‘80s Supergroups: Damn Yankees

Hi Everybody!!! Today, Robert Returns to us with a new Supergroups article. Although both of this band’s albums came out in the ’90s, there are obvious ’80s ties. Two of the members came from two of my favorite bands. I bought the Damn Yankees cassette the day it came out. A few months later, I was shipped to the Middle East for Desert Shield. I made sure I brought this tape with me! Every song is incredible. Now, let’s have Robert take it away and mystify us with this awesome band!

Damn Yankees – An Almost in the ‘80s Supergroup

“Hey, hey, damn yankees! O-O-O damn yankees!” No, this is not a line from the Broadway musical or the emphatic screams of Red Sox fans. This is a sign that the time is right for another rocking supergroup from the ‘80s, well kind of.

Technically, Damn Yankees released their debut album, Damn Yankees, in 1990. Because of their ‘80s rock style and the fact that three of the members are legends in their own right, I am going to grandfather them into the 1980s. The band formed as a result of the combination of Tommy Shaw from the mega successful band Styx, Jack Blades from the very successful Night Ranger, and Ted Nugent who had been a successful solo artist in the ‘70s and ‘80s as well as a member of the Amboy Dukes. These three added drummer Michael Cartellonne and Damn Yankees was complete and ready to record an excellent rock album.

While I was never a huge Ted Nugent fan personally, I had friends who were so I was able borrow a few records and familiarize myself with some of his work. Songs like “Stranglehold” and “Cat Scratch Fever” were staples on classic rock radio, and I was quite familiar with them. Nugent’s other albums led me to discover his wild rocking ways. In contrast, I was a huge fan of Styx. I had loved their music ever since I heard “The Best of Times” on the radio as a kid. I recorded this song off of the radio and wore that tape out, so I asked my parents for a few bucks and ran out to buy Paradise Theater (I still have that vinyl copy- remember the cool design actually printed on the record?). I was an enormously huge fan of Night Ranger. I owned all of their albums and loved every song. The hard driving guitars, great choruses, and vocals of both Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy had always appealed to me. Needless to say, I was very excited to hear what the combined talents of these great rock musicians had in store.

I am happy to reveal that I was in no way disappointed – Damn Yankees hit on everything that I loved about ‘80s rock. Right from the beginning of the first track I knew that I was about to have a special listening experience. Powerful guitars by Nugent and Shaw, a driving bass by Blades, strong drumming by Cartellone – this album had everything I needed in rock. Add to that smooth vocals by both Shaw and Blades with absolutely addictive hooks in each song and this album quickly became one of my favorites that I forced my friend to listen to.

Damn Yankees’ first album sold quite well, 2 million copies, giving it double platinum status. There were a total of five singles that had various levels of success. The biggest hit from the album was the classic rock ballad “High Enough”. The song received major airplay and was in high rotation on MTV. I have great memories of walking back to my college dorm from English class and heading right to the lounge were 20 of us gathered every day to watch Total Request Live on MTV – “High Enough” had quite a run and was one we all sang out loud. This song reached #3 on the American Top 40 charts. The other singles were “Coming of Age” #60, “Come Again” #50, “Runaway”, and “Bad Reputation” which both charted on the rock charts but failed to appear on the Top 40 listings.

Now it’s probably time to check out these awesome songs.

Coming of Age

This was the first Damn Yankees song that I heard on the radio before I bought the album. It captured all of the energy that the band brings to their music. From Nugent’s opening chords to Blades’s excellent vocals, this song hits all of the right notes. Lyrically it is concerned with the difficulty most of have in the transition from teenagehood to adulthood, “Dressed to kill and looking dynamite / With her high lace stockings and her sweater so tight / I asked her name / She said her name was Maybe.” It is not our own maturity that is the focus, rather the hard to believe growth of those we once saw as children. This song rocks, has a great guitar solo, and a chorus that stays with you.

Bad Reputation

This song has a heavy dose of Night Ranger influence. It is not just Blades’s vocals, but the rhythm guitar and the phrasing of the lyrics that really sound like vintage Night Ranger. So saying, this song has a great kick. Don’t miss this bridge where Blades and Shaw have echoing lines that lead into a nice harmony and guitar solo.


