Night Ranger- Dawn Patrol (1982): 17 September 2019

Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol (1982)

Another week and another album on YDCS! We’re taking a foray into the 1980s today with the debut album from Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol. This act out of California was best known for some of the biggest rock hits of the 80s in “Sister Christian,” and the first song on this album, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” featuring a heavy rock sound that was anthemic at the time but trended towards mainstream at the end of the decade. By the end of the 80s, a host of acts that included Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Ratt, Winger, and Bon Jovi.

Like a lot of people, I was only really familiar with the band’s biggest hits like the ones previously mentioned, “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “When You Close Your Eyes.” I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised to find that Dawn Patrol features that exact same heavy rock sound throughout the album. I dislike when albums feature the same sound across every song. If a song is meant to be a single act or story I understand it and actually like it, but when every song is about something different and sounds exactly the same as the one before it, I have about a two-song tolerance for that before I start getting irritated. My chief complaint with Dawn Patrol is that it falls into this trap. It has a few good songs on it, but the ordering and large amount of filler ends up hurting the album as a whole. There are still some bright spots and the self-titled song “Night Ranger” was a pleasant surprise, but the album left some to be desired. Let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Don’t Tell Me You Love Me: “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was born destined to be a big hit and nails all the marks for a power rock track. Big guitars, big harmonies, big solos, and generally insubstantial lyrics. I enjoy this song a lot, but like most of the songs on the album, I would classify them as ‘fun’ not ‘good’ from a musical standpoint. Many of the songs don’t display much musicianship and play to man’s more base listening preferences. Having said that, this track does it so well that it almost crosses the line from ‘fun’ to ‘good,’ and that takes chops. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sing Me Away: I like that this second song on the album, while decidedly more downtempo than the first, feels more technical than the first. The chorus is a joy to listen to and I enjoy the vocal harmony that the band uses here; it gives the song more depth and makes it more interesting. Not a bad one! Dad’s Rating 6/10

At Night She Sleeps: Unusually, I don’t have any strong opinions about a song. “At Night She Sleeps” just sounds like any other power rock song from the early 80s. It’s not particularly special and easily forgettable. This is a hallmark of album filler. It’s not bad, just neutral. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Call My Name: As power ballads go, this is a pretty good one! The buildups through the verses are adequate and the choruses are loud and passionate. I wish that there was more energy behind the song though. Everything feels a little flat and forced in a way. A power ballad should inspire you and make you want to cry and rock out at the same time. While “Call My Name” hits the marks from a technical perspective, it’s the passion that’s lacking.  Dad’s Rating 6/10

Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight: I will give “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” credit for one thing and that’s making me remember “He like to rock, he like to roll,” and having that stuck in my head. Otherwise, I find the lead vocals grating on this track and there’s not enough interesting instrumentation to hold my attention. It’s on this point in the album when all of the power rock starts to blend together into something that resembles the soundtrack from Heavy Metal. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Can’t Find Me A Thrill: “Can’t Find Me A Thrill” suffers from the same problem that we’ve been running into up to this point, it sounds exactly like the rest of the album and there’s no break or identifying features that make it stand out. If you’ve been listening along, you could skip this song at this point and not be any worse for wear. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Young Girl In Love: I was hopeful that “Young Girl In Love” would bring something new to the table. A ballad, an instrument that isn’t a guitar playing power chords, anything. I was disappointed. The sparks of hope here are that there can only be so much power metal on three more songs on the album and the vocal harmonies on the chorus break up the song the tiniest smidgen. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Play Rough: A BREAK FROM POWER CHORDS!! Nevermind…Dad’s Rating 3/10

Penny: I actually like “Penny!” Where a lot of the songs on the album could be classified as filler material, “Penny” feels like a well-planned out song from the beginning. In the first few seconds I sensed more musicality here than I had on a lot of the songs from that short guitar solo, and it actually reminded me of songs similar to what Duran Duran or Def Leppard would record. This is power rock done right. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Night Ranger: We’re finishing the album with something that sounds different! The syncopated melody and keyboard melody that appears throughout the track helps break this song up from the other songs on the album. The transition to a pseudo-speed metal track towards the end is a fun little twist and interesting way to end the album too. It might be a little while before I take on another power rock album, but this has been an interesting experiment to see where Night Ranger came from and what else they were capable of on their first album.

