Ursa Major – Ursa Major (RCA, 1972)
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:
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.
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.
Last month some interesting Scandinavian albums saw the light of day.
Three fine melodic hard rock debut albums
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.
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.
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.