Music, My Stories

The Data We Give Away

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
There’s nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows

Electric Eye by Judas Priest

In the internet age, it’s all about spying. The most obvious spying activity, which we don’t even care about are our search histories. I bet ya, if all of those search words are given to our partners, it would make “The War Of The Roses” movie look like child’s play.

However, with our uptake of social media; Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter are all making billions from content put up by their users and by selling data from their users to third parties.

And the TV industry has seen this, they know about this, and those SMART TV’s that once seemed out of price are suddenly affordable, because the manufacturer is capturing your data and selling it to a third party for a profit. But there is a high chance you didn’t agree to this invasion of privacy.

The manufacturer tracks what TV shows you watch, what ads you watch and what sport you watch. They then sell all of that data to other parties for product placements. So while the TV was cheap, the manufacturer stands to make billions by selling your data to marketing companies.

Then again, is it any different to what YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Apple do.

And what about the power of WeChat. It’s basically WhatsApp, Facebook, PayPal, Uber and many other softwares in one.

Is it good for one company to have so much power?

My view is no, but people just hand over their info and data because it’s easy to use and they are connected. And since it’s a Chinese company, 90% of the users are from China, which is a censored society. Which means that the Government would have access to this data as well.

As my favorite band from Australia “Cog” sings, “yes they’re making lists of people interested in this”.

Maybe it’s time we take back our privacy.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Album Vaults – Aerosmith

This is a new little blog series in which I showcase my album collection.

And if you are going to start with A, then Aerosmith is a perfect band to kick it off.

It started with “Walk This Way”. Their version with Run DMC was all over MTV. Then “Permanent Vacation” dropped. And I can’t find my LP. In the six house moves, I’ve lost a few boxes and unfortunately “Permanent Vacation” is a victim.
I purchased the single to “Love In The Elevator” first and really dug the B side “Young Lust”. And that clip was everywhere. The scorched earth marketing policy Geffen employed was working. I didn’t buy it straight away, but “Pump” had the distinction of being my first Aerosmith album purchase.

And “Pump” is a solid album from start to finish.
Even in that late 80’s period of mega sales, Aerosmith still had their sound rooted in the blues. It’s why they kept their existing fan base and they just added enough catchiness to grab new fans along the way.

I got “Get A Grip” as soon as I could get it and for the amount of songs on it, I was disappointed with it as an album, but it did give me “Eat The Rich” (love the verse riff), “Get A Grip” , “Livin On The Edge” and “Crying”.

At this point in time, I needed to get my hands on some of their earlier 70’s releases. But I started with “Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits” as it was an obvious choice to peruse their back catalogue.

“Draw The Line” was next with the mighty “Kings And Queens”. On the “Greatest Hits” collection the song was edited down to 3.48 from its original 4.55 running time. But hearing it in it’s full glory is excellent. I swear Dave Meniketti built his career on this song.

“Toys In The Attic” came next, followed by the excellent “Rocks” and the unbelievable riffy “Nobody’s Fault”.

“Get Your Wings” and “Night In The Ruts” proved disappointing however back in the present, I was surprised at “Nine Lives” and the risk they took to bring exotic melodies into their music, like “Taste Of India”, which is an excellent song.

“Just Push Play” proved disappointing and another greatest hits package called “Oh Yeah” rounded out my Aerosmith purchases.
Through streaming I’ve heard the other albums that I don’t have, but don’t feel a real need to go out and get em as I’m quite happy having access to em.

Here is the playlist.

Happy to hear about other people’s favorites.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Burn

We got a blackout. My kids haven’t been through one before. Actually my kids don’t know how good they’ve really had it, because everything works without fail.

As a kid growing up, blackouts happened a lot and then the infrastructure became stable and they stopped. But the storm passing through was crazy and the infrastructure is now old, unable to cope with the demand of a growing population.

And man, our weather in Australia has been even crazier. We get hot, humid days and then a crazy storm in the afternoon. Sometimes hail and cyclonic winds. We used to get these kinds of days before, sporadically, but these days, it’s every fucking day.