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Heart- Little Queen (1977): 9 September 2019

Heart – Little Queen (1977)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! I hope you enjoyed Boston last week. This week we’re going one year past the release of Boston to 1977 and the second studio release from Heart, Little Queen. Following the success of their first album, Dreamboat Annie, that was largely based on the success of its singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You,” there was a breakdown between the band and their label. Ultimately it came down to a difference in contract negotiations that led the band to sign with a new label for this album. Their old label still released another Heart album without the band using incomplete studio recordings that would become the third studio release, Magazine. Because of this, Heart had two albums on the charts at the same time, although Little Queen outsold Magazine handily. Little Queen spawned the band’s biggest hit, “Barracuda,” and solidified Heart as a major player in the hard rock genre. The album went multi-platinum and the band went on to create thirteen more albums, although none quite as successful as this one.

Little Queen surprised me. I didn’t expect to find much that I would like other than “Barracuda” since that’s the one Heart song that everyone knows, but I ended up finding so much more. There are a LOT of deep cuts on this album that deserve a listen and are going into my rotation, most notably “Dream of the Archer” and “Little Queen,” and to a lesser extent, “Say Hello.” All three of them are unique in their musicality, and I didn’t think I would like a ballad like “Dream of the Archer” as much as I did. It’s absolutely beautiful in its execution and I’m going to remember the vocals from that for a long time to come. This is also another one of those albums that is best listened to in one sitting in order. A lot of the songs flow from one right into the next seamlessly and breaking them up ruins the experience. Please enjoy this offering from Heart, and I hope you find a new favorite deep cut!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Barracuda: What a powerhouse of a song to start an album off with! “Barracuda” is an absolute classic and everything I like to hear in a rock song. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it’s driving, and it’s iconic. Ann Wilson’s vocals are shatteringly good and are matched equally by Nancy Wilson’s stampeding guitar part. This is a top-notch way to start an album. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Love Alive: “Love Alive” is one of those hidden gem songs that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you were a Heart fan; I know this was my first time hearing it. This is right up there as one of the best songs on the album. “Love Alive” is a dynamic song that starts out with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece and toned back vocals before building into a faster tempo rock song. Of note is the little acoustic riff every time Ann sings “Keep my love alive.” That’s a fantastic little part that you hear throughout the song. High marks for “Love Alive.” This is definitely worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sylvan Song: “Love Alive” flows right into “Sylvan Song,” and I would almost consider them one in the same. This is a complete instrumental piece that ultimately plays into “Dream of the Archer.” The guitar on this is beautiful and elegant, and the use of the synthesizer in the background towards the end gives it a real depth of building presence. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Dream of the Archer: This is the third song to flow into one another, and I place it slightly above “Love Alive,” but not quite enough to earn a 9. “Dream of the Archer” is a beautiful piece that almost seems to be inspired by medieval music thanks to the contribution of the autoharp. Ann’s vocals crescendo and decrescendo throughout the piece, matched by the more and less frantic strumming on Nancy’s guitar, almost as if they’re taking you through a journey or a ‘dream.’ What an apt name for a song! The guitar piece stands out again on this track. It’s both light and powerful in its delivery at the same time. The soft vocal harmonies throughout the track lend credence to the musicality of the song. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Kick It Out: We’re back to a more traditional hard rock sound with “Kick It Out.” This is an average rock song and there’s not much to make it stand out. In a way, this track is a disappointment in the vocal department. We’ve heard Ann belt it out on other songs, and that makes this feel like a lackluster performance. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Little Queen: This is one of my favorite songs on the whole album. Period. I’ve had this song on repeat for the whole week! The album’s namesake (and hidden gem in a way) delivers with a funky, bass-driven track and some smoky vocals. All I can say is sit back and prepare to relax. It’s not as ‘hard rock’ as “Barracuda,” but it’s musically dynamic and fun to listen to! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Treat Me Well: “Treat Me Well” is a stripped back ballad and is the only song on the album that Ann Wilson doesn’t sing lead vocals for, instead handing over the microphone to her sister. There’s honestly not a lot to say about this song. This is a simple ballad that I’ll forget about by the end of the album. It’s boring and doesn’t stand up to the rest of the slower tracks on the album. It’s not bad, just forgettable.  Dad’s Rating 4/10