Another rocker with an excellent, catchy chorus. This song does not do anything original lyrically – a girl from a small town in is unhappy so she takes off – but it a solid track.

High Enough

This is easily the most recognizable song on this album. It remains a song that not only appears on most compilations of ‘80s rock ballads, but it constantly played on nearly every classic rock or hair band radio station. It is an excellent ballad that features killer love song lyrics, “I don’t want to live without you anymore / Can’t you see I’m in misery and you know for sure? / I’d live and die for you and I know just what to do when you call me ‘baby’.” It tells that typical love story of the love that just does not fade and yearns to be maintained. It also has a smooth acoustic guitar and a great solo played by Nugent. In the video, note that Nugent’s long zebra patterned coat matches his signature guitar. I also really enjoy the lead vocals that alternate between Shaw and Blades.

Damn Yankees

The open guitar riff defines this song as a great rocker. Lyrically, this song smacks of Nugent’s out-spoken support of all things American. Oh, and the guitar solo is pretty dang good – no surprise.

Come Again

This song starts out as an acoustic guitar driven ballad with Shaw taking the lead on vocals. It has a very Styx-like sound- like “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” . . . and then Nugent’s guitar kicks in and we have another great rock song. When the guitar takes center stage, Shaw belts out, “Been so long since I’ve seen you, girl / Swear I’ve been around the world / Every room is an empty space / In the darkness I see your face.” This song quickly becomes one that demands to be played again.


This one sounds like a preview of what Shaw and Blades will sound like on their forthcoming album Hallucination. The guitar work is prominent, but more subdued. It has a clear bass track supplied by Blades and a good groove established by Cartellonne’s drums.

Rock City

Nothing but pure rock here! Great track.

Tell Me How You Want It

Here is another addictive rock song that is a bit more melodic and has a seriously catchy chorus. The lyrics are about that man who will do anything – or be anyone – just to get that girl.


This is the one song on this album that took me the longest to get used to and even like. It is the song that is most influenced by Nugent. I immediately liked the conversational, laid back tone that the song opens with, but it does not last long. This tune quickly becomes aggressive and heavy metal influenced. The pace is fast and the guitars wail -as do Nugent’s vocals. It took some time, but this song really grew on me.

In 1992 Damn Yankees released a second album, Don’t Tread. The album sold enough to be certified gold, but did not reach the heights of their first release. The music on this album rocks just as much as the first; personally, I feel it is an underrated album that has plenty of great rock songs. I will include three songs from this second album.

Don’t Tread On Me

This is the first track on their second album and it picks up right where the first one left off: great guitar work, smooth vocals, and an infectious chorus. “You better not set your sights on me / ‘Cause it might spoil your victory” – great stuff, and yes, another superb solo.

Where You Goin’ Now

This song is every bit as good as High Enough. It is a perfect blend of what all four members of the band had to offer. This song received some good airplay, but I wish more people were familiar with it – the band’s talent really shines through. There is a line in this song that says, “There’s a crack in the mirror / There is a hole in the sun / Full moon in the midnight sky / And you feel like you want to run.” I am not sure that there is a connection here, but Night Ranger released an album entitled Hole in the Sun in 2008.

Silence is Broken

Here is another great song that I fear too many people have not heard. Musically, this song has everything a fan of rock needs. And the lyrics are not bad either, “The silence is broken now / It’s over now / The words have been spoken / And with every word you say / You blow away / The tears of another time.”

I do not think that it is too much to say that Damn Yankees was one of the best supergroups to grow out of the ‘80s rock era. The combinations of these great rock artists produced some very high quality rock music. If you have not given this band much of a listen, now is the time. Be sure you include the second album Don’t Tread – it is a hidden gem.

On a quick side note: Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades combined without Ted Nugent to record two albums together. Hallucination in 1995 and an album of cover songs called Influence in 2007. I highly recommend that first one – great music.

Remember That Song: 3/31/15

Can you name the artist and song:

I won’t take no prisoners won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s putting up a fight

Last Song: “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince from Purple Rain (1984)

Great job Robert (@mishouenglish), Andy (@andytorah), and Candy (@candyissodandy)!!!

