A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Death, Money, Consistency and Originality

DEATH

AJ Pero died a few days ago. That iconic drum beat at the start of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that was him. A.J Pero wasn’t the pretty boy in the band that is for sure. He was the street dog that could groove. Dee Snider might have grabbed all the fame but that doesn’t mean that A.J Pero wasn’t a star. If he didn’t roll, the Twisted machine didn’t rock. And man he was a perfect fit for Adrenaline Mob as well.

Remember that it is tough being in the music business. A.J Pero from what I know didn’t write not one song however he had a career that spanned 40 plus years. It’s because he didn’t get into music for the riches and the fame. He got into music because he loved it and he kept that love going for his whole career. He even died while on tour.

RIP.

And the piece d’resistance A.J. Pero song for me is “The Fire Still Burns” from the “Come Out And Play”.

MONEY

I really enjoyed Revolution Saints and when I looked at the song writing credits, it’s all Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is not ONE Doug Aldrich credit. Maybe the money incentive to do Revolution Saints from Sergio Perufino was too good compared to what Whitesnake had on offer.

Speaking of money, everyone reckons Metallica is losing it. Maybe its true and maybe it’s not. But what I do know is that in every business as soon as you forget about the tasks that bring in the bread and butter, two things begin to happen. Stagnation and bankruptcy. Leave the festivals to the promoters and leave the movies to Hollywood. Metallica’s bread and butter is music and it has been now 7 years since we had any new tunes from them.

Continuing with the money topic, the recording industry wants to rip apart Spotify’s freemium model.

Which is typical?

Instead of working with Spotify to make the premium option super enticing that fans of music feel the need to purchase a subscription, they want to make the premium option the freemium option and place restrictions on the freemium option. What’s even worse, studies are coming out showing that the spending on streaming music is outperforming CD sales. And in countries that adopted streaming much earlier than the U.S and Australia, streaming is even outperforming digital sales.

I had this debate with others. A lot of people would be happy to pay an annual subscription amount to listen to music of their favourite artists, provided that they KNOW that the money would be divided among those artists and not others.

This is typical of the recording business, trying to be paid multiple times for the same product. That is why all of the record labels had class action suits brought against them from artists. The label is applying the same vinyl math to digital music and the artists don’t like it.

CONSISTENCY

Getting people to pay attention just once is not enough. The ones that have a music career have done it over again and again and again. Quiet Riot got me hooked with “Metal Health” and then disappointed the fans with “Condition Critical”. Then they disappointed the fans even more with the one after “Condition Critical”. So guess what happened to them. They started a steep downhill slide.

Meanwhile, Motley Crue hooked people in with “Too Fast For Love” and then blew them away with “Shout At The Devil”.  Then, even though they kept on making albums, they became a video/singles band, with “Smokin In The Boys Room”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side” making decent inroads into our head spaces. There was still enough consistency there, that when “Dr Feelgood” came out, it blew us away.

Metallica was the same. “Kill Em All” was different and energetic however it was a tribute album to the NWOBHM. “Ride The Lightning” kept that energy and started to make it technical. “Master Of Puppets” refined the “Ride The Lightning” format and then “And Justice For All” took it to a whole new progressive technical thrash level. Then the paradigm shift happened and groove was back in with the self-titled “Black” album.

Currently, bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are showing that they are no one album/hit wonders. Machine Head was a bit inconsistent after “Burn My Eyes”, but since “Through The Ashes of Empires” they have been on song and in the process, Robb Flynn re-established the Machine Head brand.

ORIGINALITY

I am a great believer that original music is a sum of the creator’s influences. That craziness over a stupid Marvin Gaye song and his greedy heirs has reinforced my views.

For the last time YOU CANT COPY A FEEL OF THE SONG.

In other words, all music is derivative. The aim is to make it sound fresh. Look at the biggest albums or biggest songs of any bands career and you will hear similarities to other works.

Metallica’s piece d’resistance album amongst fans is “Master Of Puppets”.

We all know that “Welcome Home” is an amalgamation of songs from an obscure NWOBHM band and Rush. The format/flow of the album is based on “Ride The Lightning”. The songs are also constructed in the same way. Even their biggest selling album led off with a riff that was taken from another obscure skate punk metal band albeit this one being from California instead of England.

“The Unforgiven” had the same chords in the Chorus as the “Fade To Black” verses. “One” had an intro that was taken from “Fade To Black” and “Fade To Black” had an intro taken from “Goodbye Blue Sky” from Pink Floyd. And it goes on and on.

