Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 5/19/16
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, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).
Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs. On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.
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)
RAINBOW – “Starstruck” (1976)
For the better part of my youth, Rainbow was my favorite band. Ironically, I didn’t truly discover them until they were on their third singer (Joe Lynn Turner). From the moment that I heard Difficult To Cure, I was hooked. I immediately went out and bought the entire back catalog on vinyl, and fell in love with all of the Ronnie James Dio albums, which included Rising (still my favorite album cover of all-time).
This past week marked two momentous occasions, one happy and nostalgic, the other bittersweet and mournful.
May 17th was the 40th anniversary of the release of Rising. Listening back to this timeless classic, I found myself thinking back to a fateful day in 1996, when I had the chance to hang out with RJD (one of my childhood heroes) at his record release party for the Dio album, Angry Machines (read full story). It is, to this day, one of the greatest rock and roll experiences that I’ve ever had.
If ever there was an appropriate song title for meeting one of your idols, “Starstruck” is it. I admit that I was a bit “starstruck” when we first said hello, but after a few drinks at the bar and a lengthy music discussion, I felt like I was reminiscing with an old friend. It was my only chance to meet RJD, but it left a lasting impression on me.
Needless to say, RJD’s passing (which occurred on 5/16/10) was incredibly devastating for me (as it was for millions of other heavy metal fans). He was a star in every sense of the word, but his true magic was his gratitude, humility and ability to make you feel like a friend.
“Starstruck” is one of the more well-known songs on Rising, but it seemed like an excellent choice to honor someone whose contributions to heavy metal are immeasurable.
RAINBOW – “A Light In The Black” (1976)
If Rising was released today, it would likely fall under the category of “EP.” The album only featured six songs, but two of them were over eight minutes long, including the album closer, “A Light In The Black.” Songs this long typically don’t get much (if any) radio play, so this track is something of a hidden gem for those who are not die-hard Rainbow fans. The vocal parts are very straight-forward, and yet, incredibly haunting and powerful. Ritchie Blackmore’s riffing over a locomotive rhythm section takes up the majority of the song, but it’s RJD’s vocals that bring the song to life. Not surprisingly, the lyrics are a bit cryptic and mystical, but it can be interpreted as someone going to meet their maker…an eerie foreshadowing of his ultimate demise, which occurred decades later.
R.I.P. RJD! \m/\m/
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
KING DIAMOND – “Welcome Home” (1988)
King Diamond used to scare the crap out of me when I was younger, with his satanic face paint, upside down crosses, and evil, macabre lyrical content. As I got older, I learned to look past all of the theatrics, and appreciate his songwriting, imagery and overall great musicianship of everyone in his band. “Welcome Home” – from King Diamond’s third album, Them – was one of the songs that exhibited all that and more. Whether it’s King Diamond’s screeching falsetto, Andy LaRocque’s guitar virtuosity, or Mikkey Dee’s drumming, Them will live on as one of King Diamond’s classic albums of all time.
OPETH – “The Grand Conjuration” (2005)
Ghost Reveries (Opeth’s eighth studio album) has always been one of my favorite albums by the band. “The Grand Conjuration” sums up pretty much every reason that I feel that way. Maybe it was the mood setting during the verses exploding into the heaviness of the main second verse; maybe it was the imagery; maybe it was the odd time signature of Gene Hoglan’s drumming during the heavy parts of the song. It’s just a damn good song overall. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint either. I took my son to see these guys play this album in its entirety, and he was blown away as much as I was.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
BURNING RAIN – “Our Time Is Gonna Come” (2013)
Burning Rain features founding members Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, Dead Daisies) on guitar and Keith St. John (Montrose, X-Drive, Gunzo) on vocals. They put out two amazing albums in 1999 and 2000, before taking a long break while pursuing other projects. Their 2013 return was well worth the wait. Epic Obsession lives up to its name, with a hard-driving and addictive lineup of songs filled with groove and melody, and a couple of amazing ballads as well. They wrapped up the album with a killer version of “Kashmir,“ but that Led Zeppelin vibe was already front and center on some earlier songs, like this haunting selection.
SAHARA RAIN – “Black Gold” (2009)
Sahara Rain is a melodic rock band out of Switzerland who debuted in 2009 with the album Sand In Your Hands. There is a warmth to the vocals, a yearning in the guitar work, and some subtle keyboards as melodies are built up in layers to satisfying choruses.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
SIGNUM REGIS – “Field Of Stars” (2007)
“Fields of Stars” is the first track from the eponymous debut album of Slovakia’s Signum Regis. Standouts are the guitar licks, intricate fret-work and solos, along with terrific vocals.
PRETTY MAIDS – “Tortured Spirit” (2000)
Here’s a great track from Denmark’s Pretty Maids from the mid-point of the band’s career. Their tried and true heavy metal sound is anchored by lead singer Ronnie Atkins. “Tortured Spirit” is a great all-around track, with a thick rhythm and a tremendous, memorable refrain.