Say Hello: This song intrigued me on first listen, then again on second and third listens. There’s a really unique syncopation going on here (music that’s played on the off-beat as opposed to the on-beat) that gives it a jumpy, positive sound. “Say Hello” almost has a latin flair working for it, and it’s like nothing I’ve heard on a rock album yet. This is a cool, off-kilter song that deserves a listen for its uniqueness, and it might become one of my favorites in time. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Cry To Me: We’re back to ballads, but Ann has taken the lead again. I think that’s for the best honestly. Ann’s voice is much more dynamic and capable than Nancy’s. Even though this song has a similar tempo to “Treat Me Well” (which often makes me lose interest to be completely honest), “Cry To Me” is much more memorable. The high notes that Ann hits are beautiful in their lightness, and I could listen to them all day long. This is a memorable ballad. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Go On Cry: Two songs about crying, let’s do it. “Go On Cry” is another song that is a continuation of its former song. “Cry To Me” leaves us at a lull that the final song on the album takes two minutes to build in to, and the buildup through this track is so well done. The backing vocals give what would normally be a funky buildup a hauntingly funky feeling. I give a shout out to the drums for the jazzy, fast-paced, driving rhythm that they’ve developed. That’s really cool to hear over melting vocals and a wailing guitar. I’m particularly fond of how the album leaves you with a sense of quiet completion at the end of this song. Not every album needs to have a big finish, and Heart prove that it can be done here. They build up just to pull it back down and fade out. That’s unique and I’ll remember that for a while. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Boston-Boston (1976): 2 September 2019

Boston – Boston (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! This week we’re listening to one of the biggest debut albums ever released, the self-titled album Boston. While not as prolific as their contemporaries, Boston made up for their smaller catalog with incredibly high-quality albums and infectious songs that receive more than their fair share of radio play to this day. Boston was released in the year 1976, and I would posit that this album was one of the two released in 1976 that was responsible for bringing rock music from the outskirts of the music scene to the mainstream, the other being Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band. Think about rock music prior to 1976 and after 1976. 1976 was acts as a divider between the second generation of rock, led by acts like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, and the third generation which was characterized by the big arena rock acts like Twisted Sister, Poison, Bon Jovi, KISS, and Van Halen. Although many of the albums from the second generation were chart-toppers, rock started getting more attention thanks to albums like Boston.

Boston is a classic arena rock album and there isn’t a single bad song on the record either. Every song fits together perfectly, one into the next, there’s a demonstrated high level of instrumentation, the songs are dynamic, and they ROCK! The band made extensive use of vocal harmonization, big guitar solos, and backing keyboards that would start to come to the front of rock bands over the next few years as rock started to be influenced by New Wave. Despite this, many of their songs have calm elements that bring the listener through the highs and lows of the song with the band, and this dynamicism is why I think the band is so popular; they illicit an emotional response between the highs and lows from the listener, going from anticipation in the calmer sections to rocking out. Boston managed to put together one of the best-selling debut albums of all time and didn’t drop off afterwards, but this week please enjoy their self-titled debut, Boston.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

More Than a Feeling: We’re starting the album off with a big one, “More Than a Feeling.” This song does what every good debut album should do; give the listener an idea about what they’re going to be listening to! “More Than a Feeling” is a perfect example of Boston’s sound; calm, strummed lows, energetic highs played with big riffs, and vocal harmonization. It all adds up to a big track and a classic rock legend. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Peace of Mind: “Peace of Mind” is one of the best songs on the album. Period. Take everything that was good in “More Than a Feeling” and turn it up to 11. “Peace of Mind” feels like the more refined version of “More Than a Feeling,” and I would be willing to bet that it’s because they sped the tempo up a bit for this song. This is an easy listening, feel-good song that is perfect for blasting on your next car trip when your getting away from it all for some ‘peace of mind.’ Dad’s Rating 10/10

