Saturday, 27 February 2021

Rick Wakeman



















The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973)



Catherine Of Aragon/Anne Of Cleves/Catherine Howard/Jane Seymour/Anne Boleyn/Catherine Parr


This was an interesting instrumental solo album from Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. It contains some fine proggy workouts, but, in my opinion, bears no relation to the wives it is intending to portray. Taking that away, though, and just listening to it as music, I think it’s great. 


Not played in the correct chronological order of the wives’ marriages to Henry, we start (as we should, though) with Catherine Of Aragon which is a jaunty synth, organ, piano, drums and bass number that is enjoyable, although I am not sure how it reflects the pious and morose Spaniard’s character. I would have liked some Spanish guitar in here. It was an old Yes number, that was not used on the Fragile album, so was nothing to do with Henry’s first wife.


Next up we get the fourth wife, Anne Of Cleves, whose dour, unshowy Germanic character is represented with some almost funky avant-garde “throw the kitchen sink in” rock. It features some inspired bass, great percussion and Rick goes pretty apeshit on the electric keys. Far too lively for dear old Anne, I think, (it should have been more Wagnerian, possibly) but again, I like it.


Catherine Howard is better, its lively, carefree, partying air suiting her young, coquettish ways while also containing an underlying sadness to it that fits with her unfair end. The slow bit at the end is really moving.


Jane Seymour is a churchy, sonorous, organ-driven composition that possibly suits the fact that she died, sadly, after childbirth complications. She was said to be “gentle, peaceful and charming”, however, so a less overbearing piece may have been more appropriate, something like Vivaldi’s Summer from The Four Seasons, maybe.


Anne Boleyn is simultaneously heavy rock and melodic piano, aptly representing her turbulent character. It is a restless piece, symbolising the pair’s passionate but doomed relationship. I love the bassy, funky part just after three minutes. It ends, beautifully, with an emotional rendition of the hymn The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended, a passage that suitably mourns Anne’s once more unfair demise. This is probably my favourite of the compositions.


Catherine Parr, ending the album with Henry’s final wife, is a solid piece of rock that again maybe misrepresented the character of this sensible, companionable and calm lady. 


My misgivings about some of the musical portrayals aside, I think this was a clever and inspired album.




Renaissance









Scheherazade And Other Stories (1975)



A Trip To The Fair/The Vultures Fly High/Ocean Gypsy/Song Of Scheherazade


Considered a prog rock album, this was thought, by many, to be the best album from a group who were really difficult to categorise. It has classical, rock, prog, folk and jazz influences contained within its varied compositions. It is its very innovativeness that makes it progressive, I guess.


I remember a friend of mine, who became a real full-on punk, being very into this, along with Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - how he changed in just over a year! Annie Haslam to Johnny Rotten.


A Trip To The Fair begins with some classically-influenced piano, before progressing, via some rhythmic, invigorating percussion, to the folky vocal bit with singer Annie Haslam sounding a lot like Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior. Both have crystal clear, very English voices. The tracks progresses into an appealing avant-garde jazz piece, featuring vibes, shuffling drums and jazz piano. It is a most odd, but thoroughly beguiling and strangely compelling creation.


A lovely, deep bass line backs the energetic, lively strains of the shorter, more concise and rocky The Vultures Fly High. I like this one a lot, I have to say, but again, it fits into no particular pigeonhole.


Ocean Gypsy is a beautiful, piano-driven slow ballad that has another fine vocal, along with a warm, attractive soft rock-ish backing. Once more, it is a most attractive track.


The original side two of the album was taken up by a twenty-four minute suite of music, entitled The Song Of Scheherazade. It is almost like a piece of classical music, with lots of influences from that genre and indeed features The London Symphony Orchestra. In true prog style, though, it probably goes on too long, but there are still nice passages in there, particularly at nine minutes in and Annie’s vocal about a minute or so later. Thinking about it, however, I think I prefer the more compact nature of the other songs, something that happened a lot with prog - you sit though twenty four minutes for six or seven minutes that you really like. Funnily enough, about half way through the whole thing goes quiet for a few seconds, so maybe it could have been separated into different songs. The last part, for example, would function nicely as a folky rock song.


The group remain best known, though, for their one-off 1978 hit single, Northern Lights, which was as surprising as it was pleasant, a bit like when Mike Oldfield had a hit with Moonlight Shadow.




