I was speaking with a friend a couple of weeks back. We were discussing under rated songs. You know, the ones you loved, but they didn’t have the backing for the radio stations, MTV, Youtube- pick your poison- to pound them into the collective consciousness until they were the MEGA hits. She suggested that I put together a series of top ten lists for the decades.
At first I wasn’t sure. I mean, the Internet is literally crawling with these lists. What could I possibly add? So I started surfing. To my surprise for the genre that I loved the most, hard rock/heavy metal, the lists were disturbingly homogenous. I mean, it’s hardly news to tell an eighties rock fan that the song Mob Rules in fact rules, right?
Maybe there was room for another list. At the very least, I could add to your work out songs playlist.
I started examining my favorites. To be fair, my preferences line up pretty well with a lot of “greatest” lists. That’s when I thought, we started this because we were talking about under rated songs. Okay, I can do that. How about a top ten list that will look nothing like anyone else’s top ten? Equally valid in quality, just… different… other… fresh.
Now, how about a series of lists- by decade? Done.
I give you the Unconventional Top Ten. Just remember that for ME, quality means heavy metal or at least progressive rock. While not all songs will be metal they will at least skirt the prog rock/hard rock label. There will be no pop. Paula Abdul is the next blog down. Move along, top 40 people.
This week we’ll wander through the eighties, land of my youth, lots of big hair, and way too much Aquanet and eye-liner. Whatever you do, don’t light a match.
My list is mine. You people who lived through the eighties can make your own if you don’t like this one. If you didn’t live through it– just pipe down. I’ll never be able to explain the freedom and excess, the innocence of that decadent, happy time. We lived a pipe dream, of course. We just didn’t know it yet. That crashing realization came later. They called it the nineties. It was grim and that’s NEXT week.
I’m not ordering these. They are numbered for convention, but not ranked. It’s all a tie for first with the honorable mentions taking second. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an original brew.
1.) Kayleigh by Marillion from the 1985 album Misplaced Childhood. One of my all time favorite songs. We played it at my wedding- though I certainly hope I have a happier end to my love story than Kayleigh and Fish.
2.) Wild Child by W.A.S.P. from the 1985 album The Last Command– what can I say? It just rocks. Blackie Lawless did a lot to shock audiences, but at the end of the day he’s a pretty smart guy who always sought to entertain.
3.) Do You Wanna Touch Me There? A 1984 cover by Joan Jett of the 1973 Gary Glitter classic. Thank God she covered it. Given his criminal record, if she hadn’t, a really good song would have been bundled up in the shame of its writer’s bad-shit craziness.
4.) The Sign of The Southern Cross by Black Sabbath from the 1981 album Mob Rules. Ronnie James Dio’s soaring passionate vocal, Iommi’s godlike rifts, Butler’s unmistakable rhythms and signature backup vocals combined with Vinne Appice’s passionate blanket of thunder to make this a stand out song and album for any rock fan.
5.) Deep Cuts the Knife by Helix was a single off their 1985 album Long Way to Heaven. Most of Helix’s songs were good time party tunes, but this one packed a bit more emotional punch. Great song to run to, really great song.
6.) All We Are by Warlock from their 1987 album, Triumph and Agony.- I have to include a Warlock song on this list if only to celebrate their lead singer, Doro Pesch. Hugely popular in Europe, the band didn’t make the same kind of impact in the US. Doro was the first woman to front a band at the Monsters of Rock Festival in Donington, England. She performs to this day, one of the true women of metal. Love her.
7.) Changes by Yes off the seminal 1983 release 90125 (named for the album’s Atlantic records catalog number). Many of us owned this album and Owner of a Lonely Heart certainly dominated the airwaves at the time. Probably because I had such a crush on Trevor Rabin, this remains my favorite Yes song.
8.) Midnight in Tokyo– While later albums would yield bigger hits for Y & T (think Summertime Girls) the albums of the early 80’s, ie Black Tiger and Mean Streak to me were the band’s best work. My favorite song comes from the 1983 album, Mean Streak. The guitar, the driving rhythm section and passionate vocal from Dave Meniketti make Midnight in Tokyo the quintessential Y & T track.
9.) The Clairvoyant by Iron Maiden from 1988’s Seventh Son of A Seventh Son– Honestly, when it comes to Maiden, this could have been one of twenty, even thirty songs. Their catalog is just that deep, making choosing a real conundrum. This song has all the classic hallmarks one demands of Iron Maiden: the time changes, the intelligent concepts, the force and the speed of a metal great.
10.) Another 1988 album produced the song rounding out my Top Ten with Queensryche’s epic Eyes of a Stranger from the amazing Operation Mindcrime. It stands as the band’s greatest work to date. Layered in the complex progressive rock lies intelligent, insightful and biting commentary on Western Civilization in general and the United States in particular.
Honorable Mentions– Those songs that just missed my ten-way tie for first place include Too Late For Love by Def Leppard off their hugely successful Pyromania album and You Give Me All You Need by the Scorpions from another 80’s masterpiece, Blackout.
Okay, and there you have it. As they say on That Metal Show, other lists need not apply. This is my Unconventional Top Ten of Eighties hard rock and heavy metal songs, with a little progressive thrown in for good measure. And yes… I know. I left off Priest, solo Dio, Aerosmith, Van Halen, so many good bands. The top ten lists demands tough choices, my friends.
Have a great week!
This post was written by Erika Gardner. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog. Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.