Foreplay/Long Time: Do you remember when I said that “Peace of Mind” was one the best songs on the album, I had to say ‘one of’ because it shares an album with a monster of a song in “Foreplay/Long Time.” This is Boston. This is what they stand for and what they sound like. If you ever had to explain this band to your friend from another planet who’s never heard them, this is the song you play. Musically this song is practically perfect. The long intro teases you along until launching into the first of two massive guitar solos on the song. The strummed choruses provide the perfect amount of breathing room between big (and I mean big) verses. The vocals are blisteringly powerful and only slightly tempered by the vocal harmonies. “Foreplay/Long Time” may just be one of the best rock songs ever written. High highs and low lows, this song takes you through them all. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Rock & Roll Band: “Rock & Roll Band” doesn’t get as much love as the first three songs on the album or the song that follows it up, “Smokin’,” but it rocks just as well as the others. I prefer this song over “More Than a Feeling” to be completely honest. I think the energy is better, both in terms of the vocals and instrumentation, and I think the guitar solo is better. Just my personal preference! Dad’s Rating 9/10

Smokin’: Can you believe that you’ve listened to over half the record already?! That’s the magic of Boston, you lose track of time because of how good the songs are! “Smokin’” is another one of those songs where everything comes together perfectly. As an added bonus, there’s a solid keyboard solo too, which is worth point out since we haven’t heard the keyboard take that leading role yet on the album. This is another top-notch song with that classic Boston sound. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Hitch a Ride: “Hitch a Ride” is one of the weakest songs on the album, and I think it’s because we’ve been bombarded with massive arena rock songs up to this point and a song that’s more of a ballad than a rocker is just a bit jarring. It’s certainly not because Boston’s sound doesn’t translate well into a ballad, because they did a great job of it here, and I can’t fault the track ordering for the first five songs because it’s absolutely amazing the way that it is. The song does build throughout, showing fantastic musicianship to make a ballad interesting and engaging, but I wish it showed a little more catchiness and memorability. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Something About You: If you’ve learned anything up to this point, then it’s don’t trust the first 20 seconds of a Boston song. “Something About You” is a return to that fantastic sound that we’ve heard all throughout the album, but transitions nicely from “Hitch a Ride” with that soft opening. Nothing more to say here, this is another great song! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Let Me Take You Home Tonight: At first, I wasn’t sure how “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” fit into the picture with its Western-style opening, but that’s a great cover for a soft ballad. I much prefer this to “Hitch a Ride.” It addresses all of my complaints about looking for something catchier and more memorable. The western sound actually doesn’t feel that out of place either and is incorporated nicely with a beautiful vocal harmony (one of the best on the album). And it wouldn’t feel right if the song didn’t spiral up into a big finale full of freewheelin’ guitars, so they did it. I’m particularly fond of how this is the closing song on the record. “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” is just about as fitting as they come to close out a record. Well played. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Jethro Tull-Thick as a Brick (1972): 26 August 2019

Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo after a week off. I was travelling for work this past week and didn’t get a chance to prepare a review in advance, but hopefully I’m making up for it with a good one! This week we’re covering one of my “Desert 10 Albums” (more on those in another article!); Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. For the un-initiated, Jethro Tull are a still active English, progressive rock group led by front man and lead flautist (flute player), Ian Anderson. The band has shifted styles throughout their active years and have covered almost every genre out there, leading them to infamously win the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance over Metllica’s …And Justice For All, and Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking! Remember, this band has a lead flautist…that’s all I’m saying!

During their peak in the early 1970s, Jethro Tull released their commercially successful fourth studio album, Aqualung. The lead single was a massive hit and is still played on classic rock radio to this day. At the time, critics described the album as “progressive rock” sounding similar to contemporary groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Yes. Anderson stated multiple times that the band never set out to make a progressive rock album and considered Aqualung to be just a collection of good rock songs. To stick it to all of those reporters, they used the platform of their fifth album to create the mother of all concept albums that would poke fun at bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the music critics who thought Aqualung was prog rock, and would satirize the (what Anderson thought was overblown and self-righteous) prog rock genre as a whole. The result was one of the best progressive rock albums of all time.

