Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 4/27/17
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.
On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years. This month’s theme is – 1977.
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)
MEAT LOAF – “Bat Out Of Hell” (1977)
Although Meat Loaf technically made his debut in 1971 with a little-known album called Stoney and Meat Loaf, for all intents and purposes, his real debut came six years later when he teamed up with Jim Steinman. It was a match made in heaven. These two incredible talents complemented each other as much as any other pairing in rock history. Steinman, a brilliant composer, wrote theatrical works of art. Meat Loaf, with a background in theater, brought these songs to life like no other could.
Forty years ago, when Bat Out Of Hell was released, songs like “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” made Meat Loaf an instant household name. The entire album, which is nothing short of a masterpiece, is anchored by epic title track.
Meat Loaf is not usually thought of as progressive rock, but the nearly 10-minute long title track features progressive elements. From the two-minute, tone-setting instrumental opening, to the high-energy verse which pauses briefly as if to allow for a changing of gears, the song flows seamlessly between aggressive angst and tender moments. Much like the story told in the lyrics, “Bat Out Of Hell” takes you on a thrilling musical roller coaster ride.
It’s understandable why the song didn’t fare very well as a single. Cutting any song in half for the sake of radio chips away much of what makes it great. In my opinion, you should never listen to anything other than the full album cut of a classic that shows the true brilliance of Meat Loaf, Steinman and a collaboration team that is good as any that rock music has ever seen. It’s hard to think of another album that has left such an indelible mark on a moment in time. Forty years later, this luster on this masterpiece still shines brightly.
STYX – “The Grand Illusion” (1977)
Back in 1977, there was no such thing as social media, but if you listen to the lyrics of “The Grand Illusion” (the opening title track on Styx’s classic 1977 release), you’ll hear what seems like foreshadowing. This is particularly true on the following lyrics…
“So if you think your life is complete confusion because your neighbor’s got it made. Just remember that, it’s a grand illusion, and deep inside we’re all the same.”
In recent years, I saw a quote (ironically on social media) that captured the concept shared by Styx in 1977…
“Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” When I first saw this quote, I immediately thought of “The Grand Illusion.”
In a lifetime of discovering music, it’s often times impossible to pinpoint a moment in time when you first heard a particular artist, but Styx is one of the exceptions. I was hanging out with a grade school friend in his older sister’s room. She had a stereo and a collection of vinyl. We put on The Grand Illusion and I was instantly hooked. By the time we got to the end of the album, I considered myself a Styx fan.
It wouldn’t be long before I started buying albums in their catalog (beginning with the one that turned me on to the band). Listening to the song again this week made me long for a time when things were simpler.
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
SEX PISTOLS – “God Save The Queen” (1977)
The only album released by the Sex Pistols was 1977’s Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Even though they have only released one album, they were probably one of the most influential bands in punk rock/metal history. Released at a time of political turmoil and unrest, the teens of England grasped the anti-authoritarian attitudes of the Sex Pistols and adopted it as their own. “God Save the Queen” was their anthem. Punk rockers pogoed and screamed…“No future for you!!” This attitude fueled subsequent bands such as Motorhead, Iron Maiden and countless other punk and metal bands.
JUDAS PRIEST – “Sinner” (1977)
The dual guitar attacks of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton, and the incredible vocals of the Metal God Rob Halford, are the trademarks of one of the best metal bands in history, Judas Priest. The band released Sin After Sin in 1977. It’s a great album. Then again, I’m a huge Priest fan, so I feel that way about pretty much every album that they’ve released (minus a couple later releases). For 1977, this was as heavy as it got (it would be even by today’s standards). Forty years later, I’m still impressed when I listen to this classic.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
KANSAS – “Closet Chronicles” (1977)
In 1977, progressive rock legends Kansas released their fifth studio album, Point of Know Return, which included several huge hits (including the title song and perhaps the most depressing song to become a radio mainstay, “Dust in the Wind”). The entire album is amazing, including this ode to the eccentric recluse Howard Hughes.
“The king is in his closet, he’s hiding from today. And though he owns all fortunes, this room is where he’ll stay. And his world is filled with darkness, turning grey…”
It’s another maudlin (but masterful) piece, and its meaning neatly complements the more well-known “Dust In The Wind.”
UFO – “Love To Love” (1977)
UFO released this stirring ballad on their sixth studio album, Lights Out. The song, and indeed much of the album, is a departure from the more straight-forward rock they’d produced up to this point. Here we find more complex arrangements with more diverse instrumentation, and it works gloriously. Forty years later, the band still plays this one at every show, and it never fails to spread an awed hush through the crowd.