Friday, 26 February 2021

Current reviews/listening










These are the artists whose work I have been reviewing or adding to recently. The latest album reviewed is in brackets. Click on the artist's name to read the reviews:-


REGGAE


Steel Pulse (Tribute To The Martyrs)

Linton Kwesi Johnson (Bass Culture)

Buju Banton ('Til Shiloh)

Dr. Alimantado (Best Dressed Chicken In Town)

Dillinger (Marijuana In My Brain)

Ken Boothe (Everything I Own)

Toots & The Maytals (Knockout)


SOUL-FUNK


The Brothers Johnson (Best Of)

Kool & The Gang (Best Of)

Rose Royce (Best Of/Car Wash)

Chairmen Of The Board (Skin I'm In)

Lionel Richie (Can't Slow Down)

Jermaine Jackson (Let's Get Serious)

Minnie Riperton (Perfect Angel)

The 5th Dimension (Stoned Soul Picnic)

The Detroit Emeralds (You Want It You Got It)

Grace Jones (Fame)

Ike & Tina Turner (River Deep - Mountain High)

Randy Crawford (Best Of/Secret Combination)

Odyssey (Best Of)

Archie Bell & The Drells (There's Gonna Be A Showdown)

Shalamar (Best Of)

Etta James (Best Of)

The Commodores (Natural High)


PUNK-NEW WAVE


Squeeze (Best Of)

Altered Images (Happy Birthday)

Wire (Pink Flag)

The Cure (Three Imaginary Boys)

Adam & The Ants (Kings Of The Wild Frontier)

XTC (Drums And Wires)

The Modern Lovers (The Modern Lovers)

999 (999)

Blondie (No Exit)

Elvis Costello (Hey Clockface)

The Skids (Scared To Dance)

Depeche Mode (Speak And Spell)

Green Day (Dookie)


PROG ROCK


Jethro Tull (Aqualung)

King Crimson (In The Court Of The Crimson King)

Camel (The Snow Goose)

Yes (Close To The Edge)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Tarkus)

Atomic Rooster (Death Walks Behind You) 

Jean Michel Jarre (Oxygene)

Ambrosia (Ambrosia)

Kate Bush (50 Words For Snow) *ok I know it's not really prog rock, but where else do I put her?

Van Der Graaf Generator (H To He, Who Am The Only One)

Todd Rundgren's Utopia (Utopia)

East Of Eden (New Leaf)

Hawkwind (In Search Of Space)

Caravan (If I Could Do It Again, I'd Do It All Over You)

Colosseum (Valentyne Suite)

Genesis (Foxtrot)

Renaissance (Scheherazade And Other Stories)

Rick Wakeman (The Six Wives Of Henry VIII)


ROCK


Deep Purple (Burn)

Black Sabbath (Paranoid)

Badfinger (No Dice)

Blue Öyster Cult (Agents Of Fortune)

Bruce Springsteen (Letter To You)

Paul McCartney (McCartney III)

Sting (Mercury Rising)

ZZ Top (Rio Grande Mud)


COUNTRY ROCK


Firefall (Firefall)

Gerry Rafferty (City To City) * difficult to categorise


JAZZ


Wayne Shorter (Speak No Evil)

Charles Mingus (Mingus Ah Um)

Kenny Burrell (Midnight Blue)

John Coltrane (A Love Supreme)

Lee Morgan (The Sidewinder)

Dave Brubeck Quartet (Time Out)

Donald Byrd (Best Of/Blackbyrd)

Art Blakey (Moanin')

Abdullah Ibrahim (The Mountain)

Miles Davis (Bitches' Brew)

ZZ Top














Rio Grande Mud (1972)



Francine/Just Got Paid/Mushmouth Shoutin'/Ko Ko Blue/Chevrolet/Apologies To Pearly/Bar-B-Q/Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell/Whiskey 'n' Mama/Down Brownie


This was the second album from later to be burgeoningly-bearded Texas blues-boogie rockers ZZ Top and set the foundations for bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd to follow. It has a raw, edgy, very 1972 sound that appeals to me. If you like essential bar-room blues rock then this is certainly for you. 


Francine is a chugging, riffy bluesy rocker that provided the band with their first hit. "Francine had just turned thirteen..." they sing. Better overlook that bit, lads? Those riffs, though, man. They sound a lot like Slade from the same period.


