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

2015

“Progress is made by improving on what came before”.

Music is no different. If you want a career, if you want to make progress, you need to improve on what came before. The class of 2015 so far is doing just that.

NUMBER 0:
Protest The Hero – Pacific Myth Subscription Series

PTH is one band (of many) that are using different ways of connecting and engaging with their fan base.

I was one of those fans that contributed to their Indiegogo campaign for the “Volition” album, watched em live when they came to Oz, purchased merch and now I am one of those fans that is contributing to the “Pacific Myth” subscription series. The way PTH geared it up is they have two packages for a one of fee of $12 and $25. On both packages, the subscriber would receive a monthly song (for a period of 6 months) to stream, or download. In addition, you will also receive the instrumental version, along with artwork, lyrics, music scores and notes. The $25 package also includes a six part doc series.

As vocalist Rody mentioned in the video launching the series, “think of it as an EP spread over six months”.

“We have done the full-length album and ensuing record cycle four times now. While they all had their benefits, they all dragged on. Most record cycles are at least 2 years. That’s two years of promoting 40-or-so minutes of music. Music that you may have written two years before that! We have never been able to release what we want to release NOW. So that’s exactly what this is. These are songs we love now, songs we are proud of now, and songs which are inherently more candid than our other material. Don’t get us wrong, this is very much the pth you either know and love or know and hate. If you like what we do, we are pretty sure you are going to dig this crap. I guess we’ll let these little lullabies speak for themselves…”

This again is another innovative way for the band to connect directly with the fans. It’s a brave new world out there for monetizing your fan base. You can scream and complain about royalty payments or you can innovate, adapt and connect with your audience like PTH, for it is your audience that sustains you, keeps you employed.

Now, if you like a hard rock song or a metal song that sticks to formula, then you will probably not like Protest The Hero. If you are into progressive and technical music with different moods, that could have melodic vocals and harsh vocals (especially in the earlier days) with intelligent lyrics, then PTH is a band you would like.

“Begging the questions “why?””, why do we work until we die” ….. from “Tidal”
“A drop into the sea whose ripple turns to a tidal wave and sweeps the shores it once forgave” ….. from “Tidal”
“The sun, the moon, the Earth, conversed and agreed, the people of the world must pay for its atrophy” ….. from “Tidal”

Here is the link for “Tidal”.
Here is the link for “Ragged Tooth”.

NUMBER 1:
The Night Flight Orchestra – Skyline Whispers
This is the best album for 2015 by far.

For the ones that don’t know, TNFO is a very classic AOR rock sounding side-project. From “Soilwork”, Björn “Speed” Strid and David Andersson are on vocals and guitar. From “Arch Enemy”, Sharlee D’Angelo is on bass. From Swedish rock group “Von Benzo” comes Richard Larsson on keyboards. From Swedish metal band “Meanstreak and Swedish rock group “Orchid” comes Jonas Källsbäck on drums. Rounding out the band for the second album is Sebastian Forslund from “Kadawatha” on congas, percussion and guitar.

So way back in 2012, TNFO released an incredible album called “Internal Affairs”. It was a throwback to the Classic Rock era of the Seventies and a joy to listen to from start to finish. Fast forward to 2015, and we have the second album, “Skyline Whispers”. Like the debut album, it is a trip down memory lane. However in this case, instead of being a throwback to the sounds of the Seventies, it is a throwback to the sound those Seventies bands did towards the end of the Seventies and into the Eighties.

Check out “Sail On”, “Living for the Night-time”, “I Ain’t Old, I Ain’t Young”, “Spanish Ghosts” and “The Heather Reports” for essential listening.

“I have crossed too many oceans
I was born a rambling man
And I’ve caused a lot of heartaches
But I never gave a damn

Now the road that lies before me
Gives no answers to my prayers
But I still have hopes that surely
Things will add up in the end

Sail on, sail on”

NUMBER 2:
Whitesnake – The Purple Album

To be honest, Whitesnake has had a tough run. When the band and Coverdale got that huge success in the U.S (thanks to MTV) between 1987 and 1989, no one really had a clue about Coverdale’s origin story.

The majority of the 7 million people in the U.S that purchased the 1987 album were clueless that Coverdale had released over 10 albums prior to that and that he was even in Deep Purple. And who would have thought that “Here I Go Again”, “Still Of The Night” and “Is This Love” would take that much mindshare and become a soundtrack to people’s lives.

Which brings me to “The Purple Album”.

I have read a lot of comments on social media that either hate “The Purple Album” or love it. There is no in-between. I’m confused as to why it is causing such a great divide. “The Purple Album” is the perfect bridge to bring Coverdale’s Deep Purple legacy into his Whitesnake legacy.

Who better to do remakes of those great songs than Coverdale himself?

With the help of John Kalodner at Geffen Records, Coverdale proved himself a master at doing remakes. Remember “Crying In The Rain” and “Here I Go Again”.

