Friday, July 15, 2011

Various Artists - Killer Watts (1980)

(Various Artists 1980)
From the once stacked CBS stable, the 1980 Killer Watts collection packs on several high voltage cuts over the course of two slabs of black-as-night vinyl. This compilation was a sampler (or 'taste tester') for albums released by CBS at the time, on their EPIC label.
Opening with the tag-team of "The World Anthem" and "Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame" from Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, the double LP compilation features several sh*t hot guitarists that cut their teeth during the turbulent seventies, including the crazed Motor City Madman Ted "Kill It 'n' Grill It" Nugent ("Flesh and Blood"), lil' Rick Derringer ("Need a Little Girl"), and the ultra-cool Joe "Flash" Perry ("Let the Music Do the Talking"). The seventeen song set of live-wire hard rock 'n' heavy metal packs on the leather clad Judas Priest ("Rapid Fire"), Blue Öyster Cult (the plodding "Godzilla"), REO Speedwagon ("Back on the Road Again"), the under-rated Shakin' Street ("Solid as a Rock"), Aerosmith ("No Surprise") and the swamp rawkin' Molly Hatchet ("Boogie No More").
I'm pretty sure this compilation was a specially priced 'double -album' at the time, retailing for the same price as a single album. The best thing about this compilation was that it introduced me to the relatively unknown French band 'Trust' with their blistering hit "L'Elite" which absolutely flawed me when I heard it for the first time. The only disappointment on this compilation was Ted Nugent's "Flesh and Blood" - not his best effort in my opinion. I have therefore also included another track from his 'Scream Dream' LP called "Wango Tango" which I believe would have been a far better choice - you can therefore choose to swap it out if you like.
Note: There was an inferior release of this album made by K-Tel some time later (depicted right) which surprises me, as heavy metal music and the tinny sounding reputation of K-Tel records would make this re-release inferior to the original !
The following is a brief run down of the albums from which these tracks were taken, mostly taken from the linear notes provided with this compilation:
There's nothing anyone could say about Ted Nugent that the Motor City Madman couldn't say better - and louder himself. He is the archetypal hard rock guitarist as anyone with even the sketchiest knowledge of heavy metal will know already. Ted's pedigree goes back 15 years or more and instead of mellow in' with age he's got louder, faster and wilder. "Flesh And Blood" is just one of ten screaming dizzbusters on Nugent's new album 'Scream Dream' - his seventh for Epic. As Ted himself once said "I was always the best at everything I did. You take guitar playing for granted but I'll out-run, out-shoot and out-hunt anybody. I am great". One hates to argue
Blue Oyster Cult, once described as a "portable Altamont" have always had a macabre air about them, a sort of suppressed sinistrality that continually threatens to explode. "Godzilla" is taken from the superb live album 'Some Enchanted Evening' which revealed the Cult at their best. They've never been a band to stand still so their progress from their debut album 'Blue Oyster Cult' to their latest 'Mirrors' has been one of steady evolution. At the same time they probably don't know what a bandwagon is, let alone how to jump on one, so there is a cohesion about their work which allows one to pick any track from any album of theirs and just know instinctively it's one of the Cult's. Always powerful and always clean Blue Oyster Cult represent the best of American metal.
"Need A Little Girl (just Like You)" is an excellent taster from an excellent album 'Guitars And Women' which demonstrates clearly just how much Rick Derringer has developed over the years. Mind you he wasn't exactly a novice when he was playing with johnny Winter and Edgar Winter in the first half of the last decade. He started his solo career in May, 1976. with the 'Derringer' LP on which he gave the first full rein to his immense guitar and vocal abilities. Incidentally it's worth noting that on the cut on this album, Derringer performs guitar, bass and vocals himself. The album was produced by Rick and Todd Rundgren and overall is a classy example of guitar playing at its most effective and powerful.
Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush have been blitzing their followers for upwards of a decade now, in fact from the time Frank first formed the band in his native Montreal, Canada. Marino fans will recognise "World Anthem" from the 1977 album of the same name while "Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame" is culled from the brand new 'What's Next' LP. That's Mahogany Rush's eighth album in total and their fifth for CBS. Marino has always been a power freak, a reputation which he lives up to with ease on the new set which sees the band tackling some classics like "Mona" and "Rock Me Baby" and given them new freshness and vitality.
