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

1984 – VII – The Crusader Blitz Lays Down The Law To Steal The Light

Here is the playlist for 1984-7.

If you want to read the previous 1984 posts, here are the links.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Keel – Lay Down the Law

Ron Keel did everything at 12. When he delivered a vocal, he was up there at an 12 intensity.

I really thought Keel would go on and do great things. They had Gene Simmons writing and producing the band at one stage. By 1987, they had Jimmy Bain from Dio writing with them, along with Jack Ponti. But each new album started to become the same as the previous album, that even the core audience started to move on. I felt like the same theme carried over four separate albums.

How many times can you re-write, “Metal Generation” into “The Right To Rock” into “Raised On Rock” into “The Final Frontier” into “United Nations”?

Anyway.

“Born Ready” starts off with a “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” style riff for a song about coming of age and being ready to take control.

“Metal Generation” has this Ratt like riff based on “Lack Of Communication”, but hey, the LA scene was awash with similar sounding riffs and bands. And while the song sounded generic, the lead break is worthy of guitar hero status. Listen to it, and if you are not playing air guitar by the end of it, you don’t appreciate shredding.

“You’re The Victim (I Am The Crime)” is just a fast dumb song that’s too good to turn away. The double kick throughout brings back memories of “Overkill” from Motorhead and the riffs are that fast, that they could have been lifted from “Kill Em All”. But the lead break steals the show again. Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay proved to be a dynamic guitar duo.

If you dismissed Keel because of the vocals or the generic themes, you need to revisit them just to hear the lead breaks.

Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve – Through The Fires

What a great idea to get a few guys with chops in a room and letting them jam. HSAS is a perfect example of what is beautiful about music. These guys didn’t get together to create songs to sell millions of albums. They got together because they wanted to create. And from those creations, they wanted to gig. And then they ran out of time to record more studio albums because Schon went back to Journey and Hagar joined Van Halen.

“Top Of The Rock” has this foot stomping riff to kick it off and Sammy Hagar during this period is in top form. And his lyrics about life, status and society are brilliant.

It aint easy speaking out, some people take it to heart

And if you’re not standing on top of the rock they will tear you apart

“Missing You” for such a generic, ballad sounding title is nothing as such. If you want to hear where “Ghost” takes his influences, then you need to check out this song. Take out Sammy’s voice and add the voice of the clergy and you will have a Ghost song. The vocal line that Hagar delivers here is out of the park.

And Neal Schon, is referencing his “Don’t Stop Believin” riff with a few tweaks here and there for the Chorus. Plus he really lets loose on the lead break, as Journey Neal Schon started to become a decorator instead of a shredder.

“Valley Of The Kings/Giza” has everything, as HSAS become world musicians and take the exotic Phrygian Dominant scale into their set list. “Whiter Shade Of Pale” is a song I always enjoyed playing and hearing, as it was one of the first songs my guitar teacher showed me back in the day. It’s got such a cool chord progression that soloing over it is awesome and Neal Schon does exactly that. “Hot and Dirty” while dumb lyrically, is great melodically and musically.

“He Will Understand” has a riff which should have been a number 1 pop riff. Sammy again delivers a great vocal, although lyrically the song didn’t connect. But the music. It’s excellent. And check out these lyrics.

“Friendships can fade away”

“There’s not much to talk about because there’s too much to say”

And then Neal Schon starts to deliver a metal like riff from the 2.20 minute mark and then the band morphs into a 70’s progressive style band, in the Chorus. Plus have I mentioned how Neal Schon goes to town in each song and shows the world why he’s one of the great guitarists.

I thought “My Hometown” would have been a ballad when I saw the title, but man, in my mind, it’s a song that is influenced 100% by Van Halen and ZZ Top. And that Chorus riff, is the Seattle sound and groove. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

The Rods – Let Them Eat Metal

When Johnny Rod joined WASP, I thought he came from a band called The Rods (it was actually King Cobra). I was always curious to hear the origins of musicians, but to hear an album meant I had to spend money on it and I had other more higher profile releases earmarked for that. So I didn’t hear these guys until well into the 2010’s decade and it was all because I thought a bass player came from the band but he didn’t.

And this album is a cool listen. You can’t take it seriously but you can enjoy the hell out of it.

