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

It’s A Dog Eat Dog Music Business. A Study on Blowsight and Doug Aldrich

The music business is a dog eat dog business. No person that has made it or seems to have made it is an overnight sensation regardless of how their stories are trumped-up in the press.

I was listening to a band called “Blowsight” and another band called “Burning Rain”. While I was listening to these two bands, I started thinking about their careers.

Lets start with Blowsight. The album I was listening to is “Life And Death” that came out in 2012. I dig this band because they blow to bits that whole “artists need to be pigeon-hole into a genre” game. They hit every style/genre over a bed of distorted guitars. Of course they are from Sweden who to me is one of the greatest exporters of rock bands.

Their story goes back to 2003, when singer Nick Red met guitarist Serban and realised that they had the exact same influences. They started recording and teamed up with drummer Fabz and Flavia who was their first bass player.

Now think about the time frames here for a second. These guys are 12 years vets of the music business already. They have a catalogue of songs on Spotify to listen to. Have they made it, are they on the path to making it.

Now for Burning Rain. The album I am listening to is “Epic Obsession” that came out in 2013. The funny thing is that Keith St James and Doug Aldrich signed the deal with Frontiers Records back in 2003 to make this third album. Why Frontiers thought that “Burning Rain” needed a follow-up after the first two albums is beyond me.

There is no doubt that Doug Aldrich can play.

If he couldn’t play he wouldn’t have gotten the Dio and Whitesnake gigs. He also played with Hurricane and I’m being honest here, that band was a great rock n roll outfit and even though the original members of Robert Sarzo (that’s who Aldrich replaced) and Tony Cavazo had more famous older brothers in Rudy and Carlos, Hurricane holds a place higher up for my liking.

Aldrich got a lot of visibility in front of the masses with his Dio and Whitesnake gigs that began in the early two thousands and by then he was a 20 year veteran of the music business. But he is no star.

It all started off with the band Lion from 1986 to 1989. By 1990 he was the Guitar Doctor for hard rock bands, appearing with Hurricane and House Of Lords. By 1991 be formed Bad Moon Rising. This venture (along with solo album releases in between) went to 1999, when Burning Rain became a priority until he got the higher profile gigs with Dio and Whitesnake.

However as good as a guitarist that Aldrich is, you need to have great songs for people to be interested. For that to happen you need to have quality musicians behind you because you are only as strong as your weakest link.

And the dirty little secret is that being good just isn’t good enough you have to be great consistently, because while bands record albums, most music fans don’t even hear them.

When you compare both artists on Spotify stats you will see that one band is consistently listened too and another band is more or less ignored.

Blowsight’s “Bandit For Life” song has 1,506,964 streams. Their lowest streamed song in the Top 10 is “Things Will Never Change” and it has 91,708 streams.

Meanwhile Burning Rain’s best song “Our Time Is Gonna Come” is at 5,481 streams and I swear I must have a racked up at least half of those myself. Their most played song is at 11,000 plus streams and that is their worst song in my eyes. But it is the album opener. So what people are most probably doing is hearing that first song, hating it and not moving on the other songs. To be honest the first three songs are all crap on the Burning Rain album.

But Doug Aldrich gets all the press. Google his name and 529,000 search results come back. That means metal and rock websites have interviews with him and so forth.

Goolge the band Blowsight and you would get about 130,000 search results come back, which means that a lot of metal and rock websites are not giving the band any time of day.

Goes to show how out of touch the metal and rock news outlets are. They report on bands and artists that the fans don’t really give a shit about. Aldrich won the lottery getting the Dio and Whitesnake gigs however his Whitesnake output is more or less ignored although “Forevermore” is a brilliant song.

Same deal with his Dio “Killing The Dragon” output. Burning Rain as I have mentioned is also ignored. Aldrich’s first band Lion only has the Transformers theme song available (from the 1980’s cartoon movie) and Bad Moon Rising is non-existent.