We’ve basically become a tropical climate across all parts of Australia, but hey, according to the the politicians who do the bidding for the corporations, our world is fine. All of the damage the Industrial Age has done to our environment is nothing because their bottom lines look great.

At the moment we are sweltering through another extreme heat wave. The last heatwave a few weeks ago brought a dust storm with it and so did the one a few weeks before that.

And I’m thinking of a city ablaze, a town on fire and how the woman who foretold it, we called her a liar.

Time for some Deep Purple.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1984 – IV – The Warning

It’s time for another 1984 post. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 can be found here and Part 3 can be found here.

And here is the Spotify playlist.

Quiet Riot – Condition Critical

This album was always going to be a hard sell. Kevin DuBrow had troubles controlling his ego. He slagged off other LA bands who got signed to major labels post Quiet Riots success.

He said Ozzy sings like a frog, then Nikki Sixx and Rudy Sarzo got in a slanging match, with Rudy winning the day, with his quote of “the only difference between Quiet Riot and Motley Crue is that QR had a hit with somebody else’s song and Crue didn’t. But Nikki Sixx won everything else after that. And Peter Mensch who was managing Def Leppard at the time, said that QR had already peaked. If you don’t believe me, check out the article over at LouderSound.

So how do you follow up a number 1 album that had a cover song which also went to number 1?

You release an album with a different cover song but from the same band the first cover song came from.

All Quiet Riot did was make a shitload of money for the original writers of the songs from the band Slade.

The rewards go to those testing the limits. And Slade got the rewards, while Quiet Riot got their 15 minutes of fame, because apart from Bang You Head, Quiet Riot (the 80s version) really struggled in the songwriting department.

On this album, “Mama, Were All Crazee Know” and “Condition Critical” are worth a mention.

Actually what came first “Condition Critical” or Motley Crue’s “Louder Than Hell” (as it was called “Hotter Than Hell”) for the “Shout At The Devil” demos. Even the drum feel reminds me of “Too Young To Fall In Love”. And I dig the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Bridge/Solo section.

In the end, the audience might like where you’ve been, but if you stay where you are, others pass you by. That’s the Quiet Riot story.

And according to Wikipedia, this album is famous for a two word review: “Prognosis: Terminal”.

Strangeways – Strangeways

Not sure when this was released 1984 or 1986. Regardless, I’ll take the earlier date.

Tony Liddell is on vocals on this one and he would be replaced by Terry Brock who would be known as fronting the “classic” line up.

When I heard the debut, the following three tracks rock hard.

“Hold Back Your Love”, “Power Play” and “More Than Promises”.

Helix – Walking The Razors Edge

My cousin Mega likes the whole album, but for me, it’s these four songs; “Young and Restless”, “Animal House”, “When The Hammer Falls” and “My Kind Of Rock”.

Actually I dig the typical head banging riff, in “My Kind Of Rock” as it’s in the vein of Y&T.

Anthrax – Fistful Of Metal

The definitive story is over at loudersound.

Give it a read, but be warned, you just need to survive all the ads.

“Deathrider”, “Metal Thrashing Mad” and “Death From Above” are the standouts for me. And vocalist Neil Turbin is a bit over the shop, but hey, it’s energetic and trashy and that’s exactly what we wanted.

Hanoi Rocks – All Those Wasted Years

I don’t know what to make of this band or album. During my reefer days, “Up Around The Bend” always got me laughing and I thought “I Can’t Get It” was a Rolling Stones song.

Alcatrazz – Live Sentence

I picked this up on vinyl at a record fair in the 90s. I enjoyed listening to it and hearing Malmsteen before he became the fury.

Hiroshima Mon Amour has got the dumbest lyrics about a serious subject matter, but musically Malmsteen brings it.

There are a lot of Rainbow songs like “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “All Night Long” and “Lost In Hollywood” plus a cool cover of Michael Shenker’s “Desert Song”. The last two mentioned songs are not on the vinyl version.

And of course, Malmsteen is the star here, so he gets to introduce “Evil Eye” an instrumental song which would appear on his debut album.

Queensryche – The Warning

It was a game changer. Fates Warning built a career on this style. Mike Portnoy made the decision he wanted a Geoff Tate like vocalist for a band he was about to start up called Majesty after hearing this album.