People also forget that Jimi Hendrix’s biggest songs were remakes of songs already released. Think “Hey Joe” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Hell, Def Leppard did their own remakes of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock Of Ages”, due to a record label “licensing vs sales monies to be paid dispute”. Anyway, whatever peoples’ views on remakes/forgeries are, “The Purple Album” is a classic modern sounding album with no filler, that a new generation of fans would gravitate to.

“The Purple Album” project was birthed by tragedy. After the death of Jon Lord, Coverdale reached out to Ritchie Blackmore to discuss a possible get together and to thank Blackmore for giving an unknown an opportunity to be the lead singer in Deep Purple. When that new collaboration didn’t eventuate, the project would go on to become a new Whitesnake project. With the backing of Frontiers Records, who just love to wrap up new sound recordings of songs written in the Seventies and Eighties for another 100 years of copyright, the project was a go.

“People are sayin’ the woman is damned, She makes you burn with a wave of her hand” ….. from “Burn”

“Ride the rainbow, Crack the sky, Stormbringer coming, Time to die” ….. from “Stormbringer”

“Many times I’ve been a traveller, I looked for something new” ….. from “Soldier Of Fortune”

“My mama showed me how to rock in the cradle, but I learned how to roll along,
My papa said “son, gotta git some fun, Cos when your old it ain’t too good on your own” ….. from “Coming Home”

NUMBER 3:
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
What can I say, it’s the mighty Maiden. Hell, the football Summer Comp team my boys are in is called Iron Maiden. Plus I purchased 5 tickets to their concert next year, so that I can take my whole family to watch them. Enough said.

It’s been five years from the “The Final Frontier” album. During that period, Maiden has hit the road in support of “The Final Frontier” and they hit the road to celebrate a milestone from the past. Add to that, live DVD releases, the writing and recording process of the new album, Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis, and the result is “The Book Of Souls”.

First, the album doesn’t sound like a professional mega band recording. It is raw and with mistakes.

Second, I do wish that on some of the songs some editing was employed. And that is a difficult thing for me to say as a lot of my favourite songs clock in at over 10 minutes. However, the Maiden concerts are known for fans chanting and singing along with the riffs and the chants, and “The Book Of Souls” is full of songs that have those chants.

It’s funny, but Iron Maiden is one of those bands that has a fan base that loves them. That is evident by the ticket sales and merch sales they rack up in each city they hit. They could make a career of revisiting their legacy on each tour, like the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour. But Maiden doesn’t want to be a nostalgic act.

The album is number three on my list because each song has an idea that is like a lightning strike, a moment that makes me tap my foot, nod my head and take notice. And it could have been a perfect 60 minute album, instead of a 93 minute album.

“The red and the black
People don’t want the truth
Look in their eyes and you send them away” ….. from “The Red And The Black”

“If you should sell your soul as cheaply as I did then
The road to ruin is a long road to hide in
We signed our lives away to have an escape
It’s something that will be whatever our fate” ….. from “When The River Runs Deep”

“We must go now, we must take our chance with fate” ….. from “Empire Of The Clouds”

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

How Long Until The Streaming Well Goes Dry?

“Musicians can go out and play to fill the gaping hole that the lack of record sales has created, but streaming has actually become the saving grace for record companies. But it really is to the point of such diminishing returns for musicians that I have no words to describe it. I would turn around and say, “Okay, let’s make this work,” but now I’m hearing that new contracts that are sent out from friends of mine who are lawyers, that record companies now want to pass on paying even streaming royalties because they consider streaming “promotion.” That is beyond a grey area.”
David Coverdale

Streaming and Spotify is the best thing to ever happen the music industry. It competed with piracy and more or less won the battle. It’s subscriber base is growing and people are moving from freemium to the pay model. Adele’s record label is withholding her album from streaming services, however Pandora is streaming it, because as it happens, Pandora is a radio station.

But it is a long game. As Coverdale alludes too, the record labels want to wither away the streaming money tree as well, claiming all of the licensing fees and royalty payments for themselves. All of those writers and musicians complaining about Spotify or another streaming service, need to complain about their labels and publishers.

Because the people who used to control music, have a short-term mindset. And it all comes down to money. Streaming service Rdio is gone, claiming bankruptcy. It didn’t have the user base to support the licensing fees it needed to pay. Pandora purchased it’s assets, however Pandora has its own problems with court cases (financed by the Record labels and the Publishers) around pre 72 recordings and royalty payments on those recordings and others. And it’s a battle for which service will win the streaming wars, as to the victor, 70% market share awaits them. Like how Facebook and Apple won the social media and phone wars.

The reason why the record labels are so powerful is because they have locked up culture and copyrights for a very long time. As I have posted before, “Smoke On The Water”, a song written in 1971, will still be under copyright once we enter the 2100’s. The writers/creators will have passed a long time before that, and there is a good chance that any heirs of theirs will also have moved on to the afterlife. But the main beneficiary in this copyright hijack, is the corporation.

So what we have in the music industry are Record Label Executives that contribute nothing to music, living it up, flying private, because they satisfy Wall Street and via their lobby group, the “RIAA”, fight to get laws approved to protect their business models.

