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


Jesse Leach has paid his dues. He was the original lead singer in Killswitch Engage. Then he departed after their break through album, replaced by Howard Jones. The band continued gaining momentum. Rumors started to circulate of friction between Adam Dutkiewicz  and Howard Jones, around the vocalists performances  in the studio and on the stage.

Leach in the meantime experimented with a few different projects and musical styles, ranging from blues to metalcore. And then he got a call from Adam to write lyrics for a little side project he had going. This project would go on to become Times Of Grace.

In music it’s the people behind the music who are the stars. And the producer behind Killswitch Engage is Adam himself. All the normal metal zines are covering Anthrax, who are doing the old school publicity junket. But it’s Killswitch who’s winning.

The world is changing. Honesty and truth rule the day. And Jesse Leach is very honest in his lyrics than Jesse Leach.  Along with Robb Flynn, he took down Anselmo’s white power.

“Incarnate” is the latest from Killswitch Engage and metalheads are proving once again, how loyal they are to supporting the artist in various forms. Sales of recorded music for metal bands is higher compared to other genres. Streaming is no slouch either.

“Alone I Stand”

It sounds like a “Times Of Grace” tune “Strength In Numbers” at the start. Regardless, it’s a brilliant song.

A day of great tribulation is upon us
A time of deception conflict and unrest
I will not cower in fear and submission
I will hold my ground and resist

That talking part is like a sermon in the Church of Metal.

I am disconnected from a system I’ve rejected.

What a line. Where do the misfits stand when we reject what is demanded of us. To paraphrase the Chorus, alone we stand.

“Hate By Design”

It’s a one-two knock out punch. What a song and the lyrics from Jesse, brilliant. In a recent interview that appeared on Blabbermouth, he mentions the song, as he was talking about Phil Anselmo’s “white power” gesture.

“Every time I get this question, my answer is the [KILLSWITCH ENGAGE] song ‘Hate By Design’ [about prejudice and discrimination being passed on from generation to generation]. Just read the lyrics. There’s your answer.”

We are born free
From the restrains of this society
Helpless to what is instilled

I’m instantly taken back to “The Unforgiven” from Metallica, especially the lyrics, “New blood joins this Earth and quickly he’s subdued”. A connection is made to a song from my past.

On YouTube it’s got 1,364,393 views. On Spotify, it’s got 1,333,386 streams.

“Strength Of The Mind”

Track number 4. It has 1,263,792 views on YouTube and on Spotify it has 1,470,525 streams.

Who can raise you from the fall and save you? Only you

That’s right. Our power is unlimited, if we just believe in ourselves and stop worrying about where we sit in the pecking order.

I’ve seen rock bottom and I’ve smashed my fists against it
Just keep telling yourself it will be alright

Man, that message. Who hasn’t been there. We all have had those moments, when you feel like you are not winning and everything you do just turns to crap. And your spending your days doing things for others, through obligation or duty to the family. And its so far away from the world of possibilities you had when you where young.

There are no detours when it comes to Killswitch. If you are a fan of the band, then you are a fan for life.

“Quiet Distress”

The victim, over and over again
Becomes the victor in the end

There is a saying about how you handle failure and rejection that determines your character.

“Until The Day”

The open spaces
Another city passes as we sleep
And it calls to me

Is it a song about life on the road. A departure from the well-known songs like “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. but still up there.

“It Falls On Me”

You don’t see me, you can’t hear my voice
Left me with nothing without a choice

Who hasn’t been in a relationship where all decisions are made for you.

“The Great Deceit”

Love the thrash intro.

How many more will die before we realize the truth has been disguised?

Our institutions are good at deceit. They employ people to sell their lies as truth. It’s always refreshing to see artists raise questions about them.

“We Carry On”

Somehow through it all
We carry on (we carry on)

And that’s life in a nutshell. We always find a way to carry on. We overcome setbacks, deaths in the family, wins and losses. Through it all, we still carry on.

Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes


Just finished listening to the song “Dust.”

Mark Tremonti is a guitar god. He’s earned his keep.

His time with Creed established him. Alter Bridge proved the Creed was no fluke. And his own Tremonti project is cementing his reputation, deservedly so.

And there’s hardly any press like the old days. The mainstream is more concerned with Scott Stapp’s paranoid outbursts and Myles Kennedy work with Slash than Tremonti.

But people are hearing his music. And isn’t that the goal. To get people to hear your music.

Which brings me to “Dust.”

It grooves from the opening notes. The syncopated call and response of the riff and vocals, immediately hook you in.

A relic from the MTV days is the “hits”. They get all the attention. And some of those tracks are great on occasions but Tremonti makes music just a bit outside the standard format. 90% of the time, his Tremonti songs border on speed metal or groove metal. But the ones that get AirPlay and rotated around the news sites are the songs that sound closest to his Creed and Alter Bridge output. The rest of the songs, people are unaware of.

You can hear the years of practice, the honing of his chops and how he called instructional shred teachers from the 80’s to brush up his technique. Yep, that’s right. after he sold 30 million plus records with Creed, he felt the need to improve. So he called in Troy Stetina, Rusty Cooley and Michael Angelo Batio to teach him.

Tremonti is not whining about revenue from sales like Scott Ian and Frank Bello from Anthrax. It’s all about the music first, as opposed to revenue. But there was very little revenue from recorded music. The real revenue always came from the road. In the past, the sale of a LP/CD was just one transaction. Today, in streaming land, each listen adds up and makes money for the artist.

And he’s not keeping his music or new music off Spotify like other misguided artists. It’s silly and stupid, especially when you can stream for free on YouTube and download illegally from other European websites.

