Rock And Roll Time Machine –
Rock And Roll 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 Rock And Roll Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
QUIET RIOT – “Mental Health” (1983)
For many American kids, Quiet Riot was a new band that burst onto the scene in 1983 with a vengeance. The band’s Metal Health album quickly became a staple for all heavy metal fans of the era. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the band had actually been around for nearly a decade, or that Metal Health was actually their third album (the first two were only released in Japan).
Eventually, we would all learn that Randy Rhoads was the original guitar player in the band, and that the song “Thunderbird” from their 1983 release was written as a tribute to him after his tragic passing. While “Thunderbird” remains a personal favorite, (as well as their cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”), it was the title cut of their first U.S. album that drew me in, due in large part to the video on MTV (the iconic album cover brought to life).
Quiet Riot had albums before and after Metal Health, but without question, their pinnacle came 35 years ago when they released one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all-time. I still remember sleeping over my friend’s house and listening to this album over and over again. To this day, it is one of the defining albums of my youth.
ZEBRA – “Tell Me What You Want” (1983)
Once upon a time, in an era that we will never experience again, we became fans of a band just from hype or friends’ recommendations. By the time that Zebra’s debut album came out in 1983, I was clamoring to get it on the first day (even though I had never heard any of their music). The band, whose roots are in Louisiana, but was quickly adopted as “Long Island’s own,” had created such a fever pitch with their live shows that the album release was a major event.
Since I was too young to go to bars and clubs at that time, I only knew about Zebra from the hype of older friends. I still remember handing my friend $8 for the album that he picked up for me with his older brother on the day of its release. I ran right upstairs to experience what all the hype was about. I was not disappointed!
The first track on the album, “Tell Me What You Want,” is the only song that ever really got any attention beyond Long Island and Louisiana. For many, Zebra may feel like something of a one-hit wonder, but if you were a rock fan growing up on Long Island in the ‘80s, this power trio ranked right up there with the icons of the decade. For my money, they are still the most underrated rock band of all-time.
Zebra’s self-titled debut album is still one of my favorites to this day (35 years later). There is plenty to love about their subsequent releases as well, but sadly, most people have never heard any of it.
Long before there was such a thing as Greta Van Fleet, there was Zebra. Their sound was definitely influenced by Led Zeppelin, but it was their own. However, they proudly wear their love of Zeppelin on their sleeves. When they are not playing their original music, they play entire Zeppelin sets as well as the legends themselves. That may sound like sacrilege, but having seen it firsthand, I can tell you that it is nothing short of amazing.
Ironically, in today’s times, Zebra could change their name to a Zeppelin song and probably make more money as a tribute band than they ever made as an original.
Still, when I think back to 1983, Zebra is one of the first bands that comes to mind. Their underappreciated eponymous debut album is a major part of the soundtrack of my life.
DIO – “Holy Diver” (1983)
1983 is the year that Dio (the band) released their debut album. It was also the year that I discovered Ronnie James Dio. During the heyday of metal in the ‘80s, RJD was the undisputed leader of the genre. He embodied everything that you could have possibly wanted to hear in a rock vocalist. His incredible range, boundless energy, and medieval lyrics appealed to a whole new generation of metal lovers. As a teenager of the early ‘80s, there was no one that was cooler than RJD to me.
The Holy Diver album brought Dio widespread solo fame as he built a passionate fanbase. After discovering his solo work, I went back to check out his work with Black Sabbath and Rainbow. The albums that featured him on vocals quickly became my favorites. Dio’s unforgettable, unmistakable style will live on for years to come.
In hindsight, what was so great about Dio’s first solo album was that, for all of its dark themes, it was both strong and positive. His stellar band members were all at the top of their respective games; a young and hungry Vivian Campbell, veteran drummer Carmine Appice, as well as what would become his longtime partnership with bassist Jimmy Bain.
It was clear that Dio had hit his stride and was in full control of his music and his destiny on Holy Diver. He made you a believer; reassuring that you would make it through many of the obstacles that life would inevitably throw your way. The messages in his songs are universal and timeless.
As they years have passed, Dio’s legend has only grown, both in stature and influence. When you hear the opening notes to the song “Holy Diver,” no matter how many times you have heard it, it still gives you chills and stops you in your tracks. The Holy Diver album has become iconic, a metal template if you will, containing tremendous songs that sound as fresh and heavy today it did 35 years ago when it was released.
Dio continued to release great music until his untimely passing in 2010. He is deeply missed by his fellow musicians and fans alike. I am most grateful that his incredible body of work lives on, continuing to appeal to legions of metal fans, both old and new.
U2 – “40” (1983)
1983 was the year that U2 conquered the United States. While their first two albums were known to an alternative rock audience, it was the War album and the supporting tour that brought their music to the masses. In addition, the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, helped to establish U2 as one of the most successful rock bands of the ‘80s (and every decade since).
The War album was recorded at a time when Ireland was embroiled in political turmoil and a violent 30-year conflict (commonly referred to as “the Troubles”). It was released in the wake of the early ‘80s hunger strikes which were watched intently worldwide (particularly in the United States, because of the number of Irish immigrants and their children).
The emotion of U2’s music was palpable, with straightforward lyrics that appealed to listeners by painting vivid images of injustice and the pain of an ongoing war with no end in sight.
“40” is a poignant (and ultimately uplifting) song which ends the album with a message of hope and unity. While many of the other songs on the War album are bold and forthright, “40” is not overly powerful, but equally as potent as the rest of the album.
It was their live performance of the song from 1983, and the captivating effect that it had on their audiences, that made it stand out for fans like me.
One of my all-time favorite concert memories was U2’s show in June of ’83 at Pier 84 in NYC. The band was on the cusp of becoming huge in the U.S. My college friends and I happened upon some inexpensive tickets to see the band that would become one of our favorites.
Of course, we had no way of knowing how important this tour would come to be, and how we would never again be able to see U2 again in such a small venue. The show itself – against the backdrop of the Hudson River sunset – was magical, and the band, young and passionate. “40” ended the show as an earnest, ethereal anthem that had fans singing right along to its simple hymnal lyrics.
I was most fortunate to have seen this band at that moment in time. While I would see U2 again in future years, it would be in a different light. The memory of this show is still fresh in my mind almost 35 years later, and one that I hold especially dear to my heart.
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