One of the great pleasures of 1979 was to see Judas Priest, an excelled and hard-working band, finally get the reaction and the rewards they deserved. After more than five years of slogging they finally broke through and they're now recognised as one of Britain's pre-eminent heavy metal bands. The band's latest album, 'British Steel' - which includes "Rapid Fire" - is their fifth album for CBS and seventh in total. Also, it's the vinyl debut of drummer - Dave Holland who replaced Les Binks in August 1979. Priest are primo purveyors of leather-clad macho rock and roll - unsurprisingly since they hail from beautiful Birmingham, capital of the heavy metal universe. Enough said - if you haven't heard of Judas Priest by now, then you've obviously been living under a rock for the last two years.
Journey represent the more mellow side of heavy metal, a side which has as honourable a pedigree as the brain-blasters. Composed of five consummate musicians Journey has been recording since 1975. "Line Of Fire" is taken from the band's sixth album 'Departure'. It's the second studio outing for newest member Steve Smith whose drums and percussion abilities did so much to help elevate the band's music to a new plane of technique and style. His ability is matched by singer Steve Perry, keyboards man Greg Rolie, guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valory.
Believe it or not but 1980 is REO Speedwagon's tenth year in the record business - a fact which has not escaped the attention of Epic or the band. Together they've compiled a superb anthology of tracks from the band's nine albums called 'A Decade Of Rock And Roll' Naturally "Back On The Road Again" representing their last album 'Nine Lives', is included. Nowhere near as well known in Britain as in the States, Speedwagon is a five piece band formed in Illinois 12 years ago. Quite why REO have never cracked it in Britain is beyond me because they're hot and tasty - hopefully the anthology set will do it for them. You'd be hard pushed to find a better collection of one band's work than on that.
Molly Hatchet's 'Flirtin' With Disaster' is a heavy metal LP with a strong flavour of southern rock and roll. And "Boogie No More" from that, their-second album, is a good example of the band. It's not exactly power chord city but it rocks like a demon and it's heavy enough for anyone's tastes. However you define it, Molly Hatchet make great music. A six piece band from Florida, they first showed Britain how good they were at the 79' Reading Festival. The germ of the band was founded in 1971 and the current line-up was arrived at in 1976. Hatchet are a steaming, smokin', sizzling band who defy anyone to sit still.
Aerosmith recently released their seventh album "Night In The Ruts", the last to feature Joe Perry and it was instantly hailed as a fine return to the raw power of their early days. The Aeros, now boasting Jimmy Crespo on lead guitar, have always been a glamour-laden, power-packed, machismo-laden band with the sort of gloss and drive that the best American outfits boast. "No Suprise" is a good example of the current state of play with the band as hot as ever as crisp as a hundred dollar bill. Again they're another band whose British success hasn't matched their native American acceptance but it's surely only a matter of time that the creators of 'Rocks' and 'Toys In The Attic' receive their due acclaim here
Joe Perry, for those who may not know, was a founder member of Aerosmith and was lead guitarist with the band for eight years and seven albums. Having split after Aerosmith's latest LP 'Night In The Ruts', Perry has wasted little time in getting together his own album 'Let The Music Do The Talking' which is essentially a solo project. The title track included here shows Perry's remarkable ability as a guitarist while Ralph Mormon supplies the vocals. Perry can be heard singing on four of the other tracks and a damn fine job he does of it too. Incidentally Perry's album sees a reunion between him and producer Jack Douglas who filled the same role on early Aerosmith albums.
Knock 'Em Dead, Kid is the third album by Canadian rock band Trooper, released in 1977. The album was produced by Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who fame. Bassist Harry Kalensky was replaced by Doni Underhill prior to the recording this album, which was the group's first Canadian platinum certified album. The album contained the hits "We're Here for a Good Time (not a long time)" and "Oh, Pretty Lady".