So tell me, which artist has a real audience. The fans know and the news outlets will keep on reporting what the fans don’t give a shit about.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Keith Olsen

I been listening to a few albums from the Eighties/early Nineties lately and of course every time I looked at the credits, Keith Olsen was the producer. Whitesnake, Kingdom Come, Scorpions, Lynch Mob and Shadow King come to mind immediately. Once upon a time as good as a band was/is, the record labels A&R guys had a view that the difference between selling millions of albums compared to a few thousand’s was THE PRODUCER.

Atlantic used that viewpoint with Twisted Sister when they told the band that Tom Werman would be the producer for the “Stay Hungry” album. Dee Snider didn’t like it and went to the Atlantic hierarchy to get them to change their mind. They told Dee if he would like to have 200,000 fans or the million plus fans that would come by working with Werman. The rest is history.

And there is a lot of rockers out there that are still buying records produced by Keith Olsen. His story goes back to the sixties, who got involved with the production side of things and at one time was an A&R dude.

Producers would get hired to produce an album and they would get a payment up front which is an advance against their portion of the royalties earned from sales. The better the producer, the higher the advance. When Keith Olsen was the man, he had a one in four ratio that the album he worked on would sell 500,000 plus copies in the U.S.

And the record labels like that stat. Like the stock market funds managers, the labels would hedge their bet.

Guys like Keith Olsen, Bruce Fairbairn, Tom Werman, Andy Johns, Martin Birch, Ron Nevison, Beau Hill, Tom Allom, Dieter Dierks, Michael Wagener, Spencer Proffer, Bob Ezrin, Mutt Lange and Bob Rock (from 1988 onwards) all had good ratios that the album they produced would make a lot of money for the record label.

That is why these guys kept on getting the more priority projects.

The labels knew that by paying upfront for an album makes good commercial and accounting sense. Because if that album sold 10 million copies plus, the money they paid the producer before the album was popular is much lower and out of proportion to what that album is now really worth.

WHITESNAKE

He mentions that “Slide it In” (Olsen was the mixer) and the self-titled 1987 album were easy to produce. I remember an interview that Olsen gave where he mentioned that Coverdale liked to sing really early in the morning because he had that tone in his voice that he was happy with and he would go to about 1pm.

“Still Of The Night” was the track that took it over the top.

However, the 1989 ‘Slip of the tongue’, was extremely hard to do. David Coverdale didn’t want 1987 Part 11. Keith Olsen was booked to produce from the outset and then he was put on hold for six months (meaning he did nothing) while Mike Clink was hired to cut some tracks.

John Kalodner was always the opportunist and he was always trying to get people who had success to work with each other. So the album was cut once with Mike Clink. More pressure was added with the wrist injury to Adrian Vandenberg. By then Clink was out and Olsen was in, along with Steve Vai and the album was recut again.

KINGDOM COME

Olsen did the album in 21 days and the reason why it was done that quick was Lenny Wolf.

According to Olsen, Wolf was impossible to deal with.

“He put down his musicians every minute of every session. “You guys suck! You don’t know how to rock and roll.” You know, he was German and he had a very limited vocabulary and he thought he was God.”

When Kingdom Come and Whitesnake come up in conversation, a lot of people wondered why the Whitesnake 1987 album and the Kingdom Come 1988 album became so successful.

And I always said to them that the rock world was ready for a Zeppelin like copy band.

The generation born from 1970 to 1976 saw Whitesnake and Kingdom Come as super original. While others born before that, who had exposure to Led Zeppelin saw them as copyists or to use the buzzword of today, plagiarisers. And it might sound stupid today, however as large as Led Zeppelin was in the Seventies, it didn’t mean that every single person in the world had heard their music.

Music was a luxury and it was expensive to purchase. My first Led Zeppelin purchases happened with the Remasters double CD in the Nineties. That was my first proper introduction to the band apart from the usual “Stairway To Heaven” and “Rock N Roll” that got played on Triple M radio.

And how good is James Kottak on the drums. It’s like the soul of Bonham went into Kottak.