“The old copyright model – the person who creates something owns it and anyone else that wants to use it or see it has to pay them – has expired in the same way that around the world you’re seeing structures and social norms [lapse] that were standard for many years. The old copyright model has expired. It can no longer exclusively control music.”
Steve Albini

The old copyright model only benefits the labels in this day and age, so it’s no surprise that they are fighting hard to get even longer copyright terms. It’s a monopoly they don’t want to lose, even at the expense of the public domain, because the public domain is how more works are generated.

The power to make change lies with the musicians.

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

1981

Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love
I never heard the full album until well into the late Eighties. Coming into the “Girls, Girls, Girls” era of Motley Crue, the only songs I knew were the clips, “Live Wire”, “Looks That Kill”, “Too Young To Fall In Love”, “Smokin In The Boys Room” and “Home Sweet Home”. On top of that, I had digested interviews from Circus magazine and watched a very bad dubbed copy of the “Uncensored” video. The decadence of the Crue was already legendary.

So after purchasing the “Girls, Girls, Girls” album, I was walking out of the record shop, when a double cassette edition of the “Shout At The Devil” and “Too Fast For Love” albums in a discount bin caught my eye. So I stopped at the discount bin, picked up the double cassette, and by weight alone I knew that it had the cassettes in the covers. Thinking to myself that Motley Crue is worth it, I just slipped the double cassette album into my plastic bag and just kept on walking calmly out of the shopping centre. Once I was out of the building I sprinted for the next 10 minutes all the way home.

Needless to say, I didn’t return to the shop for a long time, just in case. So the version that I picked up was the Elektra release (without “Stick To Your Guns”). Many years later I would pick up the Leathur Records edition at a second-hand record store for $10.

Most of the songs had mostly been written while Nikki Sixx was in “London” (the band). “Live Wire” leads the album off with its “Girlschool”/“NWOBHM” inspired riff. Two so and so songs come after and them Side 1 closes brilliantly with “Merry-Go-Round” and “Take Me to the Top”. Nikki Sixx has stated previously that “Merry Go Round” was written about a person he knew in Seattle, who due to so many life pressures, just cracked and wound up sitting on the merry-go-round outside the apartment block that Nikki Sixx grew up in.

Side 2, to me, is the stronger side. It kicks off with “Piece of Your Action”, followed by the excellent and underrated “Starry Eyes”, which leads into the title track “Too Fast for Love” and closes with the real hit song of the album in “On with the Show”.

And for a young adult, Nikki Sixx did comp up with some brilliant lyrics that didn’t deal with their usual themes.

“You know he’s gotta get away to the merry-go-round and round, Count the times that he laid awake at night thinkin’, Am i goin down now” ….. from “Merry Go Round”

“With his six string knife and his street wise pride, The boy was a man before his time”…. from “On With The Show”

“But ya see, Frankie was fast, too fast to know, he wouldn’t go slow, until his lethal dose” ….. from “On With The Show”

Helix – White Lace and Black Leather
I didn’t get into this band until the 90’s when albums could be picked up cheap at second-hand record stores. Formed in 1974, it wasn’t until 1979 that Helix released “Breaking Loose” on their own independent label H&S Records. Then came “White Lace and Black Leather” in 1981. I gravitated to the longer non-formula songs on the album. The best tracks are always the ones that are not made for radio.

“Long Distance Heartbreak”

“I never meant to live this way
But somehow you are there and I am here
Somehow I just couldn’t stay
We changed so much with the passing of the years”

“Time For A Change” – with the chorus catch cry of;

“Mother Nature’s calling, can’t you see the signs,
Mother Nature’s calling, don’t you know it’s time”

And “Thoughts That Bleed” – that has that “Let It Be” Beatles feel with Thin Lizzy twin guitar harmonies during the intro and solo sections.

“You gotta live for what you believe”

From the first two albums you get the idea, that the RNR dream is proving to be a hard life for Helix, always on the road, away from loved ones and partners. By this stage, Brian Vollmer was the only original member of the band from its humble 1974 beginnings. And then Helix got a major label deal, signing to CAPITOL records after three previous rejections. This was in 1983.

Brian Vollmer put in 9 years of his life into Helix up until this point. It’s easier to be an accountant, a banker or an IT worker than in music. At least you get paid a fortnightly or monthly wage from doing those jobs. By the time “No Rest For The Wicked” came out in 1983, Helix’s image was polished up and the logo was redesigned to coincide with a new identity. Jeans and T-shirts (the street look they had previously) was replaced with leathers and chains (their new metal look) which in the end was the same as hundreds of other bands.

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman

The title track is one of those songs that summaries the style of Randy Rhoads.

  • Classical inspired metal riffs. Check.
  • Open string flamenco/classical sounding passages. Check
  • Dissonant jazz like chords in the verses. Check.
  • Arpeggios. Check
  • Shred lead. Check
  • Rock style riffing and power chords. Check.
  • Pedal point riffing. Check
  • Groove. Check.

But I get ahead of myself here.

As I have mentioned before, the “Tribute” album came first for me. The tablature book was my bible. So many nights spent practicing all of the licks and riffs in that book.

Eventually in the early Nineties, I got around to purchasing “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman”.