“The Warning had a prophetic tinge, with an apocalyptic element. I suppose you could say it was a mystical look into the future.” Chris DeGarmo, Raw, November 1988

The Warning

“The song was about this gifted child who could see everything and knew what was coming, and it wasn’t a very good picture. A warning was being issued.” Chris DeGarmo, RIP, October 1991

Now see the hands of the working man
He’s leaning back against the wall
Once busy hands are idle.
Standing ready for the fall

We attach our status to the money we earn, the job we have and the life we portray to others. Unemployment is real and scary. And in the times of today, nothing is certain, not even employment.

En Force

The battered remains of a world gone insane

What’s happening to the world?

Money rules the day while all sides of religion are trying to keep their control. In the end, the ones who control the money will get a win in the short term but in the process there will be long term pain.

Deliverance

It’s the embryo of “Speak” from the “Operation Mindcrime” album.

This one is about a king who will die, to be reborn, so he can deliver them from the wrongs.

No Sanctuary

Oh, can’t you see the lies in front of you

A lot of us try, and the rest surround them selves with people who hold the same point of view as them.

Until the end I’ll fight and die to be free

No you won’t. You’ll do what you need to do to remain comfortable. No one likes to operate without a safety net these days and the ones who do, end up changing the world.

NM 156

It could have been on a Megadeth album about a dystopian Orwellian future.

Now social control requires population termination

When social control is needed, a war is just around the corner. Anyone seen the movie “The Purge”. For a 12 hour period, all murder and crimes are legal, so basically you have the poor and homeless who can’t afford security systems get eradicated.

Is that future closer to becoming a reality?

Microchip logic
Have we no more thought

I see people everyday spend forever on their Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat feeds. Just aimlessly scrolling without any thought, squandering their potential and power by clicking and following instead of innovating and leading. It’s exactly like they have no more thought and the microchips are the social tools who make billions from our personal data.

Take Hold Of The Flame

You can hear the embryo of the ‘Operation Mindcrime” album in this song.

“The song is about people who have missed opportunities. The opening line is, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” It’s about people who have missed their chance; they didn’t capitalize on their potential for whatever reason. The light just seemed to pass them by. We felt that we had ahold of the light, and when Geoff wrote the chorus, he rewrote it as, “Take hold of the flame.”
Chris DeGarmo, RIP, October 1991

So take hold of the flame
You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain

People don’t realize how much power they actually have. Our data made Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram billions. We watch YouTube videos instead of making them.

But it’s uncomfortable to take hold of the flame and the majority of people don’t like this responsibility.

Child Of Fire

It’s like “Children Of The Damned” from about the 2 minute mark.

Conquering masses in wonton deception
Blood red your black flag waves high

Any leader in a democracy who does the bidding of the Corporations instead of the people.

Road To Madness

Most of this is memory now
I’ve gone too far to turn back now
I’m Not quite what I thought I was but
Then again I’m maybe more

You know those times when people tell ya “trash is all your worth”. But it’s not the case. No one is special but everyone is worth so much more.

Foreigner – Agent Provocateur

Yeah, everyone knows the story about how “I Want To Know What Love Is” sold this album, but man, I was really surprised by the other songs, which are more or less ignored and “Tooth And Nail” became a staple for me.

Tooth And Nail

It sounds over produced on the album but I used to cover this song in one of my bands and that opening riff on my 5150 amp sounded heavy as fuck. People even thought it was an original.

Other tracks outside the mega ballad worthy of a listen are “That Was Yesterday”, “Growing Up The Hardway” and “Reaction To Action”.

That’s it for Part 4, stay tuned for Part 5.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Gods Of War

Ronald Reagan:

Message to terrorists everywhere: You can run, but you can’t hide.

Margaret Thatcher:

We’re determined to stand together… and we’re determined to take action.

Ronald Reagan:

We’re not going to tolerate these attacks from outlaw states.

We will not cave in.

Today, we have done what we had to do.

He counted on America to be passive… He counted wrong.

Has anything really changed these last 30 plus years?

This is from 2001.

