Van Halen (Epic 2017 #342)

The Epic 2017 Project #342: 171208

Van Halen (1978)

In 1976, Van Halen started recording demos for their first studio album. Although they’d recorded a demo in 1976 with Gene Simmons, no labels discovered these until the following year. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen was not convinced of the quality of the material because they could not make the recordings with their own equipment. Simmons had to leave to tour with Kiss after recording the demos, but said he would make an effort to get Van Halen a record deal after his tour.

After recording the demos, Van Halen were offered several concerts. At a sold-out show in their hometown, Pasadena, the group’s future manager, Marshall Berle, discovered the band. He and musical entrepreneur Kim Fowley paired them with punk rock band Venus and the Razorblades for a gig at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. Well received here, the band gained the attention of Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Ostin and Templeman were impressed with the band’s performance at the Starwood, and Van Halen went to sign a contract with Warner Bros.

The recordings of their debut album began in October 1977 and lasted only three weeks. Together with producer Ted Templeman, the album was mostly recorded live. Although “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Jamie’s Cryin'”, “Feel Your Love Tonight” and “Ice Cream Man” contain guitar overdubs.

The subsequent tour to promote album sales began with the band opening for Journey, along with Montrose, in the United States. They later opened for Black Sabbath in Europe and in the U.S.

 

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The Scorpions – Blackout (Epic #288)

The Epic 2017 Project #288: 171015

The Scorpions – Blackout (1982)

Blackout was the eighth studio album by German rock band Scorpions, released in 1982 on EMI Records Germany and Mercury Records.

After losing his voice during the writing of the album, lead singer Klaus Meine had to undergo surgery on his vocal cords and it was uncertain whether he would be able to record it. Demos of the material were recorded with singer Don Dokken as lead singer; however none of those recordings are featured on the album.

In Kerrang! issue 12, Rudolf Schenker said that he could not choose between his guitar solos on “China White”, so the US and European releases differed in this small detail.

A self-portrait of artist Gottfried Helnwein is featured on the cover of the album. Rudolf Schenker portrays this character in the “No One Like You” music video.

The RIAA certified Blackout Gold on 24 June 1982 and Platinum on 8 March 1984.

“China White” was used as entrance music for the professional wrestling tag team The Skyscrapers in World Championship Wrestling.

But here’s the albums title track…

Queen (Epic 2017 #239)

The Epic 2017 Project #239: 170827

Queen (1973)

Queen is the eponymous debut studio album from Queen,  released on 13 July 1973 by EMI Records in the UK and by Elektra Records in the US. It was recorded at Trident Studios and De Lane Lea Music Centre, London, with production by Roy Thomas Baker (as Roy Baker), John Anthony and Queen.

The album was influenced by the hard rock, progressive rock and heavy metal of the time and covers subjects such as folklore (“My Fairy King”) and religion (“Jesus”). Lead singer Freddie Mercury composed five of the ten tracks, guitarist Brian May composed four songs, (including “Doing All Right”, which was co-written by then Smile band-mate Tim Staffell), and drummer Roger Taylor composed and sang “Modern Times Rock and Roll”. The final song on the album is a short instrumental version of “Seven Seas of Rhye”.

But here’s the opener – ‘Keep yourself alive’

The Pretty Reckless – Who you selling for (Epic 2017 #236)

The Epic 2017 Project #236: 170824

The Pretty Reckless – Who you selling for (2016)

Who You Selling For is the third studio album from The Pretty Reckless, released on October 21, 2016 by Razor & Tie. The album reached number 13 on the US Billboard 200 and number 23 on the UK Albums Chart. Its lead single, “Take Me Down”, topped the Billboard US Mainstream Rock chart in October 2016. The album also spawned the singles “Oh My God” and “Back to the River”.

Here’s ‘Oh my God’ – my personal album favourite

Mountain – Avalanche (Epic 2017 #180)

The Epic 2017 Project #180: 170629

Mountain – Avalanche (1974)

Mountain formed on Long Island, New York in 1969 and originally comprised vocalist and guitarist Leslie West, bassist/vocalist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N. D. Smart, the band broke up in 1972 but reformed in 1973 and has frequently reunited ever since.

Best known for their cowbell-tinged song “Mississippi Queen”, as well as for their performance at the famous Woodstock Festival in 1969, Mountain is one of many bands to be commonly credited as having influenced the development of heavy metal music in the 1970s.

Avalanche was the band’s 4th studio album and the first after the 1973 reformation. It featured the return of drummer Corky Laing, was the band’s only recording with guitarist David Perry, and the final album to feature bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi.

‘Last of the sunshine days’ is the final track on the album and, to this day, remains one of my favourite R&B (12 bar) tunes of all time; it’s certainly up there in the top 10 (where it’s always been and probably always will be). To my mind, this is everything a 12-bar stomper should be; right down to the closing simper from Leslie West…

….mmmmm. That’s for John. For the doctor; for the doctor…