Music, My Stories, Copyright, Piracy

Cassette Copying Incorporated

Copying of music has always been there. People once upon a time used to listen to the radio and record songs from it. People used to record video clips from TV music stations. People would make a copy of an LP from their friend or a family member. Hell, we would make copies of a copied album and so forth. In other words, the music industry grew because of copying.

So if we used the buzzword of the modern era, piracy was rampant back in the 80’s. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music taped onto blank cassettes. Every time I visited my older cousin, I was armed with blank cassettes and proceeded to copy albums that he had purchased. I was not alone in doing this, nor was I the first. Most of the music from the seventies that was passed down to me by my brothers was in the same format (blank cassettes that got filled with music).

You know that peak year of sales for the recording business in 1998. Well there is research out there which suggests it was due to two reasons. One reason was people replacing their vinyl collections with CD’s and the other reason is the people who had music on blank cassettes in the 80’s finally having enough disposable income to buy their favourites on CD.

I fit into both reasons because in the 90’s, I purchased every album I had on dubbed cassettes on CD. I re-purchased every LP I had on CD. I went to second hand record shops and purchased LP’s from the Eighties and Seventies very cheap. I was not the only one that did the above.

All of this copying allowed bands to have fans. And fans are not people who just spend money on something because they are a fan. Fans are people who enjoy a particular product. Some fans pay for that product early on while others pay for it later on. Some don’t pay at all. If it wasn’t for cassette copying, I never would have heard the full length albums of bands that didn’t do the rounds on MTV. I never would have heard “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica. After hearing it, “…And Justice For All” was a purchase on release day. It was many years later that an original copy of “Master Of Puppets” came into my collection.

Funny thing, my brothers had a friend with a nickname “Greeny”. He got that nickname because he was a tight arse and even though in Australia we don’t call money “green”, my brothers saw a movie that used the word “Green” as an analogy for money, so Greeny got his nickname.

Now Greeny, would always purchase metal and rock music. It was in his car stereo, I heard Kix “Blow My Fuse”, Bonfire “Fireworks”, Night Ranger “Midnight Madness”, Leatherwolf “Street Ready” and so many more. I always asked to borrow a cassette and make a copy of it, or i asked if he could make a copy of it for me.

And Greeny always said no. He always said, why should he pay $15 for the album, while I paid $10 for three blank 90 cassettes and dubbed six albums from him. So I had to resort to a different strategy. My five fingers would stealthy move and take the cassette from his car, without him knowing. I knew that I had a small time window to dub it before he found out so I would use the high speed dubbing on my stereo to copy it.

When Greeny found out a tape was missing he was always storming over to get his cassette back. In time and before I left the car with my bros he would do a stock take of his collection, so my borrowing days were over. But from borrowing and copying (which the labels call stealing and piracy today), I never would have become the fan of music I am and I probably would have had four houses paid off, instead of having a tonne of grey concert shirts, ticket stubs and a wall to wall record collection.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Speaking Up

It’s hard to speak up today. The status quo is not kind and because we are connected 24/7, people like to work overtime for free in order to be part of the status quo. So when artists write lyrics that reflect society and our politics back at us, people get upset. When I think about the past, people who made real change persisted even when others tried their best to silence them.

Artists once formed the chorus of dissent to social ills and corruption. Once upon a time artists didn’t have millions, so they kept logging the hours, paying their dues to make enough money to live. It’s probably a reason why we got so many songs that still stand the test of time today.

Artists told the record label heads what to do, not the other way around. Of course, in the 80’s MTV made a lot of people global superstars and suddenly artists who had recording contracts and songs which connected, had funds in their bank accounts, however the record label bosses became more powerful that they now told the artists what to do.

Machine Head’s new album is causing division amongst their American fan base. Europe, Asia and Australia really don’t really care about their Anti-Trump stance, however America is divided over it. There is no doubt that fans of MH in the U.S come from different sides of the political debate. It’s expected. No one can agree on everything. If people did, everyone would wear the same outfit, the same colour and so forth. The world would be pretty bland if people all agreed. Wouldn’t it.

It never would occur to me to stop listening to an artist because of a stance they have on an issue. To me, music transcends all of those boundaries. Yeah, some artists have lyrics I don’t agree with, but man, it doesn’t take away my respect for them for having a stance on those issues.

And you know what, if an artist is anti – Wall Street or big finance in general (like the 1%), it’s okay. But these organisations are symptoms of Government granted monopolies, or Government oversight on certain law breaches or Government lack of action due to politicians being in the pocket of these corporations. So the issue always starts and end with the Government. If you don’t believe me, just look at the laws the US tried to pass recently.

Anyone remember SOPA, PIPA or TPA (yes I know it’s back on the table). All of these laws were written by politicians who had massive donations from corporations and corporation lobbyists. They all sat in the same room and wrote laws to benefit their organisations. The public were not allowed to inspect draft texts. This was more prevalent for the TPA piece of legislation. What we knew about the laws came from leaked drafts. Even other politicians who got elected into office, and who stood opposed to corporations couldn’t even see draft texts of these laws.