There isn’t really a stand out song, but there isn’t a bad song either. But if I was been tortured by some doctors from a dictatorship government and I had to pick a favourite, it would be “Nuclear Skies”, for its enlightening lyric, “from the air we are breathing, we should all be dead” and its vocal harmony chorus.

And I don’t know how they had the balls to release “Bad Blood” because man, that song is “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest. But hey, music is based on the sum of our influences and you can hear in this song, The Rods had a pretty big Judas Priest influence.

Saxon – Crusader

They’ve had a career in music for a long time and they still write and record albums today. When they came across my radar, my initial impression was that they would be as big as Iron Maiden. And it didn’t happen and I was confused as to why.

The “Crusader” intro was enough to get me ready to break desks. The bass rolls along like “Heaven And Hell” and the guitars decorate.

“Fight the good fight, believe what is right”

The song is about the Crusades, but some of the lyrics can be interloped with the current world situation. We have democratic countries, with democratically elected leaders, spying and carrying out surveillance on their citizens, in the same way that dictatorship governments do/did. And the hypocrisy is that our leaders then stand on their soapbox and condemn these kinds of governments, but it’s okay for our leaders to do it, because they tell us they are the good guys, but we all know they are beholden to the corporations.

“Sailing To America” actually took me by surprise, because the vocals sounded like a cross between Sting and Steve Perry and I really dug that vibe. And this is probably the predicament Saxon had. They dabbled in many different styles, but the record labels like to promote (in other words pigeon hole) an artist in a particular genre/style, which is totally wrong.

“Do It All For You” has one of those intro’s that makes you pay attention, like “The Hellion”. And when I was expecting an “Electric Eye” style riff it goes into a ballad, which was okay, but not worthy of the intro. And I enjoyed “Just Let Me Rock” and “Rock City” but they didn’t connect. I think I was over all the song titles coming out with “Rock” in the title. In saying that, did Dee Snider get influenced by this song for a certain song on “Come Out And Play” called “You Want What We Got”. As “Rock City” states, you want it, we got it.

Krokus – The Blitz

I think they tried really hard to shake their AC/DC tag on this one, bringing in a lot of Judas Priest like elements, a cover songs and some outside writers. But when you have a vocalist who sounds like an AC/DC vocalist, it’s hard to shake that tag.

The production team behind the album is unbelievable. Bruce Fairbairn is producing, Bob Rock is an engineer and Mike Fraser is an assistant engineer. Even Survivor’s Jimi Jamison makes an appearance as a backing vocalist.

I want to talk about “Hot Stuff”. Now this song is what Krokus is all about to me. The intro is like “The Hellion” from Judas Priest, while the verses roll along like AC/DC and the Chorus is very LA sounding. And the lead break combined elements of Schenker, Young and EVH.

On “Boys Nite Out”, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are also co-writers, so the label really wanted this album to succeed.

Legs Diamond – Out On Bail

So Legs Diamond (stupid band name by the way) came into my radar because I kept hearing from the one person in the area I grew up in (that seemed to have every single rock and metal album), that if I liked Tom Keifer’s voice, then I would like Legs Diamond. The band could play, and they bordered on NWOBHM and melodic rock.

The electronic drums. You either like em or you don’t. To me, they are a major distraction from the rawk and roll of the music.  

The band was actually broken up, but when they saw that their albums started to sell here and there, they reformed to capitalise on this new found interest.

The way I see it, “One Way Ticket” captures what the band is all about, combining all of their rock, metal and melodic influences into their own style. And at seven minutes long, it wasn’t long enough for me. It made me, press repeat. To compare, the title track “Out On Bail” comes across as rooted in the AC/DC/NWOBHM groove, “Radio” feels like a ZZ Top/Deep Purple medley and then “Fugitive” comes across like Journey synth AOR. Three distinct compositions. “Walkaway” should have been a Top 10 hit, but it wasn’t.

But “One Way Ticket” is the song and its unknown.

And the other song that defines their sound is “One Last Kiss”. Musically, it has so much happening, it has a flute solo and its over pretty quick.

Tony Carey – Some Tough City

I didn’t know what to expect on this album. I saw it on a melodic rock list, so I cued it up as the name Tony Carey appeared on a few Rainbow albums as a keyboardist. And I swear, it feels like “Lost Highway” from Bon Jovi was written after hearing the song “A Fine Fine Day”, then again maybe Mellencamp was an influence here.

