Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 4/12/18
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 late ’60s.
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 – “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” (1977)
“I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday”…
The year was 1977. My parents had gone out for the evening, and left my siblings and me with a sitter, a girl from my neighborhood that was probably ten years older than me. At some point during the night, she took out the 45 single of “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” I can still picture the distinct orange label that was on all 45s released by Epic Records. I was drawn in by the opening guitar riff, and then mesmerized by the groove, the theatricality, and most of all, by Meat Loaf’s powerful vocals that were simultaneously engaging and scary (at least to my young ears). THIS was my introduction to rock and roll! Forty plus years later, and my rock and roll journey is still going strong.
While I was blown away by all of the different parts of this all-time classic, it wasn’t until my teenage years that I actually understood what the song was about. It didn’t stop me from belting out the lyrics that were above my head for years though. Back then, I didn’t have a female to sing the Ellen Foley parts, so I handled both parts.
Fast forward to the early ‘90s. “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” took on a whole new meaning as my wife (then girlfriend) and I would go back and forth taking on our respective roles in the song. It doesn’t matter that we weren’t great singers, what we lacked in the vocal prowess of Meat Loaf and Foley, we more than made up for with enthusiasm and unbridled joy. Little did I know that I had found much more than a duet partner!
“Paradise By The Dashboard Light” may have become a bit overplayed, but the song has never lost its luster for my wife or me. All these years later, we still sing it with the same passion when it comes on the radio. Of course, the kids cringe in the back seat of the car these days, but it doesn’t stop us. Although I won’t share the exact details in this forum, I am reminded today just how important this song is in our relationship two decades later.
The song that introduced me to rock and roll, Meat Loaf, and Jim Steinman, is without question, one of my favorites ever. From the brilliant, impassioned vocals to the epic musical accompaniment to the Phil Ruzzuto baseball call, this masterpiece only seems to get better with time. Of course, it helps that it is also a through line that connects my childhood to adulthood, but I suspect that many people my age feel the same way, even if the song doesn’t have the sentimental value that it does to me.
STYX – “Paradise” (1997)
The year was 1997. I was working at Billboard Magazine in the same Times Square building with the MTV offices and studios. Things were different back then. Times Square had character in a seedy kind of way that didn’t feel like a tourist attraction (especially at night). Not far away from our building was the BMG offices. Along with a handful of my colleagues, I made my way over to the BMG offices for a midday meet and greet with Styx.
The band was in town with their label (CMC International) promoting their live album, Return To Paradise. It featured songs from their reunion tour with Tommy Shaw, but it was bittersweet because of the passing of John Panazzo a year earlier. Although the album features mostly live versions of Styx classics, there were a handful of newly recorded studio tracks, including “Dear John” – a touching ballad written after the tragic loss of their longtime bandmate.
The new song that meant the most to me was “Paradise.” Like “Lady” many years earlier, this song was another perfect love song. Dennis DeYoung has an ability to bring the emotion out of a lyric out that is unlike other singers. Many vocalists soared into the upper register back then, but few could bring the theatrical quality like DeYoung. Complemented by the stellar vocal harmonies that Styx is known for, “Paradise” just hit on all cylinders. My wife (then girlfriend) and I absolutely loved this song, and knew that we would dance to it at our wedding one day.
That day finally came after being delayed by about a year after my best laid plans fell through. Although this was not our first dance, the song still holds a special place in both of our hearts to this day.
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
JOURNEY – “Stone In Love” (1981)
It’s been a long, cold, miserable winter in the Northeast, and much of the country for that matter. As I wrote this, it was actually snowing in mid-April. Music is one of the most important comforts in this never-ending landscape of grey skies. The one band that I often turn to for reassurance that spring is on the horizon is Journey.
In a recent conversation with a friend, we both agreed that we love Journey much more now than we ever did in the late ‘70s or during their chart reign in the ‘80s when we were teenagers. At the time, we fancied ourselves a little too cool for commercial arena rock. However, as we get older, and life becomes infinitely harder, I’ve come to not only appreciate the pure optimism of these songs, but to actively seek them out when I need a lift.
Some of the Journey songs that were minor hits for the band back in the day are now bonafide classics. I can think of very few bands that continue to grow in legend, fan base and success 30 plus years after the height of their popularity in the way that Journey has.
Far from a nostalgia act, Journey has not only retained the same level of incredible musicianship to this day, but performs with an energy and vitality usually reserved for much younger bands. Neal Schon is an American guitar legend that consistently delivers, and watching Steve Smith on drums is a true privilege. Arnel Pineda has had to fill the larger-than-life shoes of Steve Perry on tour, and does not disappoint. He makes it possible for this great band to continue to provide happiness on a nightly basis to their legions of grateful fans across the the world. I loved watching Steve Perry’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech where he praised Pineda’s talent, and essentially gave his blessing for him to continue carrying the band forward into the future.
Journey is touring with Def Leppard this summer. I’m thrilled that they are headlining Madison Square Garden (one of the world’s most iconic venues). They have not performed there in years, so I’m sure that it will be an unforgettable show with fans of all ages in attendance. It’s hard to think of a better way to kick off the summer of 2018, as Journey is synonymous with the carefree vibe of the season.
…“Those summer nights are calling.”
BILLY IDOL – “Eyes Without a Face”
Billy Idol simply screams ‘80s rock…the hair, the snarl, the leather, the good looks, the overall attitude, but mostly, it’s his music that endures. His image, along with a few others of that time period, is so closely associated with that era that you tend to forget that he put out so many great songs in a relatively short time period. My favorite of his many hits will always be “Eyes Without a Face.”
“Eyes Without a Face” is so clearly different than Idol’s other songs; it’s almost soulful in its beauty. The lyrics and the vocals are actually kind of dream-like, lulling you into a trancelike state…. that is, until you get to that incredible guitar riff of Steve Stevens that just takes you to another planet. Stevens may be one of the most underrated guitarists in rock. The guitar solo in this song showcases just how talented he is.
Idol and Stevens complement each other perfectly, and the video of a later performance of this song captures its power as well as how truly natural they sound together. Their unplugged versions of their other hits sound equally as good as the originals, and in some cases, better. Their VH-1 Storytellers is a classic, one to watch over and over again.
I saw Steve Stevens in a small New York City club performing with Sebastian Bach on vocals back in 2012. Simply put, he just blew the place away! Gifted and humble, Stevens played everything from flamenco to Hendrix to metal, completely captivating the audience. I am hoping to see Idol and Stevens together at some point in 2018 if they play in New York.