Imagine that. A legally elected politician who has no affiliation with a corporation was not privy to see a bill that his Government wanted to pass. And this happens all the time regardless of who is in power. It’s been happening since the mid 40’s. And it needs to stop.

Artists are not the enemy. They are mirrors, reflecting the world back to us. What we choose to do with the reflection is a different story.

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Music, My Stories

Remembering The Music

The problem with writing about 80’s music is those who remember it, care about it and those who don’t remember it or did not grow up in it, don’t care about it.

From the 60’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones survived.

From the 70’s The Eagles have survived. Black Sabbath had a golden run with the reunion of the Dio line up in the 2000’s and then with the Ozzy led line up (except Bill Ward got duped out of playing because he was told by them he was unfit. Maybe they should have got an expert opinion). Deep Purple are still creating however depending on who you ask, it’s hit and miss, while their live shows are doing okay numbers, but paling in comparison to Sabbath. Kiss are still a draw on the live circuit while Gene and Paul whinge about album sales being anaemic, so in the last 12 years, we got two albums with two good songs. Rush are retired and the Scorpions maybe should retire as well. Meanwhile Queen are still touring with Adam Lambert.

From the 80’s Metallica dominate everything. Megadeth want to dominate everything. Van Halen are somewhere, doing nothing. Motley Crue are retired and so is Twisted Sister. AC/DC will retire. Skid Row refuse to get back together even though all living members are alive. Bon Jovi still rakes it in on the live circuit, but are creatively bankrupt. Guns’N’Roses will never write another hit again, but will rake it in on the live circuit.

Def Leppard are doing big business on the live scene and now with their music on digital services, expect their tunes to pop up everywhere. Europe took control of their career and their copyrights and are laughing all the way to the bank. Night Ranger exists but no one knows it. Journey gave an unknown a dream gig and toured everywhere because their songs are everywhere and they are timeless. Cinderella had the charts sown up and no one knows their songs these days. Kingdom Come plagiarised everyone, made the record label millions, while they got squat and then got dropped. David Lee Roth, was once the poster boy, in every magazine and now he’s an old man with a tattoo of Elvis on his elbow that talks when his elbow moves.

Whitesnake and Judas Priest are experiencing a renaissance creatively and on tour. Iron Maiden have the live game sown up and still churn out a decent long player. Motorhead are all in heaven or in hell or in purgatory. Ozzy will be retiring as Zakk joins him on his farewell tour. Yngwie Malmsteen is unleashing the fury and Slayer are missing Jeff Hanneman. Stryper asked for Gods help to take back control of their songs and are having a wicked ride enjoying a new creative period.

But for so many of the old hit bands, they have faded into the pages of history. Maybe streaming services will make people access their works easier, but I don’t think they’re going to rise through the noise and time constraints of people’s lives. Bands like Ratt and Dokken are shadows of their former selves. Quiet Riot has no original members in it, but delivered a solid album with James Durbin on vocals which no one has heard.

Slaughter can’t get themselves together to record an album, because it’s easier for ¾ of the band to go on the road with Vince Neil and play Motley hits. Dio songs are in car commercials. Poison, Warrant and Extreme ruled the charts once and now they play their greatest hits to a few hundred people. Queensryche exists in two different versions and so does Great White.

Anthrax and Scott Ian are still lamenting that sales are not the metric anymore for a successful album, while Volbeat have shown that streams lead to sales and an aggressive live show conquers all. Y&T rock Europe and do okay business. WASP cannot eclipse their debut album, even though “The Headless Cross” and “The Crimson Idol” are better albums. White Lion and Vito Bratta ruled everything for 36 months between 87 and 89 and when sales started to go downhill, so did Vito’s drive.

But for those of us who lived it, these artists inhabit a special place inside us, where our memories are triggered by the melodies and distortion. Play a Top 100 Rock list from the 80’s and you’ll be surprised how many songs you can sing along to.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Appetite For Copyright

Seriously you can’t make up the madness that Copyright comes up with these days.

It looks like the music labels will get even more richer. Facebook is making licensing deals with all of them so users are allowed to upload their own videos to copyrighted music.

Of course musicians can earn royalties from the views/plays, but how much of the licensing fee is going back to the musicians, because it’s those works the label used in the negotiations. So far Universal and Sony have made the deal and Warner Music Group is in conversation.

And music creators believe a government bill increasing the royalty rate services that play music need to pay, will increase the payments get back. Umm, it won’t. The record labels and publishers will have more money in their bank account and the creators will still get the payments they always get based on their publishing and label contract.

And seriously how many times are we going to read how the music industry’s revenue declined to about $15 billion in 2015, from the $40 billion it brought in around 1998. First, those figures are about the RECORDING industry, not the music industry. The music industry encompasses income from tours, merchandise, radio royalty payments, licensing and sales of recorded music. Sales of recorded music is just one portion of recorded music. And if the people who are writing the songs are not getting paid, then they should be renegotiating their agreements with the organisations.

