Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Top 40 of 1980 (15 -11)

15. Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations

I tend to think this record is overrated.  I think it is overrated because Metallica like it.  Now, don’t get me wrong this is a really solid album and one of the better ones the NWOBHM had to offer, but I do not subscribe to the theory that if they had better management, they would have been as big as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. 

Diamond Head did write better songs than most of their counterparts of the era, and with the exception of the extraordinarily annoying Sucking My Love – all of the songs on this debut are excellent.  Personal favorites are Am I Evil?, Helpless and the title cut. 

14. Fist – Turn the Hell On

Here we have one of the better debuts of the year.  In the last 4 posts, 15 of the 25 records reviewed were debuts, and there are still more to come.  In fact 3 of the 5 in this installment are debuts.  Turn the Hell On has many of the flaws common with the NWOBHM albums of the era, (spotty vocals, bad production, etc.) but beyond that, this is a really good record.  

One of the things I like about this is that it is really in your face metal, with no let up.  Sure, Axeman is a little weird, but everything else really rocks.  I think Hole in the Wall Gang, The Watcher, You’ll Never Get Me Up (In One of Those), and The Vamp are the best songs, but really no clunkers here.

13. Cirith Ungol – Frost and Fire

The debut from California’s Cirith Ungol is sort of where I draw a line from the merely good to something more extraordinary.  From here in, the rest of the albums on the list are of the “classic” variety.   This album is just so heavy for the time and has that true metal vibe.  Again, weak production holds it back, but the quality of the songs and the playing is undoubtedly professional.

My personal favorites are Frost and Fire, Edge of a Knife and A Little Fire, but each of the 7 songs here has a lot to offer.  As a side note, to me Tim Baker’s vocals sound like Dave Mustaine, but Dave’s career as a vocalist started 5 years after this was released, so if anything, Mustaine sounds like Baker!

12. Rush – Permanent Waves

Rush is not metal.  They never were and they never will be.  So what.  Rush is undeniably one of the most gifted groups of musicians to ever play in the rock genre.  So when looking at metal and hard rock, Rush (particularly of this era) belongs in the discussion.

Permanent Waves is not Rush’s finest moment, in fact, by Rush standards it is in the bottom half.  But on the plus side, this album has two great rockers, two better than average epics and two more songs, one good, one not so good.  All in all a strong release for 1980.  Combine that with all the bells and whistles typical of a Rush album and you have a fine effort.

11. AC/DC – Back in Black

Hailed by many (and they have sales to prove it) as one of the greatest hard rock records of all time, Back in Black by AC/DC needs no introduction.  I agree this is a great record for sure, but it is not without its flaws.  You know all the big hits and even some of the “deep cuts” are great, but this album does suffer from some “sameness”.

Many of the songs blend into each other and sound similar, so we have a situation where I feel like I’m listening to “Shoot to do for Money Into Your Leg’s Drink on Me”.  Maybe that’s a nit-pick.  So, while the Brian Johnson era would get a whole lot worse in the future, for 1980, Back in Black is a classic album, and worthy of much of the praise it receives.


Brew CrUe said...

I'm not really into thrash, but if 'tallica says it's good, it's good!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ozzy Rulezzz said...

More Iron Maiden references....dude Bruce DICKinson is a PRICK and does not belong on the same stage as OZZY!!!!

Except for AC/DC, more crap albums by crap bands.

Anonymous said...

This batch seems to be a bit more on the hard rock side, but there is still some good things here.

Lightning to the Nations I thought was okay. I thought there was a bit of a Led Zepplin influence on this record. Not that it's a bad thing, but I felt it just wasn't really heavy. I guess a little more on the blues side.

Turn the Hell On I like too. I thought it had some good tracks on it.

Frost and Fire I didn't really like, but I didn't think it was bad. Maybe I should give it another listen.

I completely agree with on Permanent Waves. I like Rush a lot too.

I thought Back in Black was a pretty solid album, but you're right there is a sameness to much of, but still very good.

So you're getting toward the end of the list. I look forward to see what the rest will be. Some I can guess, but I'm sure there will be a few surprises.

T-_Bone said...

CrUe - what can I say? It's the gospel according to Lars.

Ozz - You should really expand your horizons. Fist might be just the thing you need.

Anon - I'm sure you can guess the top 10. Maybe a surprise or two.