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

W.A.S.P – Post “Crimson Idol” Cuts

I consider “The Crimson Idol” to be WASP’s (and by default Blackie Lawless) crowning achievement. It’s funny how the person that wanted to be somebody in 1983 ended up singing about a person that didn’t want to be the idol of millions.

From my own musical evolution, there is no one higher in my own personal church of rock n roll than Blackie Lawless.

So here is a COMPENDIUM list of post “Crimson Idol” cuts.

Heavens Hung In Black
The masterpiece in Blackie’s career. It is from the “Dominator” album released in 2007. It’s seven plus minutes long and it is not pretentious or wankery. The way it goes from the synths to the outro solo is excellent and emotive. Go on YouTube and you will see that the song has over 10 million views. This is what Blackie said of the song in an interview with Blabbermouth:

“The title is from a quote from American President Abraham Lincoln when he saw the casualty reports from the battle of Gettysburg, and after reading that he said, ‘Tonight the Heaven’s are hung in black.’ So I took that idea and I wrote it from a point of view of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who’s on the verge of dying and he’s standing at the Gates of Heaven but St. Peter tells him that because of all the fighting that has been taking place, they have no more room in Heaven, and that he must come back some other time. So based on that understand that the verses are St. Peter talking, and the chorus is the soldier.”

Some artists need others to write music with however Blackie Lawless is an anomaly that doesn’t subscribe to that paradigm.

Mercy
It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. Love that open string palm muted pedal point riff to kick it off. Blackie rewrote this song and called it “Crazy” for 2009’s “Babylon” album. Both of the songs are just good old rockers.

Take Me Up
One of my favourites. The whole digital delay intro is subtle and powerful. When the clean town first verse comes in, I still have no idea what’s coming. Then the heavy grinding and groovy second verse kicks in and when the hooky chorus kicks in, I am all in. Nodding my head and tapping my foot. It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. “Take Me Up” is a tour de force.

The “Dominator” album is a classic like W.A.S.P’s other classic albums. It’s perfect and without the big hit single, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. However for those fans who have heard, we can never forget it.

And then there was the album cover, with the American flag partially in flames, a skull take up a corner and nameless headstones taking up another corner. Focusing on the foreign policies of the U.S, Blackie delivered a mind-blowing experience. This is what he said about the album title:

“It is based on the idea of Western imperialism and about what’s wrong with Washington D.C. It’s important that people understand this is not about the American people and it is not a critique on the American people — it is a critique on the government in the United States. If someone looks at the lyrics of ‘Dominator’, they’ll think it’s a man talking to a woman. And I like the interesting concept of that because that’s what bigger countries do to smaller countries — they toss them like they’re their bitch.”

My Wicked Heart
It’s from the “Dying For The World” album released in 2002. The intro is a combination of “Iron Maiden” and “Judas Priest”. Then it morphs into a derivative version of Love Machine in the verses merged with Arena Of Pleasure in the Chorus. Then the Interlude is “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)”. Totally brilliant.

“Nothing can change my wicked heart”

Hallowed Ground
It’s also from the “Dying For The World” album released. Just think of the song as “The Idol” part 2. I wouldn’t be surprised that sometime in the future, the publisher who would hold the copyright for this song would probably get sued by the publisher who holds the copyright on “The Idol”. That is how messed up Copyright law is.

Charisma
It’s from the “Unholy Terror” album released in 2001. It has this Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” groove, but it’s classic WASP. Thank God that Blackie Lawless didn’t use the “feel” from a Marvin Gaye song otherwise he would have been in the courts as well if the song made some serious cash.

Raven Heart
The song is also from the “Unholy Terror” album and it is a cross between Alice Cooper’s “School Out” and WASP’s “Love Machine”.

Babylon’s Burning
From 2009. It’s a combination of “The Invisible Boy” and “I Am One” from “The Crimson Idol” album. I love it.

Into The Fire
One more power mid tempo ballad from Blackie. It’s also from the “Babylon” album.

Asylum #9
It’s from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004.

What I’ll Never Find
It’s also from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004. As usual Blackie Lawless is in top form pounding out his epic power ballads. This song reminds me as an amalgamation of “The Idol” and “Hold On To My Heart”.

The Running Man
It’s funny how “The Running Man” (TRM) sounds like another song with the first letters of each word as T R M (The Real Me). Add to that flavours of “Doctor Rockter” and you have another perfect WASP song.