And being a music creator doesn’t guarantee you an income.

Then again, suing other artists for creating a song which is similar to another song has become a new income model for businesses who hold the copyrights of songs. And these cases bother me, because it sets a precedent that the person suing has created an original piece of work, in a vacuum, free from influence and other songs that came before it.

Here are two more suits around copying.

Ed Sheeran and Tim McGraw are being sued by Australian songwriters. Seriously, how many suits has Ed Sheeran faced in the last 5 years.

And then you have Boomerang Investments, the copyright holder to songs written by Harry Vanda and George Young suing an American band for their 2011 song, “Warm In The Winter” because it contains a line “love is in the air” with a similar melody. Now I have heard interviews from Vanda and Young back in the day where they state how classical music is a great influence for writing melodies.

The issue with this case is not the copying or the similarities, it is the fact that Air France paid a license fee to use Glass Candy’s song and the subsequent song is now making decent money.

And somehow people own the copyright to white noise. You know that noise you hear when you can’t find a TV channel. Suddenly on YouTube, a video containing “white noise” had a copyright complaint made against it. What’s next, copyright complaints against songs featuring distorted guitars. It’s madness.

Read about the white noise takedowns here and here.

And Spotify is still getting sued for licensing issues over songs played on the service. Someone is always aggrieved. Check out the text from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Spotify hired Harry Fox Agency (HFA) to obtain the correct licenses, which Wixen calls “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.” Moreover, the complaint alleges, “Spotify knew that HFA did not possess the infrastructure to obtain the required mechanical licenses and Spotify knew it lacked these licenses.”

You see, this is what happens when you create a law that creates a monopoly, which in turn gives rise to corporations who become powerful entities. Wixen is not about helping the creators and paying them the correct monies. They are all about their own pockets. People who have created no value and no art which is popular, living off the hard work of others.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Catharsis

I have no issues with lyrics of any kind whether they are political, about social classes, racism, war or just having a good time. I also have no issue with artists I like taking a stance and commenting on what they see is the state of the world. Opinions are important whether you agree or disagree with them.

Robb Flynn is an artist. First and foremost, as an artist, he has a duty of care to himself first. The art he creates needs to satisfy him first. If it doesn’t, what is the point. What is the point of creating art if you write factory art. On occasions, the art an artist writes for themselves ends up going global and on other occasions it doesn’t.

So it’s no surprise that on “Catharsis”, Robb Flynn is giving his take on the world. It’s not pretty, but no one said the six o’clock news is pretty. And there is no denying the power of the message in the songs, regardless of what political party you support.

Volatile
“It’s an angry, brutal song. We’ve had long intros on the last five or six albums, so it was time to start with something direct and violent.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Musically, this is a classic MH song.

Sick of the white folks privileged and vain
Protesting the culture that isn’t the same

Sometime in the past, our leaders started to serve the corporations. Those lobby dollars became too great to refuse. Many years later, those corporations leaders are now leaders of nations. They bought their way in. It’s real and it’s happening. We need a reset, an anti-corruption watchdog for politicians, who can assess if these politicians serve the people or the corporations. Then again, give this body enough power and it will become corrupted like the rest. It’s a vicious power vacuum.

Dead, dead and bloated
These times are volatile
There’s no room left for you

The bed of music under the chorus is brilliant. And there is truth in these lines. Our times are so volatile there is no room for nothing else. We seem to move from conflict to conflict. Terrorist attack to terrorist attack. Mass shooting to another one. And it just keeps on going.

Sick of the racists, sick of this shit
Sick of them telling me its immigrants

I am sure that people know that Apple, Google and Amazon are all founded by immigrants. Spotify is an immigrant product from Sweden.  Marc Randolph, one of the Netflix co-founders is a son of an immigrant. Immigrants don’t come to a country to bomb the hell out of it. They come for a better life. And with all races there are people who do things which puts a stain on the name of the race. Based on our leaders reasoning, when a person from their own race commits sickening child offences, do we assume that all people from that race are the same sickos.

Sick of the phonies on my phone screen
Sick of the NRA trying to scare me

The amount of mass shootings that happen in the U.S is a worry. When nothing is done about it, its a bigger worry. However, if the mass shootings happened to be linked to a terror organisation, there will be changes to legislation straight away, which will give Governments more spying power and further reduce its peoples’ privacy and liberties.

Break it, smash it, burn it to the ground

It’s been our evolution. Humans will be known for building, smashing and burning. And those lines work in the slower groove.  When I first heard the song, I thought Robb was singing, break it, smash it, bullet through the crowd.

And man, when they get to the lead break, it’s pretty full on.

