Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 2/22/18
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)
VAN HALEN – “Eruption/You Really Got Me” (1978)
Like many bands, Van Halen cut their teeth playing cover songs. According to John Scanlan, author of Van Halen: Exuberant California, Zen Rock n’ Roll, the band was able to play over 200 songs on demand back in the day. With this kind of prowess, it’s no surprise that they are responsible for some of the greatest cover songs in the history of rock n’ roll.
Van Halen’s debut album just celebrated the 40th anniversary of its release, which is why the story of their first single came to the forefront. Although radio has permanently connected “Eruption” and the brilliant cover version of “You Really Got Me” through the years, they are actually two separate songs. Eddie Van Halen was against a cover song being released as the band’s first single. Understandable, given that they are one of the most innovative bands in the history of rock. Fortunately for Eddie, the finger-tapping technique that he became known for was also featured on radio with regularity. According to David Lee Roth, there were six Kinks songs that could have easily made the cut, but “You Really Got Me” was the one that was chosen.
If not for the band Angel, Van Halen’s first single quite likely would have been something entirely different. While the band was recording their debut album, Warner Brothers Records and producer Ted Templeman got word that Angel was going to try and beat Van Halen to market with their own cover of “You Really Got Me.” This forced the label’s hand to make it the first single. According to Eddie, he would have preferred a song like “Jamie’s Cryin’” to be the first single because it was their own.
Four decades, and countless accolades later, it hardly seems to matter that Van Halen broke onto the scene with a cover song. Though they stayed fairly true to the original, this version is absolutely their own.
Van Halen’s interpretation of “You Really Got Me” actually introduced the Kinks to a younger audience, but they weren’t necessarily pleased about it in the beginning. They later went on to embrace it, going so far as to say in concert that it was a song made famous by Van Halen.
Nowadays, bands are scrapping and clawing to get radio play. Many go the route of making a cover their own because it helps to break down barriers. It’s a near impossibility to think that any of them will have the success that followed Van Halen’s debut in this manner. It’s an even longer shot to think that any of them will end up being even a fraction of the influential band that Van Halen is today.
Through the years, Van Halen has released a number of brilliant cover songs (some that may even surprise rock fans because they feel like originals). Undoubtedly, some of these will be featured in future installments of Hard Rock Music Time Machine. Because of the impact that “You Really Got Me” made on the rock world, all of the others are vying for second place (at least in my eyes).
FOREIGNER – “Hot Blooded” (1978)
Foreigner’s eponymous debut was released in March of 1977, but it wasn’t until they released their sophomore album (Double Vision) in June of 1978 that I discovered the band. Looking back, it seems impossible to think that I didn’t hear classics like “Cold As Ice,” “Feels Like The First Time,” and “Long Long Way From Home” when they were singles on the radio, but I was just a kid. However, I do remember running out to buy the 45 of “Hot Blooded” right after I heard it for the first time. The song blew me away!
The melodic power chords of Mick Jones combined with the soaring vocals of Lou Gramm was simply magical to me. “Hot Blooded” was definitely one of the first songs that made me fall in love with guitar riffs. To my young ears, it was really heavy, and I loved it.
Because Foreigner helped to introduce me into the world of rock n’ roll, they have always been a personal favorite. As I got older, it would piss me off that they (and other bands that I loved) got tagged with a stupid “corporate rock” label. Are their songs melodic, pleasing to the ears, and radio-friendly? Without a doubt! But wasn’t that the goal for every signed rock act?
The band is still going strong today (albeit with a different lineup)…proof positive that Foreigner is one of rock’s iconic bands. I defy any rock n’ roll snob who thumbed their nose at bands like this to crank up “Hot Blooded” (along with numerous other Foreigner songs) and not enjoy it. There’s a reason why this song still resonates all these years later, and it goes far beyond nostalgia.
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
QUEEN – “Fat Bottomed Girls” (1978)
Ah, the anthem of all anthems! Queen professing love for ladies with fuller posteriors. It’s still a great song that I always turn up a little louder when I hear it to this day.
“Fat Bottomed Girls” was released as a single in October of 1978. It actually was known as a Double A-side single since it was released along with another single…“Bicycle Race.” That’s why at the end of the song, you hear Freddie Mercury shout “Get on your bikes and ride!”
“Fat Bottomed Girls” is from Queen’s seventh studio album, Jazz, which was released in November of 1978. It also appeared on the band’s “Greatest Hits” album released in 1981.
Queen is known for the amazing guitar work of Brian May, incredible harmonizing vocals, and of course, Mercury’s mesmerizing singing voice and theatrics. He really had fun with this one (written by May about real life experiences). Back in 1978, when bands like Queen traveled to different places, they experienced different people and cultures. All had sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll in common.
“Fat Bottomed Girls you make the rocking world go round” was an ode to those ladies with the bigger butts that had no problem showing their affection for the boys in the band. In all seriousness though, Queen took a lighthearted, fun experience/subject, and turned it into one of their more memorable songs. The great ones always could write about the most simplistic or general topics and make it sound cool and relatable to the everyday person. Queen accomplished that on all fronts with “Fat Bottomed Girls.”
