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)
IRON MAIDEN – “The Clairvoyant” (1988)
After six studio albums, Iron Maiden had no specific ideas for what would eventually become 1988’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. According to bassist (and primary songwriter) Steve Harris…
“It was our seventh studio album and I didn’t have a title for it or any ideas at all. Then I read the story of the seventh son (by Orson Scott Card), this mystical figure that was supposed to have all of these paranormal gifts, like second sight. At first, it was just a good title for a seventh album, but then I rang Bruce (Dickinson), and started talking about it and the idea just grew.”
Though this album is not what most Maiden fans would consider to be one of their most important, it may have been responsible for staving off Dickinson’s eventual departure. When many of his ideas for 1986’s Somewhere In Time were rejected by Harris, Dickinson started to feel like he was just a singer in the band. The collaboration that took place on Seventh Son reenergized Dickinson. Years later, Dickinson admitted that he felt that the band “almost” did something great with the half-concept album…
The singer shared…“Seventh Son has no story. It’s about good and evil, heaven and hell, but isn’t every Maiden album?”
Although Maiden is arguably the leader of the NWOBHM movement, they resented the fact that Americans felt that the album, with synthesizers and progressive elements, sounded like “European metal.”
As a fan of European metal, progressive rock and Iron Maiden, I personally had no problem with the direction that the band took on Seventh Son. You have to imagine that every studio album by the band is labor-intensive because of the elements that they bring to the table lyrically. Writing about personal experience is much easier than coming up with stories based upon history and other works by a wide array of influencers.
“The Clairvoyant” was the first song written for Seventh Son. According to Harris, the song was inspired by the death of psychic Doris Stokes, after which he pondered whether she could foresee her own death. This led to the title track, where the main character was given the power of clairvoyance.
For many years, the lyrics have drawn me into this song, but as I listened to it again recently, it gave me a new appreciation for the composition which pushed the envelope beyond the typical Maiden sound. While the chorus features the signature Maiden gallop, the rest of the song is more of the progressive metal variety. Three decades later, “The Clairvoyant” still resonates with me as much as the band’s classics.
CINDERELLA – “Coming Home” (1988)
As the saying goes…“you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Back in 1986, when Cinderella made their debut with Night Songs, they were justifiably labeled as a “hair band.” Not only did their sound fit in to the category, but the album cover is dripping with glam and big hair. If ever there was a Trojan Horse in hard rock history, Night Songs was it. Aside from Tom Keifer’s unique vocal style, the album didn’t represent what the band was truly about at their core.
With a successful debut under their belts, the real Cinderella came to the forefront on their follow-up album, 1988’s Long Cold Winter. Their hair was still big, but their sound was no longer “hair metal.” The songs on the band’s sophomore effort are of the well-crafted, blues rock variety.
Unlike their debut album cover, which oozed glam, their second album features a simple white cover with a purple logo. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but in Cinderella’s case, each of their first two album covers told a story before you ever listened to one track.
“Coming Home” is probably be labeled by most as a power ballad, but that’s only because of the time period from which it came. The fact of the matter is that the song is a brilliant, emotional, blues rock track with piano used to add layers to the song rather than to provide a slow intro leading to a bombastic crescendo.
Is it possible for an artist to be well-known for a particular era and still vastly underrated? In Cinderella’s case, the answer is a resounding YES! Listen to “Coming Home” again without labeling it a “hair band” song, and you’ll end up with a new appreciation for what this band had to offer.
If not for their “hair band” label, and all bands like this taking on the role of the metaphorical baby being thrown out with the bath water, we might be talking about Cinderella as one of the great rock bands of all-time. Unfortunately for them, this Cinderella story didn’t have a happy Hollywood ending.
CRIMSON GLORY – “Lonely” (1988)
When most people think of Crimson Glory these days, their first thoughts probably go towards Todd La Torre (who transitioned from the band to replacing Geoff Tate in Queensrÿche). However, La Torre was only the singer in Crimson Glory from 2010–2013. Long before La Torre was the singer in either band, Crimson Glory featured another frontman who drew comparisons to Tate.