Catharsis
“This is a special song. The lyrics say it all: ‘The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins / If these words are my fists, this is my catharsis.’ That crystallised everything we were trying to say.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The transition from “Volatile” into “Catharsis” works. It isn’t your usual crushing Machine Head song. It has atmospheric keyboard samples in the forms of strings and piano to kick it off and when the guitars come in with the open string riff, you know you’re in MH territory. And the structure of the song is experimental and I dig that.

I could never be another brick in the wall
You’ll remember me
As you break all our spirits down and push us to the ground
Call me a fool with a gasoline can
Burn it f down, start it over and over again

The powerful all want us to have jobs, so we can take out loans. Once we take out loans, we are in a cycle of repayments. Basically we are just bricks in the wall. When we crumble or die, another person replaces us. It’s a vicious cycle. But, people can make change if they are not so easily swayed over money. Hell most bands lose members over money arguments.

The only thing keeping me sane
The music in my veins
And if these words are my fists
Can you feel my catharsis?

It’s a primal scream. To me, music is king. We went to the shows to commune with the band and to make our lives complete. Today, going to the show is seen as  “a look where I am, look what I am doing” promotion job on social media. Hell, I was at a Metallica show with people who turned up so they could say they went to a Metallica show, but they don’t own any of their music and really don’t listen to em.

Music once upon a time was as important as water and electricity. My Dad told me, the first thing he did when he got his house was to set up the stereo. And I’ve kept the same motto.

And how can you not start to get ready to lose your mind when the military style snare pattern at 3.39 starts. It’s a perfect example of how you do bridges and interludes.

The lead work after two songs is stellar. And really after hearing the first 2 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

Beyond the Pale
“It’s a straight-ahead Machine Head song, about embracing being outsiders and misfits. ‘I found my heroes / The freaks and zeros!’ That sums it up.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I am skin and bones, broken stones,
See the scars that I show.
I live outside the bounds, in the unknown.

It’s a cool opening lyric line.

And yeah, the main riff sounds similar to Strapping Young Lad’s “Love” which Devin Townsend has said he’s flattered and the Chorus of “Love” was influenced by “City Of Love” from Yes and the cycle continues. Take what came before, tweak it and release it. And you know my views around riffs, progress is derivative.

And if people like SYL “Love” then there is no reason why they shouldn’t like “Beyond the Pale”. The mosh pit will go off when the chorus kicks in.

Beyond the pale,
I found salvation, emancipation.
Beyond the pale,
I found my heroes: the freaks and zeroes.

Metal music is about embracing the ones spurned by the mainstream and the popular. Then metal became popular and everything changed. Suddenly, popular metal bands were not cool, because of their popularity and metal started its fragmentation into different record label genres.

I’ll break down every wall, fight and claw.
Take their punches, stand tall,
My middle finger raised, so fuck em all

It’s a revolution. Musicians have been saying the same message since the 70’s. Why is it any different today?

And the two duelling leads works. And really after hearing the first 3 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

California Bleeding
“This is a dumb song full of ignorant s, ha ha! It’s about my love/hate relationship with California. It’s a balls-out, rockin’ song, I think.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The intro hooks me, the Chorus is cool and when the intro comes up again at 2.25, I was hooked.

And the lyrics are a blast.

I’m not the billionaire class, from San Lorenzo with the trailer trash

Take that all you social media users who portray a perfect life.

Sail me down the river, temper like a trigger
Take a shot of vodka, blow out my liver
California’s bleeding me

Angels and Demons live in California. Our quest to have a good time also carries it’s risks.

Highway 5 down to 99, I’m getting head near the Fresno sign

Brilliant.

Triple Beam
“I’m just gonna say, ‘This is a nu metal song’ ha ha! It came together super-quick. You’re basically hearing the first time that we ever played that song and the first time I ever sung it.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, this song could have been a left over from “Supercharger” and should have been left off this album. But If I’m being honest, if this song was released back in 99, I probably would be cranking it based on the main riff, because in 1999, these kinds of riffs sounded heavy and original but now the whole thing seems recycled.

Kaleidoscope
“Again, it’s about the power of music. I’m not a religious guy, but music is as close as I get. The line, ‘Songs fill what religion won’t’ says it all.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

This hole in my soul
Songs fill what religion won’t
No hope, I can’t cope
Music plays in kaleidoscope
And if I’m lost
I don’t want to be found
Haunted by sound

The Chorus is a stand out and when the second verse starts off with the lyrics, “Open up the floor and start a pit, this shit is building up inside of me”, you know there will be circle pits.

Catatonic ignorance, the cronies run the show
Preying on our differences, divide and conquer the low

And it’s been that way for centuries. Will it ever change?

Bastards
“Bastards is a straight-up folk song. I would relate it to Springsteen and Tom Petty, but it’s still Machine Head. It’s probably the most important song on here.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I liked it when Robb Flynn released his acoustic YouTube take months before the album and I like it now. It’s different for MH but it works and those tapped arpeggio lines under the simple D, A, Bm, G chords ties it all together.