But there are a lot of legacy musos who are ignorant.

Today’s music business is all about availability, making it easy for the fans. Putting money first is short-term thinking, and there’s plenty of cash for those who connect with their audience.

Tremonti stated that “’Dust’ is about how it feels to watch a close friend lose confidence in you.”

And that’s what great songwriting is. Evidence of humanity. A connection is made instantly.

And the Pre-Chorus, is just a riff, building up to a Chorus that rocks hard.

Listen to “Dust” and get ready for the album.


A Week With Kidney Stones And Saxon’s “Destiny”

Last Thursday I was in wicked pain. For some reason every time a big weekend is coming up for my family and I, someone higher up decides to put a few roadblocks and obstacles in my way.

Life keeps kicking you down
But you come back for more
You take all the knocks
Pick yourself up off the floor

And now there is pain everywhere. Kidney Stone pain. They reckon that trying to pass a stone is like childbirth. At least at the end of childbirth there is a beautiful child that enters your world. At the end of passing a stone, a very swollen and sore private part remains.

And the drugs these days for pain relief are a godsend. For the severe pain, the Dr prescribed a suppository. So apart from ripping my dick to shreds trying to pass a stone, I’m violating myself in the name of pain relief. Go figure.

So it’s five days later and I still haven’t passed the second stone. And I’ve read so many stories on the net and every one I have spoken to have a horror story of someone they know or have experienced themselves to share.

Believe in yourself, stand tall

When I got a CT scan done last Thursday (a few hours after I passed my first stone), the Dr told me that I have another stone in between my kidney and bladder that is 3mm in size.

The only time they surgically intervene is when the stone is 6mm or more. I have another CT scan tomorrow to see if it has moved along.

So in my time of soreness, Spotify is heaven-sent. Because regardless of what music I call up based on my mood, it’s there waiting for me to select.

Battered and torn
Ride out the storm

And for some reason, “We Are Strong” from Saxon came to mind. Maybe it was the review I read over at Heavy Metal Overload’s website that brought it back into my life.

Fans from the first three albums don’t hold “Destiny” in high regard, but it’s a good album. For me, “Destiny” was my first introduction to the band and it got me interested to seek out other Saxon albums.

We are strong
We will survive

Yeah, its commercial arena rock but still of quality.

“Ride Like The Wind”, “S.O.S”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Red Alert” are as heavy metal and as good as the old pre-Emi Saxon songs. Their power cannot be denied. “We Are Strong” and “I Can’t Wait Anymore” are the “hits” that missed back in 1988. These last two songs and their AOR melodic rock feel are the ones that caused a lot of backlash from the fans of the original trilogy of albums vs fans of the EMI era.

As I type, my right side is throbbing and contracting. I’m sweating because of it, but it’s cold outside. I’m trying to distract myself from it by doing something I like.  And right now, Saxon’s “Destiny” is doing a perfect job for me.

If you want a definitive excellent review of the album from a true Saxon’ite’, then head over to Heavy Metal Overload’s site. It will be worth your while.

And I’m just going to kick back with my headphones and allow Saxon’s “Destiny” to soothe me.

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

A Little Bit More Of A Little Ain’t Enough

A Little Ain’t Enough is the third studio album by David Lee Roth, released in January 1991 through Warner Music Group.

It was certified gold on April 11, 1991 and by 1996, it was out of print. Funny that.

You see, back then, this meant that the only way to get the album was via the second-hand record/Cd store or by finding a brick and mortar store that had a new copy not sold yet from the original print run.

“Out of print” in record label speak means that the album wasn’t selling enough for the record label to keep a master press waiting to produce more copies. When the music industry was controlled by the record labels these kinds of scenarios were real and often. However, in the era of streaming, the music is never out of print. It is available 24/7, at your fingertips.

And if we never had copyright infringement, we never would have had streaming.

Anyway, in the February 1991 issue of Hot Metal (Australia’s Premier Metal Mag) there was a review of the “A Little Aint Enough” album. It was reviewed by Robyn Doreian who at the time was also the Editor of the magazine. She gave it four skulls out of five.

Here it is in italics. The non-italics are my extra comments to the review.

Diamond Dave is one of the TRUE stars left in the music business today.

He’s in a category of his own in that he has re-defined the parameters of music to suit his individual flamboyant tastes and not without a hint of tongue in cheek humour. I mean, who else can resurrect a bargain bin tune like “That’s Life”, and transform it into a glitzy Hollywood-style bump and grind production…

David Lee Roth invented the word “show business!”.

Since departing the near-legendary Van Halen, he’s collaborated with the likes of Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan and Greg Bissonette to produce several fine solo albums, reaching the pinnacle with 1986’s “Eat Em And Smile”.

Gone are the old crew, with only Bissonette remaining, while the rest of the musicians are hired hands. I must admit, at times I find myself pining for the supremo guitarmanship of Steve Vai, as those two egocentric characters truly shone together musically, and Jason Becker must have found it difficult to fill the shows of his predecessor.

The guitar magazines I was purchasing all spoke about Jason Becker and how this album would cement his status as a bonafide guitar hero. By 1990, Becker had already released two Cacophony albums with co-guitarist Marty Friedman, as well as his debut solo album, “Perpetual Burn”. Marty Friedman was already cementing his stature in Megadeth and the guitar community waited for Becker to do the same with a known entity or band.

Little did we know that Becker would be struck down with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Initially, Becker’s life expectancy from the doctors was set to three to five years. He outlived that terminal diagnosis. By 1996, Becker lost the ability to speak. His father along with Jason developed a way to communicate via eye movements.