SHADOW KING

Olsen mentions that “Russia” the last track on the Shadow King album is one of the best songs that Lou Gramm and Vivian Campbell had written. I have to agree with him. The emotion of it is superb.

The vocal track is a reference vocal track. Gramm did it so good that Olsen would not let him sing it again.

Olsen reckoned that if you’re Lou Gramm, and you do a record, you call it Lou Gramm. However as good as Shadow King was, Atlantic Records never got behind the album because in the end they wanted Lou Gramm to be back in Foreigner. Foreigner was the labels cash machine. So even if the album had hit songs on it, they never went anywhere.

SCORPIONS

“Crazy World” was the album that Keith Olsen produced and he asked them to bring in outside lyrical writers to assist with the simplified tease, please lyrics coming out Klaus Meine. Enter Canadian Jim Vallance (otherwise known as “THE SONG DOCTOR” and the rest is history. Vallance at the time was coming off his mega succesful songwriting partnerships with Bryan Adams, Aerosmith and Kiss.

Actually Aerosmith’s comeback album “Permanent Vacation” was possible because of two song doctors, Desmond Child and Jim Vallance.

The single “Winds of Change” went global and it hit at a time that had a lot of change happening in Eastern Europe.

So next time you are at a dinner party ask the people what do all of the above albums have in common.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music

P(etty)L(ynne)A(ttack)GIARIZE

Anyone heard Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. I know it’s not a rock or metal song, however since July last year, thousands of YouTube clips came up where YouTube users mashed up “Stay With Me” with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” that was a co-write with Jeff Lynne from ELO and released back in 1989.

And to be honest I had no idea that Petty and Lynne went for royalties on this one, so when I came across the stories a few days ago about it, I have to admit I had a laugh.

I laughed first because both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne as musicians have used a lot of blues standards and classical music respectively in their output.

I laughed because one of the greatest bands in the world Led Zeppelin plagiarized a shit load of folk and blues standards. Hell, their biggest song “Stairway To Heaven” was even plagiarized.

I laughed because one of the biggest bands in the world today, Metallica plagiarized a shit load of metal and skate metal bands for their biggest songs.

I laughed because the whole British rock invasion was a cultural movement based on plagiarizing the blues standards of the thirties to the fifties.

I laughed because Avenged Sevenfold released a great rock record that plagiarized a shit load of other bands from the Eighties and the Nineties.

I laughed because the whole concept of writing music is to copy something that came before it and to allow that to influence you.

I laughed because the copyright bullshit laws that Petty and his team used are there to protect songwriters from competitive works that diminished the original work. I can honestly say that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” in no way diminished Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”. There is no way that people who like “Stay With Me” would neglect Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”.

I laughed because the vocal melodies are both simple pentatonic sequences. The pentatonic scale is a five note scale that is a standard in rock and metal.

I laughed because Tom Petty when questioned about similarities between The Strokes “Last Nite” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Dani California” with Petty’s “American Girl” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” said that he doesn’t believe in court actions to fight over pop songs.

I laughed because one of the albums I have been listening to lately is the poster child for copying and what a fucking great album it is. That is Kingdom Come’s self-titled album.

I laughed because when it comes to music everything is loaded with so much emotion.

I laughed because all music is a derivative of what came before it.

I laughed because the reason WHY WE LIKE music is that it sounds like something familiar.

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

Apple

In order to lead you need to stay ahead of the game. In order to stay ahead you need to innovate/create.

Apple is one such company that is at the crossroads. The iTunes store is seeing a decrease in MP3 sales. Their first foray into streaming, iTunes radio never really took off.

The move into the streaming market dominated by Spotify and YouTube with the Beats acquisition is still at the starting gate and the birth of new products since the death of Steve Jobs has stagnated , however the iWatch is being hyped up by critics and bloggers as a savior.

But what people are failing to see is what Apple is doing behind the scenes. The acquisition of smaller companies into the Apple network forms a picture of a large corporation gearing up to control more of our daily lives.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. IT companies are billion dollar industries because of the data they harvest from us, the people. It is that data that provides a dashboard on how to market a product and to whom. And Apple are gearing up for a mammoth shake on the data front.