The vocal melody in the chorus, when Robb is singing, “Stand your ground, Don’t let the bastards grind you down, Be bold, Be strange, Don’t let their fears make you afraid”, how can you not like it?

It’s an anthem and no different to the messages from the 80’s. The difference between then and now is that we smoked in the boys room, felt the noise and sang together, we’re not going to take it. Now we are older and in a different fight for our lives and futures. Those baby boomers born after WW2 infiltrated our government in the 80’s and became its leaders in the mid 90’s. And this generation does not care about the past or the future. All they care about is now. And we cannot let these bastards drag us down. Because they will crash and burn. Everyone does. It just takes time and it starts with us.

Screaming At The Sun
“This is one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It’s pretty straight-ahead, but we went into some very weird places after writing this one.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I really dig the riff on this one, the middle eastern feel, even the Arabic sounding vocal melody.

And that section at 2.38 works.

They see you blinded us, reminded us of all that’s ugly

Life is not perfect. We get blindsided by events or people. Sometimes the improbable becomes the probable. How we respond is what defines us.

Behind A Mask
“It’s all clean vocals. It’s all acoustic. It’s essentially unplugged. We’ve explored a lot of melody and harmonies on this record.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Now this song is not what I expect from MH, but I like how they did it. It’s like Staind merged with Days Of The New and to me, it’s a pretty cool combination.

The Chorus is mad on this one, how the vocals are orchestrated. How can you not like it?

The old man sits alone staring at the screen
And contemplates these failures, done to his family
Cause depression’s bottles come along and filled his whiskey glass
With every sip put to his lips, erases all the past
So he tells another little lie and tells another tale
In hopes to spare the family and hide his private hell
But the more the words come out of him, like little cuts and scabs
Tearing at the tender hearts who gaze upon a mask

The verse is powerful. How we deal with our past skeletons later on in life is crucial. For some people, everything is perfect and they did nothing wrong. For others, they realise their mistakes, their ways and they try to make amends.

Heavy Lies The Crown
“It’s an epic and it’s about Louis XI, the Spider King of France. I’m a history buff and it’s just a great story. He’d weave these elaborate webs of deceit!”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

It’s like a movie soundtrack. And when that riff kicks in, it’s yeaahhhhhhhhhhh time.

I slink along the boulevards and listen to the streets
The avenues and gutters give me truth to speak

And it’s in the streets revolutions start. It’s in the streets wars are won and lost.

Psychotic
“This one’s gnarly. It’s ugly and pissed off. I guess we could try to write more hits for the radio, but that’s just not how I write, you know?”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, the song is ugly alright. The intro is cool and so is the music in the chorus and that 12/8 section which is like a bridge is also cool. I would love to hear these sections fleshed out in future songs.

Grind You Down
“The phrase ‘stand your ground’ from Bastards appears in a few songs, including this one. Another classic MH rager.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Man why did MH have to put that melodic chorus in this song.  And why did that have to put that speed metal section from about 2 minutes in this song.

Razorblade Smile
“This one turned into a tribute to Lemmy. I just started writing lyrics and all this crazy, debauched st just came out. It’s totally Motörhead.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Something about this songs feels so familiar, I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s a more rocking version of “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” or maybe it’s the “Painkiller” start. When that double kick comes in after the intro riff, how awesome is it.

And that riff from about 1.45, I could be screaming “Die”, like in Creeping Death. Love it…

I got a razor blade smile and a cocaine tongue
I got a boner for miles, I’m slinging loads for fun
Carry a whiskey brown suitcase loaded with hash
I’m eatin’ pussy by a dumpster, beard stinking like snatch

The funniest lines I’ve seen in lyrics for a while. Brilliant.

Eulogy
“It’s a pretty dark end to the record, but the lyrics to Bastards pop up again. Late on, I realised that the songs have the same chords. That was kinda weird.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Should have been dropped from the album.

So if I put my John Kalodner hat on and I had to bring the album down to 10 songs…..

Side One

Volatile
Catharsis
Beyond The Pale
California Bleeding
Kaleidoscope

Side Two

Hope Begets Hope
Bastards
Razorblade Smile
Behind The Sun
Heavy Lies The Crown

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

A Love Unreal

I first heard “A Love Unreal” from Black Label Society on Friday, 19 January 2017. I overdosed on it. I started writing a post on Saturday, but I got side tracked because Def Leppard’s entire catalogue was finally available on digital platforms. So I spent the last seven days overdosing on the mighty Def Lep, which will be another blog post soon.

So back to Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society.

Since 2014, I have been playing “Angel Of Mercy” non-stop. It’s made my 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 end of year lists. It’s always in my Top 100 Spotify songs I play each year.

With “A Love Unreal” Zakk has orchestrated another candidate.

The guitar solo on this song is a 10 out of 10 for me.

After hearing it, I felt like I can do anything. It’s inspiring in its movements, phrasing and the way it’s all worked out and put together is classy.