Are we gonna let the elevator
Bring us down
Oh, no


Top 40 Songs This Week – March 25, 1989: Songs 10-1

Hi Everybody! Welcome back to this week’s countdown! If you missed the previous posts, you can check out songs 40-31, 30-21, and 20-11. Well, there are no more hair bands the rest of the way. But, we do have some of the best ballads of the year right here in this top 10. Now, let’s Return to the week ending March 25, 1989, and wrap up the countdown.

10. “You’re Not Alone” by Chicago

This is one of my favorite songs on the great album that is Chicago 19. I love Bill Champlin’s vocals in every song he does.

“You’re Not Alone” on Amazon

9. “Roni” by Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown was white hot at this time. This ballad was the third single released from his incredible Don’t Be Cruel album. This hit, written by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, would peak at #3 on the Hot 100.

“Roni” on Amazon

8. “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was)

Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom
Boom boom acka-lacka boom boom
Oh man, I feel like I shouldn’t like this song, but I think it’s so much fun. I do like a lot of funk songs though. And this song does stay with you. Now, Open the door, get on the floor /
Everybody walk the dinosaur

“Walk the Dinosaur” on Amazon

Now is the part of the countdown where we see what was topping some of the other charts this week:

The #1 Country song was “New Fool at an Old Game” by Reba McEntire.

Topping the R&B chart was “Closer Than Friends” by Surface.

“I’ll Be You” by The Replacements topped the Rock charts (not to be confused with “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts).

The top Adult Contemporary tune was our #16 hit on the Hot 100 – “You Got It” by Roy Orbison.

The best album in the country this week was Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson.

Finally, the #1 Dance song is our #7 song on the Hot 100 this week…

7. “She Drives Me Crazy” by The Fine Young Cannibals

I never cared for this song. It got so much airplay that it drove me crazy. But, if given the choice to listen to this either song, or most current songs on the radio today, I would pick this one.

“She Drives Me Crazy” on Amazon

6. “Lost In Your Eyes” by Debbie Gibson

Even though my music taste leans heavily towards rock, I have never hidden my love for Debbie Gibson on this site. This is her signature hit. Even people, who look down on her, do like this song. This had been a #1 hit for three straight weeks.

Lost In Your Eyes on Amazon

5. “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” by Rod Stewart

Since it seems like all Rod Stewart has done for well over a decade was release his Great American Songbook series, I always forget how good he really is. His 1988 album, Out of Order, is outstanding. This song, from that album, is a nice ballad and was the highest charting song from that album. It peaked at #4.

“My Heart Can’t Tell You No” on Amazon

4. “The Look” by Roxette

I love this Swedish duo so much!! This song was their global breakthrough hit. It would hit number 1 in several countries, including the U.S. This is a really good rock song from Roxette’s awesome Look Sharp! album.

“The Look” on Amazon

3. “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli

This was a huge pop hit at the time. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not something I would be able to listen to on a regular basis. This was the song that exposed Milli Vanilli as lip synchers. While “performing” this song at a concert in Connecticut, the album began skipping and repeating on the same lyric. This was a huge scandal at the time, which destroyed Milli Vanilli. If this happened today, it would be called just another Friday.

“Girl You Know It’s True” on Amazon

2. “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles

This classic love ballad is one of The Bangles’ signature songs. With this song and “Walk Like an Egyptian“, the Bangles became only the third girl group to score multiple number-ones in the United States, after the Supremes and the Shirelles.

“Eternal Flame” on Amazon

1. “The Living Years” by Mike + The Mechanics

What a way to finish the countdown! This is easily my favorite song by Mike + The Mechanics, and one of my favorite songs of the decade. Paul Carrack sings lead vocals on the song. This is an emotional song about a tumultuous father/son relationship and the son’s regret of the unresolved issues after his father died. After all, It’s too late when we die / To admit we don’t see eye to eye

The lyrics are great and the music is great.

“The Living Years” on Amazon

Well, that wraps up this week’s countdown. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. The next countdown will be earlier in the decade to more of the classic ’80s music we all know and love. Until then, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

Remember That Song: 3/27/15

Hair’s to Friday!!!