This time around with his fourth effort, “A Little Aint Enough”, we see Diamond Dave coming up with a more diverse sound incorporating his favourite source of inspiration – the blues – plus his trademark stomping in our face rock and roll.

The first track, “Lil’ Ain’t Enough” is Roth through and through with its rifferama on full overdrive and overabundant vocals filing every conceivable crevice. Along the way we are treated to loads of bluesy-type tunes such as “Hammerhead Shark”, “Sensible Shoes” and “Dogtown Shuffle”. More than apparent on the punchy “Last Call”, one cannot help but notice the obvious similarity in riffs to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”. A tad blatant perhaps…

All of the trademarks of David Lee Roth are here in full swing. Be warned he’s back – but then again he’s never really been away!

To me it wasn’t an album about favourite tracks. It was an album about moods and a certain section in each song. To me “moods” is the essence of rock music. Typical of the MTV era, the record had three to four quality songs.

So let’s digest the album.

The Good

The opening title track “A Lil’ Ain’t Enough” is written by Robbie Nevil and David Lee Roth and the obvious leadoff single. Actually, what a strange fucking combination in songwriters. Robbie Nevil is the dude that wrote and had a hit with “Cest La Vie”, a song I really disliked.

Was vaccinated with a phonograph needle one summer break

What a line. How many people can relate to the above lyric?

Summer and music go hand in hand.

“Lady Luck” is written by ex Dio guitarist Craig Goldy and Roth. This song deserved to be the second single. I dig the “Dream Evil” sounding riff. It’s even got Dio-esque lyrics. The below is from “Lady Luck”.

I’m off an’ runnin’
Clear off the beaten path
I don’t know where I’m headed
But I know that I ain’t comin’ back

Meanwhile, the Dio song “I Could Have Been A Dreamer has “Running with the wolf pack / Feel like I’m never coming back”.

“Sensible Shoes” is written by another songwriting committee. This time it is Dennis Morgan, David Lee Roth and Preston Sturges. Back in ’91’ I was like, who are these guys?  Regardless, what was the label or Roth thinking about releasing it as a single. I would have released “The Dogtown Shuffle”, a tune written by the band at the time, Steven Hunter, Roth and Brett Tuggle. It’s got a groove that swings and it’s far superior.

“The Dogtown Shuffle”

Ain’t too much distance ‘tween a pat on the back
And a kick in the pants

Brilliant lyrics and so much truth.

Buried deep at the tail end of the album are the Jason Becker and David Lee Roth penned tunes, “It’s Showtime!” and “Drop in the Bucket”. “It’s Showtime” should have a single.

“It’s Showtime!”

We’ll need 10 percent and that’s off the top
Gross, not net to me
Here today, gone late today
And it’s club dates in the sticks

That’s showtime for you.

Just leave your name and number
In the dumpster when you’re through
Oh yeah
Don’t call us, we’ll call you

The Underrated

“Shoot It” is very Rolling Stones sounding, merged with Free “All Right Now”.

“Baby’s on Fire” has this “Immigrant Song” drum groove that I love.

“40 Below” is another rocker that reminds me of “All In The Name Of Rock” from Motley Crue.

The Filler

The single “Tell the Truth” sounds too much like “Black Velvet” for me to like.

“Hammerhead Shark” just didn’t belong on the album. It’s pedestrian at best.

“Last Call” should have been called “Walk This Way”.


Music, My Stories

David Lee Roth

The headline reads, “My Whole Career Is Based Upon Disturbances And Uproar”.

Below is an interview conducted by Steffan Chirazi that appeared in the February 1991 issue of Hot Metal, which was an Australian monthly magazine on all things metal. All the text in italics is the interview. The text that isn’t in italics is my addition.

“I take everything I do very seriously – it’s other people’s perceptions of me I don’t take seriously!”

In 2016 and with social media so prevalent in our lives, other people’s perception of us is important. We all want to be liked. But the rock stars of the past, like David Lee Roth, he didn’t care in the opinion of others. But then again, fans of music didn’t really have a voice to express their opinion. Regardless, the presence of social media and cameras in phones has changed the way rock stars behave. Suddenly perception of others is important.

David Lee Roth is nobody’s fool. The man is in total control, a fact that is reflected in Roth’s most interesting and diverse album yet, “A Little Ain’t Enough”. It roars with a title track that needs to be blasted loud, a stomper that shows just where those old Van Halen roots actually lie, yet crawls with a bluesy feel so low and steaming that you’d almost think the man has no manners. It’s also diverse; Roth’s the focus now and he simply assembles musicians when and how he needs them. This time that happened to be in a cheap motel in Vancouver.

David Lee Roth is a character. According to the New Oxford American English Dictionary, character means “strength and originality in a person’s nature”.

And David Lee Roth is unique.

The “A Little Ain’t Enough” album is good. This is David Lee Roth telling the world who he is in 1991. He is checking his bases to see if his brand of over the top, feel good, tongue in cheek vibe is relevant. It’s typical of other rock albums from the era. Two to three singles and filler for the rest. It went Gold right off the bat and then it stalled. Because of MTV.

MTV was a powerful entity. If a song got rotation on the video channel, sales went into platinum figures. If MTV refused to play it, the album would sell based on the previous albums goodwill and then it would disappear.

To prove my point on how powerful MTV was for an artist back then, just check out David Lee Roth’s Spotify stats in 2016. You have “Just A Gigolo”, “Just Like Paradise”, “Yankee Rose” and “California Girls” in the top 4 of his most streamed songs. MTV staples, every single one of them. So almost 30 years later, the influence and power of music television is still large in our lives.

