Written By Braddon S. Williams

Def Leppard: High “N” Dry

Once upon a time, Def Leppard was a young, up and coming contender in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Their second album, High ‘N’ Dry (1981), was a raw slice of AC/DC influenced bare knuckles rock, with plenty of throat rattling screams from lead vocalist Joe Elliot, twin lead guitar rampages courtesy of Steve Clark and Pete Willis, and the solid foundation of Rick Savage’s bass and the 2 armed drumming of Rick Allen. Big-time producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange foreshadowed the superstardom that awaited his young charges with the power ballad Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, but the rest of the album was pure, in your face heavy rock.

The title song was a ripper, as was the opening track, Let It Go. Other prime contenders were On Through The Night, No No No, Another Hit And Run, Lady Strange, and the badass instrumental Switch 625.

Of course, Def Leppard went on to astronomical success with their next several albums, but for me, High ‘N’ Dry was where that youthful exuberance and hell bent for leather attitude was at its peak.

I count myself extremely lucky to have witnessed this version of the band open for Ozzy Osbourne (with Randy Rhoads) just over a month after this album was released.

https://youtu.be/VkfJOrdc1AU

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Dead Boys: Young, Loud And Snotty

I was in high school during the glory years of the original wave of punk rock, so there is a bit of nostalgia involved with my choice of Dead Boys’ wonderfully titled debut, Young Loud And Snotty (1977), but beyond that, the Dead Boys flat out rocked. The first song on the album, Sonic Reducer, remains one of the best punk rock songs of all time, and the rest of the album doesn’t let up from its choke hold on the listener’s neck for a single second.

The band members had awesome stage names: Stiv Bators on lead vocals, Cheetah Chrome on lead guitar, Jimmy Zero on rhythm guitar, Jeff Magnum on bass, and Johnny Blitz on drums.

Young Loud And Snotty was recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York, but Dead Boys were from Cleveland, Ohio, which basically made them neighbors to those of us Indiana natives who were into punk early.

Oh yes, there is also a song with the creatively over-the-top title Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth. Even if the record sucked (which it doesn’t), that title would have qualified Dead Boys for my list.

Attitude like theirs demands to be recognized and respected. Now go find a copy of Sonic Reducer and blow up some speakers!

https://youtu.be/30bv915bDtY

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

New York Dolls

A pivotal album in the development of both glam and punk rock, New York Dolls (1973), the self titled debut by the outrageous cross dressing rockers from the Big Apple, served as absolute proof that, musically speaking, less could certainly be more.

In an era when musicians were becoming more and more accomplished and songs were growing complex and sometimes interminably long, the New York Dolls distilled rock ‘n roll to the essence of rhythm, attitude, and basics.

The critics loved them, but the masses didn’t catch on, probably more due to their visual look than their wildly energetic and edgy sonic attack.

With such future classics as Personality Crisis, Trash, Jet Boy, Looking For A Kiss, Pills (a Bo Diddley cover filtered through a sleazy New York sensibility), and Viatnamese Baby, the Dolls influenced so many legendary acts in their wake.

Everyone from Kiss to the Ramones and The Sex Pistols owed a debt to the path that David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, Sylvain Sylvain, Arthur “Killer” Kane, and Jerry Nolan forged as the gloriously decadent New York Dolls.

https://youtu.be/6a5Uf7Hs5c4

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

BE-BOP DELUX- Sunburst Finnish

In addition to sporting one of the most striking covers ever, Sunburst Finish (1975) by Be-Bop Deluxe is full of great music by a British band that never quite made it to the success they deserved.

Led by Bill Nelson, who sang lead vocals, played lead guitar (brilliantly!), and composed the lion’s share of their music, Be-Bop Deluxe were known variously as art rock, glam rock, progressive rock, and just a damn fine rock ‘n roll band.

Nelson wrote in a futuristic style lyrically, touching on elements of sci-fi and with a flair for the poetic.

His song titles draw the listener in with expectations of mysterious happenings: Blazing Apostles, Sleep That Burns, Crying To The Sky, Ships In The Night, Like An Old Blues, Life In The Air Age, Beauty Secrets, Fair Exchange, and Crystal Gazing are all full of melody and quirky beauty (and magnificent guitar work) which totally won me over.

When you see a picture of a beautiful naked woman holding a burning guitar over her head, you sort of demand the music to be special…and Be-Bop Deluxe fulfills that wish.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Ringo Starr: Ringo

Ringo, by Ringo Starr, was released in 1973. Besides being a big success, tremendous fun, and sporting a fantastic roster of guest musicians, Ringo managed to reunite The Beatles! Well, it contains songs written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison (along with musical contributions from the drummer’s ex-bandmates).

Four of the 5 members of The Band all played on various songs, as well as Marc Bolan, Harry Nilsson, Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Steve Cropper, and many others.

Ringo himself plays his unmistakable drum style on all tracks and sings lead vocals on all songs.

The songs Photograph, You’re Sixteen, and Oh My My all scored big on the charts.

I remember owning this one on vinyl and being fascinated with the album cover art (and the booklet of lyrics and artwork to accompany each song).

Ringo was obviously overshadowed in writing and singing by the other members of The Beatles, but he was always charming and lovable, and played perfectly for the songs.

Ringo is a testament to how many stars wanted to play with THE Starr. With a little help from my friends indeed!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

George Harrison: All Things Must Pass

Confession: George Harrison was my favorite Beatle. He released his first proper solo album, All Things Must Pass, in 1970.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it was a Triple album. During the career of The Beatles, Harrison typically got a song or two at most allotted to each of the Fab Four’s releases.

Lennon and McCartney were the focus, but “the quiet Beatle” was stockpiling songs all along the way, and All Things Must Pass was the sound of the floodgates opening.

With Phil Spector producing, the album incorporated his famed “wall of sound” style, and featured an impressive cast of contributing musicians, including Eric Clapton, Gary Wright, Bobby Whitlock, Klaus Voorman, Ringo Starr, Peter Frampton, Ginger Baker, Billy Preston, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Alan, White, Dave Mason, and some songwriting assistance from Bob Dylan.

Many critics have declared this massive project as the finest of all the solo works from the collective former Beatles.

That says a lot, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is the quietest ones who have the most interesting things to say.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Paul McCartney: Band On The Run

Band On The Run (1973) is the album where Paul McCartney reclaimed his mojo. Credited to Paul McCartney And Wings, Band On The Run was actually just Paul, wife Linda, and guitarist Denny Laine, with Paul playing the lion’s share of the instruments, including drums, bass, keyboards, lead guitar, and of course, lead vocals.

The song Band On The Run was a gigantic hit, and both Jet and Helen Wheels found success on the charts as well.

Other great tunes included Mamunia, Bluebird, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me), and Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five. McCartney has probably thrown away more memorable melodies than most musicians create in their entire careers, but when he really focuses that gift, he shines like few other songwriters. Band On The Run shines.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind