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

Haken – Affinity

It’s a new game.

Every artist should be aiming at getting their music on a playlist like Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlist. It’s a playlist that artists and their record label can’t buy in too. YET. Maybe in the future, a spot in the playlist could be cemented for a fee. But not right now.

For those that don’t know, the Discover Weekly Playlist recommends songs and artists to me based on what others have listened to that I’ve listened to as well. This is where discovery happens and to be discovered, an artist needs to be everywhere, especially on a streaming service.

“The Endless Knot” from Haken came into my Spotify Discovery playlist a few weeks ago and it got me interested in Haken.

A week later I am listening to their new album “Affinity” and enjoying every minute of it.

It’s all about moods for me and Haken have caught me in my prog mood.

Throughout the history of prog, bands fell into a few categories, pre-determined by King Crimson, Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd and ELP.

Dream Theater successfully and commercially merged hard rock and metal with Rush, U2, Pink Floyd and Yes influences. And from that union, you had bands that followed the DT route.

Fates Warning started off as a metal band that got technical and progressive as they matured. Their style would morph even more in the Nineties and two thousands. And you had bands that followed that route.

Meanwhile, Tool would take the King Crimson and Pink Floyd route. And you had many bands that followed that route.

Then you had math rock and math metal bands and the many bands that followed that route.

And it was rare for bands to intertwine the different styles.

Eventually Porcupine Tree came out in the Nineties and had a sound that merged a lot of the above different styles. Then they went into a more pop direction via “Trains” and “Lazarus”. Great songs by the way.

However it was Fates Warning very underrated “Disconnect” album released in 2000 that combined all the various styles into one cohesive package and “Affinity” is another album that combines so many different elements of the prog genre into a cohesive and enjoyable package.

I was actually shocked when I found out “Affinity” is the fourth studio album.

See how hard it is to be heard above the noise and if it wasn’t for the Discover Playlist, I still wouldn’t know about the band.

So what I know about them is from Wikipedia. Formed in 2007 by To-Mera guitarist/keyboardist Richard Henshall and the name “Haken” was derived under the influence of alcohol or weed while in high school. I do remember listening to some music from To-Mera due to an ad in the PROG magazine from Classic Rock but I can’t remember any tracks.

In digging for information I was blown away by the work effort of Richard Henshall. Check it out below.

2008: Haken – Enter the 5th Dimension (demo)
2009: To-Mera – Earthbound (EP)
2010: Haken – Aquarius
2011: Haken – Visions
2011: Opinaut – Oxygen (EP)
2012: To-Mera – Exile
2013: Haken – The Mountain
2014: Haken – Restoration (EP)
2016: Haken – Affinity

Compared to the global superstars of the MTV era, he is a still an unknown entity, but even though he might not have the dollar riches, he does have the musical riches. And he is still making music. Looks like he missed the memo from Gene Simmons to pack up his guitars and become a technologist or go work in the financial sector.

“Initiate” 

It sounds like Karnivool. Nothing new, but a great listen.

I observe a world jarring in turmoil
A million people waging war at the hands of a god

It’s human history since the dawn of time. How many wars in the name of a god?

I’ll do things you can’t conceive
There’ll be no strings on me

Free will is an illusion. We believe we have it, but there are so many strings and chains attached to it, we actually have nothing.

“1985”

It comes in at 9 minutes long. Guitarist, Charlie Griffiths sent the band the initial version. He was inspired by listening to the music of Toto, Vince DiCola (Rocky music director) and Van Halen. It’s got heaps of 80’s electronica sounds, heaps of Vince DiCola montages and heaps of Dream Theater bits. Some seem ripped off. It’s totally unoriginal and yet it sounds original. Overall, it’s a pretty good song and it’s the one that sticks out the most and my favourite of the lot.

I stand map in hand
Direction misaligned
I play my role
With the cast of a die

The person in the song has a map but they cannot make sense of where to go. It’s because their steps are controlled by unseen puppet masters, faceless people who corrupt and infiltrate every facet of government and our lives.

My first step
Was undertaken aimlessly
Yet I arrive
As if I’m meant to be

How many of us walk away from a job that pays well to follow a dream from our youths?