Like the “Blizzard” album, the “Diary” album is an experience from the first song to the last song. And because of my addiction to the “Tribute” album, I was blown away by the depth of material on “Diary” that didn’t appear on the live album, like “Over The Mountain”, “SATO”, “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”, “Tonight” and the unbelievable title track.

It’s a shame that the Ozzy and Sharon haven’t given proper credit where it is due. On the initial release, people believed that Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge played bass and drums. But it was Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. In 2002, the album was re-issued with Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin re-recording the bass and drums parts so that Daisley and Kerslake get no payment.

And how good are the lyrics from Bob Daisley.

“Looking through eyes of time, Mirrors reflecting their stories untrue” ….. from “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”

“Watching time go and feeling belief grow, Rise above the obstacles” ….. from “Believer”

“You’ve got to believe in yourself, Or no one will believe in you” ….. from “Believer”

“Their disbelief suppresses them, But they’re not blind, It’s just that they won’t see” ….. from “Believer”

“Diary of a madman, Walk the line again today” ….. from “Diary Of A Madman”

“A sickened mind and spirit, The mirror tells me lies, Could I mistake myself for someone, Who lives behind my eyes?” ….. from “Diary Of A Madman”

Whitesnake – Come And Get It
The follow-up to the excellent “Ready An’ Willing” from 1980. Martin Birch is on hand to produce again. If you want to read a review that has a similar viewpoint to mine, go to Mike Ladano.

While the previous album had “Fool For Your Loving”, “Aint Gonna Cry No More” and “Blindman”, this one is loaded with the excellent “Don’t Break My Heart Again”, the “All Right Now/Feel Like Making Love” sounding “Come An’ Get It”, the groovy “Lonely Days and Nights”, the bluesy and moody “Child Of Babylon” and the “Led Zep” sounding “Till The Day I Die”.

As I have mentioned before, the rise of Whitesnake started with “Ready An Willing” in 1980, continued with “Come And Get It” and by constantly working hard, recording and touring, 1982’s “Saints and Sinners” would build on the momentum with the ultimate road/breakup song “Here I Go Again”.

“Every day of my life, it seems, Trouble’s knocking at my door, It’s hard to try and satisfy, When you don’t know what you’re fighting for” ….. from “Don’t Break My Heart Again”

“I’ve heard all the wisdom of prophets and seers, It don’t soothe my passion and it don’t ease my fears” ….. from “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights”

“On my day of judgement, I know how it will be, I’m prepared to meet my maker with no hope for charity, I’ll stand alone and pay the price, For everything I’ve done, ‘Cos there ain’t guardian angel, For a child of Babylon” ….. from “Child of Babylon”

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Sixteen Years Since Napster

“A virus that ends up eating the host”Phil Collen’s description of illegal downloading – Def Leppard 

“I think the term ‘piracy’ is absurd. Piracy is people boarding a ship with violence and killing people and physically stealing material goods. Equating somebody downloading something on his iPhone with that is preposterous.” 

Steve Albini 

“I know that bands like Ratt, that sold millions of records back in the day and then put a new album out in this era, consider an album that sells 50,000 to 60,000 today a success. There’s just so many outlets out there these days to get free music by illegal downloading. I honestly don’t know how that gauge is these days, but I’m about to find out.”

Steve Whiteman – Kix 

When it comes to illegal downloading and piracy I always think of the words that came from Nicko McBrain in the “Flight 666” video, about Iron Maiden’s popularity in the Middle East, Asian and South/Central America. For a band that have not sold many albums in these regions, Iron Maiden have no problems selling out football stadiums and arenas.

Brazil is a country the mighty Maiden machine goes back to time and time again. Downloading music and movies illegally in Brazil is high. 

However, when fans of entertainment are provided with access at the same time as the rest of the world, guess what happens;

People turn to legal means.

Netflix launched in Brazil in 2011 and at the moment it is the fourth largest market for Netflix with 69 million subscribers. And it all comes down to pricing. The cost of a monthly subscription to Netflix is the same as one movie ticket. Instead of charging for ONE movie or ONE SONG, people want access to a vast archive of songs and movies.

And guess what Netflix also did.

“Netflix also had to work hard to adapt to local consumer habits, such as issuing pre-paid cards, and getting partnerships with local banks to allow payment for users who do not have credit cards.”

Now would the “entitled” record labels and the movie studios have done all of that.

“You listen on a streaming platform because it’s CONVENIENT.”

Steve Albini 

And fans of music have decided that streaming is good for them. But greed still continues to dominate in music, and it’s funny to read stories about superstars withholding their new albums from streaming services.

The death of Rdio streaming service is an example of greed. 

 As the article states;

“The economics of streaming music are brutal. Record labels have nearly all the leverage, and take most of the gross revenue from streaming services. The only way to win is to achieve a massive scale — which is why Spotify has raised more than $1 billion, spending heavily to add subscribers in hopes they will lead to a sustainable business.”