Thick as a Brick is one song laid across two sides of the same album that tells the story of a poem written by a fictional boy named Gerald Bostock. Generally, the album tells the story of a “wise man” and a “poet and a painter,” and analyzes what true wisdom is versus what it means to be ‘thick as a brick,’ or dumb, through Monty Python-esque absurdity and a musical accompaniment. I love Thick as a Brick. The music is constantly evolving, and I find something that gives the song a new meaning every time I listen to it. I’m particularly fond of how critical the band was of prog rock in the press after Aqualung, then went on to make an album lampooning the genre as a whole, but it kind of backfired in the sense that it became one of the best prog rock albums ever written. Because this is really one song split into two parts, I’ve condensed my review into one song. I hope that you find something that speaks to you in this album, whether it’s the musicality, the lyrics, the story behind the recording, or something else. Ladies and Gentlemen, Thick as a Brick.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Thick as a Brick (Parts 1 and 2): Musically, Thick as a Brick is all over the board. Let’s start with the use of multiple suites. The medieval-like melody that you hear at the beginning of the song will carry throughout the entire album with multiple variations, often downshifting to a minor key during more serious and darker portions of the story of the Wise Man and the Poet/Painter and shifting up during the lighter portions. Thick as a Brick shifts seamlessly between light, airy sections that seem to be straight of a fairytale and feature heavy contributions from xylophones and the flute and are juxtaposed by frenetic sections that are driven by a fast-paced electric guitar. Musically, the song is flawless. There are multiple extended flute solos that I look forward to whenever I know they’re coming up. Flute solos aren’t often heard in rock music, and you may be thinking to yourself “How on Earth does a flute solo fit into a rock song?” Trust me when I say that it’s the ingredient that has been missing the whole time. It adds a different, lighter feeling to the song as a whole, making it almost feel bouncy. Flutes aren’t the only odd instrument used in this half-farce of a progressive rock album; it includes significant contributions from a lute, both acoustic and electric guitars, a full string orchestra, and a Hammond organ. I’ve never actually heard a song that featured as much organ as this song or used it as a driving instrument in this way. The only album that comes close is Close to the Edge by Yes. Credit where credit is due, if you’re trying to make fun of a band like Yes, overuse of flute solos, an organ, and multi-minute long drum fills are the way to do it. (For the record, I like Yes very much too, but an idea to lampoon one of my favorite bands that’s execute this well has to be given credit.)

At this point, you may be wondering if one side of the album is better than the other. And this is where I’ll tell you that “No, there isn’t.” Part 1 and Part 2 act as opposites structurally. Part 1 opens on a soft melody leading to a high-energy closing that is picked up in Part 2 before closing the record on a lighter note again. Part 2 is ever-so slightly more instrumental than Part 1, but I think the instrumentation in Part 1 is more interesting to listen to. It’s the first time you as the listener are being introduced to the melodies that carry the song and will be twisted and variated throughout the song. Thick as a Brick is one of those songs that is best listened to with headphones on when you have a spare thirty minutes, and I highly encourage you to take time to listen to it this week. This is a flawless album that has gone on to influence many of the biggest acts in rock and roll and is an important piece in the development and legitimacy of prog rock as a whole; even if it wasn’t supposed to be. Dad’s Rating 10/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

AC/DC- High Voltage (1976): 12 August 2019

AC/DC – High Voltage (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo where, this week, we’re taking a listen to a group that really knows how to rock; AC/DC. Originally comprised of Bon Scott, Phil Rudd, Malcolm Young, and Angus Young, the band went through a few changes to their lineup, most notably the addition of Brian Johnson after the death of Bon Scott and the addition of Axl Rose after Johnson’s retirement in 2016. High Voltage was the first international release by the Australian outfit and contained material from their first two in their home country, the domestic version of High Voltage and T.N.T. High Voltage was met with mixed reviews, with some praising the rockers for their boldness while others called it stupid rock music (paraphrasing of course).