“The hotel choice was a way of getting as close to the blues as possible – to see what effect it had, to try and live it and breath it. What happened was that we walked into basement of a 4-star hotel and one of our eminent rock bands was up there finishing a record, and they were all wafting around the gym in their matching terry-cloth robes and mixed drinks, complaining of tendonitis – you know, “Where’s my masseuse?”. Well, jeez, maybe you should switch glass to the other hand, OK? It was a case of no, this is not how our album should sound.”

You could just imagine that David Lee Roth would be a difficult subject to interview because he speaks in riddles and double speak.

I get the part where they holed themselves up in a hotel to see what output their living circumstances create. The whole part of the “eminent rock band” is all over the shop. It just doesn’t make sense. As I was reading it, I thought he would mention what songs came out of these living circumstances. However, he went on a rant about a pampered rock band.

Why not bring Bob Rock to some sh!ttty dump in Manhattan for an even fuller effect?

“We’ll I think Bob wouldn’t fit in there (he laughs before briefly explaining the compromise factor, Rock liking Vancouver better than anywhere to work)… And this move to the lower band hotel is not as out of the ordinary for me as it might sound. We don’t broadcast all over the world where we stay when we’re on the road for obvious reasons, but 7 out of 10 times you’re gonna do a lot better to stay in the a 55-end of a city. At that kind of hotel you’re not gonna have any problems with the noise and unusual characters turning up at odd times of the night. My whole career is based upon disturbances and uproar, they don’t start at 10 after 9 and stop at exactly 11 on cue. The environment helped us to get back to what I know and love best – blues based rock n roll”

This is Bob Rock before Metallica and after Motley Crue.

For the producer, his career trajectory was on the up.

For the artist, it was the beginning of a downward spiral.

DLR had no idea of what would transpire in the years ahead and the backlash that would come to hard rock bands and over the top performers like him. Real artists are made when things just don’t go to plan and roadblocks suddenly present themselves. A lot of artists today are tackling adversity by complaining about the internet and how it led to massive copyright infringements. Character is built by adversity. It teaches you there’s more than one way to achieve what you want. But the main goal has always been to get into the game and stay there.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll is based on irreverence, it’s designed to break the rules and come up with something new. Rock ‘n’ Roll is about disregard for convention, it’s about taking the best elements of those things and confusing the issues entirely with a while vision of the future, of confusing business with pleasure to the maximum”

Irreverence means a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously. Like the techies since Napster.

Heavy metal, hard rock, heavy rock, glam rock, call it whatever you want, was doing exactly that. However, once it became a commercially viable product, rock and roll ceased to be about irreverence and it became all about conformity.

Which you’ve managed to do pretty well over the years, as opposed to some boring, miserable fat old bastards…

“Walking it like you talk it is simple, but it aint easy! There’s a risk involved if you’re truly gonna do what’s in your head, heart or pants, wherever the motivation’s coming from – and I’m not saying in that order either. But there will be a risk – what if the fans don’t like it, what if the manager doesn’t think this is right – and so on. Walking that line and taking that risk is frightening to a lot of artists.”

You see DLR assumed he would be a star forever. However, the shelf life of rock and roll heroes was always short. It was only during the 80’s and courtesy of MTV that artists started to have a very long shelf life. ALAE is a ballsy album to do, however if you look at any album that DLR has been involved in, there always was an element of the unexpected. But he did take risks and he did try different things out and that makes him special in my eyes.

There again, when you travel through the Amazon, climb huge mountains and go hammerhead shark watching in the South Pacific, risks in music must seem easy.

“Absolutely, I like to practice the challenge, the management of a challenge, the great unpredictable finish, constantly re-assessing from moment to moment. If I’ve become jaded at all, it’s because I’m an adrenalin junkie and that’s my drug. You get better and better under pressure, you get more creative under stress. I love working with other people under pressure; no matter how well you know the music or the guys in the rhythm section, when tape’s rollin’ that’s pressure.”

“That challenge in a studio is different to the challenge in the Amazon or on a mountainside, but it’s the same drive. It’s like a muscle, and you’re either working it or jerkin it. You develop inside yourself. Your creativity’s the same thing, your ability on stage is the same thing. I never perceived it as ‘put on your costume and perform’.”

Has he ever felt vulnerable?

“When I did “Just A Gigolo” and “California Girls” coming off the heels of the grand Van Halen fiesta – I said “fiesta” not “fiasco” because it was a grand celebration – the crowning glory rock ‘n’ roll as the press depicted it at the time. To go from there into a left hand turn – to wind up at big band brass, Beach Boy, New York City in the same fiscal year – would be considered suicidal by most people behind the desk.”

So let’s put into context where David Lee Roth was at in 1991. We need to go back to 1985, when he left Van Halen after its biggest album to release an EP of cover songs. MTV loved the clips and he became a star by using his own name instead of the Van Halen name.

Then came “Eat Em and Smile” in 1986 and no one expected that album to stick but it did. Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan are all over the album and they more or less cemented themselves as band leaders in their own right. “Skyscraper” came and it capitalised on the MTV shift to melodic pop rock in the style of Bon Jovi. This time, keyboardist Brett Tuggle is all over the album. After the “Skyscraper” world tour, Steve Vai left to do his solo album and then he got an offer he couldn’t refuse from the Whitesnake camp. Billy Sheehan already left after “Eat Em And Smile” and went on to form Mr Big. David kept Gregg Bissonette on drums, Matt Bissonette on bass, Brett Tuggle remained on keys and added guitarists Jason Becker and Steve Hunter to write and record this album.

As a guitarist, I couldn’t wait to hear what Becker would do with David Lee Roth. However, when he came into the band, most of the songs were written. However, two songs from Becker made it to the final album cut, the “Hot For Teacher” on steroids song “It’s Showtime!” and the blues on shred steroids “Drop in the Bucket”. Of course fate would intervene and while Becker played on the album and co-write a few songs, he never toured behind it because of his ALS diagnosis.

When did Dave Lee Roth realise that snorting his sinuses to shit wouldn’t help his character or longevity? When did he learn about the bigger picture?

“I would say… last Sunday morning! Hahaha. He laughs heartily.

“Life is balance. I talk about all of these things that I do and I certainly do them all. But I’m not expert at any of it, and the rock ‘n’ roll term is adventurer while the medical term is fun hog! I qualify for the high-accelerated class.”

“I love the back room at the Rainbow. What you have to remember is, you won’t have anything to talk about at the Rainbow Bar and Grill if that’s all you do, go there. I have friends who do nothing but adventure travelling all the time, from Australia to Korea to Singapore… and that gets awful thin too. So there has to be that balance there, a bit of both.”

Now is as good a time as any to scotch/confirm Rothian rumours over the last year about Van Halen. Will there be a re-union? Would Roth do it?

“Perhaps down the line. I don’t think you can hold a grudge and be truly happy, and I’m absolutely delighted with who I am right now. I’m sitting in the catbird seat and I’m surrounded by brilliant people in every category and department. The future’s so bright it needs shades, and I’ve got the world tour firing up. Any divorce is gonna have sharp edges. I haven’t talked to the guys in the band for 5 or 6 years, but down the line anything’s possible.”

But the future wasn’t as bright as DLR thought. The world tour didn’t set any box office records on fire, like the “Skyscraper” tour. As much as DLR doesn’t want to admit it, but Steve Vai was a big drawcard for him, and on the first album, so was Billy Sheehan. Then he had the Van Halen reunion discussions, new songs for the various Greatest Hit packages, the MTV appearance fiasco and what not.

When talking about his own music these days, specifically “A Little Ain’t Enough”, Dave’s as colourful as ever.

“My roots have always been blues-rock, something that chugs along – y’get on a train that’s going 60 miles an hour and let’s do it over the ultimate riff. Remember the first time you heard side two of Led Zeppelin II? OK, that’s the set-up, we’ll land and take-off from there. As for those harmonies, I went to schools that were all black in high school, black and Hispanic. The only thing I heard at the high school dances was old Motown. Henceforth, all those harmonies. When the choruses came up, they light up all the whoo-hoos. These were trademarks of Van Halen music, and they’re things I contributed.”

“My driving wheel is the killer riff with natural harmonies, not 18 stacked up wide. Minimal overdubbing and going with solos off the floor and off the floor vocals as often as we can, sound spilling over the edges. There is a time to hone it but usually not. I want it intact, as it is.”

These days, Roth employs various musicians and writers, choosing to no longer had “a band” as such and just got it alone with various players. What brought Dave to this decision?

“As music director here I have a definite vision of what it’s meant to sound like or be like at any given time. That’s going to take different musicians, different styles of music. The difference in style between “Just A Gigolo” and “A Little Aint Enough” is a long throw, and if you’re writing songs with the same people who you go on tour with over and over again, it starts to become the same sounding. You can only be a virgin once, when you group up with a band and you learn about life and music at about the same time, well then out of that will come all the inspiration you need.”

David Lee Roth leads a rich life; what’s left for the man to experience?

“I dunno. I haven’t felt absolute committed love yet and I wonder what the might feel like. But I’ve been married to the audience for so goddamn long and what a fickle bitch she is, too!”

The fact is that David Lee Roth hasn’t felt the normal domestic everyday-life situations that most people take for granted.

“Sometimes I think I’m getting close, but then I kinda just realize I’m far away. One of the reasons I broke up my girlfriend was because I said, “Honey, kissing you is my second favourite thing in the world” and she asked me what the first was and I said, “Cashing a cheque!”.

That “cashing a cheque” ideal became the problem for hard rock. It stopped being about writing songs and started to be about writing songs that MTV would play and hopefully would cross over and sell. Record labels started to employ scorched earth marketing tactics.

He laughs a hearty one, doused with truth.

“The guy who said ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ didn’t know where to go shopping!”

Which somehow brings us around to the typical end of interview questions”

Wot will da stage show be like Dave?

“Y’know, I told the band when we first came together for our first rehearsal not so long ago, ‘If you can’t do it under one light bulb in a pair of borrowed jeans with a rented guitar, y’can’t do it at all!’”

David Lee Roth and co. will be appearing at a venue near you under their Philips 100 watt later this year…

“Oh well, maybe somewhere between 1 and 1100!”

The lightning ball of fizzle-crackle life they call David Lee Roth is back to remind you that he never actually left…

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

Michael Schenker

The Eighties was very different from today. All the energy came from MTV. Once MTV broke you to the masses, radio then took over and promoted you. The labels priority shifted. A&R and allowing an artist to build a fan base was gone. In its place came the search for that elusive hit.

We all knew who Michael Schenker was from his time in UFO and Scorpions, but none of us could name his MSG tunes correctly.

Because we didn’t own the albums. He wasn’t on MTV and there was no Spotify, no YouTube, no BitTorrent, no internet where we could go and look up his MSG output. Radio in Australia never played MSG. So basically if you didn’t own his albums or know someone who did, it’s like he didn’t even exist. But he was all over the guitar magazines. That is how I came across him.

