Girl’s debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ wasn’t a massive success upon release in January 1980. It reached a modest #33 on the UK album chart and spawned two flop singles. With Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest and Motorhead all scoring top five hits on the album charts during the year, so with that in mind, Girl’s chart placing seemed somewhat modest. However, what the young band had lacked in sales they made up for with a sheer weight of live appearances. Regulars at the legendary Marquee, the band also supported a lot of famous rock acts throughout 1980 and 1981 and rarely seemed to be off the road.
The third album from Michael Thompson Band, 2019’s ‘Love & Beyond’ was a bit of a disappointment. The material showed that Thompson was still a fine guitarist and in AOR terms it featured a few strong songs, but it just didn’t flow too well. An over-reliance on short instrumental links proved distracting and each one of those sounded like a half finished musical idea thrown onto the record in order to bulk it out. It wasn’t a patch on 1989’s ‘How Long’, but then, it was never going to be as good as that. In AOR terms, that record is a very hard act to follow.
Jorn Lande is no stranger to cover versions. In 2006, he released an album’s worth of covers in tribute to the legendary Ronnie James Dio. Ten years on, he released ‘Heavy Rock Radio’, a tribute to some of his other favourites and influences. Unfortunately, ‘Heavy Rock Radio‘ wasn’t very good at all. A couple of tunes might’ve just about passed muster in terms of hard rock reworkings and – predictably – the obligatory Dio-related song fared quite well, but overall, it was a bit of a turkey. Making things heavier doesn’t necessarily make things better (unless you ask a particularly unadventurous metalhead) and in a rocked up cover of ‘Hotel California’, Lande truly hit rock bottom by giving the world a reggae metal hybrid that no-one with ears deserved to hear.
Jorn obviously had fun making that record – terrible as most of it might have been – and he enters his fifth decade as a recording artist with a second volume of reworked favourites. ‘Heavy Rock Radio II: Executing The Classics’ is an improvement on its predecessor, but then, in many respecrs, it would have struggled to have been worse. It’s actually about fifty percent better, but still makes for an incredibly patchy record.
1966 was very much a turning point for pop music. Many acts that were considered beat groups had started to branch out and to think beyond live performance. With orchestral tracks like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘For No One’ Paul McCartney pushed forth the idea of baroque pop. John Lennon, meanwhile, was experimenting with tape loops and early forms of electronica. His ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, closing The Beatles’ 1966 masterpiece ‘Revolver’, is often considered to be at least partially responsible for the birth of true psychedelia. While it’s obvious Lennon’s sound collage took a massive leap towards the mind expanding sounds of ’67, many other bands were sowing the seeds for change a little earlier. As early as 1965, The Kinks pushed boundaries with their single ‘See My Friends’ – a mix of jangling sixties pop and raga music – while even the Dave Clarke Five had occasionally sounded a bit…out there for the era with an increased use of reverb. While the roots of psychedelia could be argued over almost indefinitely, The Yardbirds’ ‘Shapes of Things’ – a fuzzy mish-mash of beat-pop and soft druggy haze – pre-dates the release of ‘Revolver’ by several months and is very much in the mould that would come to be known as freakbeat. An important branch of the psychedelia family tree, freakbeat took the bones of the sixties sound, loaded it with fuzz and wasn’t shy in exploiting the left/right split for stereo head trips. In 1966, this was very much at the forefront of emerging alternative sounds.
Following an excursion into blues based material on his self explanatory ‘L.A. Blues Authority Volume II: Blues’, Glenn Hughes returned to the more familiar waters of melodic rock for 1994’s ‘From Now On…’ That album, produced by the legendary Bruce Gowdy, was Hughes’s best work since the Hughes/Thrall release back in 1982. Very much a case of “all killer, no filler”, its melodic stance found “The Voice of Rock” in great shape.
Fans were to get a surprise when Glenn returned just a year later with ‘Feel’. He could easily have kept up momentum with a disc’s worth of similar melodic rockers but, ever the restless spirit, he decided instead to indulge his more soulful side. That’s not so say that it is a complete return to the Stevie Wonder tinged soul and funk of 1977’s ‘Play Me Out’, but the bulk of the material is certainly much slicker than most of Glenn’s previous outings.