The answer is not many. And our lives are determined by wages coming in just to pay loans, credit cards and other bills. Like the lyric states, we arrive to the place of servitude like it was meant to be.

Did I decide
Or did the road choose me?

As mentioned above, free will is an illusion. We believe we have it, but it ceases to exist when we start to follow the rules set by institutions.

“The Architect”

Almost 16 minutes long.

Message on a screen before me
Caught a glimpse of the ending to our story
‘I’m sorry I haven’t called you recently’

Are the lyrics talking about a break up via a text message?

Me thinks so. That’s communication in the modern world.

You turned your back on affinity
Now it’s turned to toxicity

The promise of being together forever has turned toxic.

Delete all obsolete memories
Shores of tranquillity
My monastery

All of those memories that a person needs to forget when a relationship goes sour. The longer the relationship the harder it is.

Omnipresent endless knot
The architect of every thought
Through the prison walls made by your design
A chameleon hides behind Orwellian eyes

Omnipresent means to be present everywhere, like a god, the universe or some other divine being that watches and controls all. The endless knot is an ancient symbol that shows lines interweaving with each other, and although all existence is bound by time and change, it all still rests within the Divine and Eternal lines of the symbol.

So the lyrics are stating that “The Architect” of our thoughts is an omnipresent chameleon that watches and dictates our ideas and lives.

“The Endless Knot”

The shepherd led, we blindly followed
Into the world of no tomorrow

We grow up believing that people have good intentions. However, life and society is more complicated. And the shepherds we follow have all been corrupted by money and greed.

Break me down to pieces
And strip me of my freedom

It’s like when you get a mortgage. Your freedom is stripped. Until you pay that mortgage off, you have none of it. And with each pay cheque, the system just breaks us down a little bit at a time.

We need a story to believe in
We need a hero to prevail

That’s why TV shows are ruling the entertainment industry. The story develops over 10 to 15, 1 hour episodes instead of a 2 hour movie.

Give “Affinity” a listen. I still am. It still keeps me interested. Eventually I will dig in to the earlier stuff. But not right now. “Affinity” has my attention.

I feel like it’s the 80’s, where you buy the album and listen to it over and over again. Then you save up some cash and purchase an earlier album. But that could take months or years in some cases.

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

The Streaming Wars, iTunes Suspending Downloads Due To Decreased Sales While Bandcamp Sees An Increase in Sales

“It’s (streaming) not the enemy and the thing that frustrates me is the old guys, and I call ’em the old guards; now what a nasty position to be in to be thought of as a gatekeeper. Because you’re a rockstar, you’ve been around 20, 30 years — some of ’em 40 years — and you say, ‘Bah humbug to streaming!’ You say, ‘Bah humbug to rock. Rock is dead. There’s no hope for the future. Put your guitars down and go get a job in a bank.’ It’s, like, that’s not the message that young musicians and fans need to hear. They need to hear, ‘Streaming is your friend. The listening experience is more exciting. Pick up your guitars, there’s a career for you out there. The next Elton John’s out there. The next Metallica’s out there. The next Beatles is out there. The next Muse is out there — they’re out there.’ They’re young, they need to be pushed to be the best they can be; they don’t need to be told there’s no future. There’s money and there’s hope, and what money gives musicians is the opportunity to have stability. And with stability you can continue to create music and, when an artist is creating music, we get to do interviews and talk about it.”
Nikki Sixx 

Suddenly Google has become the baddie when it comes to piracy being. The tech giant is accused of the same crimes that Napster, Limewire, The Pirate Bay, MegaUpload, etc. were accused of previously.

It’s been ongoing for a while, especially around the takedown procedures. Suddenly musicians are now speaking up against the small payments from YouTube. Nikki Sixx and Deborah Harry spoke out against YouTube.

Manager Irving Azoff mentioned YouTube should allow musicians to opt out of the service, and if the musicians via their backers ask for their content to be removed it should be removed permanently and not allowed to be put back up without the consent of said musicians.

And if you have ten minutes, check out the latest rant against YouTube. It is a read of BenHur proportions.