Was his coverage based on his past glories with UFO more than his MSG career. Or was it due to the emergence of shredders in the Eighties who credited Michael Schenker as an influence.

The first album came out in 1980 and it stiffs in the major U.S market. Japan is another story for Schenker where his popularity has remained high.

The second album came out in 1981 and it did nothing as well. Something had to change. Someone had to be blamed. So original singer Gary Barden was fired in 1982. Graham Bonnet fresh from his stint in Rainbow was hired. Album number 3 came out the same year (along with the Live at The Budokan album) and again, it did nothing. Bonnet was fired and Barden was back in for the tour. Album number 4 came out in 1983 and a live album followed in 1984. Again nothing. Barden departed again.

So Michael Schenker changed direction. He pushed aside his unique fusion of blues/rock combined with European classical music that morphed into Euro Metal and embraced the commercial hard rock sound that MTV was promoting. “Perfect Timing” was released in 1987 by the McAuley Schenker Group. It was three years in development and it cost a lot of money. Andy Johns (an expensive producer) was on hand to produce. That appointment cost money. Even more money was spent on the marketing, the MTV video clips and the glammed up look.

And suddenly Michael Schenker wasn’t what he was presented as originally. Rather than the blues rock euro metal slinger, he was just another faceless guitarist playing mediocre riffs and solos to suit a video format all in the search of that crossover hit, that one song that could turn a mediocre album into a Platinum seller. After three albums, Schenker and McAuley parted company.

And when Michael Schenker returned to who he was, his own style, very few people noticed. There was enough interested to keep him on the road, but not enough to bring him back to prominence.

Schenker is a musician, unlike so many of today’s stars. He really could play the guitar, he did have roots and he did have a style. He inspired a whole school of 80’s guitarists. And like the classic bluesmen who preceded him, Schenker had his ups and downs. But he stuck with it. He delivered for those who cared. Even though he is too often overlooked, he is still working.

The truth is every career is unique and Michael Schenker is a product of the records era. A soldier in the rock and roll army when only the best and the brightest were signed up.

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

1982 – Volume 7: Everything Dies, That’s A Fact

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky
Alan Parsons is one of those unsung heroes that a lot of people don’t really know about.

In 1968, a then 18-year-old Alan Parsons had his first engineering credit on “Abbey Road” from The Beatles. Proper sound engineers are responsible for the sound capture and there was no better at it, than Alan Parsons.

From there, he went on to work with Paul McCartney, The Hollies and his piece d’resitance was Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. He was the engineer on “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. So the sounds you hear on that album, the sounds that went into 30 million houses around their world, owe a lot to Alan Parsons.

After the success of “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, Parson’s was offered the chance to work on “Wish You Were Here”, however he declined it because he wanted to get his own project going.

How many people today would decline an offer like that to follow a path that financially could be worse off, but creatively satisfying.

So The Alan Parsons Project was born with producer Eric Woolfson (RIP). Both of the guys met at Abbey Roads studio.

The studio sounds Parsons captured with the bands he engineered would end up on his project.

Which brings me to “Eye In The Sky”, his 1982 release. For a studio band, “Eye In The Sky” is their sixth album, which goes to show that there was a demand for their music. All up 10 Alan Parsons Project albums were released and achieved combined sales of more than 40m copies.

Eric Woolfson was also a successful rock musician, but no one knew of him. He wasn’t in the magazines or on MTV, but he had a very successful career compared to the MTV heroes of the 80’s. And for him, it all started off by doing session piano work in the 60’s which led to a song writing publishing contract which led to a production gig at Abbey Road Studios and so forth.

How cool is the Eye of Horus cover, which instantly brings back memories of “Powerslave” from Iron Maiden.

“Sirius” (Instrumental) leads into “Eye In The Sky”
If “Sirius” sounds familiar to sporting fans, well it should. It was used by the Chicago Bulls to introduce their team during the Michael Jordan era. Wikipedia also tells me that “Sirius” was used by the New Orleans Saints as their entrance music for Super Bowl XLIV. The Kansas City Chiefs also used it during kick-offs.

It then leads into “Eye In The Sky” which is the most well-known song from the album. Maybe you could call it a “hit” song without it being a hit on the charts, but a hit with listeners of the band. Eric Woolfson is doing lead vocals on it.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind

“You’re Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned”
It has funk/soul/R&B singer Lenny Zakatek doing lead vocals. Zakatek was the lead singer with Gonzalez who had the worldwide disco hit, “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”. From 1974, he started to work with The Alan Parsons Project, a collaboration that would span 8 albums and 24 songs.

If I’m wrong and you are right
Then I will light your darkness with confusion

It has Elmer Gantry on vocals or otherwise known as Dave Terry. I remember reading a story about a group of musicians who got hired by Fleetwood Mac’s manager to impersonate Fleetwood Mac for a U.S. tour in the Seventies. Well, Dave Terry was one of the members. When the ruse failed, front man Dave Terry and guitarist Graham “Kirby” Gregory formed Stretch and had a hit song with the Kirby penned, “Why Did You Do That Thing?”

But I don’t care, it’s all psychobabble rap to me

“Mammagamma (Instrumental)”
Is typical of the Pink Floyd like instrumentals Parsons and Woolfson create. I love it.

“Old and Wise”
It has Colin Bunstone on vocals. Remember the song “She’s Not There” from the Sixties by the rock band The Zombies. If you do, that’s Colin Bunstone on vocals. One of many singles and projects he was involved in.