Q5 – Steal The Light

I knew about this band, because Floyd Rose played guitar in the band. And for those who don’t know, Floyd Rose invented of course,  the “Floyd Rose” tremolo locking system that stopped guitars from going out of tune whenever the whammy bar was activated. In a Guitar World issue, years ago, this invention was rated as one of the most ground breaking guitar inventions.

So one day in the 90’s, my fingers were walking over the $1 bin LP’s in a second hand record store and it was there I came across Q5’s album. I took it and a lot of other obscure metal and rock bands home, dropped the needle and I just enjoyed every note and every word. There is not a bad song on it.

The opening NWOBHM style riff of “Missing In Action” hooks me. The intro harmony leads in “Lonely Lady” get me playing air guitar. “Steal The Light” has an intro riff that forces me to pick up the guitar and learn it.

“Pull The Trigger” is AC/DC all metalized. “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” could have come from the “Highway To Hell” album. “Rock On” feels like it’s a metal version of “Peter Gunn” in the verses and “Hells Bells” like in the Chorus.

They had one more album on Polygram a few years later, argued when it didn’t do anything commercially and disbanded. Frontiers then resurrected the band around 2014 and a new album came out a few years after that.

Well that’s it for another 1984 post, I am pretty sure I have a few more to go.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Stranger Things And Netflix

I’m late in watching S3. But once I started I couldn’t turn it off until I finished it. Like a good LP from back in the day.

The Duffer Brothers are like rock stars. Three albums (seasons) in and people are still tuning in.

And their label, Netflix, refused to play the same old “ad-supported, release in dribs and drabs game”, so they created a new game that looked a lot like the recorded long players game from the music business.

Release everything on one day like an LP and see what sticks and for how long. People hate waiting and TV guide viewing is finished. For those who lived through the 80s, the TV guide was the most popular magazine going around.

If it’s good, people will still be tuning in months later. If it’s not good, don’t worry, Netflix will have another different show out in a week.

And isn’t it funny how the recorded music business has become a hits business, with artists expected to release a track each week like the old traditional TV show game, while the TV shows on streaming services are getting released like an album, all at once.

And that was Napster’s magic. Get the tracks we want without paying for the overpriced CD we didn’t want.

And I don’t want the days of the video shop to return. They didn’t always have what I wanted because someone else rented it and if I did get it a few days or weeks later, the tape had been chewed. And if I didn’t return the movie in time, well there was this thing called late fees. So as soon as people got the option to buy the product at a reasonable price, the video rental store became challenged. Then came peer to peer downloads and suddenly the video rental store is really challenged.

Don’t believe those stories that piracy hurts creators?

It’s the best time to be a creator right now as streaming services, cable channels and traditional TV outlets are all throwing money to get content. Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney and Apple are all vying for people’s subscriptions.

And it happened because of peer to peer downloading. It made people realize it’s time to change the way they do things.

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

The Record Vault – Tommy Bolin

I first heard “Teaser” when Motley Crue covered it on the “Stairway to Heaven/Highway To Hell” compilation album for the Moscow Peace Festival. 

This was back in 1989, and the writer of the song is T.Bolin.

Pre Internet era, it meant I had to go to the record shop and ask them if they have anything on T.Bolin. And they didn’t, unless I wanted to import it.

Fast forward another 10 years and I had picked up both solo albums via record fairs and second hand record shops.

The first thing that grabbed me is the funky sleazy riff and the wolf whistle slide guitar.

She sips gin from a teacup, wears those fancy clothes
And somebody always knows her no matter where she goes
She’ll talk to you in riddles that have no sense or rhyme
And if you ask her what she means, says she don’t got no time

“Teaser” showed me how influenced a young Nikki Sixx would have been by the lyrics.

Then the solo breakdown section kicks in where it’s just the bass and drums simulating an excited heartbeat at the beginning and it moves into a free form jazz fusion lead break. 

Jeff Porcaro from Steely Dan and Toto fame played drums and Stanley Sheldon from Peter Frampton’s band played bass.

As I listened to the album over and over again, I found other gems in the instrumental “Homeward Strut”, with its James Gang Funk inspired verses and its unbelievable harmony lick that acts as a Chorus.

