Van Halen – Fair Warning
Van Halen’s “Jump” was everywhere in Australia, however the first albums I owned from the band came from the Van Hager edition. So it wasn’t until the late Eighties/Early Nineties that I started to get my hands on the earlier Van Halen albums via the good old’ Second Hand Record Shop.
Coming into “Fair Warning” Eddie had racked up a reputation as a riff maker. “Runnin’ With The Devil”, “Dance The Night Away” and “And The Cradle Will Rock” come to mind. That tradition continued with “Meanstreets” and “Unchained”.
I think it’s safe to say that “Fair Warning” is their hitless album and their most metal sounding album. As soon as the frantic tapped intro kicks in for “Meanstreet” you get the feeling it’s going to be heavy. Then the ZZ Top Blues Groove kicks in and the head is nodding and the foot is tapping while the drums make it swing.
How good is that little breakdown that Eddie fills with volume swells? It then morphs to an outro riff that all of the NuMetal bands used over and over again in every god damn song, 20 years later.
“Unchained” is a classic melodic rock/metal tune that would inspire many bands in the mid to late Eighties. That flanged dropped D intro is “music store” heaven.
“Push Comes To Shove” is one of my favourites (musically) because it’s different and I dig that “I Shot The Sherriff” reggae/funk groove that is happening. Musically, the song has so many cool movements. The lead break alone is a song within a song movement.
The ideas from “So This Is Love?” would eventually morph into a certain song called “Hot For Teacher” a few years later.
And David Lee Roth does manage to write some lyrics that are pretty good.
“At night I walk this stinkin’ street past the crazies on my block
And I see the same old faces and I hear that same old talk
And I’m searching for the latest thing, a break in this routine
I’m talkin’ some new kicks, ones like you ain’t never seen” ….. From “Mean Street”
“Change, nothin’ stays the same
Unchained, and you hit the ground runnin’” ….. From “Unchained”
“And then one night in stunning victory
She decides and you agree, she’s leaving” ….. From “Push Comes To Shove”
Rush – Moving Pictures
Now Rush was a band that I got into during those years of 1994 and 2000. Again, this album came into my collection via the “second hand record store”. I credit Dream Theater and the countless interviews and song transcriptions in the Guitar Magazines where Rush and Alex Lifeson are mentioned as inspiration.
So “Tom Sawyer” kicks off the album and immediately I am hearing something familiar that I couldn’t link too. Eventually, I realised I was hearing the end of “Welcome Home” from Metallica. Then that keyboard lead break which kicks in at about 1.30 has appeared in many Dream Theater songs.
“Red Barchetta” has this riff from 2.30 to about 3.00 that I reheard again many years later in the outro to “Innocence Faded” from Dream Theater.
“YYZ” kicks off with what Geddy Lee once described as a “Morse Code Rhythm”. Again, there are a lot of bits here that I have heard other prog rock bands in the Nineties use as inspiration.
“Limelight” was the first song I sat down to learn thinking it would be easy. The hard part is the movements, the stops on the off-beat, the 5/4 timing in the intro, the arpeggios cleanly picked in the Chorus and so forth. And what about that emotive and moody lead break, with the busy underlying bass groove, which picks up the section from balladesque to rock in under a minute.
Then you have a song like “Witch Hunt” which I didn’t really rate, and then Machine Head covered it as part of the bonus tracks for the “Unto The Locust” album and suddenly I was digging it.
And to close the album, “Vital Signs” is the dark horse with its New Age, reggae feel.
And as usual Peart comes out with some great lyrics about thinking for yourself and dealing with fame.
“No, his mind is not for rent, to any god or government, Always hopeful, yet discontent, He knows changes aren’t permanent” ….. from “Tom Sawyer”
“Living in a fisheye lens, caught in the camera eye, I have no heart to lie,
I can’t pretend a stranger, Is a long-awaited friend” ….. from “Limelight”
“All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players, performers and portrayers” ….. from “Limelight”
MSG – MSG
His influence on guitarist coming through the Eighties is huge. Kirk Hammet and Marty Friedman are two that come to mind immediately that have spoken highly of the German.
