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

Alter Bridge – The Last Hero

The Last Hero will stand as a snapshot of our world in 2016. With all the hope we feel, there is a sense of disillusionment.

Who can we trust?

Our leaders are voted in by the people, but all they do is serve the corporations. Musicians always have a power to correct these wrongs and to fight for themselves and for us. And some still do, while others have taken a self-preservation route because standing up for what’s right, doesn’t bring in the dollars.

“With this record in particular, there was a lot going on. It’s definitely a snapshot of a short window because the lyrics were put together as we were arranging the record during the first few months of this year. And there was a lot going on, watching the news, paying attention to campaigns and race relations, and just the environment around us. This record was definitely influenced more so than anything by the current state of affairs. So this record kind of tells a story about that. We’re certainly not pushing any sort of agenda or political views by any means, but we’re definitely diving into and taking the pulse of the world around us.”
Myles Kennedy

Show Me A Leader
It starts off with a clean tone finger picked intro. That same intro is then beefed up with drums and guitars. Then from 1.20 minutes, the real song begins.

And the lyrics reference disillusionment with the political regime and religion, and the words give the song power, but not as much as the playing. Intertwine the two and you’ve got magic.

Show me a leader that won’t compromise
Show me a leader so hope never dies
Show me a leader that knows what is right
Show me a leader so hope can survive

The Pirate Party in Iceland is growing on the ideal of free access to information for all and decentralizing power from corporations. Each country has a similar party with similar views. And people are gravitating to these parties because it’s rare to see a leader from the main parties these days who does not have ties to big sponsors/lobby groups.

The Writing On The Wall
Refusing every warning
Deny the rate of change
The ignorance is swarming, what a shame
And you know that you’re to blame

I have no idea what the song is about, maybe global warming or something personal. One thing is clear; it addresses a common problem about owning our mistakes.

From about 2.45, it’s got this wicked major key lick which builds into a Bridge section and then a lead break. Love that section. And that major key lick comes back in for the last 20 seconds of the song.

The Other Side
Musically, the song is heavy metal to a tee. That verse riff is just demonic.

Just step into the dark, it’s waiting
Take your vow, it’s time
Time for you to meet your maker
Playing God tonight

I’m thinking it’s trying to address the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and other parts of the world, especially with the below lyrics;

Once you reach the other side
There will be no paradise

The whole IS campaign is about their view being the only view and no one else can have a different view. You can take this narrow-minded view and apply to society. I know there are a lot of people in my life with narrow-minded views.

The beauty of Alter Bridge is that it doesn’t matter how heavy they get, Myles vocal chops always adds a bluesy pop rock sensibility to proceedings.

My Champion
It’s got a cool 70’s vibe to it.

Sometimes you fall before you rise
Sometimes you lose it all to find
You’ve gotta keep fighting
And get back up again
My champion
Oh, my champion

How cool is that Chorus?

You’ve lost so many times it hurts
But failures made are lessons learned
Cause in the end what you are will be much more
Than you were

I have failed or lost many times before, but I never stopped trying and I kept on building my experiences. Some failures are hard to cop especially when I knew I tried my best and still lost.

Poison In Your Veins
“This song showcases the inner dialogue in one’s head; serving as a reminder to live life courageously, take chances, and ultimately believe in yourself. It’s not a new theme for us, but definitely one that can never be overstated.”
Myles Kennedy

This song is chock full of influences and a joy to listen to.

How long will you cower down
Until you come to see
That courage is the hallowed ground
That changes destiny?
That only those who dare to win
With no fear have no remorse
The time has come to rise again
You were meant to be much more

The title doesn’t give the impression that the song is about breaking the chains around you (release the poison in your veins) and spreading your wings to fly high.

Everything that could’ve been
Has only failed to be
Cause you wasted all your precious time
You were too afraid to dream
Well, damn it all to hell I say
Don’t you waste another day
It’s time for you to own it now
The world is yours to take

The truth is, life is tough and to succeed is even tougher, especially if you don’t know what success means to you.