The piano ballad “Dreamer” with Glen Hughes singing the last verse (even though he is uncredited) and piano played by David Foster, the same David Foster that would go on to produce and compose songs for Whitney Houston, Michael Buble and many others.

You have the blues funk of “Savannah Woman” with Phil Collins providing percussion.

Side 2 doesn’t have the same impact as Side 1 but the closer “Lotus” makes up for it with its fusion of hard rock, blues, jazz, funk  and synth orientated pop.

Similar in structure to “Teaser”, it has that unbelievable breakdown solo section, which closes the album.

And “Private Eyes”.

It didn’t have the star studded guests and it’s more focused on its mixture of groove, funk, jazz rock. Better songwriting.

And then it was over.

In 1975, Tommy Bolin released “Teaser” and “Come Taste the Band” with Deep Purple, and in 1976 he released “Private Eyes” in September. By December he was dead.

His music forever lives.

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

Coming Home

The song “Home” from Daughtry came on via Spotify’s Family Mix. Actually, it’s a pretty cool concept/algorithm which organizes a playlist based on tracks the family members listen to.

“Home” is courtesy of my wife. I introduced her to Daughtry’s music and then she became a bigger fan than I. The more he moved away from the rock roots, the more I moved away.

And I thought Daughtry changed his sound because he wrote with too many different writers and producers, but that wasn’t it, because Daughtry had always written with different writers. But he had an ability to still make the songs sound dirty, raw and full of attitude and emotion, with a touch of modern rock and pop.

But “Baptized” released in 2013 sounded too sterile, too polished. It was lacking the grit of earlier albums. And when you have a song called “Long Live Rock and Roll” on the album, it needs to rock. But it didn’t. It was electro pop at best. A greatest hits package came afterwards and then in 2018, “Cage To Rattle” came out.

And again, I wasn’t sure what the intention was. While an improvement over “Baptized” it was still missing the special Daughtry ability to take whatever pop trend was in and make it rock hard.

And this kind of relationship cycle continues. We fall in and out with the artists we like, hoping that eventually they will return home to that rock and roll store and order up another serve.

Or the way Nikki Sixx wrote on Motley Crue’s “New Tattoo” album.

“I promise you this. One day you’ll walk into the tattoo shop of life and say “I’m back”. I’m ready for my new tattoo and her name is rock and roll. Now it’s time to make it permanent.

You will have been thru all the temporary 15 minutes of flash, you’ll have come to realize that you’ve been served fast food music and disposable heroes for so long. You’ve somehow forgotten what is real and what is not. And you know what the man behind the counter will say;

“We knew you’d be back.”

Amen.

I’m going home, back to the place where I belong.

And that home for me is rock and roll.

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

The Record Vault – Brides Of Destruction

Getting information about hard rock acts was becoming tougher and tougher at the start of the 2000’s in Australia. Sure Metal Edge kept the flag flying, but for mags to sell they had to still accommodate the popular bands and the internet news reels felt primitive.

Since Motley Crue was dormant, I was really keen to hear what any of the guys would come up with.

Tommy Lee had already dropped a Methods Of Mayhem album, a sex tape which sold more than the whole Motley catalogue and a solo album called “Never A Dull Moment”.

Nikki Sixx at this stage was still a relative unknown outside of the Motley Crue world and Brides Of Destruction would be the start of getting him front and centre into the minds of music consumers. Plus he was starting to write songs for other artists via his partnership with James Michael, which would become very productive when Sixx A.M happened.

So BoD was formed in 2002 by Nikki Sixx and Traci Guns and the only deal they could get was for a Japanese release via Universal.

Nikki Sixx was paying Traci Guns $2000 a month and Sixx’s manager was paying for the rehearsal space. This period was the last few years of the record labels controlling the distribution by placing a person as the culture decider. And this gatekeeper decided that these two major label dudes from the 80s will not get worldwide distribution in 2002.

Finally, Sanctuary Records came on board for a worldwide release but then they just kept on pushing back the release date until March, 2004.

John Corabi was in as a co-guitarist and appears on the album but was out of the band because of a falling out with Guns. And the shit that Sixx has said afterwards about Corabi, then why did he decide to work with him again.

I was hooked as soon as the riff started for “Shut The Fuck Up”, dripping in punk attitude.