Personally, I see some good and some bad as far as this album is concerned. A lot of the songs on this album were among the first to introduce me to classic rock, but they’re the band’s big songs. Some of the deeper cuts didn’t quite make my cut, and I typically found them to be repetitive and obnoxious when I didn’t enjoy them. Take a listen and see what you think. Repetitive, or a classic rock trope? The choice is yours, enjoy the album!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll): We start High Voltage with a hit song and a strong start. The anthemic nature of “It’s a Long Way to the Top” struck me as ironic considering its lyrics warn of the difficulty of being a rock and roll act. On the other hand, I also don’t care that much because the song just rocks that hard. I know of exactly 0 other bands that can incorporate a bagpipe into a rock song, but AC/DC did it seamlessly somehow. That creativity is fantastic and shows that they have more to offer than a regular rock band. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” follows a very similar sound to “Long Way to the Top.” This track feels like a continuation of the former and even follows a similar theme. Where the first is a warning about how difficult it is to make it as a rock star, this song is more of a dream and how the protagonist is going to “get to the top.” Musically, this is another song with a classic sound. This is no-frills rock music and the band plays it loud and guitar forward. Big chords, big sound, big song. Dad’s Rating 8/10

The Jack: “The Jack” was one of my least favorite songs on this album. I don’t feel like it shows off everything that the band is capable of and the vocals remind me of Tim Curry’s rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Unfortunately for this song too, it’s almost six minutes long, making it go on forever. Not the band’s best work. Dad’s Rating 3/10

Live Wire: This is better than “The Jack,” but “Live Wire” fails to impress significantly. I can hear bits of what would become “Thunderstruck” in how the major chords are played, so that’s neat to hear the “origin story” of a great song. Ultimately, this is an average, if forgettable song. Dad’s Rating 5/10

T.N.T.: “T.N.T” is an explosive track, one of my favorite rock tracks of all time, and I credit this as one of the songs that piqued my interest in rock music. I love the big riffs, the callousness of the song, the shredding guitar solo, and how un-pretentious it is. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy art, glam, and progressive rock, but sometimes you just need to rock out, and “T.N.T.” is one of my go-to songs. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Can I Sit Next to You Girl: I have mixed feelings about this track. On one hand, “Can I Sit Next to You Girl” is a rocking track. Everything is really solid, the musicianship is energetic and fun to listen to, and at least part of the way through the song, the vocals are great. I like Scott’s timbre (vocal quality) on this track, but I dislike how often the phrase ‘Can I sit next to you girl?’ is repeated throughout the song. It doesn’t add anything and detracts from the listening experience. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Little Lover: I really liked “Little Lover.” This song has a great slow, deep, rolling feeling that is broken up by a hell of a technical guitar solo. The picking section of the solo is really well done, and the slow tempo of the song gives this track such a big sound. The chords are played hard and slow to really emphasize the music. Great song here and definitely worth listening to. Dad’s Rating 7/10

She’s Got Balls: “She’s Got Balls” is one of the better-known AC/DC songs from their early years and it sounds like a continuation of “Little Lover.” I really like when artists manage to make the album flow seamlessly from one track to another. As luck would have it, “Little Lover” and “She’s Got Balls” were two of the first songs written for the album. This song is supposed to be about lead singer Bon Scott’s ex-wife, giving this track just a little more of a personal message. Musically, it’s an average track. The vocals really stand out here with Scott howling the phrase “She’s got baaaaaaalls,” ad nauseum, and that gives me a chuckle every time I listen to the song. Despite average musicianship, it’s a fun song that’s worth a listen. Dad’s Rating 5.5/10

High Voltage: The record closes with its namesake track, “High Voltage.” The band saved one of the best for last, proverbially. This really is a “high voltage, rock and roll” kind of song. The energy that we love to hear from the band is front and center to close the album with great riffs, a big solo, and wild vocals. Turn it up and rock on! Dad’s Rating 7/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

The Allman Brothers Band- At Fillmore East (1971): 5 August 2019

The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East (1971)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo where we’re taking a listen to one of the best live albums ever put to vinyl (and what could be included on a list of the best albums of all time), At Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers Band. At Fillmore East was the third album released by the band and is notable for the fact that their previous two albums only bubbled into the lowest numbers of the Billboard Hot 200. Recorded over two nights of performances in New York, the Fillmore East concerts proved to be significant for the band, launching them into the national spotlight and solidifying their place in the Southern Rock movement. This 4-side LP went on to be the Allman Brothers’ first platinum selling album and is a fine example of how blues, jazz, and southern rock can come together in one album, from two nights of shows, to make a masterpiece.