Just Got Paid is a marvellous, down 'n' dirty serving of fuzzy, shuffling blues rockin'. Check out the bit around three minutes in when they quieten it down before slamming back in. Great stuff, indeed. It is both powerful and surprisingly subtle. There is just something so rumblingly beautiful about this. I love it.


Mushmouth Shoutin' is classic, grinding blues rock that bristles with that magnificent dirty, dusty  blues feel throughout. Ko Ko Blue ups the tempo but is just as bluesily powerful. The guitars-drum-bass interplay is awesome, containing a heavy rock purity to it that I love. No messing' here, is there? Get your Bourbon down you, buddy, and rock. You want more? Then grab yourselves an earful of Chevrolet, with its totally infectious riffs.


The instrumental Apologies To Pearly is just as effective without vocals, to be honest. It rocks. Bar-B-Q is a frantic, almost punky rocker and Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell slows it down to walking pace in Free Bird fashion. Whiskey 'n' Mama is back to grinding mid-pace blues rock and, guess what - Down Brownie ends things up in the same fashion.


This was a fine blues rock album - nothing more, nothing less. No deep analysis necessary.


Gerry Rafferty














City To City (1978)



The Ark/Baker Street/Right Down The Line/City To City/Stealin’ Time/Mattie’s Rag/Whatever’s Written In Your Heart/Home And Dry/Island/Waiting For The Day


I don’t know much about Gerry Rafferty, apart from his single hits and the fact that he had a mid-seventies hit with Stealers’ Wheel in Stuck In The Middle With You. For some reason, though, I had these two albums, but it is only now that I have got around to actually paying them due attention. 


Released in 1978, seemingly oblivious to punk, this peaceful serving of laid-back rock begins with a vaguely country rock-ish, easy-going sort of way in The Ark. All very safe and unthreatening. 


Then we get the monster hit Baker Street. Even back then everyone seemed to like it, even the punks. It overflows with atmosphere, great lyrics and, of course, that killer sax break.


Right Down The Line has a bit of a Chris Rea meets Dire Straits vibe to its nice, melodic AOR smoothness. It is about as un-punk as you could get but this sort of thing was just as popular in 1978, something that is often forgotten. Very country rock is the next track, City To City, as if The Eagles have snuck into the studio. 


The sleepy Stealin’ Time is similarly relaxing and features a great mid-song guitar solo while Mattie’s Rag is more upbeat, in a McCartney-esque sort of way. Again, this is about as far away from much of the sound of 1978 as you could get. Also sounding like McCartney is the plaintive, piano-backed ballad Whatever’s Written In Your Heart.


The punchier (slightly) Home And Dry ups things a bit, but again it reminds me of McCartney. Island features Raphael Ravenscroft’s saxophone again on a nice, mellow number that puts me mind of Dire Straits once more, something about the melody of the verses. It is my next favourite after Baker Street. The album ends with some welcome rock (of a kind) on the riffier Waiting For The Day.


Although this album is pleasant enough, it lacks an edge for me and nothing on it comes close to Baker Street. 





Night Owl (1979)



Days Gone Down (Still Got The Light In Your Eyes)/Night Owl/The Way That You Do It/Why Won’t You Talk To Me/Get It Right Next Time/Take The Money And Run/Family Tree/Already Gone/The Tourist/It’s Gonna Be A Long Night


More of the same, then, from Gerry Rafferty. 


Days Gone Down (Still Got The Light In Your Eyes) kicks things off in low-key fashion, which is admittedly still quite attractive, and I like the bit where it cranks up to sound like Jackson Browne and starts to rock some. Nice track.


Night Owl is the best known track on the album and it is one that almost equals Baker Street for subtle atmosphere. It is sort of impossible to analyse it, though, other than to say that I like it in its quiet way. That’s the best I can do.


The Way That You Do It is a nice mid-pace soft rock (very soft) number. Incidentally, the drums were played on this album by Liam Genocky, who went in to play with Steeleye Span. A bit of trivia there. 


Why Won’t You Talk To Me is a slightly Parisian-sounding, folky song with brief airs of Van Morrison too. I have realised that I had forgotten about Get It Right Next Time, which is an attractive chugger of a track, with a catchy, soulful vibe to it and some more great saxophone. Also pleasantly impressive is the West Coast-ish Take The Money And Run.