“I’m so sick of you, Shut the fuck up”

If you say something like this today, get ready to be ostracized and crucified by the moral police on social media and the internet. And if you say it, well expect to have it said back to you as well.

“Life” has some great lyrics. This one is my favorite;

“Don’t let the negative steal the blue from the sky”

What a great lyric.

Our memories are all that we have. What we remember are the stories we have told, and even then those stories change over the years.

If we don’t tell these stories, then the memory will fade.

Choosing what memory we tell is a way of choosing who we will become. Focus on the negative memories and the downward spiral begins. Focus on the positives and a different path begins. We need a balance.

Don’t forget the hurt but remember and talk about the joy.

“I Don’t Care” is full of attitude. “I Got A Gun” is a favourite. “Only Get So Far” is one of those ballads that has this 70’s vibe which I dig.

“2xDead” and “Brace Yourself” rock out of the gate with their sleazy grooves that remind me of Motley Crue. While “Natural Born Killer” sounds like it came from the 80s and its “Slice Of Your Pie” ending which was influenced by The Beatles, “She’s So Heavy”.

To me, the album sounded like an extension of the songs that Nikki Sixx wrote for the Motley Crue “Greatest Hits” album.

And the second album came out in 2005 and I don’t really remember nothing much about it except that Nikki Sixx wasnt the bassist as he had already left to reboot Motley, but there are songs on the album co-written by him.

That picture above is from the second album that Sixx didn’t play on, but hey, let’s make a band member look like Sixx in the cartoon drawing.

Rumors said the Sixx and Gun’s had a falling out because Guns continued with the band while Sixx wanted it to be on hiatus.

Fast forward to 2017 and Twitter started to fill in some gaps. Read the article over at Metal Sludge.

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

Metal Journey

I grew up in a time when AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden were classified as metal acts. Black Sabbath was seen as a bit more extreme and darker. Venom even more so. But as the years went on, the way people viewed metal music had changed.

Suddenly it’s faster or groovier or math like or whatever else you like and depending on the act, you wouldn’t be able to understand a word they are saying, without referring to the lyrics. So on occasions I cannot resonate with all the acts today classed as metal.

But one thing I do know is that music labelled as “metal” is made for loyalists.

You hook in a fan, they would be along for the ride, dedicating their lives because they believe. And hearing a song just once, is never enough. To become a fan of an artist, it meant you had to invest time and be prepared to take the journey.

Recently the Evergrey album became a journey, exploring the depths of darkness, depression and hope. Every 13 years, the Tool Comet comes past Earth and a new album drops and when it does, that in itself is a journey. Rival Sons took me on a journey deep into the Delta and Volbeat showed there is still life in streets of the 60s.

Take us on a journey and we are fans for life.

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

Charts

I’m sure you have read or heard or skimmed the reporting of how Tool beat Taylor Swift for the Number 1 spot. High fives all round for the perfect execution of the album release.

Tool is in Week 1 and Taylor is in Week 2 of their respective release cycles.

My thoughts on the charts, is an industry holding on to the past. Combining physical sales with a certain number of streams which count like a sale. Come on, that by no means indicates what is hot or not.

Still selling CD’s and mp3’s, even though CD players don’t even come in computers or cars anymore. And mp3 players are obsolete. The iPod is dead. And the way my kids don’t even know what a Blackberry is, there will be kids in 10 years time who won’t even know what an iPod is.

Seen the article about how vinyl will outsell CDs for the first time since the 80s.

Does the majority care?

Of course not. The amount of people streaming is greater than the amount of people buying.

Streams are facts, harder to scam, but people still try. Streams give an indication of what people are listening to as there is no way for an artist to know how many times a CD or vinyl sale has been listened to.

And streaming pays forever, whereas a sale pays you once. You might feel rich now but you will be complaining in the future.

And the record labels have manipulated the charts from the start, because they know the media reports on it, like it means something. Maybe it showed how many records got sold once Soundscan came into force in the early 90’s, but before that it was based on how many albums got ordered by record stores.

And the last 15 years have shown us how the first week of sales are high and the stories are reported everywhere, but by the fourth week, it’s down to a trickle and by week eight, its underwater. And people move on. Music in general is more important than any particular album. It’s a sign of the times, the era we live in.

Sure, bands in the metal and rock genre create albums which sustain and reach some status, but it’s all because of a mathematical formula combining streams with physical.

Standard