Don’t waste another day
Don’t let it slip away
The world is all yours to take
If only you could change

We want to take the world on, but we cannot have what we want all the time.

Cradle To The Grave
It’s another solid rocker, a throwback to an era when guitars ruled the rock and roll world.

All these memories
Start to fade before me
I cannot let them go

Time is our biggest enemy, not each other. As much as humans like to control things, time is one thing we cannot control.

As time keeps marching on
All we have is lost

As we get older, we lose so many memories of our youth.

Nothing lasts forever
Nothing stays the same

The recording business is proof.

Losing Patience
Another addictive chorus in a similar style to “My Champion”.

Your time has come
If life is what you make of it then make it your own

Things change, time marches on. When I was young, I thought I had freedom. But I never really did have freedom. I was conditioned to be a father’s son first, then an obedient student during primary and high school. Doing anything that could have affected my education was frowned upon and quickly put to rest. We only have one shot, and we’d better make the most of it.

This Side Of Fate
It’s an interesting song, mellow and then it goes to overdrive about the 3 minute mark with a very Muse influenced section.

On each album, Alter Bridge has a song like this.

For all that we’ve done
Will we ever choose to see?
The fault of our own
This fate we must receive

The biggest crime in the world is “Keeping up with the Joneses.” We live outside of our means, with no back up fund. There is a general financial rule that you must have an emergency fund of at least eight months. I don’t have two weeks’ worth of emergency funds. But our governments want us to spend and the banks want us in debt. And what we have is a society who cannot manage their money.

No one is to blame except ourselves. If we are low on cash reserves and just lost our jobs, how can we pay off the house mortgage or the credit card bill. But a lot of people don’t do the right thing, because their image is more important than their financial responsibilities.

We were so wrong
Now we know it
We can’t go on
Until we own it

My dad used to say that as long as your house is paid off, you can do what you want. We never went on a family vacation and we never ate out. We just had a house. Nothing fancy at all. Others in the street left and built larger houses, but Dad wouldn’t even think of it.

You Will Be Remembered
It’s a song for the soldiers.

I wrote these words to tell you all the things I should’ve said so long ago

Everybody has losses and regrets. Don’t let nobody tell you any different.

Crows On A Wire
If you wanna lead or be a star
They’ll expose all that you are
Are you sure you want this now?
They will only tear you down

Facebook and social media has created a culture wherein everything is on show. Instead of waiting for the memoirs, it’s all on show via Facebook. But the truth is most of us don’t like to air our minutes, because of the negative judgments.

‘Cause they’re waiting just like crows on a wire
They pry and conspire, that’s all they do

It could be the internet trolls or the paparazzi.

Twilight
Love the major key intro. It feels good and happy.

One thing’s for sure, we must accept and change
Or we in time will just have ourselves to blame
Divided by differences, now everything is torn apart
Tomorrow is contingent on the tolerance of every heart

When you reach a certain age, you realise it’s too late to start over. Suddenly, we are what we’ve become. Although the song could be about race relations, it is written in a way that it can be about anything.

Where did the years go?

I got so caught up in trying to live day-to-day, being a husband and a father, that I lost my compass and failed to reach the destination. And I’m happy and puzzled at the same time. As Dad once said to me when he reached 60, “more of his life is behind him than ahead of him and we only have a short time on this world to make a difference.”

The Last Hero
So many good things happen in this song from the 3 minute mark.

Can you hear the marching, beating of the drums?
Once again the dogs are out for blood
Words and accusations, history revised
The time has gone to tell that you are right

Time and nature is our biggest enemy, not each other. But, humans like to control things, so we would rather go to war to control others. History is littered with war stories. Meanwhile, nature is fighting back and destroying a lot of cities that humans built unleashing, earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, flooding, fires and in the worst cases, tsunamis.

Who’ll save us in the end
Have we lost our last hero?

We are always looking for a voice of reason in an unreasonable world.