It’s a song within a song. God damn, the whole solo section is 1 minute and 20 seconds long. There are pop songs on the charts which are 2 minutes long.

I shared my thoughts about the song with my kids. My eldest heard the song, loved it, added it to his playlist and keeps on telling me how he listens to it and gets lost thinking about achieving goals.

The intro is on a classical acoustic and it sounds out the vocal melody from the chorus. It’s ominous, doomy and sad, but hopeful as well.

And when the distortion kicks in, it’s heavy and groovy. Breaking desks time.

Hand me your doubts, worries and fears
Within this embrace they shall all disappear
A love beyond, a love unreal
This sadness you felt you will no longer feel

We are born into a culture, a tribe which has taken generations to create. Our ancestors who came before us built their own society, invented a way to communicate and solved a lot of problems so we could work on other problems that lurk around the corner.

But no matter how much we advance society, we cannot eradicate doubts, worries and fears. They still exist. The more connected we get, the more alienated we feel. The more we engage socially on-line, the less we do in person. But when we find that right person to engage with and love, when we have our own children, well, that’s a love beyond. No computer or technological gadget can capture that feeling.

This world and all that there is
I give it to you, all to you
Hand me your love and all that you are
Could you promise as I promised you

In many ways, our sacrifices or commitments to each other and our tribes/culture is a small payment to our ancestors who sacrificed and stood up for their rights, to give to us a love unreal. Some of these ancestors we have met in grandparents and some we will never meet.

And that solo. That damn solo. Always has to be a solo.

Do you know it goes for 1 minute and 20 seconds?

Paraphrasing Charlton Heston, “God damn, he blew it all up.”

It’s heartfelt and melodic. If Zakk needs to shred, he shreds at the right time to move from one section to another. It usually doesn’t go more than half a bar. In the end, the solo is melodic like David Gilmour’s melodic lead in the “Comfortably Numb” outro. And every time I hear it, I get goose bumps.

And then it kicks into a section inspired by Black Sabbath.

Hear my words
I speak no lies
The dawn of the new
With open eyes

Our work is to ensure that our great grandchildren have a society to live in, which gives them a voice and they are free to see and decide what is right and what is wrong. It’s only fair. My grandfather went to war for these rights only for us to vote in leaders who want to turn a democratic society into the very same dictatorship our ancestors overthrew. Our leaders want to control the internet and the media. Corporations want our leaders to pass laws to protect their profits. But, it’s changing. Being online and connected has also given us a voice.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Forgotten 80s Part 4

I read an article about how a computer system was only shown how the pieces move in a chess game. Then the system was told to learn how to play the game. 24 hours later, the system had all the chess moves worked out and it was beating strong chess programs convincingly.

Then I watched the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror and then I read a story about how Nissan wants to create a car that reads your mind and it got me thinking of the original Terminator movie and suddenly I was in the mood for 80’s music.

So here is another list of forgotten songs from the era. Just click on the number for the previous Forgotten lists, one, two and three.

Better Days
Taking On The World
The Feeling Within
Gun

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal. With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote music. Compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully you get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.

Better Days

The groove captures me instantly and the vocal melody is so far removed from the LA Sunset strip, it’s perfect.

Living in the same scene way too long
Everybody hopes that one of these days
Everything you want is gonna come your way
Everybody knows what they have to do
Everybody dreams like me and you

Dreaming and hoping is easy. Deciding how to make those dreams and hopes come true is hard because making decisions is exhausting. It means you need to investigate, analyse and most importantly take responsibility for making a decision. We all know what we need to do, but so few do it.

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cause you know I’d die
For better days

And sometimes, decisions made with good intent could end up going bad. It doesn’t mean it’s the end. It just means a re-calibration is necessary and further analysis is needed, because our dreams and hopes for better days, make us push through the worry and fear.

Taking On The World

The acoustic strumming sets the sombre tone, but it’s the vocal melody which is captivating. It’s unique and catchy.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world

Life is a process. You try things and you fail. You get into a relationship and you separate. In ten years’ time you would be using a technology that hasn’t been developed yet. The world evolves and you need to evolve with it, if you want to take it on.

And the lead break is full of thought out phrases that outline the chord progression under it.

The Feeling Within

The vocal tone of this song sounds like a cross between Jim Kerr (Simple Minds singer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS singer RIP).

You don’t know what silence means (you can pray for me)
You don’t know about shattered dream
You don’t know that I can’t run (you can set me free)
Set me free from the feeling within

Those lyrics in the brackets are sung by vocalist Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas.

Now Forever After
Stargazer
Kingdom Come

The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the band got one, they had another shot. If they didn’t get one, they got dropped. Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.

Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.

Now Forever After

“Now Forever After” is from the debut album released in 1988 and it falls into that melodic rock side of the band.

It’s now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
For better or worse
Until we die
Now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
Until the end of time

If only it’s true. Actually for some it is, for others it takes a few goes to get it right.