And then there was a rumour of iTunes cancelling music downloads which was denied by Apple. However where there is a rumour, there is also some truth. The article states;

“Whether or not Apple wakes up one day and decides to tear down its iTunes music download store is not the most important thing.  Because they are already starting to get rid of it.  This phase-out is already happening and Apple is definitely assisting this process.  They are definitely not growing their download store and they are doing what it takes to make this die a natural death.”

The article talks about how Apple is blurring the lines between iTunes and Apple Music, by corrupting our iTunes downloads with the Apple Music product, even going as far as replacing your paid iTunes download with the a different version licensed for Apple Music. Apple believes by doing this process, the user would eventually give in and pay for an Apple Music Streaming subscription.

And the major record labels couldn’t care less. They will phase out CD’s and if mp3 downloads are phased out, the only mp3’s pirates can download are the web rips of YouTube songs. Which if you read the above, the labels are really pushing hard to tear down as well. All of this means the labels get back control of the distribution channel that Napster took away.

They have hedged their bets with every digital musical offering, taking decent percentage stakes in each of them, so when they get sold or go public, the labels stand to gain billions. Add to that the millions earned from licensing the songs that they hold copyrights for and you get to see how much money is going to the record labels and not the artists.

But hey, YouTube and Spotify is to blame.

Bandcamp has posted a counter argument to Apples “iTunes problem”.

  • Bandcamp grew by 35% last year.
  • Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day.
  • Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp.
  • Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide.
  • Track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide.
  • Vinyl was up 40%.
  • Cassettes 49%…
  • Even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide).

Bandcamp is not just a download store. When a user buys music on Bandcamp, they also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via Bandcamp’s free apps as well as an optional, high-quality download.

In the past I have always mentioned that fans come in different ways and consume music in different ways and it looks like Bandcamp is positioned to capitalise on that.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Five Finger Death Punch vs Prospect Park

Five Finger Death Punch changed management a few years back from Jeff Kwatinetz/Prospect Park to Allen Kovac/Eleven Seven. In the music business, Kovac has an envious reputation amongst other managers for getting the best financial outcome for his clients.

I think it is safe to assume that Kovac has gone through all of the contracts that FFDP has with Prospect Park and found “issues” that did not benefit FFDP in any way whatsoever. So the FFDP camp questions it and they get hit with a lawsuit from the record label who once upon a time was also their management.

Don’t you love it, when the label sues the band that made it famous?

No one even knew who Prospect Park was before Five Finger Death Punch.

Prospect Park didn’t even pay for the first album. FFDP recorded their first album on their own budget.

Once it was all done and mastered, they shopped it around for release and distribution. They found “Prospect Park”, who put some money in to market it and after it was released, it sold a massive 3,800 copies in its first week.

The album was basically dead after week one. Fantastic work by the record label and Jeff Twatnets to promote it.

However, the guys in FFDP had contacts and suddenly they are on tour with Korn and then Disturbed. I think it’s safe to say those two bands did more for the band than the label. And FFDP haven’t looked back since.

Once “The Bleeding” started to get traction on radio, the debut just started selling. People were suddenly talking about the shows and spreading the word. It wasn’t the label that did it. It was the band themselves, putting in the hard work, on a small stage, night after night. Then it was word of mouth by the fans. The band became popular and so did the label.

Kevin Churko said it best;

“Nobody in the music industry has any job without the artist.”

FFDP has made Wankerwiener from Prospect Park a rich man and like all people who come into money, they don’t want to lose it. They will fight tooth and nail to keep it. They will lie, cheat, sue and steal to keep it.

In fact if you look at the businesses that Jeff Wankerwiener/Twatdance/Kwatinetz has been involved in, you will see a sinister pattern. He was the founder of management company “The Firm” in 1997. This is the company that signed FFDP in 2007. in 2008, “The Firm” ceased operating due to high levels of debt. Several months after “The Firm” was closed, Kwatinetz founded Prospect Park and by 2014, Prospect Park had declared bankruptcy.

What a world we live in where a person who cannot manage his companies can contractually stifle creativity of an artist.

And Churko shares no love for the record label.

“Having worked with many record companies, I found it frustrating that Prospect Park repeatedly did not pay me on time. I feel if it wasn’t for the direct efforts of the band members themselves, their management and their business manager, I may still remain unpaid. They were champions for me from the beginning and I’ll be a champion for them to the end.”