Family Tree is harmonious, stately rock in an Eagles fashion, as is Already Gone, which, ironically, bears the same title as an Eagles song. Tourists rocks in Rafferty’s easy-going way and has a healthy cynicism to it (“come a long way from Baker Street” is in the lyrics) and It’s Gonna Be A Long Night is another song that I slightly recognise and one that reminds me of something by someone else. It is a strong end to a pretty good album, and one that I slightly prefer to its predecessor.



 

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Green Day












Dookie (1994)



Burnout/Having A Blast/Chump/Longview/Welcome To Paradise/Pulling Teeth/Basket Case/She/Sassafras Roots/When I Come Around/Coming Clean/Emenius Sleepus/In The End/F.O.D.


This, Green Day's third album, from 1994, was said to have brought punk to the masses, as is it were something new. Bollocks. It is a very retro album, sounding as if it were straight out of 1979's second division punk offerings. This was nothing new. People like me liked this sort of thing seventeen years earlier. That is not to say that I don't like it, though, - I do. It bristles with youthful anger and visceral energy, as a good punk album should do, of course. To be fair to the group, they do merge retro punk sounds with a contemporary grunginess pretty effectively and if the next generation along from mine got their teenage aggression inspired by it, all well and good. Fair play.


The sound is fast and furious and the influences are many - Stiff Little Fingers' Inflammable Material, The Ruts' The Crack, The Buzzcocks' Another Music In A Different Kitchen and The Clash's first album. The album reminds me a lot of Inflammable Material. 


Burnout is very Buzzcocks-sounding and features a standard punk riff and drum sound and Billie Joe Armstrong's is almost English in its sneering, whining delivery. Having A Blast is frantic and riffy in a very late seventies way, like The Ruts or early Stiff Little Fingers. Chump is a bit first Clash album-like. I like the drum and guitar interplay, mid-song. Good stuff.


A fine drum and bass slightly dubby rhythm introduces the slower, more melodic Longview. This is another one I really like. Despite its retro influences, the bit where it breaks out after around a minute is pure nineties grungy rock. A pure Clash riff introduces the punky Welcome To Paradise


Pulling Teeth has an almost sixties psychedelic garage sound to it, while Basket Case was a hit single (that passed me by as I paid scant attention to the charts by 1994). I like it, though, it sounds very 1977-78 to me. Another good one - check out those punk guitar lines.


She blends melody and vigour perfectly and Sassafras Roots is so very Stiff Little Fingers, from the riffs, through the drums to the growling but slightly sad-sounding vocals. The riff also sounds very inspired by The Psychedelic Furs' Pretty In Pink. When I Come Around also has a slower, chunkier SLF vibe. 


The albums grinds to its end with a row of short, fast punkers like the lesser known ones on the first Clash album. The final track, F.O.D., is slow and acoustic, initially, and vaguely Lennon-esque in its cynicism before it breaks out into a huge, heavy explosion of a track.


This was an exciting album whose vigour and vitality simply cannot be ignored. 





American Idiot (2004)



American Idiot/Jesus Of Suburbia/Holiday/Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/Are We The Waiting/St. Jimmy/Give Me Novacaine/She's A Rebel/Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb/Wake Me Up When September Ends/Homecoming/Whatsername


This album caught my attention due to its wonderful title - manna from Heaven for anyone in possession of a healthy I'm So Bored With The USA-inspired cynicism like myself. This was great - an actual American not chanting "USA!, USA!, USA!" and blathering on about patriotism and so on, but one confronting his own country's weaknesses (as he saw them at the time) head on and giving it to them big time. Here's to you Billie Joe - tell it as it is. Ironically, though, the administration it was railing so passionately against in 2004-05 seems decidedly preferable to the nightmare one of 2016-2020. A bit like the UK punks in 1977-78 who were griping full-on about a Labour government and their reward would soon be twelve years of Margaret Thatcher. Be careful what you wish for.


It was said to be punk's first "punk opera" - a "concept album". A punk concept album? Surely not? They hadn't gone all mid-seventies prog, had they? No need to worry about that. Just listen to the opener.


American Idiot is a punky beauty of a track - snarling with indignant anger and backed by some blistering drums, rumbling and searing, riffy guitar. "I'm not a part of a redneck agenda...". Quite. Neither am I. A simply superb record. It makes me want to be eighteen again. 


