Today we turn the big 4-0 here on the Rock End of the ’80s and the gift is a quick week through one of the shortest letters we’ll have – Q. I guess this gives you time to brace yourselves for my ramblings through R, S and T in the coming months. Enjoy more tracks from the rock end of the decade.
Queen’s just one of those groups that got really cheesy as the ‘80s went on and yet you couldn’t help but suck it up and love every minute of it. Whether it was full blown rock, theatrics or that aforementioned cheese, it was all part of the draw.
1982’s Hot Space was really the last record from Queen that didn’t have something on it that felt kind of lame to me as “Body Language,” “Put Out the Fire” and the Lennon tribute “Life Is Real” are great songs.
But then came The Works in ’84 which of course gave us the silly sounding but irresistible “Radio Ga-Ga.” With any other band I think I’d say “Tear It Up” was simply a throwaway but with Queen it just seems to fit. “Hammer To Fall” is the better track but only spent a measly week on the chart.
(Side note: Is it completely wrong that when I hear the first three notes of “Life Is Real,” I now immediately think of “Runaway” by Kanye West?)
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Well, it certainly all came together nicely for Queensryche at this point in their career. Their first two albums were a little edgier but lacked in the songwriting department. Then they made the bold decision to do a rock opera in Operation:Mindcrime. It seems like a certainty that if this album was like the first two that we would be talking about these guys as if they barely existed. It wasn’t a grand success in terms of the charts but that couldn’t have been expected. Instead it goes down as one of the best heavy metal albums of all time and paved the way for them to go in a different direction with their music aka “Silent Lucidity” in ’91. Both of these tracks are damn fine but also meant to be listened to as a whole with the album.
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Talk about cheesy shit. I don’t think I ever really liked Quiet Riot outside of the obvious hit singles but over the years I’ve grown to think they were one of the shittiest hard-rock bands of the decade with nothing unique to offer up at all. “Slick Black Cadillac” and “Sign of the Times” are both laughable at best. The former was written by Randy Rhodes who was with the group for their first two albums from the ’70s (only released in Japan). The original is bluesier and different sounding but not really any better due to Rhodes input. He was of course a great guitarist but “Slick Black Cadillac” wasn’t his finest moment. “Don’t Wanna Let You Go” – the fourth song to hit the radio from Metal Health is really the only decent one here but even that doesn’t stand out from the other 100 songs in 1984 that sounded just like this.
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Best Song: Queen, “Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)”
Worst Song: Quiet Riot, “Slick Black Cadillac”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Quarterflash (4): “Harden My Heart” “Find Another Fool” “Take Me To Heart” “Talk To Me”
Queen (6): “Under Pressure” “Body Language” “Calling All Girls” “Radio Ga-Ga” “One Vision” “I Want It All”
Quiet Riot (3): “Cum On Feel the Noize” “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”