Stargazer

“Stargazer” is from “In Your Face” released in 1989. That keyboard intro which blends into the guitar lead just works brilliantly. This is another that falls into the Euro melodic rock side of the band.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know

How did we come to be? So many theories out there, rooted in science and religion.

Stargazer
Live it out
Meet the Maker

Our ancestors looked to the stars for answers. Then they changed to religion. As humans got wiser they turned to nature and science for answers. Everything ends, including you and me. We thought we would live forever, but this proved to be untrue. And you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I Believe In You
Knock You Out
Hands Of Time
Y&T

For many, “Earthshaker” was a landmark album. In my opinion, it also became a major influence to any hard rock musician around the world who heard it. It you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” would be the result.

For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band. Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.

By 1981 bands didn’t really do ballads or power ballads. They did songs with slower tempos that just kept on building up to a huge ending.

I Believe In You

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well along time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us, so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record; well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship so the song inspired itself more or less.”

Dave Meniketti

The music business is full of rip offs. There are so many stories of former managers claiming the rights on songs from artists written while they managed the artist, but released many years later, while the band had new management. So many people who contribute nothing to the Arts make money from the Arts.

Even record labels do it. They sign an artist and they will spend some money for the artist to record a demo. They might give the go ahead for the songs to be recorded for a release or they might not release them at all. If they are not released, the artist is in limbo. Ask Tom Keifer, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. And if they leave the label they need to buy back their songs at an extortionist fee the label sets themselves.

Your phony friends, they all counsel you
The things they say
Oh, you know aren’t true

Ahh, yes, who doesn’t have friends like these in our lives?

Breaking up with your partner is a lot more than just breaking up with one person. When a relationship ends, people take sides. Suddenly the friends you believed you had are not there anymore.

Knock You Out

How good is the riff that kicks off this song?

Up against the ropes
I’ve been there before
I’ve been hit by the best, but never hit the floor

Proving you’re at the best when you do it your way. Never forget that. You can make your own decision. Awards are irrelevant. It’s the art that remains. Y&T remain more relevant than some of their 80’s peers who achieved platinum sales. Y&T never did.

Hands Of Time

This appears on “Down For The Count” released in 1985. I swear that intro riff was used by Winger in “Headed For A Heartbreak” to platinum glory. Progress is derivative right.

Don’t be a prisoner of your memories
They steal from your future
And fill you with lies

Negative thinking stops us from taking action. And our tendency to attach an emotion to a past event is our biggest downfall.

‘Cause you can’t turn back the Hands Of Time

What is done, is done, so move forward because time keeps marching forward.

Abandon
Heartbreaker
Dare

Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Wikipedia tells me Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band. They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.

Abandon

I can’t forget the things that you said to me

We rarely forget. We move on but we don’t forget. Actually, we can’t forget, because if we do forget, then how did we learn from those events.

I wish I could say that the rest of the song had some earth shattering lyrical message but it didn’t. A lot of the problems with the 80’s rock bands are the lyrics. Even Dare, coming from some experienced musicians couldn’t get decent lyrics written. Some people are good with words and others not so much. But the music is still good.

Heartbreaker

It’s got a riff that reminds me of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” merged with “Fantasy”.

She got no money and she got no pride
Don’t let her tell you she got nothing to hide
So full of passion with a wounded heart
I still remember when our love fell apart yeah
And when everything’s right, how could I be so wrong? so wrong?

While it was right for you, it was all wrong for the other half. They just haven’t had the courage to tell ya yet.

Lovers
Fate

It’s from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.

Future World
We Came To Rock
Yellow Rain
Loud’N’Proud
Rodeo
Pretty Maids

They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them.

Future World

It’s the title song of their 1987 album.

Oh future world
There’s nothing left to save
They blew it all away

We will in troubled times and even more so today where “stable geniuses” are in power.

In troubled times
We saw the writing on the wall
We heard the fools
Who brought the human race to fall?

The human race always suffers because of a few individuals. Released in 87, this would have been referencing the Cold War between the US and USSR. Today, it’s the US vs North Korea. Leaders out of touch with reality and the people they claim to support and serve.

We Came to Rock

It’s from the “Future World” album and it’s one of those clichéd songs about going to the rock and roll show and joining the cavalcade.

If you’re feeling out of nowhere
If you got no place to go
If you’re feeling lost and lonely
When you’re down the open road

The heavy metal community is the most loyal and there is always a place for you and everyone else.

We are the faces
We are the guardians of the night
We’ll rock the ages
It’s all right
We’ve seen the fire
We are defenders of your rights
We’ll take you higher
Gonna take you to the sky

It’s easy to say in words that you are a defender of our rights, but only Dee Snider went to the US Senate hearings and defended the rights of US metal head citizens. It cost him dearly at the time, but today, he’s seen as the defender he set out to be in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Yellow Rain

Also from “Future World” and this one references Vietnam. Musically it starts off acoustically, like Gary Moore’s “Victims Of The Future” before it becomes a speed metal song.