Jesus Of Suburbia is just as good, with a Ramones-like feel to it at the beginning. The second part sounds like Bryan Adams' Summer Of '69 in places too. It was (along with Homecoming) one of two nine minute-long tracks made up of several snippets of songs like a punk version of Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, or more likely inspired by Wire's Pink Flag album. The "songlets" all merge into each other, so the whole thing plays as one. It makes it a bit difficult to differentiate between the parts, so the album loses a bit of cohesion in that respect and it also suffers from CD bloat in that it goes on for nearly an hour, but dip into bits of it and it has an energy that is impossible to resist. 


Holiday, released as a single, is a catchy, riffy punker as was its fellow more traditional rock oriented single, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.


Are We The Waiting is apeallingly anthemic, while the breakneck punk of St. Jimmy is Stiff Little Fingers' first album revisited. Give Me Novacaine shows that they could do occasionally melodic in between the power chords too. She's A Rebel is a solid punk workout too and then we get some more almost sixties-style melody on Extraordinary Girl. I think I'll leave it there, though, forty-five minutes is fine. Actually, I'll come back to praise the fast and furious ire of Letterbomb.


Musically, the album is excellent and the whole band's commitment throughout gets hold of you by the scruff of the neck. A really innovative and impressive achievement. 




Depeche Mode


Speak And Spell (1981)



New Life/I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead/Puppets/Boys Say Go!/Nodisco/What’s Your Name?/Photographic/Tora! Tora! Tora!/Big Muff/Any Second Now (Voices)/Just Can’t Get Enough


Depeche Mode were one of those groups in the early 80s whose singles I knew and liked but whose albums I never explored at all. Electronic, arty, synthy music was never really my scene, and although I liked the singles I wasn’t prepared at the time to delve any deeper into this style of music. I liked, vaguely, The Human League and Soft Cell as well and all three of them and their synths were very much a part of the sound of 1981-84. Anyway, this was their debut album and it featured the later to be Yazoo and Erasure keyboardman Vince Clarke for the only time.


New Life is a catchy, Human League-ish synth-driven opener and Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead sees the drums take centre stage on a rousing, thumping number. A sense of mystery arrives on the brooding electro pop of Puppets and more Human League vibes are back on the catchy, upbeat Boys Say Go! 


A typical eighties synth and powerful electro drum sound backs the magnificently moody ambience of Nodisco. This is a really good track. A more melodic, less menacing ambience is found on the slightly twee What’s Your Name? Its OMD-style keyboard breaks are attractive, though.


Photographic is an enjoyable keyboard riff-driven number too featuring those big, grandiose European-sounding synth lines while the sonorous Tora! Tora! Tora! is very noir in its feel. The saucily-titled Big Muff is a lively instrumental.


Any Second Now (Voices) is a short, Soft Cell-ish morose number to take us into the gloriously catchy, singalong melody of the group’s first big hit single, Just Can’t Get Enough, a track I can never hear too much.


Despite the presence of its big hit, this was not a particularly commercial-sounding album, and indeed, subsequent Depeche Mode work would be much darker.





A Broken Frame (1982)



Leave In Silence/My Secret Garden/Monument/Nothing To Fear/See You/Satellite/The Meaning Of Love/A Photograph Of You/Shouldn’t Have Done That/The Sun And The Rainfall


For their second album, Depeche Mode, with songs now written by Martin Gore went for a much darker and deeper overall sound then they had introduced to us on their debut album. This album was much fuller and in possession of much more substance, I feel. It has a beautiful full, bassy sound to it and there is quite a sea change between the first album and this one. I have to say that I am really impressed by it, although at the time, apart from the one hit single, it passed me by.


Leave In Silence is beautifully warm and deep in its sound, quite different from the lighter treblier synth pop of the previous album. It has a melodious but moody, atmospheric and appealingly bassy sound to it. My Secret Garden is attractive for exactly the same reasons. Monument is mysterious in a sort of OMD way. These tracks were really showing a group that was maturing, both musically and lyrically.


The instrumental Nothing To Fear is grandiose in the way that only eighties synth pop could be, sort of Ultravox meets ABBA in Berlin. The album’s hit single was the catchy and quirky See You, a track that had more in common with the first album than this one.


Satellite is entrancingly mysterious, but in a melodic way. It is quite hard to explain why, but, as synth-based music goes, I have to say that I really like this a lot. It seems as if Depeche Mode have snuck under many people’s radars when the lists of credible eighties groups are being compiled, which is a shame, because they were definitely one of the better ones from the era. 