They have purchased Semetric, the U.K company behind Musicmetric. For those that don’t know, Musicmetric is a web service that analyses data on the internet around sales of music, P2P downloads, YouTube views, streams, social networks and sells that data to record labels, artists and others.

I saw Musicmetric as a great tool and it’s most valuable asset is that it looks at BitTorrent (p2P) downloads (both legal and illegal). It could tell an artist which countries and cities are illegally downloading their music.

To me, these are fans that can be monetised via live performances, provided the artist has the means to get there. For newer acts it tells them where their music is popular even though they don’t see that popularity translate into sales because in the end a fan base is a fan base. It has been proven that at some time down the line these fans will commit financially to the artist.

Which is a shame because I cant see how Musicmetric will stick around as a standalone service anymore.

Apple has gained a key in-house tool that it can use to track  sales and streams within iTunes alongside social networking stats. But the reason why Musicmetric worked is that it also included Spotify and YouTube activity into its dashboard, however the chances of those two entities remaining with Musicmetric (now that it is owned by Apple) seem to be slim.

Another interesting piece I came across is Apple’s latest patent, which states that it will allow people to legally share music and videos with friends as long as those users have a license. As the Torrentfreak article points out;

While “legalized P2P sharing” may sound appealing, in theory it’s actually quite restrictive. The idea introduces a new layer of content protection which means that the files in question can only be played on “trusted client software.” This means that transferring files between devices is only possible if these support Apple’s licensing scheme. That’s actually a step backwards from the DRM-free music that’s sold in most stores today.

Interesting.

So what we have is a company that has purchased a data analytics company that tracks illegal P2P sharing activity as part of its dashboard and they have just been given a patent to legalize P2P sharing amongst its users provided they have a license.

But seriously, Napster came out close to 16 years ago. Yes, 16 is the number. That is close to 6000 days ago and the recording industries have done nothing to give the fans of music anything that remotely resembles Napster. Meanwhile, technology companies have done all of the innovating.

To me this is another attempt at control and restriction and that is a bad thing.

These new tools will most probably be packaged in with their Beats music service and if my reading between the lines is correct, Beats Music will also be a P2p protocol sharing service provided the user has a license which will probably come automatically with the purchase of an Apple product.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Copyright!! Whose Right Really Is It?

My Google Alert on Copyright has been in overdrive over the last three weeks over Copyright news items. While I was reading through some of the articles, a persistent theme was present throughout.

Who really owns the rights to songs when government granted monopolies have hijacked the very definition of what copyright is?

First off, we have an entity called Zenbu Magazines Inc. that has filed a whole suite of cases against Apple, Sony, Google and Rdio over their streaming services. The crux of the argument is the same as the Sirius XM Radio case, over pre-1972 recordings and the royalties attached to those recordings.

The cases filed by Zenbu Magazines Inc., states that all of the services mentioned have been making money off of pre-1972 music recordings without paying any royalties to the owners of the original recordings.

Let’s get one thing clear here first.

Zenbu owns the copyrights to a lot of the songs in question. Sometime ago they would have paid a fee to the artists in question so that they could hold the rights. One of the songs in questions is a song called “Sin City” by the band  The Flying Burrito Brothers. The song came out in 1969 on their album “The Gilded Palace of Sin”.

The song is written by Gram Parsons (who died in 1973) and Chris Hillman (who is born in 1944 and still alive today). Now the consensus for pre-1972 recordings was this;

  • The songwriters get paid from sales and public performances of the song.
  • The performers however get paid only from sales.

The issue today is if the performers of the song have a right to be paid for the public performance of those sound recordings.

So why is this such a big issue right now and not in the past.

The pre-1972 rule wasn’t an issue because terrestrial radio broadcasters are exempt from paying performance royalties on all sound recordings, no matter when they those sound recordings are made. The viewpoint held is that the recording artists would receive a lot of exposure from airplay and that exposure would then translate into sales.