I can’t say enough good things about this album, and having never listened to it the full way through before this listen, it has quickly become one of my favorites. The audio is impeccable and this record captures the true spirit of a live act. The band has gone on to say that the concerts were slightly above average but generally captured the live energy and performance quality. Each night after the show, the band went back to the studio to listen back to the recording to decide what was acceptable and what wasn’t, as they were opposed to overdubbing the record, citing the fact that if they did that, it wouldn’t be a truly live album. I recommend listening to this album in one go with a set of headphones to get the fullest live experience that you can. At Fillmore East is a true masterpiece of rock, blues, and jazz coming together seamlessly in one album, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Statesboro Blues: “Statesboro Blues” is exactly how you would hope that a southern rock/blues rock album would start. The slide on the electric guitar stood out the most to me, I haven’t heard that “extreme” use of the slide in the early 1970s before Lynyrd Skynyrd came onto the scene, so that’s a great example of the band forging a path for the future of the genre and for their own sound. The song has two short jam sessions in it that don’t particularly enhance the song, but the vocals are great and this is generally just a good, good song. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Done Somebody Wrong: The off-beat intro that built into an on-beat song had me hooked from the start. That’s some great musicality! I really liked “Done Somebody Wrong,” perhaps more so than “Statesboro Blues.” The latter is more subdued, which I think lends better to blues in general. I like how the song build from the quieter verses into the guitar solos at the end of each, showing you two ways that blues rock can be done. This is a great track, give it a listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Stormy Monday: I normally don’t like slow songs as much as faster paced songs, but “Stormy Monday” is an exception to the rule. The blues are so smooth on this track, making you feel like you’re in a smoky bar somewhere in New Orleans listening to a live group, not a recording of a band made in New York. The slow pace of “Stormy Monday” is exactly what the album needed and gives the musicians a different way to show their skills. In a sense, anyone can play quickly, but when the song slows down, technique becomes apparent, and these gents can play. Wash your cares away with the blues and enjoy this stunning track. Dad’s Rating 8/10

You Don’t Love Me: At over nineteen minutes long, “You Don’t Love Me” looks like a daunting song to tackle, but this bluesy track is full of instrumentals that keep listeners engaged the whole way through. Originally written by Willie Cobbs in 1960 and adapted from a Bo Diddly song, Duane Allman selected “You Don’t Love Me” as one of the extended jam songs for the Fillmore East concerts after hearing another cover of it on a Junior Wells album. The Allman Brothers sped up the tempo significantly from the original for their cover, giving it more credit as a rock song than its original blues. The drive of this song is infectious and you really can’t help but tap your foot to the beat. In my opinion, this is one of the best songs on the album. The jam session is faultless and the cover harkens back to the original while managing to be unique. The instrumentation is top-notch and I’ve found something new each time I’ve listened back to it this week. Really great stuff here! Dad’s Rating 10/10

Hot ‘Lanta: “Hot ‘Lanta” acts as the perfect instrumental transition song on this album, linking together elements of the blues, southern rock, and folk that we’ve heard in one song. The keyboard solo is something I never expected to hear, but it’s a job well done and I enjoyed hearing it. There are elements of jazz and progressive rock on this song to that we find on some of the longer songs like “You Don’t Love Me” and “Whipping Post” too. This is another great song, and the only place you’ll hear it is on a live album because the Allman Brothers never put it on a studio album. Dad’s Rating 9/10

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed: Another surprise coming from the Allman Brothers Band! I’ve never heard “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” before and I’m blown away! This is a TIGHT rock track that manages to weave elements of jazz and latin music into a southern rock album. It never loses its roots. The instrumentation is out of this world, the whole band is so in sync and playing off each other that it makes this a joy to listen to. I find myself legitimately at a loss for words trying to describe how good this song is, and it may be one of the best jazz inspired tracks I’ve listened to. Whatever you do, don’t skip this one.  Dad’s Rating 10/10

