Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 2/1/18
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
GREAT WHITE – “The Angel Song” (1989)
Each year, Hard Rock Daddy publishes a list of the top songs of the year. To give our readers the widest possible variety of music, we only feature one song per artist. There is (kind of) an exception on the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2017. Technically, each artist only had one song, but since there are now two versions of Great White, there are two different songs from the original members of the band featured.
Back in 1989, before issues arose that separated frontman Jack Russell from the rest of the band, Great White was at their peak. Following up their successful third album (Once Bitten…), …Twice Shy picked up where the band left off in 1987. The album titles are purposely connected, but the connection runs deeper than that. These two albums combined to form the peak of the band’s success. In a career that has survived more than one shift in rock music, and has quietly been around for over three decades, that’s saying something.
It wasn’t long after the release of “The Angel Song” that the grunge movement all but sounded the death knell for power ballads. Many ‘80s power ballads still hold joyful nostalgic memories of simpler times for a generation of rock music fans, but this one is different. Russell’s vocals, which have always been among the most unique in rock and roll, invoke feelings of melancholy on “The Angel Song” that don’t exist in most similarly structured songs.
Nostalgia is a revisionist method for each of us to highlight the best parts of a certain time and place from the past. Glamorizing is something that most of us do when we envision a sort of utopia. It’s easy to do when you don’t “see how the sausage is made.” Being rich and famous in cities like Los Angeles seems like the dream life. For many bands, it may have been true once-upon-a-time. However, for every rock star who “made it,” there are countless others that never did.
Nearly 30 years after “The Angel Song” was released, the lyrics that still resonate with me most are…
“Hollywood ain’t paved with gold. It’s just a trick of light.”
I can’t say for sure what the lyrics are referring to, but to me, it’s a reminder of the old saying…“the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” The break-up of one of the most underrated bands of all-time into two factions is proof positive that situations that seem ideal from an outside perspective can be quite the contrary.
Still, when this band was in their prime, they were as good as it gets. Whereas most power ballads feel like they mark a specific point in time, “The Angel Song” is a timeless classic that is as strong today as it was back in 1989.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – “Angel Of Mercy” (2014)
Being inspired to feature “The Angel Song” by Great White this week got me to thinking what other songs with “angel” in the title held special meaning. I immediately landed on Black Label Society’s “Angel Of Mercy.” The song was reviewed on its own back in 2014. Because of the personal meaning, I decided to just reprint the review in its entirety below…
“There are two distinct, yet complementary, sides to Zakk Wylde and the music that he creates. I’ve always appreciated his signature heavy guitar sound, but through the years, I think that I’ve grown to love his more emotive, slow-tempo songs even more. As much as I love his guitar playing, there is something about his unique, southern-style, raspy vocals that I am drawn to, which is why his 2013 release, Unblackened, was a great album for me. Sadly, the Hard Rock Daddy album review of Unblackened was never completed…
On this day last year, I received a very anxious, almost panic-stricken phone call from my mom. The time was 3:24pm. I only know the exact time because when I went to look at the partially completed album review this morning, I saw the last time that the file was updated.
For those of you who were looking for a typical song review, I apologize for veering off course a bit, but I’m sure that many of you can appreciate the power that music has on you in times of sorrow. This is one time where a personal story seems appropriate.
I met Zakk a few months after he joined Ozzy (see full story), and then again years later while working for Billboard Magazine. He had just re-issued Book Of Shadows on Spitfire Records. It is a lesser-known album that is arguably my favorite of his to this day. Along with two of my friends who ran the label, my wife and I joined Zakk (after he came up to Billboard Magazine) for a side-splitting Mexican dinner in Times Square (a story for another day).
Getting back to the album review that was never completed…
Needless to say, I was thrilled to see four tracks from Book Of Shadows featured on Unblackened, because I am a huge fan of anything that Zakk does live. When I got the call from my mom, I had just written the following paragraph…
“Although many fans may not realize it, Wylde has revealed his gritty, stripped down, southern rock side before with his 1996 solo album, Book Of Shadows. A number of songs from the album appear on Unblackened (“Sold My Soul,” “Road Back Home,” “Throwin’ It All Away,” “I Thank You Child”).”