Record labels are notorious for mistreating artists and producers. Late on payments or not paying at all. Creative on royalty statements and not paying at all. Remember when 30 Second To Mars was being sued by their label for $30 million just because they questioned why they had so much debt after “A Beautiful Lie” sold 3 million plus copies of the album.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Plagiarism

“There was really just one song ever written and that was by Adam and Eve. We just do variations”

Keith Richards as he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 1993.

That my friends is music in a nutshell. All forms of art is inspired by the past. And then corporations came looking to profit from art and they lobbied the governments of the time to start writing laws. These laws would get enhanced until it got to a stage where the laws only benefit the corporation that controls/holds the copyright of the artist.

The word plagiarism in music is a dirty word.

If you look at a dictionary like the MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, plagiarise means;

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own – Isn’t this what Sharon Osbourne did in Ozzy’s name for “Bark At The Moon”. Bob Daisley and Jake E. Lee wrote the album and Sharon had Ozzy listed as the sole songwriter.
  • to use (another’s production) without crediting the source – Isn’t this what Metallica did with “Enter Sandman” and “Welcome Home”. Kingdom Come did it. Every British Rock Invasion did it with the Blues of the 30’s and 40’s.
  • to commit literary theft – Isn’t this is what Robert Plant did with some of his Led Zeppelin lyrics.
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source – Isn’t this is the whole history of music. There is a pretty good chance that latest album of your favourite artist was influenced in sound and feel by songs of the past.

In music, if you play the notes A, B, C right after each other, you are technically playing the first three notes of a musical scale. And there is a 100% chance that those same three notes will appear in someone else’s song or have already appeared in a song written in the past.

So should we credit the person that came up with the Aeolian scale thousands of years ago for those three notes?

But if I was writing an essay I am required to credit anything that is the same as something that came before.

But what about the millions of songs that have A, B, C in a lead break or in a vocal melody or in a riff?

See how silly it gets when you start to use a scholarly term like plagiarism in music. Based on it’s dictionary meaning, then plagiarism has been around in music since the dawn of time.

But plagiarism is relevant these days because our culture believes it owns everything. We believe our ideas and words and stories are so original, we worry that others will “steal” them from us in some way and make millions of dollars from them, while we make nothing.

The fact that other people in the world are thinking the same ideas or writing similar words or living a life similar to ours, doesn’t even come into the equation.

And while plagiarism does exist in academic/literature circles, it really doesn’t exist in music. Because music is a sum of what came before it. If certain songs sound too similar, then that is copyright infringement and it exists in music.

That is what Vanilla Ice did when he lifted the bass line from “Under Pressure” and called it “Ice, Ice Baby”.

But when I hear Five Finger Death Punch lift the vocal melody from “The Ultimate Sin” and re-use it for two lines in an eight line verse in “Lift Me Up”, I call that “influenced by music that came before to create something new.” In other words, it is a derivative work.

But with so much money in music, especially around hit songs, the lines of inspiration have been reclassified as theft/plagiarism. Copyright infringement is now all about censorship and piracy.

And what you have is a jury of non-music experts setting precedents that blur the lines even more. And you have heirs of artists suing to protect their pension incomes, when the songs their deceased parent or grandparent wrote, should be in the PUBLIC DOMAIN as Copyright intended them to be.

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

Sixx AM – Prayers For The Damned Vol. 1

“When we were making this album, the idea came from touring “Modern Vintage.” We just wished we had more of the meat and potatoes in our set list, so we started writing an album for touring. Not paying attention to the lyrics and the melody and all that stuff. But in general, it’s like ‘What’s it gonna feel like to play live?’ These are guitar driven songs with strong messages.”
Nikki Sixx

It’s a modern sounding heavy melodic rock album. If the title track was a pop song, expect a lawsuit against it because it has the sound and feel of “The Bleeding” from Five Finger Death Punch. Regardless of the sound and feel, “Prayers For The Damned” is a pretty good fucking song and overall a solid album.

The X-Factor is James Michael.

His voice has so many styles and it adds a modern touch to the band when needed, a pop touch when needed, a classic rock vibe when needed, a funky vibe when needed or his unique falsetto when needed.

