Vertical Smiles: Blackfoot

Rating: 50%

VerticalsmilesalbumSo, the 1980’s had no mercy for Southern Rock as the keyboards and pop music swooped in, taking over every music genre. Well, Blackfoot was no exception. Just as Molly Hatchet, Ted Nugent, and ZZ Top were trying to find there way, Blackfoot followed right behind.

Musically, the album begins with two covers that are very pop and alternative influenced. Lot’s of synthesizers. Where’s the Hard Rock you might ask? Well, it’s there, buried deep within the song structure. But, I can’t seem to hear it from the New Wave styles. “Git It On” is one of the better songs on the record, but it too is somewhat weak even though it has solos, riffs, and vocals. It fall victim to the 1980’s sound. I am really missing “Train, Train.”

The musicianship is lacking. Ricky Medlocke vocals are very mild. His guitar is very weak. Think of Kevin Bacon in the movie Footloose. Even the main riffs and solos are just not explosive. The rest of the band is following in Ricky’s steps. Disappointed.  

Track listing:

Side one
“Morning Dew” (Bonnie Dobson cover) – 5:27
“Living in the Limelight” (Peter Cetera cover) – 4:02
“Ride with You” – 3:33
“Get It On” – 4:29
Side two
“Young Girl” – 4:24
“Summer Days” – 3:19
“A Legend Never Dies” (RPM cover) – 3:03
“Heartbeat and Heels” – 3:15
“In for the Kill” – 3:50

Strikes: Blackfoot

Rating: 95%

Blackfoot_-_Strikes.jpgSo the year was 1979 and Blackfoot released “Strikes” which is by far one of my favorite records by this band. Most of Southern Rock was dead or it was changing drastically. After 1977 when the plain went down and with all of the styles of music about, Blackfoot was not ready to throw in the towel. Instead, they released one of the most kick ass, hard rocking, whiskey drench albums of their career

This album has plenty of sound fused with hard hitting riffs, leads, drumming, and harmonica. Rickey Medlocke and his vocals are top notch. Between his guitar and the guitar of Charlie Hargrett, they throw riff after riff followed by lead and solos all over this record. Even the song “Highway Song” which begins with some picking, turns into a racetrack at the end and the guitars just dance around. You throw in the drums of Jakson Spires and Greg T. Walker’s bass, you’ll have a band that is powerful, exciting, and energetic.  But Rickey’s grandfather, Shorty steals the spotlight with Blues influenced harmonica on the opening of “Train, Train.” 

Track listing:

1. “Road Fever” 3:07
2. “I Got a Line on You (Spirit cover)” 3:17
3. “Left Turn on a Red Light”  4:35
4. “Pay My Dues” (Blues Image cover) 3:03
5. “Baby Blue” 2:33
6. “Wishing Well” (Free cover) 3:11
7. “Run and Hide” 3:24
8. “Train, Train (prelude)” 0:36
9. “Train, Train” 2:56
10. “Highway Song” 6:50

No Guts…No Glory: Molly Hatchet

Rating: 90%

No_Guts...No_Glory_(Molly_Hatchet_album_-_cover_art).jpgThe South has risen once again with the 1983 Molly Hatchet release “No Guts…No Glory.” This record has plenty of dueling guitar leads, a powerful set of trio riffs, great drumming and fantastic vocals. It’s full throttle Hard Rock from start to finish. It features one of the best signature and jamming songs by the band called “Fall of the Peacemakers.”

The musicianship is perfectly formulated. Vocalist Danny Joe Brown is on top of the world and is in his prime. The trio of guitars are performed by Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland, and Duane Roland. Man, they can throw out the riffs and harmonize those leads like no other. Bassist Riff West and drummer Barry Borden are great setting the time and beats. This is Southern Rock with a hard edge with a dash of Country and Blue thrown into the mix. Southern Rock never sounded so good. 

Track listing:

Side one
“What Does It Matter?” – 3:33
“Ain’t Even Close” – 4:35
“Sweet Dixie” – 3:54
“Fall of the Peacemakers”  – 8:03
Side two
“What’s It Gonna Take?”  – 3:59
“Kinda Like Love” – 4:09
“Under the Gun” – 3:54
“On the Prowl” – 4:07
“Both Sides” – 5:08

At Fillmore East: The Allman Brothers

Rating: 100%

AllmanBrothersBandAtFillmoreEastI was sadden by the passing of Greg Allman which happened on May 27 of this year. I have been a fan ever since the mid 1980’s. Their music style has changed so much over their career, but I have often called them one of the best Blues Rock band out there who mixes their style with country, jazz, and rock.

In fact, “At Fillmore East” was one of those records that I wore out. I had the cassette and CD versions of the album. The Cd has lots more on it that the actual LP version. But, since I am listening to the vinyl version, that is one I am rating. The recording is very good. The sound is clear. It’s rich, it’s full, and it sounds very good.