Adele is the latest artist who has decided to withhold her new music from streaming services. It seems that she forgets that within 24 seconds of her album being released it will be all over the internet and YouTube for people to access illegally. Coldplay had their album off streaming services for a certain period of time. Their viewpoint was to capitalise on sales, however what they did capitalise on was illegal downloads. Taylor Swift is off the free Spotify service but still on the free YouTube service which pays even less. Withholding or gating any release is leaving money on the table.

So it’s sixteen years after Napster and the record labels still can’t get it right. They think it’s all about them, when in fact the artists they are meant to represent are competing with all the different entertainment products out there for mindshare.

It’s always been about listens for the artists, not sales. The more listens, the bigger the cultural impact. Sales in music is a metric designed and controlled by the labels. If sales guaranteed success then RATT’s albums that came out in the nineties and two thousands, would have gone platinum.

Let me tell you that I purchased all of the RATT albums from a second hand record store, which means the person who purchased the albums in the first place and chalked up that sale metric for the record labels, didn’t like the albums and sold them to the record store.

The first Van Halen album I purchased was “Balance”. I had the others dubbed on cassette tape. The debut album, “1984” and “5150” I had dubbed more than 5 times from the same person (who purchased the album because he like to collect music and never really listened to it). I listened to these albums a million times as I tried to figure out the guitar parts and not one of those listens made the record label any money. Once I had more disposable income, I would go back and purchase the earlier albums, but that didn’t happen until the mid to late nineties. 

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

The Modern Day Led Zeppelin

“I never understood bands who were only influenced by a narrow era of, say, five years of music. I think younger bands like us listen to more diverse music than previously because it’s so easily accessible.”
Matt Bellamy

Led Zeppelin is a band that is known for its unique style that drew from folk music, blues, funk, flamenco, classical, rock, reggae, middle-eastern melodies and r&b. Underpinning it all was a heavy, guitar-driven sound. Muse is a band that is known to mix styles from electronic music, rock (pop, progressive, hard, heavy, art), classical music, funk, dubstep, flamenco/latin, middle-eastern melodies and opera. Underpinning it all is a heavy guitar driven sound.

“There wasn’t much of an original music scene in Devon and when we started we realised why – because nobody wanted to watch original music. We played gigs to nobody.”
Bass-player Chris Wolstenholme

Before Muse started their quest to conquer the world, their only aim was to be better and bigger than a local funk covers band from Teignmouth called “Doctor Frank”. Matthew Bellamy taught himself slide guitar and piano while listening to Robert Johnson. Like Led Zeppelin, their music has roots to the great blues masters.

They played gigs for five years before releasing their debut album, “Showbiz”. The release of the debut album was made possible after they signed with Australian company “Mushroom Records” for a UK release and Madonna’s “Maverick” for a US release. Then they went on the road for six months. It’s very different to today’s artist, who can release straight away to a global audience. Led Zeppelin financed the recording of their debut album. Like Muse, label after label rejected them.

Looking at YouTube, the song “Unintended” has 14,006,510 views and on the channel “marninahmad” it has 6,846,728 views for a total count over 21.5 million views. “Sunburn” has 7,964,211 views on YouTube while my favourite, “Showbiz” has a combined view count of about 2,500,000 over three different YouTube channels.

By 2001, Muse released “Origin Of Symmetry” and fans of Radiohead gravitated to it, the same way fans of Led Zeppelin gravitated to Whitesnake in the Eighties.

“Plug In Baby” has 11,548,097 views. The Live From Wembley Stadium video of the same song has 7,356,704 views.

My favourite cut on the album is “Citizen Erased”. Diffuser described Bellamy’s vocals as Jeff Buckley fronting a metal band. It’s not as popular on YouTube compared to the more easily digested cross over singles. I love the movement from a heavy rock vibe to a mellow Beatles’esque vibe towards the end. On the YouTube channel of “MrMuseLyrics” the song has 121,446 views. A Glastonbury 2004 live version of the song is on the “SpencerC” channel and it has 153,239 views. A live version at the Big Day Out in Sydney in 2004 on the channel “xfadetoblack” has 273,879 views.

 

Other songs from the album that have high counts are;

  • “New Born” has 14,937,412 views
  • “Bliss” has 16,908,982 views
  • “Feeling Good” has 28,681,960 views on YouTube.

Then in 2003, “Absolution” came out.

The album cover alone, done by the great Storm Thorgerson (RIP) and taken by photographer Robert Truman was enough to generate interest. You know the cover I am talking about. The floating shadows of souls who are either ascending to Heaven during the Rapture, or descending to Earth, rejected by Heaven.

The album is loaded with masterpieces.

If you are into the conspiracy side of things, then the video for ‘Time Is Running Out’, is all about the Trilateral Commission, an organization of bankers, academics, politicians, union leaders and media and energy CEOs set up in 1973, and whom Matt believed were really controlling the world. On the official YouTube channels, “Time Is Running Out (Official Music Video)” has 12,042,199 views, the “Live From Wembley Stadium” video has 11,692,168 views and the lyric video has 9,617,047 views. In addition, the song has 6,705,367 views on the channel of “Translegomaker”. In total, the song has been viewed 40,056,781 times.