The Meaning Of Love again harks back to the previous album in its poppiness as indeed does the jaunty A Photograph Of You, although Shouldn’t Have Done That is a bit directionless in its atonal experimental vibe. 


The Sun And The Rainfall ends the album in sonorous, dark fashion, with some deep bass sounds and ghostly vocals. This really was a good album,  most evocative and very, very underrated.


The Skids




















Scared To Dance (1979)



Into The Valley/Scared To Dance/Of One Skin/Dossier (Of Fallibility)/Melancholy Soldiers/Hope And Glory/The Saints Are Coming/Six Times/Calling The Tune/Integral Plot/Charles/Scale


Scottish band The Skids were second division punks, coming to the scene a bit late in 1979,  by which time the whole thing was ebbing away into post punk. They were led by charismatic singer and songwriter Richard Jobson and future big country guitarist Stuart Adamson. Jobson was the lyricist, while Adamson wrote the music. Listening to it, though, I feel that it sounds a lot like the sort of material that Adamson wrote for Big Country, lyrically. Maybe he was heavily influenced by Jobson. Certainly the music sounds very much like prototype Big Country. It was all a bit in need of fine tuning, however, something Big Country managed by the time of their debut album, The Crossing, in 1983. 


What a storming opener Into The Valley was, though, with its killer, additive riffs and anthemic, rabble-rousing chorus. It has Big Country written all over it. The same can be said of the chugging but incisive Scared To Dance, a sort of post punk slow punk song if you get my drift. It is a fine, brooding, Caledonian-sounding track. 


The frantic, punky and energetic Of One Skin begins with a very Big Country-esque riff that continues throughout the song. The staccato Dossier (Of Fallibility), although muscular, doesn’t quite get there for me, being a bit too “chunky slow punk by numbers” for my liking.


Melancholy Soldiers is a fine, rousing Into The Valley soundalike with more great riffing and  “woah-ho” chorus. 


Hope And Glory is in the same vein of most of the album, but it sounds a bit clumsy, particularly on its chorus. The Saints Are Coming is very Joe Strummer-esque in its introductory vocal and is powerful enough, but once again it has a definite poor man’s punk feel about it. By the time this was released, on 1979, many of those original punks had moved on. 


Six Times has some great riffs and is a bit Sex Pistols-ish in places but it ends up as a bit of a racket. Calling The Tune slightly appropriates the riff from The Sweet’s Wig Wam Bam, while also sounding like one of The Sex Pistols’ lesser-known chunkier songs from Never Mind The Bollocks. Integral Plot is a Clash-like rocker with a real Big Country guitar sound, while Charles seems a little Jam-esque to me. I quite like it, though, despite its derivative sound.


This enjoyable but not particularly remarkable album ends with more of the same riffing on Scale. All ok enough, but I wanted more by 1979, I think. It was a bit punk and a bit post punk and probably not enough of either to really convince, but what a fine hit single it produced in Into The Valley.



Days In Europa (1979)



Animation/Charade/Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)/Pros And Cons/Home Of The Saved/Working For The Yankee Dollar/The Olympian/Thanatos/A Day In Europa/Peaceful Times


Hot on the heels of their debut album came more Caledonian riffing from The Skids. Personally, I prefer it to the debut - the compositions are fuller and beefier.


It kicks off with a real Big Country-sounding rocker in the excellent Animation. It was the album’s third single. The big, rolling, military-style drums are here as is the bagpipe guitar sound. Next up was the minor hit single, Charade, which is beautifully chunky in its riffage and has a rousing chorus refrain (the song’s title, basically). Although not quite up to Into The Valley’s standards, it was still a good one. 


A fine riff also introduces the catchy, singalong Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori), which also features those bagpipe guitars. Big Country were well on the way, weren’t they?


Pros And Cons is deliciously riffy too (what a surprise) and the album’s other single, Working For The Yankee Dollar, was an upbeat once more tub-thumping song that made a great choice for a single. Home Of The Saved was brooding and sombre, however. At the risk of repeating myself, the riff is just so....Big Country.


The Olympian features some rolling drums and another fist-pumping chorus and yes, more searing riffs as does Thanatos. A Day In Europa is tuneful, but it doesn’t pull up many trees, while Peaceful Times finds the group dabbling in echoey electronic sounds, surprisingly. Its reverse-played vocals are a big mistake, though. 


** The non-album single from the period was the unsurprisingly up and at ‘em strains of Masquerade.