George Bush Jnr:

Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

And the terror attacks have kept on coming. France, Belgium, England and Sweden come to mind, having suffered their fair share of attacks over the last 10 years.

And people are still involved in wars against outlaw states with no end in sight. The first Gulf War did nothing to solve the problem. The Balkan Wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia exterminated thousands and people went to The Hague for human rights abuses. Afghanistan and Iraq post 9/11, led to human rights abuses from the democratic countries and no one went to The Hague for it.

After that you had the Arab Spring and the civil war in Syria which has the Russians supporting the current government and the “allies” providing arms to the resistance. And when you add in the hostilities happening in African countries, you get a feeling that nothing has changed.

And it’s bizarrely funny, because most democratic countries have anti-discrimination and anti-racial laws to protect the people they more or less go to war against.

So after the backward guitar effects and machine gun like samples, a simple drum and bass groove kick it off.

In typical Def Lep fashion, the main into riff is underpinned by a guitar lick instead of a chord progression. And throughout the song, Steve Clark and Phil Collen, play the twin guitars like professionals, as one holds down the foundation and the other decorates the song like a Christmas tree.

We’re fightin’ for the gods of war
But what the hell we fightin’ for?
We’re fightin’ with the gods of war
But I’m a rebel
And I ain’t gonna fight no more, no way

How good is the Chorus and those multi-layered vocals?

I guess we are slaves to the gods of war, the corporations who lobby government ministers to get their hands on resources in other countries.

Every time our leaders choose to commit soldiers, the people who voted them in are thinking why. In Australia we still don’t know why we had to commit troops to US issues. Yeah, there is an old WWII agreement that states we will help each other but WWII was like 70 plus years ago.

And that outro section from about 5.20 that has the above mentioned voice overs and war sounds is a total departure from the main part of the song but it fits like a glove.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Take A Walk On The Stream Side

You can buy an album and never listen to it, however if you do listen to the purchased album, the artist has no idea how many times you played it.

Streams means you listened, and it tells the artist which song/s you listened to, even if it was in the background. It tells the artists from which area you are from. It arms the artist with tools to plan their tours.

And it’s rare that you will stream the whole album. You probably will only stream the songs which are your “hits” or if the album crosses over, maybe the actual hits.

And in the same way you cherry-picked your favourites and made that awesome mix tape, or CD once upon a time, you do the same in the digital era with a playlist.

And if artists want fans to buy albums, where do they expect the majority to play them?

Most computers don’t even come with a CD drive and most new cars also don’t have a CD drive either. As for those super expensive stereo systems from the 80’s, are now marketed to audiophiles.

And for iTunes files, its an overpriced offering compared to what is available. I stream and still buy some albums on CD throughout the year. It’s because I can’t stop buying. But the new generation is all about on demand and streaming. It’s a different market and artists need to adjust.

And if artists are waiting on just sales to get traction, they are operating in the old world. Without big streaming numbers, acts get no traction in the mainstream, but acts can have a career on the outer edges, satisfying their core, niche market.

Every artist should be getting their fans to stream. But we still get the voices against streaming services and how these services pay poorly. If that’s the case, you need to renegotiate your terms with the corporations which hold your Copyright.

But streaming shows your fans. If anybody is streaming your music a lot, they’re a fan, and they’ll pay to see you live and they will buy VIP tickets and merchandise and any special edition of an album you put out. Don’t you want to know that information?

And the chart that matters is one of listens. But artists still want sales and that number 1 Billboard spot (for bragging rights) and they package their album with tickets. Metallica did it with “Hardwired” and Jovi did it with their last two albums.

But seriously, is selling an album with tickets reflective of the albums success?

Of course not, it’s typical record label creative accounting. It might matter to the artist, but fans don’t give a shit. And remember, for an artist to have a career, it’s a relationship between fan and artist.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Sales in 84 vs Sales in 90

In 1984, over 360 million units of recorded music got sold in the US.

In 1986, about 280 million units of recorded music got sold in the US. A huge reduction from 2 years ago.

By 1988, about 300 million units of recorded music gold sold in the US. Still a reduction from 1984, but an increase from 1986.