That is as far as the review went. The last words that I typed (after speaking to my panic-stricken mom) were “I Thank You Child.”
I had no idea at the time, that a phone call that ended somewhat abruptly because of a bad connection, would be the last time that my mom and I would ever speak. The test that she feared taking forced her into emergency surgery that led to complications. Less than a week later, she was shockingly gone from our lives, and I couldn’t bear the thought of finishing the review that was interrupted during our last conversation.
In some ways, a year feels like a long time, but in other ways, it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. I remember my last phone call, and all of the heartbreaking moments that followed, as if it happened yesterday.
As fitting as it seems that the last words written of an unfinished album review (during my final conversation with my mom) were “I Thank You Child,” it is equally fitting that I actually complete a review for a Zakk Wylde song entitled “Angel Of Mercy” on this sad anniversary, so here goes…
The powerful, black and white video begins with some appropriately haunting images as the melancholic guitar introduction is played, before Zakk’s beautiful vocals reach into your soul.
It’s been nearly two decades since the release of Book Of Shadows. For the most part, Black Label Society’s music is much heavier than that album, but “Angel Of Mercy” feels like it could be a lost track from 1996. The first time that I heard it, I was brought back to happier times of yesteryear, even though the song is actually very sad.
“Angel Of Mercy” features the best of everything that Zakk Wylde has to offer, and for very personal reasons, it will always be one of my favorite songs of his. His unique singing style captures the dark emotions of the lyrics, as does his shredding solo where he makes the double neck guitar sing like few others can.
On this day, you would think that the last thing that I would want to see in a music video is an evocative, black and white cemetery scene, but the beauty of the song has an unexplainable cathartic quality to it.
The poignant lyrics to “Angel Of Mercy” appear below the video. They have brought me comfort in a time a great pain, and for that, I will always be thankful to Zakk Wylde. And while the moment has clearly passed for a timely album review, I would highly recommend Unblackened to all Zakk Wylde fans.”
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
TESLA – “Modern Day Cowboy” (1986)
Tesla – out of Sacramento, CA – was unveiled to the world at the height of the ‘80s rock/“hair band” craze in 1986 with their debut album, Mechanical Resonance. Early on, you could tell that they definitely did not fit the typical mold of the ‘80s rock movement with the release of “Modern Day Cowboy.” It is a well-crafted song that features the great playing of Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, the solid rhythm section of Brian Wheat and Troy Luccketta, and one of the more unique voices in rock, Jeff Keith.
You could tell that these were five talented guys (with a passion for playing and creating music) that weren’t looking to be lumped in with “hair bands.” However, the record companies called all the shots back then. Had the band not gone along with it, we may not have heard of Tesla at that time, but not because of their talent.
There were a few bands back in the ‘80s that record companies stuck in the “hair band” category, even if the label didn’t necessarily fit. The choices were to go along with it, or risk your record not being released. Tesla (briefly) played along to get their foot in the door, and then they kicked that mother wide open!
From the opening riff to the end, you could tell “Modern Day Cowboy” was a different animal than anything else that was out there. Tesla’s sound, influenced by their favorite artist/bands of the ‘70s, comes clearly through on this song and the entire album for that matter.
With the exception of a four-year hiatus, the band has remained mostly intact for 33 years. They have released seven studio albums (with an eighth on the way), an acoustic album, two cover albums, and four live albums.
Tesla is bigger and better than ever. They have withstood all of the different eras and trend changes in rock by being themselves and maintaining their musical integrity. Besides the fact that they make great music, and are killer musicians, their integrity is one of the things that I respect about them most.
While many bands chased trends, Tesla stayed the course. Look at them now. They are still touring and playing on big summer tours, while continuing to make the music that they want to make. As a musician, you really can’t ask for more than that.
Seriously, check out this bands catalog of music. From front to back, it’s one of the best out there. No apologies, no regrets, just great rock ‘n roll music!