There is no denying his output with UFO is world-class and it was only natural that a person like Schenker would get the big money offer to go solo. In a years’ time he would also audition for the Ozzy Osbourne gig. But the Axeman had his eyes set on a solo career. The first albums I purchased from MSG were the “Perfect Timing” album and from that commercial sounding album, I went back and purchased the earlier stuff. All thanks to the second-hand record store.
There’s no mistake, no denying, we’re just one of a kind, there’s no conceit, seems like we’re all black sheep” ….. from “Are You Ready To Rock”
“Dreams just fade away, realities soars” ….. from “On And On”
“When voices of innocents cry out, Seeking the justice to come, Lies that’s all I ever get from you” ….. from “I Want More”
Foreigner – 4
In 1985, “I Want To Know What Love Is” was everywhere, but at the time I didn’t pay attention to it or the band. It wasn’t until “Say You Will” hit MTV that I started to pay attention to Foreigner. This was around 1988. So in a few years, by way of the second-hand record store, I would end up with Foreigner’s back catalogue.
Mutt Lange had really wanted to do 1978’s “Double Vision” however Mick Jones, didn’t believe he was ready at the time, nor was he considered for 1979’s “Head Games”. So Lange goes away and he proves himself to Foreigner. He takes on AC/DC and produces “Highway to Hell” in 1979 (their American breakthrough album) and “Back in Black” in 1980 (their first with Brian Johnson and their biggest album in regards to sales to date). He also produced “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” in 1981. So by now Mutt Lange is more than ready and the result is one of Foreigner’s biggest albums.
How’s that for committment?
So it was no surprise that Mutt Lange would go on to greater things.
“Night Life”, “I’m Gonna Win” and “Break It Up” are excellent rock songs and it’s easy to forget them under the noise of the “hit songs” like “Urgent”, “Jukebox Hero” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You”.
“And that one guitar made his whole life change” ….. from “Jukebox Hero”
Men At Work – Business As Usual
Who would have thought that almost 30 years after the song “Down Under” was released, a publishing company would become a part owner of the song. I called it “The Great Copyright Hijack” in the land down under.
For those who don’t know, the song “Down Under” has a flute riff in it that was inspired by a vocal melody of a 1940’s children song. The fact that the creator of the song is long gone, should mean that the song and its sheet music is out of copyright. However Copyright was hijacked by the Corporations in the Sixties and Seventies, so that is why we have this sad situation of Copyright lasting for the life of the owner, plus 70 years to 90 years after death. So in this case, a Publishing Company purchased the rights of the 1940’s Children song and eventually opened a court case for plagiarism.
“Buying bread from a man in Brussels, he was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”, he just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich” ….. from “Down Under”
Australian Crawl – Sirocco
“Sirocco” was the Crawl’s first US and European release and it was coming off the success that “The Boys Light Up” album set in motion. The album recently has resurfaced back into the public conversation, as fans of Australian Crawl believe that “Sweet Child O Mine” from Guns N’ Roses ripped off “Unpublished Critics”.
“My finger on the pulse, and my hand around a beer” ….. from “Unpublished Critics”
“Too many people need a pseudonym” ….. from “Can I Be Sure”
Y&T – Earthshaker
Y&T is another band that came into my collection via the second-hand record shop.
In case people don’t know, Yesterday and Today became Y&T on 1981’s “Earthshaker”, their first album for A&M Records. Since forming in 1972, with Dave Meniketti joining in 1973, Y&T honed their craft on the stage and the “Earthshaker” album perfectly captures their live sound to a tee.
“Punchin in, I feel like punchin ’em out, It makes me scream, it makes me wanna get up and shout” ….. from “Hungry For Rock”
Ahh, the Monday morning after the weekend and the last place anyone wants to be is at work. A simple lyric that sums up the early Eighties. Hell, it’s still relevant now.
“I was down, I was barely makin’ it, She was gone and I couldn’t take it, I was lookin’ for a new way of thinkin’” ….. from “Rescue Me”
“Your phony friends, they all counsel you” ….. from “I Believe In You”
“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the Earthshaker record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for I Believe In You Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”