood. Sounds evil and satanic for sure. The albums ends with one feeling like they have listened to Satan himself talking via music to you. It’s out there, all right.

Remastered reissues of the album have given us two extra tracks by Slayer, Aggressive Perfecter and the Criminally Insane (Remix) which are great additions to Slayer’s repertoire. This album is for anybody who wants to hear really freaky music. If you want to test some heavily religious Christians, play this in earshot of them. You won’t be disappointed with this album, halfway between thrash and death metal. Merely looking at the front cover artwork of this album is to see pure hell.

Awesome.

8/10