But people are just not buying pieces of vinyl and plastic anymore to hear music that they like and what we have is a lot of financially challenged business models of these government granted monopolies.

What copyright has actually done in this case is give power to an entity that has NOT CREATED anything and with that power they are shaking down companies who provide a service to music consumers. This is a far cry from copyrights explicit purpose of granting the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator to receive compensation for their intellectual effort.

And if anyone is thinking that the streaming companies should just pay up extra royalties to the performers of the songs of pre_1972 recordings (keeping in mind that the songwriters are getting paid), due to the mess of copyright regarding pre-1972 sound recordings, each streaming company would have to individually work out a deal with each copyright owner.

The streaming companies are all about scale. They are all about the MACRO so I don’t expect them to get all down and dirty and into the micro.

Then there is another case that went to the federal courts. This one is about a recent song from 1993 called “Whoomp! (There It Is)” and boy is this one is interesting.

In 1993, Cecil Glenn and Steven James wrote and produced the song. They also entered into an agreement with Bellmark Records. At the time, Alvertis Isbell was the president of Bellmark Records. Bellmark Records primary business model is all about owning sound recordings. However by 1997, Bellmark Records filed for bankruptcy and all of its assets were purchased by DM Records for a fee.

The copyrights of the songs owed by Bellmark Recordings would be assumed to be part of the assets purchased by DM Records. So of course, DM Records went on to monetize the copyright of the song “Whoomp”. Meanwhile, the masters of the song are owned by the writers of the song, Cecil Glenn and Steven James.

Sound confusing. It sure is. But read on.

To understand how fucked up this is, you need to go back to 1977, when Isbell Alvert formed his own music publishing company called Alvert Music. It is that company, Alvert Music that then filed a copyright infringement case against DM Records in 2002 (5 years after Bellmark Records went bankrupt) to have the courts declare that Alvert Music, not DM Records is the rightful owner of Bellmark Records assets and also the rightful owner of the composition copyright for “Whoomp”.

When the case went to trial, Isbell mentioned that the agreement he had with the songwriters of the songs transferred 50% of the songs copyright to Alvert Music. DM Records argued that Bellmark Records was the only assignee as the agreement was made between Bellmark Records and the songwriters.

And in December 2014, the Courts agreed that Alvertis Isbell owned the copyright and that DM Records was liable for copyright infringement.

So what assets did DM Records actually buy in 1997 for that $160,000 it gave to Bellmark Records?

Anyway in this instance we have the actual SONGWRITERS signing away a large percentage to another ENTITY. That entity goes bust, however the owner of that entity also owned another entity and he used that other entity to sue the new owner (which we will call the NEW ENTITY) for Copyright Infringement. It sure sounds like a lot of ENTITIES at play in lieu of creators.

So I looked up the meaning of copyright again in the dictionary.

the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.

I would assume that the ORIGINATOR means the creator of the works.

Wikipedia has the following;

Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator to receive compensation for their intellectual effort.

There is that word again.

CREATOR.

So what the hell happened to COPYRIGHT to allow people who didn’t create anything the right to shakedown and sue others. What the hell happened to COPYRIGHT when the courts decided who has the right.

 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Winning and Losing

In sports people lose all the time.

However when it comes to life, money and status no one wants to lose. Everyone just wants to win, all the time.

And music over the last 30 years has followed the mantra of winning, which brings us to the music of today which is all about the payday.

When you get artists whingeing about fans not buying their music, then how can they tell me that their views are not about money.

I understand that they want to get paid. I go to work Monday to Friday to get paid. I provide my time and effort to a company who wants to pay me for that time and effort because I have a certain skill set that they need for their business.

Music is not like that.

When an artist starts out there is no one there that wants to pay them for the time and effort they put in to create music. There is no fan base and there is no record label. Furthermore, people don’t become fans of music because those musicians have a certain skill set.

