The art of lyrics: Max Webster

Canadian Max Webster (1973 – 1981) is an innovative and extremely interesting band, not only musically but also lyrically. Some claim they brought weirdness to the mainstream. This is surely true for their home country where the band was very popular. Main man Kim Mitchell became a national legend with a successful solo career that also brought some commercial success in the States with this song:

Here we focus especially on Max Websters lyrics. Almost all of them are written by someone who isn’t in the band: Pye Dubois (aka Paul Woods). The lyrics are pieces of art themselves but they fit in perfectly with the music, as these killer songs show: read more

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Some fine Southern Rock bands

The US South is filled with proud, uncomplicated, honest and hard workin’ people with strong ethics. At least that’s the picture you get listening to most Southern Rock songs. Here we present some great bands from this genre.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville, Florida. Their eponomous debut (1973) is a classic album. It stands at the beginning of the popularity of a new subgenre: Southern Rock. Lynyrd is best known for signature songs like Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird. But the lyrics of Simple Man, that’s on the debut album, sum up the  Southern man pretty clearly, or at least describes how the Southern man should ideally be. The lyrics can be found here. read more

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The year 1980 in Rock History: Essential Albums (Vol. 1)

With this post we start a new series, that focuses on specific years in the history of melodic hard rock.

For each year there will be two sections. One for the albums that made it big. These ‘essential’ albums, in the sense that aspirant fans should know them, are the high roads of rock history. The second section will cover albums that should have made it big on the basis of their quality, but didn’t. These albums, that clearly deserve a wider audience, present the roads less travelled. This section will bring you music that remained hidden for too long. You’re guaranteed to be surprised with some stunning melodies. read more

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Interesting new albums (August 2016)

Last month some interesting Scandinavian albums saw the light of day.

Three fine melodic hard rock debut albums

Palace

Fans of 1980s style AOR can’t go wrong with Palace‘s debut album Master Of The Universe (review 1, 2, 3 & 4). Swedish quality, with excellent keyboards and guitar interplay and adventurous songs, at least within the limits of the genre. Production and vocals could’ve been even better and the refrain of No Exit gets pretty annoying once you realize the repetitive character of it, but hey, this is just a debut. The more you listen to it the more you’ll get convinced that this album could have a lasting significance. Melodicrock.nl rating: 91/100. read more

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West Coast, some recent albums

West Coast has been described as well-crafted, soft-focused music mainly made and played in California. Or: California soft rock with some jazz elements thrown in. Also labeled as Yacht Rock, it’s relaxing and perfectly for a lazy sunday morning. Because most of it doesn’t qualify as melodic rock we cover it only marginally on this website.

West Coast was especially popular from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s. You can find out more about relevant artists and albums in this detailed Encyclopedia of West Coast Music. Or listening to this top 100 songs. read more

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Pomp Rock, a sub genre overview

Oxford Dictionaries defines Pomp Rock as: “A genre of rock music, especially prevalent in the late 1970s and early 1980s, typically characterized by prominent keyboards and drums and heavy use of guitar effects, often regarded as bombastic or grandiose in its delivery.” Earliest use is attributed to British weekly pop/rock music newspaper Melody Maker in the 1970s.

The term was used mainly by the British music press to identify Symphonic/Progressive Rock played by American bands. In the US these bands usually were labeled as AOR. read more

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Adult Oriented Rock (AOR), a brief genre overview

Adult oriented rock (AOR) is a music genre that is characterized by a rich, layered sound, slick production and a heavy reliance on pop/rock hooks (rateyourmusic.com). This genre had its heyday in the early 1980s, but luckily it never really left since.

The genre most defining bands are Journey, Foreigner, Toto and Survivor.

Journey‘s 7th studio album Escape (1981) is essential.

Foreigner‘s 4th one, fittingly called 4, that came out in the same year as Journey‘s Escape is another essential AOR album, as is its successor Agent Provocator. read more

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Classic proto hard rock: Vanilla Fudge debut (1967)

Songwriting certainly isn’t the reason this LP is a classic. It consists entirely of half-speed covers and three short original instrumental compositions. The fact that the covers were played in a new, bombastic version however, makes it special. It’s an album that marks the start of a new era. The flower people were about to make place for Hard Rock. In 1967 the Fudge’s heavy version of You Keep Me Hangin’ On was a top ten hit in the US:

Vanilla Fudge was a big influence for bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. In 1969 the group broke up. Drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert formed the solid Hard Rock outfit Cactus and then Beck, Bogert And Appice with Jeff Beck. Lead singer and keyboardist Mark Stein turned up with the great Tommy Bolin and Alice Cooper. He wrote his autobiography in 2011. read more

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