And, oh, when I’m old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me

Damn right. As you get older, you realise that you are not immortal and suddenly “the end” means more than all of those other wrongs you have suffered. You get a different perspective.

Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
It’s a pretty bleak folk record. Springsteen recorded it at his home in Colts Neck, New Jersey. There was no E-Street Band. It was him and a four-track PortaStudio tape recorder.

“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact,”
That lyric from “Atlantic City,” defines the tone of the album. The character in the song went from having a job and trying to save, to withdrawing everything he had, hitting the road to Atlantic City and then when he was low on cash he agreed to do a little favour for a friend.

Well, I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus

Now I been looking for a job but it’s hard to find
Down here, it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well, I’m tired of coming out on this losing end
So, honey, last night I met this guy and I’m gonna do a little favour for him

And the whole album is littered with characters that did what they needed to do to survive and take care of their families. Like “Johnny 99” and the “Highway Patrolman”.

“Johnny 99”
Now judge, judge, I got debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holding’ my mortgage and taking’ my house away
Now I ain’t saying’ that make me an innocent man
But it was more’n all this that put that gun in my hand

There it is again, “I got debts no honest mane could pay line”. It was Johnny 99’s answer back to the judge as to why he did what he did.

“Highway Patrolman”
“I always done an honest job as honest as I could
But when it’s your brother, sometimes you look the other way”

“Mansion On The Hill” is the same as “Nebraska”.
There’s a place out on the edge of town, sir
Rising above the factories and the fields
Now, ever since I was a child I can remember
That mansion on the hill

There are winners and losers in life and then there are people just content with life. But the ones not content with life, want to be like those people living in the mansion on the hill.

“Used Cars”
Now, the neighbours come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car

It’s a brilliant lyric of the times and how that used car was cherished like it was brand new. You had to have lived that time to understand it.

“Reason To Believe”.

Still at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe

There it is, the glimmer of hope on a bleak album. Because regardless of the situation, we still find some reason to believe in the next day and in the future.

The next two entries in my 1982 list are songs.

Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – “Up Where We Belong”
It’s 1982 and Joe Cocker re-enters the public conversation. No one could escape “Up Where We Belong” a duet with Jennifer Warnes and the theme song to the Richard Gere/Debra Winger movie “An Officer And A Gentleman.”

As with all things Joe, it was a song written by a who’s who of writers, Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings. An original this time around, instead of a cover.

Some hang on to “used to be”
Live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our life, out there to find

Brilliant lyrics in the second verse. Even rock heads and metal heads couldn’t escape the song. I am also pretty sure that some power metal band covered it in the Nineties. It was one of those songs.

Moving Pictures – What About Me
The “Days of Innocence” was released in 1981 in Australia and 1982 in the U.S. I still haven’t heard the album it was on but I know the song well. It was released as a single in January 1982 in Australia and September 1982 in the U.S. Talk about windowing releases.

It was the second biggest single in Australia behind Survivors “Eye Of The Tiger”. It’s written by guitarist Garry Frost and Frances Swan Frost and like all hit songs from the past, it wasn’t even planned for the album.

I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more, than I’ve got…

There it is again, the wish for more. Stay tuned for Part 8. I never envisaged that my homage to 1982 would take so many iterations.

A to Z of Making It, Music, Unsung Heroes

Stevie Wright

“I’m self-destructive if left to my own devices.”

Stevie Wright passed away on December 27, 2015. He’s not as big as David Bowie, or legendary like Lemmy or a pop culture icon like Glenn Frey. But he is important to Australia and the music scene within Australia.

And he his life is one of those stories you need to tell.

Stevie was born in England and came to Australia when he was nine. He became the lead singer in a band called “The Easybeats” in 1964. The band had George Young (another migrant to Australia from Scotland, who is also the older brother of Malcolm and Angus Young) on guitar and Harry Vanda (another migrant to Australia from Holland) also on guitar.

The Easybeats were signed to Albert Music. Anyone who is Australian is aware of Albert’s contribution to finding the “Australian sound” in the Sixties and in the Seventies. The Easybeats were the first big act from Alberts paving the way for other artists like Billy Thorpe, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Angels and The Choirboys.

“She’s So Fine” was an early hit for “The Easybeats” from the first album “Easy” released in 1965. Stevie Wright co-write it with George Young.

The intro riff from George Young grabs you straight away. It’s just a few chords (that Nikki Sixx used for “Kick Start My Heart” in the verses), but the break in between the chrods for the singing is genius. That is what AC/DC built their career on.

“Sorry” is another riff heavy song for the era. The beauty of the Australian sound is an amalgamation of US Pop and Rock Music, US Delta Blues and UK Rock, Blues and Pop. “Funny Feelin’” and “You Said That” fall into the amalgamation of US and UK sounds.

When The Easybeats first went to the UK, their label United Artists told the guys that they will not be releasing any of the early songs as they didn’t feel that the lyrics were good enough. All of those lyrics were written by Stevie Wright and from that point on, he never wrote another lyric for The Easybeats.

And of course, the big international song from The Easybeats, is “Friday on My Mind” written by Vanda And Young. Everyone knows it, and a lot of artists have covered it. Gary Moore even had a hit with it in the Eighties. It was actually Gary Moore’s version that made me do some research into the song. Bon Scott admitted in the late Seventies that “The Easybeats” were the last rock band that he liked and that AC/DC is taking over where they left off.