Whipping Post: The Allman Brothers had to finish the concert with their biggest song to date, and “Whipping Post” doesn’t disappoint! You can even hear the fans cheering for them to play it when you listen to the album. This extended version of “Whipping Post” clocks in at just over twenty-three minutes long and features multiple lengthy solos during the multiple jam sessions, each one broken up by a round of the chorus. I can’t fault this song; this is an opus for the Allman Brothers Band, and it’s perfect the way that it is. There’s so much energy and soul poured into this live version of “Whipping Post” that the song plays at a frenetic pace, even during the slowed down sections. I kid you not when I say that you can sit there for twelve or thirteen minutes without realizing that you’ve been listening to the same song the whole time, it’s that engaging. Finally the ending maybe the most un-abashed and thunderous finale to a concert I have ever heard. This is southern rock. Period. Dad’s Rating 10/10

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What was the Best Year for Rock?

The Best Year in Rock Music

On Your Dad’s Car Stereo, most of the albums that I review right now were released between 1969 and 1981. As time goes on, I plan to add later years of rock to discuss hair metal, punk, grunge, and the more fleshed out version of heavy metal that came into its own in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But staying on topic with my current focus, I got to thinking, “What was the best year for rock and roll?” “Was there a year that will go down in history as the year where rock solidified itself as a legitimate, mainstream genre that would go on to influence musicians for decades to come, even if the artists who released albums that year didn’t know it yet?” As it turns out, there was such a year, and it was 1971. Let’s take a look at 1971 and some of the other years I considered that were influential but didn’t quite match the former’s grandeur.

First, I would like to discuss the years that didn’t make the cut, namely 1972, 1974 and 1976. Each of these years was influential in the greater development of rock and roll and had their fair share of fantastic releases, and I’d like to start by looking at the albums that defined those years. 1972 had hits like Close to the Edge by Yes, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie, Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull, Machine Head by Deep Purple, Can’t Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan, and more from acts like Uriah Heap, the Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne, the Jeff Beck Group, and let’s not forget the Eagles’ self-titled debut.

1974 brought us 461 Ocean Boulevard by Clapton, Queen II by the eponymous band, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis, Second Helping by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Not Fragile by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, just to name a few. Finally, 1976 came in with 2112 by Rush, Hotel California by Eagles, Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy, Boston by the band of the same name, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and High Voltage, both by AC/DC, Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster Cult, Destroyer by KISS, Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band, and so many more.

Looking just at the year-by-year releases, 1976 is my favorite year for rock, and I think many people would say that ’76 and ’72 were their favorites from those choices. The albums were big and the bands were larger than life. To find the best year for rock and roll though, we have to take the year’s releases in context. 1972 was arguably a continuation of 1971, but by the time we reach 1974 and 1976, the bands releasing these big albums were finally coming into the mainstream view thanks to the efforts of those that came before them. Who were those predecessors?

1971. The year that brought us Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, Who’s Next by the Who, Aqualung by Jethro Tull, L.A. Woman by the Doors, Meddle by Pink Floyd, Master of Reality by Black Sabbath, Pearl by Janis Joplin, The Cry of Love—Jimi Hendrix’s first posthumous album, Tapestry by Carole King, Imagine by John Lennon, oh and Led Zeppelin IV. 1971 was a crossroads for rock. The earliest mainstream rockers like the Beatles, Hendrix, and Joplin coexisted with the acts that would carry the torch through the 70s like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. There was an amazing melding of sounds where you can hear psychedelic rock giving way to what would become progressive rock. The acts that played in 1971 would go on to influence the sound of rock and roll for the next decade. Heavier acts like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin would give way to what would become heavy metal and the punk movement while classic rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Who would lay the tracks for bands like Boston, Thin Lizzy, Chicago, and more. Timing is everything, and 1971 was both the end of the early era of mainstream rock and the beginning of the second wave, influencing acts for decades to come.

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.