Music Over 40
Chapter 1: Let the journey begin ...
How do you do to all the ladies and gentleman, boys and girls and whatever may fall in between. If you are like me, you are over 40 and still love your rock and roll. And like me, whether you want to admit it or not, you are probably trapped in the thinking that they stopped making really good music after 1996 or so.
While this is obviously an overstatement, there is some truth to the fact that once we reach a certain age, we hunker down in our cultural, lead-lined bunker and wait for the good old days of music to return (possibly clutching a vinyl copy of "Dark Side of the Moon" for comfort)
The purposes of my musings here is to bring to light the good stuff, the forgotten gems, the guilty pleasures, the one shot classics and the tunes that have brought a smile to my face over the years. If I can lead someone to something they might have missed the first time around or remind someone of a classic album that has slipped into distant memory, great.
I am not a musician, an expert or a musical elitist. I enjoyed the first two Night Ranger albums as much as I liked the first two U2 albums. I like John Mellencamp as much as I like Bob Dylan. There is no right or wrong here, only the love of music and my lifelong knowledge as a music fan to share.
I am hoping to share my observations about three to four bands, genres, albums or songs per installment. I can only hope my lifetime of listening to this grand old beast we call rock and roll can lead others to music they might enjoy. Though I will tend to stick with Seventies through the Nineties, I may throw in something old or something new along the way.
One last caveat, if you have come this far. My purpose here is not to take a dump on music I don't care for. I'm not going to tell you this sucks or that is awful. All music has its place. If you are ready, let us begin.......
I wanted to start off with some kind words for recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, Rush. I am not sure there is a band out there that is as polarizing as this Canadian trio. From the first raw, hard rock of the 1974 self titled debut to the highly acclaimed 2012 song cycle "Clockwork Angels", this band continues to thrill long time fans with their chops, imagination and amazing live performances.
Their career has had numerous phases and forks in the road, but I still comes down to the interplay of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart that has stayed in tact for almost 40 years. Many long time fans think the last two studio albums, "Snakes & Arrows" and "Clockwork Angels" are among their best. I am still a sucker for the one two punch of "Permanent Waves" (incidentally the first album of the eighties, released on 1-1-80) and their biggest seller, "Moving Pictures" following in 1981. These two albums contained their last two long form epics (
Natural Science from PW and The Camera Eye from MP) but the FM classic rock staples are there: Spirit of Radio, Free Will, Entre Nous, Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta and Limelight. Each album contains a sleeper track that is worth a listen, Jacob's Ladder from PW and Witch Hunt from MP.
If you really want to unearth a hidden treasure from the early days, seek out the first live album "All The Worlds A Stage". Fiery live versions of Working Man, In The End, What You're Doing, Anthem and Something For Nothing more than offset the fact that this version of 2112 only includes 5 of the 7 parts.
For those wanting to experience later Rush, I would recommend checking out "Vapor Trails". This is a comeback album of sorts, as drummer Neil Peart dealt with some devastating personal losses in the years before this was released. Tracks like the title song, Earthshine and One Little Victory really stand out.
One last musical word before I close up this chapter. I wanted to submit for your approval eighties Welsh rockers, The Alarm. Very often, they were dismissed during their time as poor man's U2. Their first four albums "Declaration", "Strength", "Eye of the Hurricane" and "Change" are all worth seeking out. A live EP in the midst of this four album run titled "Electric Folklore" really sums up the bands sound (though it would evolve by the time "Change" came out to a more stadium friendly sound).
"Declaration" is the most acoustic based album of the four. Sixty Eight Guns, Blaze of Glory, Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke and Marching On are highlights. The acoustic and electric guitars of Mike Peters and David Sharp are at the forefront here. "Strength" moves in a bit more of a rock direction, with keyboards in the mix on the title track and Spirit of '76 though the acoustic roots are still there on Absolute Reality and Deeside. "Eye of the Hurricane" contains arguably the two biggest songs (particulary on American shores) of their career in Rescue Me and Rain in the Summertime. These are straight ahead commercial rock songs, definitely in step with Pop-rock world before Hair Metal took over. While this may have horrified long time fans, tracks like "Hallowed Ground" and "Newtown Jericho" had a bit more bite to them. "Change" definitely completed the trek towards Arena/Stadium rock territory, but it is not without merit. Sold Me Down The River is good straight ahead rock song. The Rock is uplifting and anthemic as is No Frontiers. Black Sun and Scarlet have a little bit more of a brooding edge and Rivers To Cross is a return of sorts to their Celtic/Folk Rock roots.
All things considered, they were very overlooked in their time. Their music was not steeped in the heavy reverb drums and high pitched preening vocals that were prevalent during this time, thus they don't sound quite as dated as many other bands during this era.
Well, that is all for this time. I apologize for my case of literary Elephantiasis, I will try to be more economical with my observations next time around the bend.
Good day and good listening!