The Raging Storm
“Sleep In The Fire” merged with “The Idol” over a 12/8 blues rhythm. Brilliant. When I hear Blackie scream “give me love” I am immediately reminded of the “No Love to shelter me” from “The Crimson Idol” album.

The Demise
It’s from the second part of the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 2 – The Demise” released in 2004. It’s “The Titanic Overture” merged with “The Great Misconception Of Me”.

The Last Redemption
The finale from the double concept album “The Neon God” and it’s as good as “The Great Misconception of Me” which is the finale on “The Crimson Idol”. At 13 plus minutes long it sums up the influences of Blackie Lawless.

Damnation Angels
From 1999’s “Helldorado” album. Coming after the disappointing KFD album I was already getting disappointed three songs into “Helldorado”. I started believing that WASP and Blackie were finished. Then came track number 4, with is AC/DC “Hells Bells” intro and I had faith again in the power of Lawless.

Still Not Black Enough
This song is a 4 minute version of “The Great Misconception of Me” from “The Crimson Idol”.

Actually “Still Not Black Enough” and “Black Forever” from the same album have a lot of similarities in the music (the intro’s are identical).

The “Still Not Black Enough” album released in 1995 was the one that followed “The Crimson Idol”. I didn’t know what to expect at this point in time as a lot of the bands I liked delivered more contemporary sounding albums as the commercial musical landscape threw in their lot with the Seattle sound.

Was there a place for WASP in this new environment?

Of course there was. Blackie, re-wrote “The Crimson Idol” and stayed true to the old ways.

Scared To Death
It’s got this “Eye Of The Tiger” vibe merged with “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Another classic from Blackie.

Goodbye America
A remake of “Chainsaw Charlie” and “The Titanic Overture”. The reason why W.A.S.P resonated with me is that as Blackie got older, I felt like he didn’t have to fit a formula to succeed. The hit parade that the mainstream writes about was just not for him. He instead focused on the thousands of cult fans that gravitate to W.A.S.P.

Keep Holding On
A derivative version of “Hold On To My Heart” from “The Crimson Idol”.

Breathe
A derivative version of “Forever Free” merged with “Hold On To My Heart”.

In the end, the “Still Not Black Enough” album was just a perfect remedy for 1995.

W.A.S.P (and by default Blackie Lawless) may never be cool and Blackie may never be a tastemaker. I don’t expect to see W.A.S.P to have any hits on the top 40. However, what I do know is that when W.A.S.P puts out an album and goes on tour, there are fans there ready to listen and to attend.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

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

The Great Misconceptions Of Me Are Hung In Black

I totalled my knee a couple of days ago playing over 35’s football/soccer. I should have brushed up on my physics equations and worked out how my injury ravaged knees would be able to stop a body that weights 100kg plus running at full speed and then change direction in an instant. Because that is what happened in a nutshell and what went down was a loud snap.

Suddenly I was on the ground in agony. I got up and limped off. I tried to get the feeling back in my lower left leg. The calve muscle started spasming. Nausea came and a cold sweat hit me. I steadied myself against the fence. Eventually, I returned from the land of confusion.

I drove home, iced it and as the hours ticked over, it started to get stiffer and sorer.

The next day I got X-rays done. Thank god there is no break or fracture. I now have an ultrasound to determine ligament damage or muscle tear or fluid build up. The doctor reckons the symptoms and the pain area is consistent with ligament damage.

This knee of mine has been a thorn in my side since 1995, which was the year I totalled it in two places playing football. Getting injured is a part of life, but man the mental scars are just tough. Recovery from an injury is hard especially when you are older and have responsibilities and kids.

You see, the injury happened at a point in my life where I felt happy and right now I don’t feel happy at all. Other factors have come into play to bring about this new low and all of these conditions when compounded together makes me realise how quickly happiness comes and goes.

When I am in these ruts, it feels like my last days on earth. That is how dark it gets. I ask myself over and over again, what is the point?

And as I am thinking these thoughts, “The Great Misconceptions Of Me” is playing in the headphones. For those that don’t know, it is the last song on “The Crimson Idol” concept album from the excellent Blackie Lawless, otherwise known as W.A.S.P.

While the song is dark in nature (the actual character of the story, Jonathan takes guitar strings and hangs himself), it somehow manages to lift me up.  At over nine minutes long, it’s not a song that would be played on the radio. Hell, in Australia, I have not heard not one WASP song on the radio.