But it’s hard to follow-up a hit song and by 1969, The Easybeats had broken up. Vanda and Young returned to England and started their song writing/production career in an attempt to pay off the debts they had accumulated in the UK during the last two years of The Easybeats existence. Stevie stayed in Australia and tried to form other bands, but it didn’t work. He had to start over again, but he wanted the adulation he had with The Easybeats. By 1971, Wright found himself without a job, a home or any real inspiration.

Fast forward to 1972, Stevie Wright is cast in the Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar and introduced to more rock and roll excesses, this time, heroin. Drugs were the norm. A lot of bios I have read mentioned that most musicians turned to drugs because they just didn’t know how to deal with fame. They’d go on stage, play to the audience, experience the high and then they had the endless travel and the comedown from the gig. Drugs and the party lifestyle filled in the gaps between shows.

“It was fabulous piano playing that was out of this world. And I couldn’t believe it. And I said, ‘What’s with him?’ And somebody said (whispering) ‘He’s on heroin’. So that’s it, I got into it and it made me violently ill. My illness lasted for nearly three days. And I still got up and thought ‘I’ll have another go at this’, you know, ‘I’ll win, I’ll beat it’. And by the time I’d beaten it, it had me.”

It was “Superstar” that re-established Stevie Wright in the eyes of the public. Fast forward towards the end of 1973 and Wright was signed with Albert Productions. Ted Albert invited Wright to listen to some songs and the Harry Vanda and George Young penned “ Hard Road” that told the story of a teenager leaving home to follow his dream of being a rock and roll star stood out immediately.

In April 1974, he released his debut solo LP, “Hard Road”, which featured the Harry Vanda and George Young 11 minute penned single “Evie (Parts 1, 2 & 3)”. The song became a hit. And what a song it is.

The three-part movement covers so many different musical styles, it became impossible to not like. Part 1 is all Blues/Rock. Part 2 is ballad folk rock. Part 3 is Soul/Funk/R&B. Brilliant.

Lyrically, the three parts tell the following story;

Part 1: Evie (Let Your Hair Hang Down) captures the initial courting phase of a relationship
Part 2: Evie: describing a wonderful life together
Part 3: Evie (I’m Losing You): the emotional loss during childbirth

No one forecasted or predicted the response “Evie” got. It remained at number 1 in the charts for half a year.

But the album did have some other nasty rock cuts and “Hard Road” is one such song that deserves some attention. If you want to compare it to something, it is basically an AC/DC song that AC/DC didn’t write. The song also features Malcolm Young on guitar.

Well my Mum and Pop they told me boy you know you’re just a fool yes they did.
When I told them I was leaving home and I was leaving school, yes I was.
So in a couple of hours I found myself heading’ down a south-bound road.
With everything I own upon my back, I carry such a heavy load.

Ooow, well it’s a hard, long road that I travel.
Yeah, it’s a hard, hard road that I travel.

Kids today don’t understand that once upon a time in order to pursue your rock and roll dreams you needed to pack up and leave the comfort of your home.

“Movin’ On Up” and “Commando Line” are both written by Stevie Wright and even though the songs pale compared to “Evie”, they are important as it showed that Stevie Wright can still write songs.

The personnel on the album is a supergroup of musicians. Stevie Wright (The Easybeats) is on vocals, George Young (The Easybeats) is on bass, Harry Vanda (The Easybeats) and Malcolm Young (AC/DC) are on guitar, John Proud (contributed uncredited drums to AC/DC’s “High Voltage” album) is on drums and Warren Morgan (Chain, Sherbet, Billy Thorpe, etc) is on piano. And you can hear the power that this supergroup produces on the recording.

But the star of the album was and still is, the full 11 minutes of “Evie”.

Another Vanda & Young produced LP, “Black-eyed Bruiser”, followed in 1975, but it failed to do anything, which is a shame because “Black-Eyed Bruiser” is one helluva of a song. Of course it’s also written by Harry Vanda and George Young.

The riff to “Black-Eyed Bruiser” is a recycled version of “You Really Got Me” from The Kinks. Vocally, Stevie Wright is basically Bon Scott.

“You” is another classic song, in the vein of “Knockin On Heaven’s Door” with a big “Hey Jude” ending written by Vanda and Young. How can you not love the ending, when the female gospel choir takes over with “All I Want Is You”.

Atlantic Records in the U.S had a plan worked out to market Stevie Wright, but that monkey on Stevie’s back was not letting go. He overdosed and he made some attempts to get clean. A visit to Chelmsford Hospital would affect him forever. Chelmsford was notorious for a treatment known as deep sleep therapy, which led to the deaths of patients during treatment and many more killed themselves within a year after treatment. Stevie had fourteen electric shock treatments and his mental health suffered further. The psychiatrist, Harry Bailey, committed suicide when his therapy was exposed as a fraud.

There was the Concert of the Decade on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 1979 and a reunion of The Easybeats in 1986. In between it was all craziness. Addictions merged with crazy people. There was a time when Stevie lived with an underworld drug lord/murderer. He became an alcoholic. He was caught by the police attempting a robbery. He had drug charges against him when he was caught. He was in a nursing home close to two years, stamped to never come out.

But he did get out, because that is what Stevie Wright does. He gets knocked down and he gets back up again. A tablet prescribed from a neurologist got him back to reality. It’s worth noting, there is no Stevie Wright story from the 80’s onwards without Fay Walker, the woman who stuck by him all the way to the end.

But there is no denying, that his Easybeats friends, Vanda and Young went on to become rock and roll royalty in Australia and honoured by the industry while Stevie’s fortunes, hit rock bottom. But without Stevie Wright, there would be no Easybeats and the Australian Rock Sound.

Rest in peace, your hard road has come to an end. And thanks for the memories and those emotive performances.