But the piece d’resistance on the album and the reason why I have a lot of time for this band, is because of “Stockholm Syndrome”.

That riff.

It’s on par with those music store riffs, like “Stairway To Heaven”, “Smoke On the Water” and “Enter Sandman”. It has been copied and used by a ton of metal and rock bands afterwards.

The lyrical basis of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is from a bank robbery in Stockholm in 1973. Some of the hostages were held for six days and they fell in love with their captors and later defended them at the trial. If you play the song’s chorus backwards, there are internet pages devoted to it that reckon the listener would be able to hear;

“You can’t see me, we sneak off. I lost to love. Please, save the night wind and high above, I lost to love. Sing, save”?

Brilliant, remember when U.S prosecutors alleged that “Suicide Solution” said “Shoot, Shoot, Shoot” when played backwards.

This in turn leads me to the track “Hysteria” which is about obsessive behaviour and it’s got an absolute killer bass line that makes you obsessive. In the process it has accumulated over 27 million views on YouTube.

“The Small Print” is where Bellamy sold his soul in return for supernatural musical prowess, ala Robert Johnson.

Take, take all you need
And I’ll compensate your greed
With broken hearts
Sell, I’ll sell your memories
For 15 pounds per year
But just the good days

And be my slave to the grave
I’m a priest God never paid

Guess, you need to read the small print on every contract, even the ones that the record labels put in front of you.

So how do you follow-up three successful albums where each album outdid the one that came before it?

“Absolution” outdid “Origin of Symmetry” and “Origin of Symmetry” outdid “Showbiz”.

Muse did just that with “Black Holes and Revelations” in 2006. And although it looks like the album made an impact on the sales charts with all of its certifications, that really wasn’t the case. That breakthrough happened with 2009’s “Resistance” which in turn made people go deep into Muse’s catalogue, especially in the U.S market.

To prove my point, the single “Starlight” which has over 44 million views on YouTube was certified Gold in the U.S on OCTOBER 05, 2009, 3 years after it was released. Then in FEBRUARY 27, 2015, the song was certified Platinum in the U.S, 9 years after it was released.

The songs “Knights Of Cydonia” and “Supermassive Black Hole” where also certified Platinum on FEBRUARY 27, 2015. The “Knights Of Cydonia” video has 17,884,385 views while the “Live At Wembley Stadium 2007” video has 16,256,664 views. The video clip on another channel has 15,812,406 views. In total that is 49,953,455 views. “Supermassive Black Hole” has it’s glam rock influences and on YouTube, the “Supermassive Black Hole [Alternate Live Version] has 40,046,796 views on YouTube while the Lyrics video has 13,589,642 views and the live from Wembley video has 8,975,955 views. All up, that is over 62 million views.

In relation to the previous efforts, “Black Holes and Revelations” was their U.S breakthrough album and they did it by condemning the architects of the Iraq war. In relation to sales, the album was certified Gold in the U.S, the same certification that “Absolution” holds. In Australian, the UK and Europe, the album was certified Platinum. Other favourites of mine are “Map Of The Problematique”, “Assassin” and “Exo Politics”.

So in 2009, we got the “Resistance” album, the one that focused on Orwell’s “1984” and written at a time when climate change, politician corruption and the GEC were all dominating the public conversation.

“Uprising” mixes TV soundtracks, with Glam Rock. The “Uprising” video has 83,740,536 views on YouTube. This is the single that crossed over and made Muse’s back catalogue sell.

The “Resistance” video has 46,877,501 views on YouTube. The song was also certified Platinum in the U.S on JUNE 22, 2010.

One of my favourites on the album is “MK Ultra” (a song named after a CIA mind control program from the 60’s). It was used by “MTV Exit” to promote their campaign against human trafficking. That video has had 988,423 views. A lyric video by user “Simona Balan” has 469,517 views. Another lyric video by “MrMuseLyrics” has 390,669 views. An audio version of the song by “21thCenturyRockMusic” has 389,305 views. There are various other YouTube channels that have the song. All up, the song has over 2.2 million views. Tiny compared to the big crossover singles.

“Undisclosed Desires” has 43,370,219 views on YouTube. Meanwhile the same song on the channel “Nitrotigerz” has 8,981,863 views.

The tours started to become massive. By know, Muse had graduated to stadiums. In the past, a band wouldn’t play stadiums if they didn’t a blockbuster album that sold over 10 million in the dominant U.S market.

In 2010 the song “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)” was attached to one of the “Twilight” films. The video of the song has had 32,928,186 views but what came after is what it’s all about.

“Survival” was used for the 2012 London Olympics, but an Olympic song it is not. It was already written before the organisers approached the band and the attention it brought the band along with the “Twilight” cross over, plus the momentum that “Uprising” generated would send the lead-off single “Madness” from the “The 2nd Law” album through the stratosphere.