Back in 1988, John Patrick McDonald Jr. was an incredible vocalist with soaring range who simply referred to himself as Midnight. Though supremely talented, Midnight never rose to fame with Crimson Glory or in the years following (with other projects) before his untimely passing in July of 2009 of a stomach aneurysm.
Crimson Glory’s sophomore release, Transcendence, is considered by most to be the band’s finest work. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember the whole album very well (even though I still have the CD). However, it’s hard to think of many songs from 1988 that I liked as much as “Lonely.”
Back when the song was released, it would have definitely been labeled “hair metal,” but if this same song came out today, it would fit perfectly with other European power metal releases. Listening to this song 30 years later still brings back great memories.
BON JOVI – “Born To Be My Baby” (1988)
The release of Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album in 1988 took the band to new heights in a decade that saw them climb steadily from regional favorites to one of the most successful rock bands in the U.S. While 1986’s Slippery When Wet produced the iconic “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer,” their next album would serve to strengthen their stature by yielding an abundance of solid hits that continue to sustain their live shows almost thirty years later.
Bon Jovi’s ‘80s songs are pretty straightforward working-class rock anthems, nothing too deep or complex for the most part. But these same songs have had strong staying power and bring to mind great memories. When you see the band perform them in concert, the audience enthusiastically sings every lyric as they relive great moments from their youth. It is almost impossible not to feel good when you hear any of the songs from New Jersey.
The New Jersey album also gave us an inside glimpse into the brotherhood between the band members, most notably between Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Their harmonies are both spot-on and heartfelt. “Born To Be My Baby” (and the accompanying video) capture the true spirit of the band and their camaraderie. Watching it today brings back the happiness of the “big hair” glory days for both the band and their fans. It was the last of their “good-time” albums before they went on to conquer more goals and venture into more creative territory.
It was gratifying to see Bon Jovi inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2018 after several years of eligibility. While they have never been a critic favorite, they are undeniably a fan favorite. All one has to do is to read Jon Bon Jovi’s reflective speech and it will tell you all you need to know about their story.
The good times did not last forever, however. As a fan, it has been painful to watch the estrangement between Sambora and the rest of the band over the last few years because the appeal of their songs (as well as their live shows) is closely intertwined with their deep bonds of friendship.
I have seen Bon Jovi twice in the last eight years, the first being in 2010 when New Jersey’s favorite sons opened the new Meadowlands stadium. It was a joyous homecoming for the band and their devoted fans. The second time was last year at Madison Square Garden. While the show was outstanding, Sambora was sorely missed. It is my hope that they all come together again in the future.
GUNS N’ ROSES – “You’re Crazy” (1988)
After Guns N’ Roses exploded onto the hard rock landscape in 1987, with quite possibly the greatest debut album of all-time in Appetite For Destruction, we were all hooked and hungry for more. In retrospect, 1998’s G N’ R Lies more than satisfied this craving as it introduced us to other facets of the band…the sweetness of “Patience,” the pure evil of “One In A Million”, the dark humor of “Used to Love Her” and the vitality of their live performances (as well as a great cover) in “Mama Kin.” All of this in just a 33-minute EP.
My favorite from this EP was an acoustic version of the previously released “You’re Crazy.” The electric version on Appetite For Destruction gets lost on that album because (for me) it just doesn’t stand out amongst all of the other stellar tracks. It is fast and frenetic with a punk sound. While it is still a great song, it works so much better as an acoustic track, as it was originally written, on G N’ R Lies.
The acoustic version of “You’re Crazy” on G N’ R Lies, is a looser and funkier jam with a blues feel. Axl’s vocals are perfect, and full of self-assured swagger. You can also hear the nuances of Slash’s guitar work, as well as Steven Adler’s drums which helped give the band its original sound.
There are four versions of “You’re Crazy” on the newly released Appetite For Destruction (Super Deluxe). Surprisingly, the acoustic version from G N’ R Lies isn’t one of them. Still, the new compilation is a must-have for any Guns N’ Roses fan. It is a not only a confirmation of their immense talent when they were at the top of their game, but a true reminder as to why you became a GNR fan in the first place.
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