I have been a fan of the studio project/now band, since its inception.

“Rise”

It kicks the album off and it has been doing the rounds close to two months now. If charts matter to people, then “Rise” is up there. On Spotify it is approaching a million streams (it has 947,017 streams currently). On YouTube, the lyric video has 296,954 views and the audio only video has 306,617 views. So compared to Spotify, YouTube views pale.

Rise! Get yourselves together
Rise! Stand up and live your life

It’s clichéd and it has been done so many times, however it is always refreshing to hear. The vibe reminds me of 1983 onwards, where so many artists started singing about standing up against the status quo. The riff on the other hand could have appeared on a Shinedown album as it has the feel of “The Sound Of Madness”.

Stand up to the devil slowly rising
Clear your throat now
You can cough for their demise
Speak out, don’t let the status quo define you
This is your world, just put the fear back in their eyes

The band stood up against YouTube and the small payment amounts to artists, asking Google to do the right thing. Meanwhile, artists forget that the reason why YouTube became big and powerful was the labels reluctance to adopt Spotify and other streaming services earlier, especially in the U.S. And is YouTube really the problem when it comes to music. The “Rise” videos do not have any significant views up compared to Spotify. I believe that we, the fans are either official paid streamers or purchasers of mp3’s or CD’s. There is research data out there that supports this position as well.

For a bit of nostalgia, they could have called the song “Shout At The Devil”.

Hey now, don’t be afraid to fight for something
This is your chance, and you can stand for so much more

Dee Snider angst from 1984 is back. It’s an election cycle in the U.S and the anger over the candidates is all over the news. In Australia, the election cycle is also in full swing. We have a Prime Minister who is wealthy and has links to the Panama Papers and a candidate that has shady Union secrets. And we are meant to believe that these people are there to represent us.

“You Have Come to the Right Place”

The song is written around the killer heavy guitar riff from DJ Ashba.

If you’re the last on Earth
Feel like you’re damned or cursed
You have come to the right place

Again it’s the 80’s all over calling all of the hard rock and metal misfits to join together and that there are others in the world just like us.

“I’m Sick”

There was a track by track breakdown over at Billboard.com and Nikki mentioned that he was reading an article in a magazine, when he saw the headline, “I’m Sick, Gimme Some More” and he used the story to finish off a song that musically had been around for a few years.

I say yeah, we are the ill and the deranged
Yeah, I know that I’m sick, give me some more

Actually it’s a brilliant demented lyric and it works really well.

“Prayers for the Damned”

The best track on the album by far and how good are those banshee female vocals.  It’s a perfect dance between beauty and darkness where the main character in the song is pushed to the point of desperation and they don’t know where to reach.

What have I got to lose
When I’ve already lost it all

When you’re at the bottom, the only way is up.

I’m just a creature of a broken past
We’re all looking for a second chance

We have more wrongs than rights in our lives. Thank god for those second chances a thousand times over.

“Better Man”

Is a continuation of “Prayers For The Damned” and covers the demons of self-doubt.

Give me a second chance, I’m gonna make it last

“Can’t Stop”

It has this Pink Floyd “Money” groove in the music merged with “We Will Rock You” from Queen and all built around a chant and a stomping feel. Basically it is brilliant the way it’s all put together as it takes influences from the past and makes the song sound original, modern and unique.

You got blisters on your tongue from all the septic energy

A brilliant way to say, you talk too much shit.

You can’t stop, you cannot stop me

A call to arms.

“When We Were Gods”

It’s a nostalgic song that reflects back to an innocent time of a relationship.

When we were gods, when we were demons
We had it all, we had our reasons

“Belly of the Beast”

This song has a groove that reminds me of “When The Levee Breaks” and DJ Ashba does a wicked job decorating the song. In its simplicity it has a gospel/bluesy feel but man it sounds heavy as hell. But the piece d’resistance again is the banshee female backing vocals in the pre-chorus. t’s brilliant and for a song that took the guys 4 hours to write and record it, it is up there.

Sometimes your only choice is no choice at all
Sometimes the only voice you hear is when the devil calls

Excellent lyrics creating the ‘illusion of free choice’. Remember the line in “The Godfather”, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”. The offer was basically do this or you will die. So really the person had no choice at all.