If an artist does have a fan base and they create new music, then there is no guarantee that the new music that artist creates will have the same impact on the fans as the previous music did.

Metallica is always a band that is up for discussion on this point alone.

There is a segment of early day fans that detest everything Metallica released after “…And Justice For All”.

There is also another segment of fans that detest the fact that the band made a film clip for the song “One” from the same album. For those fans, that endeavour alone was a sell out.

Then there are fans of the band that came into the fold because of the “Black” album. Now these fans are seen as imposters by the ultra-radical early days fans, however to me these fans are very important in Metallica history because the whole back catalogue of the band started selling like crazy as well.

And that is because these new fans wanted more. They didn’t know that Metallica had four albums prior. So they went deep into the Metallica catalogue and as a result all of the previous album became multi-platinum superstars.

So in a roundabout way, Metallica went from pushing boundaries and creating what they want with no restrictions to a band that created music under the restriction/pressure of not losing what they gained with the Black album success. The problem is further compounded when everyone else attached to the artist now needs to get paid. The labels, the managers, the accountants, the lawyers and all the other middle people involved want to get paid.

So we have a music business were everybody that participates wants to get paid a percentage. This then leads to musicians that want to be as rich as the businessmen that grace the Forbes 100 lists.

Why.

Those billionaires are hated. Do you reckon Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Rupert Murdoch get any respect from ordinary citizens?

Of course not.

Meanwhile the artists are idolised and adored. Artists have the reach. Their music dominates Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

So I don’t believe in this bullshit about the recording industry being financially challenged because the real truth is that there are millions upon millions of dollars in music to be made if you’re a star.

However in most metal and rock circles, 99.9% of the artists like Machine Head, Shinedown, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, Halestorm, In This Moment, Killswitch Engage and so on are working class acts. But if you look at their box office returns for each show, all of these bands are grossing $150,000 plus each gig and that is the paradigm shift the recording industry can’t handle. Most of the money now comes from live instead of recordings.

And just like the company I work for, 99.9% of the staff are from working class families. That is reality so why deny it and if you are an artists starting off that is grounded in reality, expect to have a successful working class musical career. However if you are an artist that is grounded in dreams and one in a million stories, then expect to be disappointed and make sure your education is up to scratch.

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

George Lynch and Michael Sweet

George Lynch. As much as he probably despises it, he will always be known as the lead shredder for Dokken. Yep, his greatest claim to fame is under the surname of a person he doesn’t really like.

In guitar circles he is known for losing out to Randy Rhoads for the Ozzy gig, however he was good enough to take over from him at Musonia. Gene Simmons told Lynch once (during the Xciter days) that with a name like George Lynch he would never make it. I guess Simmons didn’t take into account the power of determination and perseverance.

In a roundabout way Lynch ended up with a record deal and recorded “Breaking The Chains” in Europe in 1981. He auditioned again for Ozzy after Randy’s passing however the job went to Jake E.Lee this time around. With nothing to lose, he had one more crack at the big time. With the addition of Jeff Pilson, a new formidable song writing team would be formed in Lynch, Pilson and Mick Brown.

What can’t be taken away from Lynch is that he is a man of many projects. If you want to survive in the music business you need to create. And that is what George Lynch does each year. He creates, plays live and creates some more and plays live again.

But the part that impresses me more is his foresight.

Back in the early two thousands he started “Guitar Dojo” an online guitar instructional course that was way ahead of its time. Hell, Skype and YouTube were not even around at all. Today, every artist has some lessons out there that they conduct via Skype or YouTube. And without knowing it, Lynch was finding different ways to connect with his fan base. The Guitar Dojo became a community that would end up seeing the guitar students turn up at shows, purchase merchandise and recordings.

He self-funded his “Kill All Control” album, which had the song “Son of Scary”. The band agreement in Dokken meant that they split up all the songs equally. “Mr Scary” an instrumental that Lynch wrote by himself was also split four ways. Back in the Eighties it was probably no big deal.