The musicianship is outstanding.  I love how the band members improvise their instrumentation to take a five minute song and make it into a twenty minute song. That shows talent. Greg Allman’s vocals sound great in his prime. His organ work is just as good. Then you add the duel guitar work of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. WOW!!!! These guys know their way up and down on the neck of the guitars. Then you have the duel action of drums of Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks which gives the overall sound that fullness. Add the bass by Berry Oakley and you have an amazingly good line up of musicians.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Statesboro Blues” 4:17
2. “Done Somebody Wrong” 4:33
3. “Stormy Monday” 8:44
Side two
4. “You Don’t Love Me (“Joy to the World” medley in the ending portions)” 19:15
Side three
5. “Hot ‘Lanta” 5:17
6. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” 13:04
Side four
7. “Whipping Post” 23:03

Molly Hatchet: Molly Hatchet

Rating: 85%

Molly_Hatchet_-_Molly_Hatchet.jpgIn 1978, the legends of Southern Rock, Molly Hatchet released their debut record. I was lucky enough to find this record in an antique store bin for $4.00. The record features the classic line up consisting of vocalist Danny Joe Brown, guitarist Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland, and Duane Roland, bassist Banner Thomas, and drummer Bruce Crump. So the musicianship is top notch.

Not as heavy as the album moving forward, this album is pretty good musically. Lots of good harmonies and mid level tempos. Song structures are well done with some outstanding riffs and lead solos. The vocal work is amazing.

Some of my all time favorite songs on this record are “Gator Country”, “The Creeper”, and “Dreams I’ll Never See.” “Gator Country” pays tribute to the previous Southern Rockers like Elvin Bishop, Charlie Daniels, and the Marshall Tucker Band. The way the song is written, it explores the majority of the areas where southern rockers wrote about, such as “Sweet Home Alabama” by  Lynyrd Skynyrd. Here is where Molly Hatchet actually makes fun of the state by saying there’s nothing to see in Alabama. However, the Outlaws’s song “Green Grass and Hide Tides” which refers to St Augustine, FLA and how Molly Hatchet agrees with the descriptions of the their song.  “Dreams I’ll Never See” a song written and performed by the Allman Brothers is a fantastic cover.

This album is a fine Southern Rock album that has plenty to offer whether you’re into Country music to Rock n’ Roll.

 

Track listing:

Side one
“Bounty Hunter” – 2:58
“Gator Country”  – 6:17
“Big Apple”  – 3:01
“The Creeper”  – 3:18
“The Price You Pay”  – 3:04
Side two
“Dreams I’ll Never See”  – 7:06
“I’ll Be Running” – 3:00
“Cheatin’ Woman” – 3:36
“Trust Your Old Friend”  – 3:55

Strong Stuff: Hank Williams Jr

Rating: 90%

StrongStuff.jpg“Strong Stuff” released in 1983 by Hank Williams Jr. is one of my all time favorites country records by Hank Jr. It’s a collection of songs that are heavier, leaning toward Southern Rock. You can hear it on “La Grange” and “Blue Jean Blues”, both of which are ZZ Top songs and the “Made in the Shade” which is a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Some of the other songs that Hank wrote like “Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight” and “In the Arms of Cocaine” too are heavier than some of his previous songs.

The songs structure are nicely done. This album surely is one of Hank Jr.’s classic albums. The entire album is very enjoyable to listen to. “Leave Them Boys Alone” features Waylon Jennings and Ernest Tubb on backing vocals. “A Whole Lot of Hank” pay tribute to Jr.’s father Hank Sr., while “In the Arms of Cocaine” deals with the issues of drug use by two lovers.

Track listing:

1.”Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight” 2:36
2.”La Grange” 5:21
3.”A Whole Lot of Hank” 2:55
4.”Made in the Shade” 4:35
5.”Leave Them Boys Alone” 3:36
6.”The Girl on the Front Row at Fort Worth” 2:38
7.”The Homecoming Queen”4:22
8.”Blue Jean Blues” 4:07
9.”Twodot Montana” 2:39
10.”In the Arms of Cocaine” 4:08

Izzy Stradlin & and the Ju Ju Hounds

Rating: 80%

Izzy_Stradlin_&_the_Ju_Ju_HoundsIn 1991, Izzy Stradlin left Guns N’ Roses and formed his own band. For his first solo release in 1992, he incorporated many influences from rock, blues, punk and yes, some reggae. I have always admired Izzy every since he was in GNR. On his first solo record here, Izzy plays guitar and is the lead vocalist. He is joined by Ricky Richards, formally of Georgia Satellites on lead guitar, Jimmy Ashhurst on bass and Charlie Quintana on drums.

Musically, this is an enjoyable album to listen to. It has several tempos changes throughout the entire album. It has plenty of harmony and melody. Izzy has a great team of musicians. As a song writer and composer, he still writes quality songs as he did when he was in GNR.

The album begins with “Somebody Knockin'” which has a strong blues rock feeling. “Pressure Drop” has a strong pink feeling. Rather than reinvent the ballads, Izzy using straight forward blues and southern rock for his slower songs such as in the song “Shuffle It All”  or “How Will It Go.” Some parts in these songs have a country music feel to it as well. Production is good. There are some nice riffs and leads. All instrumentation is well done. One thing is for sure, Izzy would have a bright future ahead of him.

Track listing:

“Somebody Knockin” – 3:27
“Pressure Drop”  – 2:42
“Time Gone By”  – 3:47
“Shuffle It All” – 6:19
“Bucket o’ Trouble”  – 2:10
“Train Tracks”  – 4:27
“How Will It Go?”  – 3:51
“Cuttin’ the Rug”  – 5:01
“Take a Look at the Guy”  – 4:45
“Come on Now Inside” – 6:58
“Morning Tea” (hidden bonus track, starts 4:26 into track 10)