In the space of three years, “Madness” has had 72,731,133 views while the “Madness (Lyric Video)” has 14,513,664 views. All up that is over 87 million views. In MARCH 04, 2015, 3 years after its release it was certified 2x MULTI PLATINUM in the U.S

“The 2nd Law”, as an album takes into account the GEC (Global Economic Crisis), Peak Oil Theory, food security, evolution, the taxation proposals of 19th-century economist Henry George and the concept of the “stress nexus”. Matt Bellamy described it as talking about the second law of thermodynamics and how, as a limited ecosystem, we are on the verge of needing an energy revolution in order to sustain the way that we’re living.

“Supremacy (Official Video)” has 15,436,255 views. How can you not get hooked by its marching Kashmir groove in the intro?

“Panic Station (Official Video)” has 8,799,941 views is one of my favourites as it merges the rock/funk grooves in the tradition of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and “Play That Funky Music White Boy” by Wild Cherry.

My favourite is the two-part title track ““The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” which has 6,125,511 views and “The 2nd Law: Isolated System”. It’s soundtrack music, up there with the best. The synths, the choir voices, the reporter talking, the orchestral hits, etc… It all combines brilliantly.

In 2015, in came the “Drones”.

“Drones” is Muse, stripping it back down to guitars, bass and drums. Their management team of Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch (yep, the same guys that manage Metallica and AC/DC) suggested Robert “Mutt” Lange (yep the same guy that did AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”, Foreigner albums, Bryan Adam’s albums and Shania Twain albums).

The LP kicks off with “Dead Inside.” The Official Music Video has 13,104,415 views and the Lyric Video has 8,640,302 views.

Check out “Psycho” that merges a “Black Sabbath” sludgy groove with classical overtones. It’s a riff that has been around for 16 years. “Psycho” has 24,073,826 views on YouTube.

Then comes “Mercy” that will satisfy the pop fans of Muse, plus it has enough grit to satisfy the rock fans. I will even go out on a limb and call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin. The official music video has been viewed 6,650,291 times.

“Reaper” kicks off with a Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” vibe and it has this “Still Of The Night” vibe from Whitesnake in the Chorus, while the bassist is playing lines like “Heart Of The Sunrise” from Yes. Brilliant. All of the songs deal with the main person of the concept story being overcome by oppressive forces. The official Lyric Video on YouTube has already 6,459,743 views.

In “The Handler”, the protagonist decides that they don’t want to be used by others, they don’t want to be controlled, they don’t want to be a cold, non-feeling person. It is the pivotal song where the protagonist wakes up and says that they want to actually feel something and the desire to fight against the oppressors sinks in.

This leads into “Defector,” “Revolt” and the keyboard led song like “Aftermath” with its Claptonesque blues style of leads in the intro. This is where the person tries to inspire others to think for themselves and think freely and independently. When “Aftermath” ends, the person is ready to re-engage and love again.

Chuck into the mix the Morricone themed “The Globalist” that morphs into a “Stockholm Syndrome” style movement that then morphs into an Elton John crossed with a jazz movement and you can see why I call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Victory Records Saga

It’s been almost three weeks since Spotify pulled Victory Records catalogue of songs in a dispute over $23,000 in royalty payments to Another Victory, the Publishing Arm of Victory Records.

The Victory Records founder has stated in an email that somehow “found its way to the press” that if Victory’s catalogue of songs is not placed back on Spotify soon, with their histories and stream counts as they were, he would be forced to lay off staff and drop artists.

You see, it’s no longer about sales, but streams.

Did you see how Metallica, once anti-digital are on iTunes and Spotify? Did you see how Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin also caved? It’s just a matter of time before the Beatles are there as well as the imitators of Beatles music are raking in due to holdout.

All the action is in streaming and that is where the artists need to be. The music business has undergone a revolution where a “hit song” is something people listen to forever and ever, not something which they buy once.

Forget about how the media trumpets Adele’s “25” as a music industry (it should be recording industry instead of music industry) saviour.

Adele’s figures of 1.1 million first week sales for her new single are impressive and news worthy. There is a limited supply of Adele music and she has a universal “mainstream” appeal (by the way all of the Eighties Hard Rock bands had this mainstream appeal with the backing of a cultural juggernaut in MTV). This in turn makes demand for her music very high.

As appealing as the first week numbers are, they are just numbers. A lot of the times the real hits are “slow burners”.

To use books as an example, Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” his second book, sold only 98 copies in its first week. It wasn’t until his fourth book “The DaVinci Code” which sold hundreds of millions that “Angels and Demons” got a second wind to the tune of about 40 million copies.

Five Finger Death Punch’s debut album only moved a couple of hundred copies when it came out. Within a few years it was certified “Gold” and it is still selling, almost 8 years later.

Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” was out for 12 months before it got a second wind on the backs of “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

However, the tides of change set forth by the customer show that streaming is the way forward. Labels like Victory Records collect between 25 and 50 percent of their digital income from streaming services.