The song is another one of the band’s anthems that you sing at the top of your lungs when you hear it. It puts a smile on your face, and gives you a little chuckle because it paints a very vivid picture of a beautiful woman with a nice full posterior just wanting some love.
JOE WALSH – “Life’s Been Good” (1978)
Man, when you take a look back at the year 1978, you can’t but help realize what an incredible year it was for rock n’ roll music! Because so many great records came out that year, when this theme was presented to me, it was really hard to narrow it down to just two choices. Being a fan of guitar players, for my second choice, I picked Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” from his album But Seriously, Folks…
For me, Joe Walsh is one of those unsung guitar heroes. To many he may look, sound, and act funny, but the man can play guitar like nobody’s business. He is also a damn good songwriter.
“Life’s Been Good” remains Joe Walsh’s biggest solo hit to this day. One listen to the opening guitar lick and you’ll understand why. The song hooks you immediately, and doesn’t let go for over eight minutes. A bluesy, raunchy, nasty riff is complemented by captivating lyrics and a great melody. This is another song that paints the picture of the life of a rock star.
On “Life’s Been Good,” Walsh references some of his own escapades and experiences with his rock n’ roll buddies. He makes no apologies for his life of excess and rock n’ roll fun. And why would he? The man is living the dream, doing what he loves.
Walsh was always good at incorporating different styles into his music. It’s one of the things that separates him from a lot of others in rock. On “Life’s Been Good,” he does a stellar job of blending reggae elements with bluesy rock n’ roll riffs. This song and album were released while he still with The Eagles.
The man has had quite a career between The James Gang, The Eagles, and his solo career (where he’s released twelve studio albums). A very unassuming man, Walsh’s passion and love for music has taken him everywhere and allowed him to do everything. He definitely has lived the rock n’ roll lifestyle and all the excesses that come with it.
I love looking back at songs and artists. My hope is that it inspires others to go back and not only listen to the featured song, but also to check out the artists’ catalog of music. It’s a great way to re-discover all the incredible music from an artist and fall in love with it all over again. Sometimes you find yourself thinking…“Wow, they wrote that?” or “They played that song?”
Music is a time capsule for us all. It can take you back to any time period and allow you to experience that part of your life over and over again. Or better yet, experience life through the lens of other generations. Enjoy the experience!
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
RAINBOW – “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” (1978)
In a year chock-full of arena rock, 1978 saw the release of Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll, the last Rainbow album with Ronnie James Dio as their lead singer. The medieval fantasy vibe is in full effect for this album. No one was better at writing these lyrics and setting the tone for what was to come in metal than Dio.
At almost every family gathering, I bring up the fact that my older cousin saw the tour supporting Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll in New York in 1978. While she loves rock music, and keeps up with metal music on a peripheral level, I don’t know if she truly realizes that she has experienced what many of my music friends would have given their eye teeth to experience…seeing both Dio and Rainbow in their prime.
Dio, hungry and full of swagger, was superb on this album, firmly on his way to becoming the icon and rock legend that he is today.
The title track kicks off with Cozy Powell’s power drumming and Dio’s killer vocals. While there are other songs on this album that I love even more, I truly appreciate what I refer to as “mantra” songs (like “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll”). Rainbow was one of the iconic bands of the ‘70s that was most qualified to set forth this proclamation.
The decade to follow would see this statement come to fruition, both with Dio as lead singer of Black Sabbath and in his own solo career. His untimely death shook us all to the core, and his loss will always be acutely felt, especially when we are reminded of the sage words in the title of this classic track.
AC/DC – “Sin City” (1978)
AC/DC has suffered several setbacks in recent years, from Phil Rudd’s legal battles to Brian Johnson’s hearing loss, and most crushing of them all, the illness which ultimately led to the loss of Malcolm Young. However, their place in rock history is undeniable.
Listening to 1978’s Powerage album brings you back to the golden years of the Bon Scott era, before the band skyrocketed to international superstardom on a level that is unthinkable in today’s pop climate.
As great and classic as AC/DC is, if you’re being honest with yourself, how many more times can you possibly hear “Back in Black”, “Highway to Hell” and (especially), ” You Shook Me All Night Long”? They are played seemingly every hour on the hour on every classic rock radio station in America.
Powerage was released before any of those songs were burned into our collective consciousness. Song for song, this is still my favorite AC/DC album. Fortunately, with the ever-expanding presence of satellite radio, you can finally hear gems such as “Riff Raff” and “Up to My Neck in You” getting airplay. A welcome relief from hearing the same AC/DC songs over and over again.
Powerage only reached #133 at the time of its release in the United States, despite the fact that it is one of their best albums. Without a doubt, it is their most underrated. That is precisely the beauty of AC/DC, particularly with their early material. There are no power ballads, no experimental songs. I like to say that it’s “all killer, no filler.”
You get exactly what you want to hear from a heavy metal band. As Ozzy Osbourne (among others) have referred to AC/DC, they are a “meat and potatoes” band. On the rainy day that I wrote this, I just wanted to keep hitting replay. I still believe that rock rules, even if the charts don’t currently reflect it.