Left home as heroes
Fools when they returned
Blamed for all the damage
And the villages they burned
Betrayed by their leaders
Murderers they were called
Denounced as crazy maniacs
And locked behind the walls

It was the first war that was all over TV and the prime time news. Everyone saw the burning children, the napalm bombs and Agent Orange. And the poor soldiers didn’t come home to a ticker tape parade. They came home in pieces, mentally and physically.

Loud’N’Proud

It’s also from “Future World” and it wouldn’t be out of place on the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

Gonna hit this town tonight
Let your troubles out of sight
Scream out, spread the word around
Get all up and stand your ground

Again, it’s all about going to the rock and roll show, being part of community and don’t let institutions get in your way of living out your dreams.

Rodeo

Also from “Future World”

I was born and raised on the street
I grew up in a jungle of stone

Like all of us. All social circles have become concrete jungles.

I walked my own directions
For fortune and fame

The ones, who made it, walk their own path and the ones who follow might make it, but they don’t last.

Life is a rodeo
Somebody makes it
Somebody don’t
And even though
You feel like losing
Don’t ever let it go

It’s the unwritten rule of life. Never give up, keep on going. From when we are born, we fight for every breath, for every step, every single day.

And sometimes when I came to a crossroad

Should I stick to the left or the right?

We always try to make the best decision with the information we have at the point in time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but we still make it. Because we need to.

Under The Gun
Turn It On
Danger Danger

For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, then after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before returning to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.

Under The Gun

From the debut album released in 1989 and its the same lyrical theme as “Runaway” and “Fallen Angel”. But musically and melodically it’s addictive.

Turn It On

Also from the debut and the guitar playing from Andy Timmons is what hooks me. The way he colours each bar with arpeggios, power chords, palm-muted pedal tones and double stop inversions is brilliant.

Long Way From Home
Angel In My Heart
Britny Fox

Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract.

Long Way From Home

The debut album is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Boys in Heat” released in 1989 is.

My love’s with you always, oh yeah.
Long way from home.

On the road is a killer. You are away from friends and family and the band mates are suddenly not as likeable as you thought they were when you saw em only a few hours a day for practice.

Angel In My Heart

Also from “Boys in Heat”, it’s a simple hooky song.

Misery Loves Company
Nobody Knows
Hard Luck
Letters In The Rain
Lillian Axe

Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, Lillian Axe.

As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped.

Misery Loves Company

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

The intro riff is a derivative version of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken.

The poor get nothing while the rich get fat
Start living good, the I.R.S. takes that
I kinda wonder if there’s really any good at all, at all

While the rich pay nothing and hide their billions in offshore tax havens.

Nobody Knows

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

Nobody knows when there’s clouds in the skies
When there are tears in your eyes
Nobody knows when you’re hurting so bad
So what if they had?

Exactly. So what if people knew how bad your hurting or how low your feeling. What can they do to change it? How people deal with pain and disappointment is very subjective. Each person has their own unique way of overcoming obstacles.

Hard Luck

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988. The lyrics are forgettable, but the music and melodies work.

Letters in the Rain

From the follow up, “Love + War”, released in 1989, the lyrics deal with a person reading letters his ex-partner left in the rain, and after being heartbroken for so long, he finally moves on, only to have the ex-partner return asking for a second chance. But the music and melodies are cool.

The Right To Rock
United Nations
King Of The Rock
Don’t Say You Love Me
Keel

The rock is strong with Keel.

The Right To Rock

Released in 1985, it’s the title track.

All my life I’ve been fighting
For the right to make my stand

So what happened? How did we go from fighting and making a stand, to not caring?

Don’t internet users in the U.S care about net neutrality?

Don’t people in Australia care about the power corporations have with the courts and our leaders?

Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life

But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay into your account.

‘Cause it’s our way of life
I’m fighting for freedom
For the golden rule
The right to say what I feel

But we are too scared to say what we feel in case we get ravaged by the social media righteous police.

United Nations

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

We are the new generation
We got the inspiration
We’re feelin’ strong so spread the news
The youth of every nation
Will make this declaration
This is the way of life we choose
Together we will rock
Forever we will roll

We thought hard rock would last forever but it didn’t. All great empires fall, and rock was no different.

And someday we will rise
To take control

1986 was the year metal and rock took control.

We are united nations
Under the flag of rock and roll
We are united nations
United we will stand

If only we remained united, but we didn’t.

King Of The Rock

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

In the arena is the kingdom I call home
This coliseum is my dome, whoa!
I make my own rules, I call the shots
I’m not afraid of you and I’ll fight for what I’ve got

By 1987, we had moved on. The call to arms about the rock and roll show got old.

This concrete battleground is where I’ll make my stand
If you’re with me, raise your hands

We had splintered by now. Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”. Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”. Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs. The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal.

We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.

In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.

It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well.

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