“Everything Went to Hell”

It’s got a Rammstein “Du Hast” vibe in the verses and chorus and in the solo section it goes to Muse level proportions. Lyrically it deals with an event that happened to James Michael when he walked in on his girlfriend in bed with someone else.

I could’ve loved you to death, but now I dance on your grave

Ahh, the feelings of vengeance of the broken-hearted.

“The Last Time (My Heart Will Hit the Ground)”

It continues the story of “Everything Went To Hell”.

I was a worthless king
My life just didn’t matter
You were a morbid queen
Dancing with this cold cadaver

“Rise of the Melancholy Empire”

 It’s written in response to the terror attacks in Paris and the lyrics were written in a hotel room in Germany after Bataclan.

We will grow strong from this
We will not be defeated
However hard they try
Over and over and over a thousand times

It’s a perfect bookend for an album that started with “Rise! Get yourselves together, Rise! Stand up and live your life”. Looking forward to Volume 2.

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

Maiden Live

On Friday, 6 May, 2016, I took my wife and three boys aged 10,9 and 4 to watch Iron Maiden on “The Book Of Souls World Tour” at the Qudos Bank Arena, formerly known as the Allphones Arena, formerly known as the Acer Arena in Homebush, Sydney.

The last time I saw Maiden was on the “Somewhere Back In Time Tour”. I went to both shows then, on February 9 and 10, 2008. The venue was then known as the Acer Arena and there wasn’t a spare spot on the floor or in the stands. But this time I saw red seats and spaces on the floor. Is it a sign of fading popularity?

I don’t think so, because prior to the show, Maiden got a “Gold” Certification for recorded music sales in Australia for “The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015.

As in 2008, the lights went out as soon as “Doctor Doctor” started playing from UFO on the backing intro music. And then it started with the little movie of the Maiden plane stuck in vines in a jungle.

“If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” was the 1-2 punch from the “The Book of Souls” album to kick off the album.

When you have a legacy like Maiden’s, it’s a double-edged sword to spend the first 15 minutes of the concert playing tracks from the new album. There was some debate afterwards if this was a good thing or a bad thing especially when the audience was made up of people like me, dads and mums bringing their children to watch Maiden for the first time and children who were raised on the classic Maiden songs.

Anyway, the Dickinson penned “If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opener, and when the band kicks in with the intro lead is game on.

Waiting in line for the ending of time
If eternity should fail

It’s got a great sing a long chorus and that’s why it works live. By the time the “Ace Of Spades” influenced interlude kicks in, the floor is swaying with bodies. This song worked well live.

But the Smith/Dickinson composition, “Speed Of Light”, like “From Here To Eternity” and “Holy Smoke” before it, just don’t work as live songs. Boring and pedestrian.

“Children of the Damned”
Maiden takes us back to 1982 and we are all “Children of The Damned” again.

It’s the first of three songs from “The Number of the Beast” album and the first time, I am hearing this song live, as it wasn’t played on the 2008 “Somewhere Back In Time” tour. “Live After Death” was my first exposure to Maiden, and this song proved to be a favourite.

You’re Children of The Damned
Your back’s against the wall

Steve Harris wrote it about a book/movie, but those two lines above speak to me.

Because back in the Eighties, metal heads and rock heads got discriminated against. Since everyone that listened to metal and hard rock got classed as “devil worshippers” you can say that we were all damned and our backs were against the wall, trying to prove to others that we matter and have something better to offer this world.

Great live track and the quicker live tempo suited the song.

“Tears of a Clown” and “The Red And The Black” came next.

So Maiden went back to the new album. While I understand the importance of the song to Maiden and how it’s about comedian Robin Williams, “Tears of A Clown” just didn’t work as a live song. It’s best kept as a studio track.

Which brings me to the Steve Harris penned “The Red and the Black”. When I first heard this song on the album, I loved certain sections of it and after a few listens could honestly say it could do with some edits. Hearing the song, live, I can honestly say they should have been creative and exercised some control and edited the song down to 6 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

There is a harmony lead section of the song towards the end of the song that is excellent, however I think Maiden missed big time with these songs. Even the chants felt forced. “Fear Of The Dark” has the chants because the people/fans decided to chant along with the leads, not because Maiden wrote a song that has chants in it.

