Monday, December 31, 1984

NRG’s No Reasons Given released this year

No Reasons Given

N.R.G.


Released: 1984


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: synth pop/neo-prog rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time]. Click on a song title for lyrics.

  1. Morning Light [3:48] *
  2. Watching Me [4:18]
  3. Goodman, Badman [4:39]
  4. Wings of Time [4:17] *
  5. Mere Image [6:41]
  6. Welcome to Suburbia [5:39]
  7. Staring into Nothing [6:00]
  8. Frame by Frame [4:22]
  9. When Strangers Part [4:06] *

Based on don.dream-in-color.net, it appears that KG wrote all of the songs except those marked with an asterisk (*), which were copyrighted by John J. Hubbard.


Total Running Time: 43:40


The Players:

  • Kevin Gilbert (Lead Vocals, Acoustic Grand Piano, Prophet 5, Gleeman Pentaphonic, Roland Vocorder+, Hammond Organ, backing vocals, 6 & 12 String Guitars, Recorders, Vocal Loop Organ, SCI Drumtracks, Pots and Pans, Production Effects)
  • Jason Hubbard (Fender Stratocaster, Ibanez Artist EQ, 6 & 12 string guitars, Classical guitar, Roland Juno 60, Backing Vocals, Seiko Digital Percussion, backwards Satanic Messages)
  • Mickey Sorey (Kit Drums, Simmons SDS-5, Tympani, percussion, Laugh)
  • Bob Carroll (lead vocals, backing vocals)
  • Kevin Coyle (sax)
  • Greg Gilbert (bassoon)
  • Jaque Harper (bass)
  • Kelly and Kenny Mangini (backing vocals)
  • Ray Otsuka (violin)

Produced by Kevin Gilbert and Jason Hubbard.

Rating:

2.982 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Quotable: “Some of the cheesiest and the proggiest work [Kevin Gilbert’s] ever done” – Dan Britton, RateYourMusic.com

About the Album:

NRG’s sound fit in with the keyboard-heavy new romantic sound of bands like the Human League, Thompson Twins, and Duran Duran. Still, KG’s progressive leanings were already apparent as there were songs that stretched well past the four-minute single time barrier. The band won a San Jose “Best of the Bay” radio station sponsored by KSJO with a three-song demo.

“The NRG material, recorded when Gilbert was in his late teens, was never widely commercially released.” DB “This release is very interesting to hear because [it is] far away from [the] mainstream.” UZ

“It’s clear that a lot of work went into the tracks, many of which feature multiple keyboard parts, great arranging, and a very wide number of instruments.” DB There are “digital synths galore, but also a lot of great proggy keyboard playing, odd time signatures, and even some lengthy songs.” DB “The main ingredient missing from the songs, though, is the preponderance of hooks.” DB

“Many songs here are influenced by Synthie-Pop.” UZMorning Light and Watching Me [are] completely typical representatives of the ‘Plastik Pop Rock’ generation…[kind of] Survivor meets Human League…good compositions.” BB

Goodman Badman “works, however atmospherically.” BB Meanwhile, Wings of Time “begins almost rocking” BB “with heavy guitar work.” UZ It is “a good, straight Neoprogger [that] delivers an ‘Aha experience,’” getting a taste at the end of Yes’ ‘Heart of the Sunrise.’” BB

Mere Image is a “beautiful piano ballad…which would have fit in…easily on [Genesis’] A Trick of the Tail.” BB Welcome to Suburbia “then moves…back into the synth-pop corner, this time with sax and sound effects.” BB

Staring into Nothing is “more organic; …a very beautiful, exciting track with good percussion and…very well sung.” BB It is “a great song – but in a better version appearing on The Shaming of the True,” UZ Gilbert’s posthumously released second solo album. Two more versions of the song appear on the Call Me Kai box set released in 2021.

Frame by Frame also falls into the “plastic sound…somehow reminding of Elefante’s Kansas.” BB When Strangers Part features “acoustic guitar, good…keyboard and very beautiful singing.” BB

Overall, “It seems like Gilbert was still honing his skills as a ‘pop songwriter,’ and the material, though very good, isn’t as immediately appealing as all his other work.” DB “It’s both some of the cheesiest and the proggiest work he’s ever done.” DB


Notes: At one point, this album was available as a download via KevinGilbert.com with seven bonus tracks and a different running order:

  1. Morning Light
  2. Watching Me
  3. Wings of Time
  4. Mere Image
  5. Welcome to Suburbia
  6. Frame by Frame
  7. Mephisto’s Tarantella – Version Two *
  8. When Strangers Part
  9. Masques *
  10. Schizophrenia *
  11. Mephisto’s Tarantella – Version One *
  12. Suitcase Living *
  13. Staring into Nothing
  14. Goodman, Badman
  15. If Ever Rain Will Fall *
  16. Tired Old Man *

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 4/2/2008; updated 6/4/2021.

Steve, Bob & Rich’s Balls released this year

Balls

Steve, Bob & Rich


Released: 1984


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: roots rock


Tracks:

  1. Let My People Go-Go
  2. Nobody Knows
  3. EGBDF
  4. Kissin’ Time
  5. A Only Chile
  6. Big Fat Blonde
  7. Makes No Sense
  8. Christine
  9. Information
  10. Roll On

Songs written by Bob Walkenhorst.