One YouTube user called “pwnzerleet” has an mp3 of the song and it has close to 284,000 views. Another user called “crackpippi” has an acoustic version up and it has close to 140,000 views. “Waspqueen” has a user made video up of the song and it has 106,000 views. So even though the song isn’t a radio hit, it is a hit amongst the metal W.A.S.P heads.

“There is no love, to shelter me
Only love, love set me free”

That is what we are looking for. To be loved. That is why social media is popular amongst people. It gives us a sense of being loved. That is why we keep on picking ourselves up off the floor, relationship after relationship. We want to be loved and we want to love back. No one wants to be alone.

“I am no idol, no crimson king
I’m the imposter, the world has seen”

You see as we grow up in life we change a lot. The pressures of belonging and the fear of being ostracised or left out of the group are too great that we become imposters to the real people that we should be. I am evidence of that. I know exactly when I made those choices in life that lead me astray from the path called “Who I Want To Be”. The scary thing is that I have learned to live with and accept those choices which in turn leads to other choices that further seperates me from the main path.

Across the bridge of sighs
Your losing heaven’s light
Heavens hung in black

The above lyric is from the excellent “Heavens Hung In Black”. This song is a super hit. It is from 2007’s “Dominator” album.

YouTube user “ComeTakeMeHome” has a self-made clip of the song up and it has close to 1.24 million views. “WASPQueen” has it up and the video has close to 624,000 views.

The bridge of sighs once upon a time carried prisoners to their execution. It again reinforces the choices we make in life and the paths those choices lead us on. The further we deviate from the path we should be on, the closer we are to the bridge of sighs.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Living Under The Laws That Corporations Wrote And A Bit Of Metallica For Old Times Sake

“Alice In Wonderland” turned 150 years old recently and it is still in the public imagination.

Hell, it has been in the public domain since 1907 (42 years from when it was originally published) and that still hasn’t stopped the story from making money. By having the work in the public domain it has allowed other people to create derivative versions of the story and the characters. “Alice In Wonderland” is a perfect example of how adaptions of the original story has ensured that the story gets passed on to multiple generations.

So next time you hear of someone calling for longer copyright terms, tell them about “Alice In Wonderland”.  The incentive of a 42 year copyright monopoly was a sufficient motivator for Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) to create more works.

Alice In Wonderland Article

Carroll didn’t need a copyright to last 70 to 90 years after his death as an incentive to write stories. Sort of like the heirs of Marvin Gaye. Seriously, what the hell have they contributed to the arts. Copyright was never about being a lifetime pension that carries over to the children or the next of kin. The rule is simply, if the artist passes away, their music falls into the public domain.

As much as I love Hendrix, I don’t agree with his relatives holding a copyright monopoly on his works.

However a lot of people (with a large corporation or corporations attached) stand to profit from long-term copyrights.

Anyone heard of Wu-Tang-Clans single album that has an 88 year copyright caveat. What this means is that the person who paid something like $5 million dollars for has to wait 88 years to hear it. This is what happens when music is turned into something that is not music. The fans that made the group popular are not able to hear it, because greedy people attached to the group want to profit from it.

For those that do read my posts, you will note that I have mentioned a lot of times that fans of artists are not purchasing music anymore. They are purchasing art packaged as a must have for collectors. I always use Machine Head’s “Killers and Kings” Record Store Day single release with four different covers. Yep, I purchased all four singles and guess what, they are still in the shrink-wrap.

So if you need anymore proof that sales of music is all about collectables then look no further than Metallica’s “No Life Til Leather” cassette release for Record Store Day.

You see, releasing music should never be about the new album only. Music was never designed to be about locking yourself away for a year or for months in a studio while you record your new master opus. Music was never designed to be about spending months and months on promotion and marketing. Music was never designed to give rise to large copyright monopolistic corporations. However that is where music has come to.

Because it is these large copyright monopolies that have lobbied hard for internet service providers (ISP’s) around the world to store and then hand out the personal information of their users to these greedy corporations.

All in the name of copyright infringement.

What the large copyright groups have done, via their cashed up lobby groups is bypass legal process. If an internet user has been falsely accused, well, too bad. The burden (and a costly one at that) to prove that you are innocent is on the user, as the way the anti-piracy laws are written, there are basically no consequences for a copyright monopoly business from making false accusations.

I guess this is what it means to live under the laws written by corporations.

 

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