I was really struggling with what record to put at number 40. Usually when you see a countdown of this sort, the space between number 39 and 40 is pretty narrow. Not so here. I was very clear on my top 39, but struggled with which record to put at number 40. The “best of the rest” Sorcery – Till Death do we Part is an inconsistent and spotty affair. Sometimes reminiscent of Black Sabbath, other times it is an unlistenable pile of drivel.It stars with Ogre, a reject from Bat out of Hell by Meatloaf – yeah it has some riff-age, but the piano is so Crocodile Rock. The next track is a Hawkwind reject. Then a slower piece – totally forgettable. Track 4 – Right to Survive, is a step in the right direction, but then the title cut is probably one of the worst songs I can recall hearing in all of my 1980 catalog. However after this, the album recovers and the remaining tracks are much better. Still spotty for sure, but there are moments where they really shine.
With a name like Limelight and an opening riff reminiscent of Spirit of Radio, you would be leery of their intentions, but wait – this is 1980. The song Limelight does not exist and the Spirit of Radio riff is still unknown to these Brits when they wrote this.Limelight is yet another debut from yet another English band. Like many of these third tier NWOBHM bands, this was it. There was promise here. While the quality of the songs was not as good as most of their countrymen to release full length debuts in 1980, it has its moments. But with three of the seven songs clocking in at over six minutes and Limelight just not having the songwriting chops for this, the album falls a little flat.
Part Glam Metal, Part 70’s rock, part NWOBHM, The debut from Girl shows some promise that would never be realized (this will be a consistent theme here in 1980). Even if Girl did continue, they would have most likely evolved into a poor man’s Def Leppard (their guitar player would eventually join Leppard), never really being metal, but probably not able to reach the commercial heights of the glam bands of the 1980’s.
The album starts out with some powerful riff, but Hollywood Tease can’t keep up, with its attempt at a catchy bridge and chorus. I don’t really recall glam metal before this, and quite frankly Girl may have been a pioneer of the sub-genre. For me though, there are some highlights here. Little Miss Ann has that LA glam feel, but more credible that Poison or Warrant. Doctor Doctor and Heartbreak America are similar in that fashion. The whole album is pretty enjoyable. Probably too British to be popular in America (The only thing British about Def Leppard was their t-shirt).
Girl is more famous for launching other Glam bands, but this record has place in metal history.
37. Warrior – Let Battle CommenceI had a hard time with this one. Where do you draw the line between rock and metal? In 1980, rock was only 25 years old and while metal could claim 10 years since Black Sabbath, it was still very new. So many hard rock acts were considered here. One of these is Warrior. The album cover is very metal (I blame Meat Loaf for metal covers on non-metal albums). They even have an umlaut! The tempo of many of the songs is metal, but something is missing. Probably overdrive – you know – distortion. Most of the songs are good, but sometimes I feel like I’m listening to Gerry Rafferty when I have this record on. Calling this metal is a big stretch – so much so, that even three or four years later, I would have dismissed this as AOR.
Don’t get me wrong there is some nice metal sounding guitar work here, and again the tempo is right, but it’s just not heavy enough. There are traces of it in songs like Warrior and Invaders, but it’s really only in the licks and solos. The riffs just have no power. I really think the songs are good here and if this thing got a real facelift, I think it could have been top 20 material, but alas it never gets off the ground.
36. Viva – Born to RockSpeaking of metal looking record covers, this is far from it. If I saw this record as a kid, I would have thought it was the Bay City Rollers. Like the Warrior record described above, this is not the heaviest thing in the world, and may even fall to the hard rock side of the ledger. Viva was one of the first German metal bands, even if this first album falls short of that moniker.
Raw, unpolished and not well produced; Viva’s Born to Rock has some highlights. Darkness is real metal track and other rockers like Dark Eyes, Blue Jeans Forever and Fire are strong enough to make you forget some of the slower and sappier moments. Even the slower tempo in What I Need manages to feel right and metal. It just goes to show that a good guitar sound goes a long way.