Can you name the artist and song:

Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he’s clean
Oh don’t you see what I mean

Last Song: “Upside Down” by Diana Ross from the album Diana (1980)

Instinctively you give to me
The love that I need
I cherish the moments with you

Albums of the ’80s: Bon Jovi – New Jersey

Hi Everybody!!! Today, Robert is back with another article for us. This one covers one of my favorite albums of all-time – Bon Jovi’s New Jersey. You can also check out Robert’s last article about Bad English if you haven’t caught that one yet. Now let’s kick back and enjoy this perfect album. Take it away, Robert. 2, 3, 4!!!!

Bon Jovi: A Masterpiece Follows up a Masterpiece

September 1988: I was just starting my sophomore year of college. I was in the process of buying CDs to replace my records and cassettes, and I had a very specific hierarchy in this process – my favorites had to come first. This also meant that any new music released by any of these artist would immediately be purchased in the CD format. My first CD was Survivor’s Too Hot To Sleep. I was enjoying the process and worked my way to one of my favorites, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet (Return to the ‘80s review of this album). As fate would have it, I just read that Bon Jovi was set to release a new album! I waited with as much patience as I could muster and then stood in line at my local CD store on that September morning to get a copy of New Jersey as soon as I could – and I was not disappointed.

New Jersey skyrocketed to the well deserved place as my favorite Bon Jovi album. I played it constantly driving my roommate and girlfriend crazy – but I did not care. Clearly, I was not the only one who thought this way. The album sold over 7 million copies and had 5 Top 10 hits (2 of those #1). New Jersey is one of the few albums in my collection that has no bad songs. There is not one track on this album that I would ever skip. So, let’s get to those great songs.

Lay Your Hands On Me

Is there a better opening to an album? Tico Torres on the drums – the band shouting “HEY”, Richie Sambora adding some licks on the guitar – David Bryan’s keyboards – a full 1 minute and 19 seconds of suspense building. And then Jon Bon Jovi says, “They say to really free your body, you’ve got to free your mind. So come on, check this out.” Here is an invitation to sit back, relax, and enjoy the musical ride that Bon Jovi is about to take the listener on. The song explodes with an intense rhythm guitar and a chorus that begs the audience to sing along.

Bad Medicine

This song is a clear (and successful) attempt by Bon Jovi to capture the feel of a live show in a recording studio without using crowd noises or other effects. The rapid pace of the verses combined with a shout-at-the-top-of your-lungs chorus makes this song irresistible. Just when you think the song is over, Jon Bon Jovi keeps it going with, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on. One more time, with feeling.” – giving it that concert feel. Every time I attend a Bon Jovi concert, I eagerly await this song. The official video for this song features fans onstage with 16mm camera as they film ‘their’ video.

Born to be My Baby

What a breath of fresh air – an excellent love song that absolutely rocks.This song is a raw and honest look at a couple who does not have much, but they have each other. Here is yet another example of Bon Jovi’s lyrical focus on middle class America. The couple in the song work hard and do not have many worldly possession to show for it – and they do not need any, “Table for two on a TV tray, it ain’t fancy, baby, that’s OK – our time, our way.” The bonds of true love are strong and ever-lasting.

Living in Sin

I was 19 when this album was released and this song spoke to me and jumped out right away. It was not so much the idea of a premarital physical relationship that struck me, rather the idea of the blatant hypocrisy of so many ‘rules’ that I had always felt obliged to follow. The lyric that really captured my attention was, “Is it right for both our parents to fight it out most nights and pray for God’s forgiveness as they both turn out the lights?” At the time I was questioning many rules and societal expectations that struck me as hypocritical or just plain silly. This song made me realize that as I was aging, Bon Jovi aged with me, writing about things that concerned me. This would continue well into my adulthood.

Blood on Blood

This song was never released as a single, but remains one of the band’s most popular songs and is consistently on the set list for a Bon Jovi concert. The song rocks and lyrically touches on the idea of growing up with best friends and then dealing with the idea that we all grow older and move on. We never forget the best friends who were always there for us. Every time I hear this song my best friends, LeRoyce and Marvin, are in my mind. The video is an excellent live version.