This whole saga highlights so many wrongs with the music business;

  • Lack of transparency
  • Bad data collection
  • The length of copyright terms means that heirs of the artists (kids, grandkids, step kids, business partners, lawyers, accountants, etc.) are “songwriters” of the song and they should be paid.
  • Who actually should be paid?
  • Missing money (about 25%) to songwriters due to all of the above not being met.
  • Artists selling away their copyrights to the labels for an instant pay-day (advance) and then the record label keeps all monies earned as “recoup costs” (charged expenses like recording costs, marketing budgets, advances) that the artist needs to pay back.
  • Who is the rights holder? The artist or the record label and/or publisher? Because it is the rights holder who is receiving the 70%. If a writer or artist isn’t seeing the money, the answer to their question can probably be found within their label or publisher contract.

But when artists are in control of their own copyrights with a lot fewer people in between, guess what happens. They actually make money if their music is listened too.

One song can earn a decent amount to the songwriter if there are fewer hands in the cookie jar. In the link, the take away line is that 10,929,203 streams on Spotify has resulted in royalty payments of $56,329.35 to the rights holder, which in this case is the artist and songwriter. If one song has been streamed that many times, by default, other songs from the artist will be streamed and the article talks about another song earning $37,000 from 11 million streams.

The consumers have made their choice that streaming has a future.

It’s time for artists to wake up and be smart about their choices when it comes to signing away their most valuable asset, their “COPYRIGHT”.

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

Rich And Famous

“Don’t expect to be rich and famous in this day and age, that is a very narcissistic attitude. You get into it because you love artistic expression, actually making music.”
Phil Collen in 2015

It’s a bit misleading when artists that have made money from the music business, state “don’t expect to be rich in this day and age”.

Artists never expected to get rich from creating. The classic rockers from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties had no idea there was that much money in music. No one thought being a rock musician was a role they could keep till death.

The stardom always came after, but when MTV put the rock stars into our lounge rooms, a hive mindset was created who wanted to be rich and famous without being musicians first. You know the kind of musician I am talking about, the one who practiced alone instead of Facebooking how great their practice is and how a possible song might come out of it. You know, the type of musician who is oftentimes ignored. Sometimes for their entire career.

“Rock ‘n’ roll should never have any limitations. That’s why Elvis took the guitar and not only did he play it, but he swayed his hips with it and he sang cool songs and he did choreography. When you start holding yourself back, then you lose the meaning of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Bret Michaels in 1987

Let me tell you a story about Vincent Van Gogh.

He never sold a painting in his life even though he had family members as art dealers.

He died broke.

100 years after his death, one of his paintings sold for over $100 million.

Did Van Gogh create art expecting to be rich and famous ?

There is a lot of discussion about the state of music today.

  • There are people who are asking where are the Lennon/McCartney’s, the Todd Rundgren’s, the Paul Simon’s, the Tyler/Perry’s, etc. of today.
  • Then there are people who believe that music is in a good place today and because there is so much music out there, it is ignored.
  • Then there are people who believe that artists these days write songs with an ulterior motive, replacing the art of music with the art of a product/service.
  • There are people who believe that there is still good quality music out there but it’s all underground and on the fringes.
  • There are people who reckon that the major labels ruined it all, by chasing what will make them the most money today, instead of years down the track.
  • Finally, there are people born way after the 60’s and 70’s finished who listen solely to artists from that era because they don’t see anything worthwhile/creative these days.

You see, in 2015 fans of music have a problem. Depending on your point of view it could be a good problem or a bad problem. As Steve Albini stated in a recent lecture;

“Now there is so much music it’s hard to be noticed. But that means there’s so much music available because it’s so easy for music to become available. If your music is not special, it’s no longer possible for hype and promotion to do all of the work. There are always going be a few mainstream pop stars, but that is no longer the main focus of music scene. The main focus is going to be people finding music on their own and discovering stuff that they like specifically for themselves.”

There is no doubt we live in a pop-dominated world so who can we can trust to give us the truth when it comes to metal and hard rock music news.

  • If you go to Loudwire or Ultimate Classic Rock or Diffuser, you will see that it is paid advertising from the bands PR companies.
  • Go to Blabbermouth and what you get is a carbon copy of a post that happened somewhere else on the internet. Why give the view to Blabbermouth?
  • Metal Injection and Metal Insider are two cool sites, but they also border on promoting one style of music over another because it suits their ideal.

The speed of change is increasing and the ones that are most adaptable will survive. And that means in the way the artists connect with the fans or market their music.

“They called it ‘nu metal’ is because it damn well was. When we came out of Hollywood, the ‘hair metal’ bands totally killed the scene. The Roxy, the Whisky… nobody was drawing anybody. And here comes COAL CHAMBER, here comes the DEFTONES, selling out shows. The Roxy, the Whisky… Here you’ve got this new scene — ‘nu metal,’ cause it was heavy. But I think the term ‘nu metal ‘is almost, like, pretty badass. Because you’re doing something new within a genre that existed forever and is heavy as hell, but it sounds newer and [with] newer influences.”
Dez Fafara – Coal Chamber

No one saw it coming. Great art comes from a hard life.

Like the British Invasion between ‘66 and ‘72. Like the NWOBHM and Punk movements between ’78 and ’81. Like the Sunset Strip from ’81 to ’87. Like Seattle in ’91.

And the story is still the same.

No one started to create for riches and fame in this “day and age” or in old “day and age”.

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