Fast forward to 2008/9 and “Guitar Hero” comes calling, wanting to use “Mr Scary” for the game. According to Lynch, Dokken had a problem with it and he made Guitar Hero’s legal department very uncomfortable. In order to work around this problem, Lynch re-wrote the song on a 7 string and called it “Son Of Scary”. In the end “Guitar Hero” didn’t end up using the track.

He also released “Sun Red Sun” that is a record he started more than two years ago with the last incarnation of the band. On top of that he is also just finishing up the music for another new Lynch Mob record that will be coming out next spring. This version of the band has Jeff Pilson on bass, Brian Tichy on drums along with Oni Logan on vocals. Lynch also has the Shadow Nation documentary and Shadow Train band project to come in 2015.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post!

There is no doubt that George Lynch is a wonderful talent. As good as he is, he doesn’t sing and for that you need a vocalist that is also talented in writing great vocal melodies. And he found that vocalist in Michael Sweet, who is another musician that is also creating and working non-stop.

Check out Michael Sweet’s output since 2005.

2005: Stryper – Reborn
2006: Michael Sweet – Him
2007: Michael Sweet – Touched
2007: Stryper – Live In Puerto Rico
2007: Stryper – The Roxx Regime Demos
2008: Boston Tour
2009: Stryper – Murder By Pride
2011: Stryper – The Covering
2013: Stryper – Second Coming
2013: Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
2014: Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide
2014: Stryper – Live At The Whisky
2015: Sweet & Lynch – Only To Rise

And that is what I am doing right now. I am listening to the Sweet and Lynch album “Only To Rise”.

From all of his projects since Lynch Mob’s second album, this is the best one by far. Michael Sweet as always delivers a killer vocal performance and in some cases, his melodies take pedestrian songs into a whole new stratosphere. “Recover” is one example. The intro and verses are okay, but when that chorus crashes down around the ear drums and Sweet’s glass shattering vocals hit the spot, all bets are off. The album has got twelve songs, however nine songs would have made a perfect album.

The Wish
This song is the star of the album. That chorus vocal melody and the guitar melody under it are brilliant.

“Girl I want to love you just like Hollywood
Like a New York Times best-selling fairy tale
A knight in shining armour who’s defending you
The wish within your well”

Dying Rose
Michael Sweet mentioned in an interview that he asked George Lynch to give him music with a Dokken vibe/feel like “The Hunter” (track number 2 from the Under Lock and Key album). That song ended up being “Dying Rose”.

Lynch further stated in a Guitar World interview that “Dying Rose,” has a “country-esque, Nashville element to it. It’s a beautiful melody and chorus with a nice hook.”

Love Stays
Michael Sweet mentioned that “Love Stays” is one of his favourites. He likes the vibe, the feel, the drum groove and just the way it sounds. The funny thing is that they are all the bits I dig as well.

As soon as that guitar riff comes in to start the song, I knew I was listening to something special especially when it transitions into a Beatles/ELO “Mr Blue Sky” bridge. Overall, the song could have come from the Max Martin stable of pop rock songs. Give it to any pop star of the week and watch it rise.

Time Will Tell
It reminds me of a band that is a huge influence on me musically and that band is Y&T.

Rescue Me
I read that Michael Sweet asked Lynch to give him something a little Journey-ish. The reply was a bunch of riffs titled “Bad Journey”. It might have that old-school Journey vibe however it’s got that Led Zep/Bad Company blues rock vibe as well.

Me Without You
The way the guitar transitions between chords reminds me of Michael Schenker for some reason. I really dig this song. The intro and the vocal melody are just brilliant. Haunting even.

Recover
One of the best rock/metal songs I have heard in a while. When that chorus crashes down around the ear drums and Sweet’s glass shattering vocals hit the spot, all bets are off.

September
I’ve read some comments and reviews that mention it’s hard not to think of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” during the intro and choruses of “September”.

Only To Rise
This song is the “Hey, dude. Give me something that’s a little Van Halen-ey.” And it sure is.

The whole album is an example of the progress is derivative model.

Standard