By now my four-year old fell asleep, which was a shame as his favourite song is “The Trooper” and that came up next. Actually I was surprised he fell asleep with the loud volumes.

“The Trooper”
So Maiden take us back to 1983 and the “Piece of Mind” album and play a speed metal version of the song. It was funny because in the car on the way up to the show my kids were singing the song super fast as well .

Actually, the song was that fast, that even Bruce couldn’t get all the words out in time.

Did it matter?

Not at all. My ten-year old and nine-year old lapped it up.

You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand there’s no turning back.

The stop of the music and the start of the vocal line is done brilliantly. It will remain a classic forever because of it.

“Powerslave”
The Dickinson penned title track from their 1984 album was up next and it’s one of my favourites.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.

Has our world progressed since the time of the Pharaohs?

Instead of whips and chains to work, we have wages and loans to keep us as slaves.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death.

Then we are back to two more songs from “The Book Of Souls”. This time “Death or Glory” is up and to be honest it is another miss. But, “The Book of Souls” written by Gers and Harris deserves to be in the Maiden set forever and a day. It’s epic and grandiose and on par with “Powerslave”.

By know the clichéd stage antics of Janick Gers was bordering on “Dark Helmet” ludicrous proportions. Foot on the monitors like he’s doing ballet, swinging the guitar around his neck like anyone in 2016 cares about it, the Richie Blackmore splits and grabbing the guitar so the pick-up side faces the floor proved to be silly and funny at the same time.

But there was no escaping the power of  “Book Of Souls”.

A life that’s full of all the wealth and riches
Can never last an eternity

Sort of sounds like our current world. According to certain media reports we are living in a gold age of prosperity. I am sure that people in third world countries would disagree, but as the lyric states, what we have currently cannot last forever. But what is guaranteed is that the people in power and wealth would pay tooth and nail to ensure it does last forever.

The set is rounded off by “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from “The Number of the Beast”, “Fear of the Dark” from the album of the same name released in 1982 and “Iron Maiden” from the debut Maiden album released in 1980.

Now, “Hallowed Be They Name” to me, is a classic and man, the audience resonated with it.

Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time

When the end is near, all you can do is go back through your memories one last time because once it ends, those memories will be forever lost. It’s pretty sad when you think of the knowledge we could have if memories in our brains can somehow be preserved.

When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me

In order to write “The Trooper”, Maiden had to write “Hallowed Be Thy Name” because both songs have very similar elements, especially the stop start sections of the verses, where the music stops and the vocals start.

The Harris penned “Fear Of The Dark” has achieved a new sense of immortality courtesy of the “Rock In Rio” performance on the “Brave New World” tour. Every section in the song is more or less a sing/chant along.

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something’s always near

I always saw “Fear Of The Dark” as an analogy for fear of the future, the unknown and how the world is always throwing good and bad times into our lives. And to be quite honest it’s pretty scary sometimes.

But “Iron Maiden” to me is a big letdown. I understand its historical importance but in the end it’s a really average song.

The encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast”, then “Blood Brothers” from the “Brave New World” album released in 2000 and the set finished off with “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere in Time” album released in 1986.

I’m coming back I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn

Metal music was known as “The Beast” in the 80’s, because it possessed our bodies and minds. And when the establishments thought it was dead and buried, a bigger beast in Grunge, Industrial, Metalcore, NuMetal, Death Metal, Black Metal all came forth, until Metal music returned once again.

Bruce made special mention that the audience and Iron Maiden are “Blood Brothers” and how in the audience he is seeing parents with children and so forth. At this time I got a lot of high fives from people around me, that I had the balls to bring my children to the show. So without any surprises, the Steve Harris penned “Blood Brothers” was up.

Maybe all the things that you know that are precious to you
Could be swept away by fate’s own hand

Live each day to the best that it can be lived, because the world doesn’t care about the houses, cars, iPads and record collections when it comes calling for you.

Finally the big one and the favourite of my eldest son, the Adrian Smith penned “Wasted Years”. I always associated this song as another “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. And it’s also a love song.