Homebound Train

While I love all of the songs on this album, this may be my favorite. This song begins with a bluesy sound and then becomes an excellent guitar driven rock song – and the guitar shreds. Richie Sambora is one my favorite guitarists and I believe he is underrated – this song, and a later song called Dry County, are two great examples of just how good he is.

Wild is the Wind

The previous song has my favorite guitar work on the album and this one has my favorite lyrics. Many of us expect love songs and most of those love songs are somewhat predictable – love lasts or love is lost. What distinguishes this song is the speaker coming to grips with the fact that he is not what she wants and it is time for him to move on. For some reason, the bridge to this song gives me chills: “Maybe a better man would live and die for you, baby, a better man would never say goodbye to you.” This captures the difficulty of having to admit that you do not have what the one you love needs. Great song.

Ride Cowboy Ride

This track serves three purposes. First, it is an excellent setup for the next song. Second, it shows the range of both Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora’s talent and creativity. Third, is it a sign of what is to come with the Young Guns II soundtrack. I have no real great reasons, but I love this short song.

Stick to Your Guns

No love song here. This song answers this question: what are you going to do when people doubt you? It does not matter what the situation is, Bon Jovi has the same answer for all occasions. Getting into a tough music industry is an enormous risk, full of the failures of those who have tried before. I can only imagine how many times Jon Bon Jovi was told to not follow his dream and instead, find a more reliable way of making a living – ‘you do not have a chance.’ Fortunately for all of us, he did not listen – and the rest is history.

I’ll Be There For You

This has to be one of Bon Jovi’s most famous and often played ballads. It has the typical Bon Jovi sound – great guitar work, smooth lyrics, and awesome vocals. I love everything about this song, but my favorite are the lines, “I know you know we had some good times / Now they have their own hiding place / Well, I can promise you tomorrow / But I can’t buy back yesterday.” The heartfelt desperation of this song has always enthralled me and pulled at my heartstrings.

99 in the Shade

This song has always reminded me of a great song on Bon Jovi’s second album 7800 Fahrenheit; this song sounds like a cousin to “Tokyo Road“. I think it is because it has a similar air of fun rock n’ roll and several turns of phrases that I love.

Love for Sale

This song is a perfect end to a perfect album. The band is sitting around on their acoustic instruments and jamming. You can almost hear them saying: the album is finished and it is time for a break – but before we go, here is one more song to remember us by: “We’ve been living together for 3 years, 2 hours, 20 minutes maybe four hundred beers / You can’t shop for love when you’re shopping at Sears / Love for sale.”

Bonus: Love is War

I am including this song even though it was one of the last songs cut from the original release of New Jersey; it was released as a B side to the single Living in Sin. The beginning of it is a bit over the top, but the song is great. It captures the feelings of what sometimes happens in relationships as people change and begin to feel cheated by those changes – sometimes things can get nasty.

New Jersey is an album that represents the pinnacle of Bon Jovi’s career. The band has continued to record great music, and I have all of it, but nothing completely measures up to this rock masterpiece. A 25th anniversary box set was released in July of 2014. It features the original album with extra tracks, a CD with unreleased tracks, and a DVD of the New Jersey tour documentary. As I was gathering a few numbers for this article, I started counting the number of views the videos linked here have on YouTube. The result is a staggering 205,471,009! If you have not listened to New Jersey recently, let this serve as your inspiration to do so. If you have, there is nothing wrong with giving it one more listen.

Wasn’t that awesome!?!?! If you still can’t get enough of this incredible album (and let’s face it, can you ever get enough of it?), check out Rock Out Loud’s most bodacious episode about the New Jersey album.

Quote of the Day: Ed Grimley

Oh I get to meet Pat Sajak, like I suppose you can do better than that! No way. It just seems to me he would be a pretty decent guy, I must say. What if we became best friends, best friends in the world so I would just phone his house and say, “Is Pat there? Just tell him it’s me.” Oh yeah, that really makes sense. Like Pat Sajak doesn’t have like over a million friends probably. But then again, maybe he doesn’t. It’s difficult to say.

Happy 65th Birthday to Martin Short!!!