The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar, drums)
  • Rich Ruth (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Phillips (guitar, vocals, lead vocal on “Nobody Knows”)

Rating:

4.200 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

About the Album:

The three-piece bar band Steve, Bob & Rich formed in 1983. “These Kansas City rockers became an instant favorite throughout the Midwest. Soon fans stood in line to see this trio they described as ‘energetic,’ ‘intense,’ but most importantly ‘fun.’” AZ They self-produced their one and only album, Balls, in 1984. Within months, the trio signed a multi-album contract with Polygram, added drummer Pat Tomek, and became the Rainmakers, who would be hailed by Newdsay as “America’s Great Next Band.” AZ

Amazon.com said this about the Rainmakers: “Missouri has long boasted of being the home of two of America’s greatest artists, Mark Twain and Chuck Berry. However, it wasn’t until The Rainmakers thundered into the national music spotlight in 1986, had anyone combined the guitar power of Berry with the social wit of Twain to form a unique brand of Missouri rock n’ roll.” AZ

Let My People Go-Go, Nobody Knows, Big Fat Blonde, and Information would all resurface on the Rainmakers’ self-titled debut in 1986, but appear here first in stripped-down versions. Those songs “plus other strong originals capture the band lean, hungry and in all their 3-piece glory.” AZ

“The remix and remastering makes it sound as if you are sitting in the room with the band, as most cuts were recorded completely live in the studio…No Rainmakers fan can be without this one!” AZ


Notes: A CD reissue added seven live cuts from 1985: “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Tough Boys,” “Hanging Around,” “Nasty Man,” “Rockin’ All Over the World,” “Let My People Go-Go,” and “Switchblade.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 2/4/2009 updated 6/2/2021.

Saturday, December 15, 1984

Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” hit #1: December 15, 1984

Originally posted December 15, 2011.



Bob Geldof made his name initially as the frontman of the Boomtown Rats, an Irish punk-pop outfit which got its start in the late ‘70s and found success with a pair of #1 songs on the UK charts with “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays”. However, in his obituary someday, the leading line will reference him as the man who organized Band Aid and Live Aid.

Geldof was so moved one night by images from a BBC documentary of starving Ethiopian children, that he felt obligated to do something. He connected with Midge Ure, the frontman from Ultravox, to pen a song about the those suffering in the African famine. He then tackled his rolodex to round up a Who’s Who of British pop music to sing a Christmas charity single as the collective Band Aid. Among the stars he enlisted were Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, George Michael, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, and Kool & the Gang.

The superstars gathered at Sarm West Studios in London on November 25, 1984. They started the recording process by singing the “Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time” refrain first as a group. Then individual singers sang the song the entire way through so that Ure, who also produced the song, could splice the best parts together for the final version. WK The whole song was recorded within a 24-hour period. WK

The song sold 750,000 in its first week of release in England, making it their fastest-selling single in history at the time. MG It went on to sell more than 3.5 million, making it the best-selling song in Britain until Elton John’s 1997 re-recording of “Candle in the Wind”. WK Combined with the 1985 Live Aid concert, Geldof’s efforts raised £110 million. MG




Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Friday, December 7, 1984

Foreigner released Agent Provocateur

First posted 9/20/2020; updated 11/26/2020.

Agent Provocateur

Foreigner


Released: December 7, 1984


Peak: 4 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Tooth and Nail (1/5/85, 47 AR)
  2. That Was Yesterday (1/19/85, 12 US, 4 AR, 24 AC, 24 CN, 55 AU)
  3. I Want to Know What Love Is (12/8/84, 1 US, 1 AR, 3 AC, 1 CN, 1 AU)
  4. Growing Up the Hard Way
  5. Reaction to Action (2/2/85, 54 US, 44 AR)
  6. Stranger in My Own House
  7. A Love in Vain
  8. Down on Love (8/17/85, 54 US)
  9. Two Different Worlds
  10. She’s Too Tough


Total Running Time: 42:23


The Players:

  • Lou Gramm (vocals, percussion)
  • Mick Jones (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
  • Dennis Elliott (drums)
  • Rick Wills (bass)

Rating:

3.522 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Foreigner 4 was the kind of album that set an impossibly high bar. It spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than ten million copies worldwide on the strength of the #2 power ballad “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and the #4 rocker “Urgent,” not to mention album rock hits “Juke Box Hero,” “Night Life,” and “Break It Up.”

The group followed up that success with the obvious rock cliché – a compilation album (Records) and a few years off. Despite no new material, Records followed the precedent set by all four of Foreigner’s studio albums – it went top ten and sold in the millions.

Agent Provocoteur did manage to match the template by reaching the top 5 on the album chart and going multi-platinum. While it wasn’t as big as 4 (not many albums are), it did accomplish one goal that the band hadn’t achieved – a #1 song. While “Waiting for a Girl Like You” had spent a whopping 10 weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it couldn’t ever get past Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go for That” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” to reach the pinnacle.

However, I Want to Know What Love Is, the lead single from Agent, pulled it off. The song also reached #1 in the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Swdeden. While most of the band’s singles were fairly straight forward rockers, this was a gospel-inflected ballad that capitalized on the audiences who swooned over “Girl Like You.” The New Jersey Mass Choir was featured on the song and in the video.

Foreigner couldn’t match the huge success of “I Want to Know What Love Is” with the next single. However, That Was Yesterday did keep the band on track by giving them a fifth studio album in a row to chart at least two top-20 hits. It was also a top-5 hit on album rock radio.

The album did have some other decent rockers in album-opener Tooth and Nail and Reaction to Action From a chart standpoint, however, neither generated much attention. Both barely scraped the album rock charts and as the album’s third single, “Reaction to Action,” missed the top 40, as did fourth single Down on Love.

The album also featured the muscular She’s Too Tough which, while not quite on par with classics like “Hot Blooded” and “Urgent,” proved that Foreigner still knew how to crank up the guitars and not just produce ballads.

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