The guitar intro is legendary and Adrian Smith as a songwriter has contributed to a lot of “classics” from the Maiden 80’s era. I would call him the unsung hero of Iron Maiden.

I close my eyes, and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day

So Maiden came to Australia. For some reason I feel that it was for the last time. I hope not.

My eldest son, he loved the show and enjoyed it along with me. My middle son, got super tired half way and just kept on yawning. My youngest son fell asleep at the concert by “Tears Of A Clown”. My wife held him the whole time.

What kind of father buys concert tickets for a Friday night show, which is the end of a school week and the start of a sport filled week playing football. We got home at 1am and by 7am we all got up for the morning Saturday games.

Metal all the way.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Albums

Is the album format really over?

The old way of spending half a year recording an album, then going on a marketing/promotion tour before its release, so you could have massive first week sales just doesn’t work anymore.

Protest The Hero were in my face for six months, with their “Pacific Myth” Subscription via Bandcamp. One song was released each month. It was brilliant. We (the fans) focused on each song for a month. We talked about each song and then when the conversation was over, we got hit with another one.

On top of that, we also got a video each month that covered the “Volition” fan funded album cycle. Further to that, we got drum through videos, food cooking videos and guitar tabs for the songs.

The band should keep at it. Not stop. Release a jam cover song here and there, write a stock standard metal song in the vein of Metallica’s “Black” album, put some demo’s out there of a work in progress, release a live recording and so forth. The band could be doing all of the above, while they now promote the vinyl/EP release of “Pacific Myth”.

Which brings me to the album.

I am really forming the view that the album is purely for the record label. It’s the only way the labels know, how to get an artist to sign away their copyrights to them, so the label could reap the benefits for hundreds of years after. In other words its a pure cash grab for the label.

The new way is to be making new music constantly and releasing it. But it wont happen because there is always a view that each release needs to be monetized to maximum.

But for an artist, how does the album cycle work.

They will release the album. It might even chart. A month later no one apart from the hard-core fans care about it. We move on. And that year the artist spent refining those twelve tracks, only got them four weeks’ worth of attention.

So what now.

They might go on tour and the album might come back into the conversation.

Is anyone talking about the new album from Three Doors Down, four weeks after it was released?

The answer is NO.

But people are still talking about Five Finger Death Punch. “Got Your Six” is still selling units and it’s getting streamed. “Dystopia” from Megadeth is still in the conversation, four months after it was released. “Immortalized” from Disturbed is still selling on the back of “The Sound Of Silence”.

For some bands, the album works and for others it doesn’t.

But, what is clear, is the game has changed.

Artists need to be making music constantly. Artists are musician’s first, business people next.

So what is the purpose of the album?

The album is for the hard-core fans. If an artist doesn’t have a track that converts people, they will need to go back and keep on writing. Because for an artist to survive, they must always be gaining new fans while they keep their existing fans.

And the MTV world of global superstars is gone. Over.

No one dominates like the times of old. Chaos is the world we have right now. Previously magazines like Hit Parader, Circus, RIP, Metal Edge, Faces would tell us what was important. Then those magazines sold their pages to PR companies controlled by the labels and the fans ignored them.

Now we are overwhelmed with content and there is no worldwide ranking to tell us what to tune in or out off. Hell, I don’t even know when new music is coming out from my favourite artists, until it hits my Spotify new releases. And that’s not always on release date. Tremonti is a perfect example. The new album “Dust” has been out since April 29, however it is being withheld from Spotify.

Why?

I pay my monthly fee and for some reason, I’m being punished for it by the artists I’m trying to support. Talk about treating fans like shit.

But YouTube who pays much less has fan uploads of the album and pirate sites who pay nothing have a torrent up.

So chances of getting traction are slimmer. It’s a level playing field.

Good is no longer good enough, not if you want to get ahead.

Remember when Dokken broke up and we had Lynch Mob and Don Dokken albums. They were good and it’s debatable if they were great, because great is such a subjective word. But in the end, the albums of both bands had a lot of crap in them.

Which brings me to the question?

10 to 12 tracks packaged in an album every 2 years vs 4 songs in an EP every 3 months.

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