Band Lineup: Ra McGuire - vocals; Brian Smith - guitar & vocals; Doni Underhill - bass; Frank Ludwig - keyboards & vocals and Lance Chalmers on drums.
'No Prisoners' garnered little attention and almost no critical acclaim at the time and let's face it, the guy on the cover is enough to put anyone off and the whole cover looks pretty tacky, but the album is actually surprisingly good Queen - Led Zeppelin inspired Rock N Roll.
Featuring the not inconsiderable talents of one Alexis T. Angel (yeah, I don't believe it, either!) on vocals and the formidable guitar playing of one Gregg Parker, the album positively reeks of Zeppelin style grooves and thumping hard rock. Angel's vocals are a wild animal growl one second and a seductive purr the next and Parker's guitar leaps out at you in virtuoso fashion at every turn.
Great early 80's melodic hard rock from France. This one is the second album released in 1980 on CBS (not their debut as annotated on the Killer Watts cover). Recorded at the automatt studio, San Francisco, produced by Sandy Pearlman. Special guests: Alan Pasqua, Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult) and Armando Peraza. The cult album of Fabienne Shine's Gang feat. Ross The Boss (Dictators) before he joined Manowar... not to be missed!
They had the manager of Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath. The group toured with ACDC and Blue Oyster Cult. It was on tour with Black Sabbath in 1980 when guitarist Ross the Boss joined them and participated in recording their second album, Shakin 'Street, "Solid As A Rock ", produced by Sandy Pearlman (of Blue Oyster Cult fame). This album is entirely produced in the U.S. Among the influences of the group are Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin.
The Boyzz, a midwestern bluesy hard rock outfit, were virtually anonymous at the time of their debut release in 1978. Almost 35yrs later and the same could be said. However, in the midwest, the band flourished and sold out shows on a regular basis. After the failure of their one and only album, the band took a short sabbatical and reinvented themselves under the new name, The B'zz. That didn't seem to make much of a difference either. However, in the new millennium there's been a resurgence of the band's popularity in their home turf and a new augmented lineup currently tours the region with reasonable success.
Guitarist Ray Gomez debuted with Volume in 1980, a studio LP that opened with the Rick Derringer like "Make Your Move", and features "Love at First Sight", "West Side Boogie", "U.S.A.", and "Waiting for the Big Time". Unfortunately, the promising Volume LP was the lone recording from Gomez. The LP was a great combination of rock,fusion,blues,funk and Pop. Ray's first solo album, "Volume" received accolades from critics and media alike, climbing to number-one on the radio charts in America.
By far the most successful French heavy metal band of all, Nanterre based TRUST produced some excellent albums chock full of aggression and lyrics that were unafraid of using social and political commentary. TRUST released their first album on CBS Records in May 1979 'L'Elite' (see earlier post), recorded in London with producer Herv Muller, and includes a cover of ACDC's 'Ride On'.
I first heard Trust in the early 80's when I purchased "Killer Watts" which showcased their hit single 'L'Elite'. When 'L'Elite' came blasting out of my Stereo's speakers, I was totally blown away. The French vocals of singer Bernie Bonvoisin along with the blistering guitar riffs by Nono Krief hooked me big time. I managed to track down Trust's entire catalogue from a range of import shops, but it was hard going as very few import outlets carried French releases. And when I did find them, they cost me big bucks. Now I'm laughing because good condition vinyl copies fetch high prices on eBay, and I've got the lot (both English and French versions).
This post was taken from my 'mint condition' vinyl (except for the Trust track which has had a few more spins around the turntable) at 320kps and includes full album artwork.
Track Listing
01 - The World Anthem (Frank Marino & Mahogoney Rush)
02 - Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame (Frank Marino & Mahogoney Rush)
03 - USA (Ray Gomez)
04 - Flesh And Blood (Ted Nugent)
05 - Knock Em Dead Kid (Trooper)
06 - Rapid Fire (Judas Priest)
07 - Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult)
08 - Need A Little Girl Just Like You (Rick Derringer)
09 - Back On The Road Again (REO Speedwagon)
10 - Line Of Fire (Journey)
11 - Solid As A Rock (Shakin' Street)
12 - L'Elite -(Trust)
13 - Too Wild To Tame (The Boyzz)
14 - Let The Music Do The Talking (The Joe Perry Project)
15 - No Surprise (Aerosmith)
16 - Checkin It Out Baby Don't Cry (Ozz)
17 - Boogie No More (Molly Hatchet)