HELLYEAH – “Cowboy Way” (2010)
We now transition from Tesla’s “Modern Day Cowboy” to Hellyeah’s “Cowboy Way.” The song was featured on the band’s 2010 sophomore effort, Stampede. At this point, the band was still trying to find their musical identity. Nonetheless, it’s great album that kicks off with one hell of a barnburner in “Cowboy Way.”
This song was the first with new bassist Bob Zilla (Damageplan) in the fold. With a power lineup consisting of the mighty Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan) on drums, frontman Chad Gray (Mudvayne), guitarist Tom Maxwell (Nothingface), guitarist Greg Tribbett (Mudvayne), and Zilla on bass, Hellyeah was well on its way to making a statement and leaving a footprint on the musical landscape that people would never forget.
“Cowboy Way” is an unapologetic anthem about the way that the band lived their lives. When the deep chugging opening riff starts, you know that you’re in for a butt kicking. Gray’s guttural vocal delivery is one of the best in the business, and he definitely gets his point across when he lets it loose. Paul’s drumming drives the band like locomotive steam engine. This song makes a statement and with a heavy foot and hand.
In the video for “Cowboy Way,” the band is surrounded by many friends and family. I have always thought of Hellyeah as the “peoples’” band. They love the fans, and their friends and family even more. It’s an important element and part of their lives.
Having played in Texas many times and made many friends down there, it’s very easy to see why. Once they welcome you, you are part of their extended family. These guys continue to make killer music. You can see how much they love what they do and for who they do it for.
These guys could easily just sit back and enjoy what they’ve accomplished in the past, given that they come from some of the biggest bands in rock/metal, but when you love something, you just can’t turn it off. Music runs deep in their blood. I, for one, am glad that they have continued to crank out some awesome music. Enjoy guys and gals. As always, spread the gospel of music!
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
KRANK – “Rented Heat” (1986)
Krank is a long-forgotten ‘80s metal band from the South Jersey/Philadelphia area that I had never heard of until a few years ago when I went to visit my great aunt. Invariably, my love of music comes up with anyone that I spend enough time with, so my Aunt’s friend told me that her son used to be in a metal band in the ‘80s. I so enjoyed hearing her war stories about going to see the band (as hard as it was to imagine this adorable little Italian lady hanging in a metal club). Naturally, her stories piqued my interest, so much so that I immediately looked the band up on YouTube.
Krank’s first album is called Hideous. The cover is classic glam stuff, complete with big hair, Cinderella-like attire, and heavy makeup. I even found the album on ITunes. It looks like the biggest hit of their career was “Rented Heat.” This high energy song features loud, screaming vocals and a great guitar solo. Krank actually sounds a lot like Twisted Sister to me.
Let’s face it, there were so many bands like this in the ‘80s, and not all of them were destined to make it big. It looks like Krank has reformed a few different times over the years with various lineup changes. I would guess that they put on a great live show, and that they have a local fan base that remembers them fondly. And this is precisely what I love about YouTube. It allows you to go back and relive your own priceless metal moments.
DEF LEPPARD – “Too Late For Love” (1983)
It was a very happy day last week for Def Leppard fans when the band finally released their catalog on all major streaming services. They were one of the last major artist holdouts to do so. This release coincided with the announcement of their massive co-headlining tour with Journey (which kicks off in May and will be going strong all summer).
Summer and Def Leppard go together so perfectly. Their music captures pure, carefree emotion better than any artist that I can think of. Looking back, the summer of 1983 was the summer of Pyromania for me, as most of the songs from this album were in constant rotation on rock radio and on MTV. You literally couldn’t escape it (nor did you want to).
Based on the legions of fans that I see each time that I go to one of their shows (which is frequent since they tour the States on a consistent basis), it’s pure happiness from start to finish. Every song transports you right back to a time of youth with no true responsibilities, and most importantly, to a time where rock truly dominated. For a couple of hours, you’re a teenager again, which speaks to the power of live music to transport you to another time and place.
Although Def Leppard went on to even greater success with Hysteria, I will always remember the summer of ’83 and this album as its soundtrack.