By 1990, about 320 million units of recorded music got sold in the US, with the majority of sales made up from CD purchases.

Between 1984 and 1990 there was a reduction of 11% in overall sales of recorded music however a big increase in dollars as CDs started to replace vinyl and had a better return for the labels which they kept in their balance sheets as a return on investment.

So if a band moved a million units of vinyl in 1984, and provided they still stuck together, you would expect their album in 1990 would sell about 890,000 units based on the trends.

And that same band who moved a million units in 1984 had a high chance of selling 834,000 units for their next album in 1986 because the reduction was even greater between these two years.

In relation to hard rock and metal, some bands had bigger reductions in sales than the 11%, some bands didn’t make it to 1990 and some bands bucked the trend and had an increase in sales.

Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister and Ratt are three bands that come to mind which followed this kind of trajectory. High selling albums circa 1983/84 to low selling albums or to just ceasing to be even together by 1990.

“Out Of The Cellar” by Ratt sold 2 million units in 1984 and “Detonator” their most solid album, only sold 500K by December 1990.

Van Halen’s “1984” album sold 4 million by October of the same year. “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” sold 2 million in 1991 when it came out.

“Eliminator” from ZZ Top came out in 1983 and by the end of the year it had sold a million units and by the end of 1984, it had sold 4 million units which means it moved 3 million units for that year. “Recycler” only moved a million units in 1990 when it came out.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi went from a band who couldn’t move 500,000 units of their debut album in 1984 to selling 3 million units in 1986 with “Slippery When Wet”.

So when you think about the 22.2% reduction in sales from 1984 to 1986, Bon Jovi went against the trend here. With a reduced music buying public, they grabbed a larger share of it, more so than the other bands. And that large share, still provides Jovi with his victory lap.

And Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze Of Glory” album moved 2 million units in 1990.

And when fans of Quiet Riot heard “Condition Critical” and “QRIII”, it was a no brainer to jump ship and move to a better sounding and catchy band like Bon Jovi and Europe.

Actually Europe in 1986 didn’t sell much in the US, however by the end of 1987, they moved 2 million units in the US of “The Final Countdown” album.

However their “Prisoners In Paradise” album, didn’t even get to 500K units in 1992.

Motley Crue didn’t buck the trend either as their peak was “Shout At The Devil”. “Theatre Of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” became album’s to get the band back on the road because bands on occasions have low selling albums but tours that do great business at the box office. It wasn’t until “Dr Feelgood” hit the streets that Motley Crue went against the statistics and sold a lot more than others.

Iron Maiden is a band who didn’t sell multi millions of an album, but they cashed in on the live business and merchandise. Kiss as well.

In the end the base of hard core music consumers in the 80s who purchased music has stayed on average year after year. The only difference is we kept on shifting our allegiances.

The cost of purchasing music increased with CD’s and there was a period when CDs started to takeover people sort of stopped purchasing because of the price.

However when the 70s and 80s generation had grown up and started to repurchase their vinyl collections in the 90’s you get to that magical summit that the record labels always allude to when they talk about pre Napster. Between the years 1999 and 2002, CD units stayed above 900 million units.

And through it all, the record labels and the artists had no idea who their fans were. All they knew was a sale happened. If that sale led to the person listening to the album thousands of times or just once was not known.

So even though an artist might have sold 30,000 units in a city, it didn’t correlate to 30,000 fans. Hard rock bands in the late 80s had to cancel shows or play to half full arenas in cities where their record based on sales stats, sold well. But streaming stats tell the artist who is listening and from which city they are listening. A connection is made immediately.

P.S. Sale stats by RIAA Gold and Platinum database.

P.S.S. The total units sold came from the graph in this Spin article titled “Did Vinyl Really Die In The 90s”.

P.S.S.S. I started this post a while back and kept on returning to it, doing a little bit more than previously and sometimes I struggled with it.

But it all came together recently when a fellow blogger called Deke over at Thunder Bay listed his Top 10 posts of 2018 and he linked to a blog post over at 1001 Albums in 10 years.

And it all made sense how you can use a little bit of math to get your point across. So thanks to the WordPress Bloggers for posting and sharing their minds.

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