Killer Watts Link (176Mb) New Link 26/10/2015

Warning: Don't be confused with another 'Killer Watts' release as depicted on the right ......LOL !



  1. Nice one this record set ...I played it a lot when it first came out and then purchased most of the albums for each of the artists it worked!

    How about a double LP from the early seventies called Hot Rocks was on Orange Vinyl was a sampler .. possibly polydoy or polygram or something ....anyone got this one? I would love to see that loaded up copy got nicked years ago!

  2. hey cfcff5cc....

    Thanks for dropping by. Afraid I haven't got or even heard of Hot Rocks but I'm sure I would have bought it if it was on 'orange vinyl'!
    Maybe someone else passing by might be of help

  3. This has been one of my all-time top favorite hard-rock albums for 30 years. Whoever compiled this selection at CBS Records really excelled themselves, the track selection flows perfectly from one song to the next throughout. This album is also culturally very significant, it captures a turning point in pure rock music - the transition from the more blues-based 70's rock sound to the harder-edged 80's sound. In addition to a very well balanced blend of both North American and European acts, it features a nice mix of established and up-and-coming artists. Whoever is the current top executive at Sony Music should make their number-one priority to be re-releasing Killer Watts in remastered form on CD (with no bonus tracks, it's perfect as it is.)

  4. Going by your name Blue Oyster, I suspect you were probably drawn to this compilation by the inclusion of the BOC track as was I to the Mahogoney Rush tracks.
    It certainly was a good buy and not many other compilations at the time could boast such a great lineup of artists.
    Thanks for calling in.

  5. This was my hard rock "goto" album once it came out. I played it to death! Today I live in Vietnam, and of course all my vinyl is still in Oz. I didn't have time to rip much before I left. Today I was thinking about Trust, Shakin' Street and Joe Perry, realising that I didn't have any of their music in my digital collection over here. To my rescue you rode. Thank you!

  6. Couldn't see a way to send a direct message, so apologies for posting an unrelated comment here. I was thinking about what Aussie rock vinyl I had been able to rip & clean up before I left Oz, and I see you don't have Avion's self-titled. I don't think that got released on CD, so if you want it let me know. (Sorry, I can't seem to find the artwork I scanned from it).

    1. Thanks for the kind offer but I already have Avion's Selftitled and White Noise LPs. (Great band by the way)
      Thanks to your interest, I might post these on the blog in the near future, when I get a chance to rip them
      All the best mate

  7. Many thanks for this album.
    I am a new user of your blog
    I greatly appreciate all these 'old' musics I was listening when I was young. And as I am still young ;-) I can hear them again, and discover new ones(!), thanks to blogs like yours.

  8. Just recording my copy of this fine album to open reel at 7.5 ips. I thought I'd google it and found your excellent review1 Rock on!

  9. This was a good 'sampler' album - but the promotional lines were stretching the truth.
    Ray Gomez's album 'Volume' was a decent record, but it sank without a trace! Id did NOT 'climb to number one on American radio' !!