- PAUL MCCARTNEY: MCCARTNEY II: 1980: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Another album that upon release was universally slagged by the critics but today is viewed in a much better light. No, it’s not a masterpiece but it’s pretty good. Like his first solo album ten years earlier Paul does it all on this- with only Linda’s added background vocals. The synthesizer is put to use on this heavily. Coming Up was a #1 single- other favorites on this- Temporary Secretary, Waterfalls, Nobody Knows. A wide variety of music styles on this- Paul’s most experimental album to date.
- PETE TOWNSHEND/ RONNIE LANE: ROUGH MIX: 1977: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Townshend of The Who and Lane of The Small Faces/ Faces fame- got together for this album- it started out with the idea of Townshend producing Lane’s next album but turned into a collaboration. It was during the period of making this album that Lane was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The songs do not resemble songs by The Who or The Faces but instead British folk rock. Townshend and Lane wrote all the songs- together, separately or with the help of others except for the final song- Don Williams Till The Rivers All Run Dry. I’ve loved this album from first listen. My Baby Gives It Away, Nowhere To Run, Annie, Keep Me Turning, Misunderstood, Street In The City being favorites.
- THE HUMAN LEAGUE: DARE: 1981: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The Human League’s third album was a game changing on-one of the most influential albums of the early 1980’s. The group changed their style to a more commercial synth pop sound. Don’t You Want Me went to #1 in the US and UK. The album #3 in the US- their previous two albums hadn’t even charted in the US- and #1 in the UK. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of, Open Your Heart, The Sound of The Crowd, Seconds, Love Action other highlights. Strangely Don’t You Want Me- the biggest hit the group ever had- was the 4th single released from Dare. The previous three had been hits in the UK but all of them had failed to chart in the US.
- PETE TOWNSHEND: EMPTY GLASS: 1980: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The first solo album of original material from The Who’s Townshend. It is better than The Who’s albums that came in the next two years- Face Dances and It’s Hard. The first side was loaded-Rough Boys, I Am An Animal, And I Moved, Let My Love Open The Door [a hit single} and Jools and Jim. On side 2 A Little Is Enough and Empty Glass shine. I have always liked Pete’s singing over Roger’s. This was probably my most played album during the summer of 1980.
- GRAHAM PARKER: ANOTHER GREY AREA: 1982: 3 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: In the late 70’s when I read something on Graham Parker and he was compared to Elvis- I had to go buy his first three albums. I don’t know if he was really that Costello like but his first two albums Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment were fantastic and 1979’s Squeezing Out Sparks is one of my favorites from that era. At that point it seemed like Parker was about ready to break open and be big- 3 of his first 4 albums were great. Then came The Up Escalator which was a real turkey- the songs may have been good but producer Jimmy Iovine’s production ruined it. Parker’s shot at the big time was over. The lead off track here- Temporary Beauty should have been a hit- it was to me. Jack Douglas produced this- Aerosmith- John Lennon. Nicky Hopkins played piano and a number of noted studio musicians are on this- but again the production has let him down and a lot of these songs sound the same. Parker is still around and he hasn’t charted an album in the UK or US since 1991. One of those artists who deserved a better fate.
- BOB SEGER: NIGHT MOVES: 1976: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: After an already long career kicking around in the minor leagues- Seger broke into the majors finally with this album- his 9th and the smash hit Night Moves- the album would go 6X platinum going to #8 on the charts and the single peaked at #4. Mainstreet went to #24 and Rock And Roll Never Forgets just missed the Top 40- #41. Seger’s music was classic rock and roll- guitar riffs-as Seger sang on the first cut on side 1 – ‘all Chuck’s children are out there playing his licks” Seger’s best album.
- LUTHER VAN DROSS: NEVER TOO MUCH: 1981: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: I had never heard of Van Dross but I had heard him countless times in the 70’s as a back up singer for- a who’s who list of pop and rock stars- from David Bowie, Todd Rundgren to Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Babs Streisand . The title track was a minor hit #33 and deserved to be a bigger hit. Van Dross sure could sing. His first seven albums all went to #1 on the soul albums chart.
- EASY RIDER SOUNDTRACK: 1969: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: A great example of music soundtrack adding to a movies quality. Easy Rider one of the landmark films of the late 60’s- Dennis Hopper- Peter Fonda and some fairly unknown actor at the time named Nicholson. Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild the most famous song from the movie- also they did The Pusher, The Band’s The Weight, The Byrds I Wasn’t Born To Follow, a couple Roger McGuinn songs.
- ROD STEWART: BLONDES HAVE MORE FUN: 1978:1 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Rod jumped the shark with the sell out single “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” Rod seems to be going through the motions on the rest of the album. It went to #1 sold millions and made him a lot of money. At this point in his career I think that was the main goal anyway.