Tyrants overtaking intoxicate with lies
There is no escaping, not this time
The simple man receiving, defending every crime
Somehow still believing they are right

Funny how a few bad seeds can affect the whole world. In the end, they make our Governments more suspicious. We give up more of our liberties and privacy, but how secure are we?

All of the laws passed in the name of terror hasn’t stopped any terror attacks. Australia is a ticking time bomb. They are trying to hit us, but for the time being, our Police forces are stopping them.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories

In Songs We Trust

Every person who picks up an instrument can or will eventually play it. But can they write songs. The talents to play an instrument and to write a song with music, lyrics and melodies are very different talents.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly is based on recommending songs from artists I could like based on my listening habits. Song’s is the key word here.

When bands start the marketing push for a new album, they release a song or two or three or four in the lead up to the album release.

And when I come across a song from a band/artist I haven’t heard off, I normally go to their Spotify catalogue to hear more. And sometimes, I am surprised at how good the band/artist is, so I dig deeper into the back catalogue. Sometimes, I can’t believe how poor the other songs are, compared to the one that Spotify Discover recommended. Other times, I enjoy the listening experience, but when it’s over, I can’t really remember the titles or the melodies the next day.

So it got me thinking, why?

Music to me is all about emotions. It needs to give me an emotion, a feeling or a message that connects. If the song doesn’t connect, then all the marketing and promotions is pointless.

I heard “The Stage” from Avenged Sevenfold and the song just didn’t connect. Give me “Shepherd of Fire”, “Hail To The King” or “Coming Home” any day over “The Stage”. I was going to check the whole album out, but at almost 75 minutes long, it’s a decent investment of time, so I deferred it. And when I did hear the album, I heard some brilliant sections but no real song.

And in 2016, it’s hard to sort through the noise and there is some quality, some not so quality and some almost quality, if you know what I mean.

I remember towards the end of the Eighties, hard rock and glam rock bands got signed all the time. The greedy labels over saturated the market with diluted quality. They got talented musicians and sold them the dream of fame and fortune. Once they had their signature on paper, they told them to go and write songs like “Cherry Pie”.

Have you read or heard what Jani Lane (RIP) said about “Cherry Pie”?

Google, “Jani Lane wishes he never wrote Cherry Pie”.

The album was done and it was going to be called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” but the label wanted a hit song or they wouldn’t release the album. Jani had two options, tell the label to go “Fuck themselves” and he knew his songs would never be heard or he could comply with their request, write them a sugar pop song and get the album out.

We all know how the “Cherry Pie” story goes!

And when Warrant released a mature and super heavy follow up album that didn’t contain a hit in “Dog Eat Dog”, it bombed commercially. Suddenly the band had no major record deal.

If you look back at Warrant’s career, it was a song that sold the album to the masses.

Europe broke through the mainstream with “The Final Countdown” and the label then wanted them to write more hits, even calling in outside writers to assist with the process. I am pretty sure when Joey Tempest sat down to write “The Final Countdown”, he didn’t say to himself, “okay, it’s time to write a hit song”. He just wrote a song and that was it.

Kiss (who was already working with outside writers) decided to replicate the “Slippery When Wet” formula with “Crazy Nights” and “Hot In The Shade” and didn’t really succeed commercially, although I do dig this era of Kiss.

Meanwhile Aerosmith’s career got resurrected when Joe Perry and Steven Tyler started to work with Jim Vallance and Desmond Child for “Permanent Vacation” and “Pump”. When “Get A Grip” came out, each track had contributions from different songwriters.

In the end, a song or two would sell an album past the million mark. In other words, songs sell, albums don’t.

The same deal goes for prog bands. They need great songs to draw the listener in.

“Pull Me Under is the song which broke Dream Theater to the masses. It is also the most simplest Dream Theater song to learn and play. The whole “Images and Words” album is full of great songs with the progressive technical passages fine-tuned to small sing along sections. I swear I can hum “Learning To Live”, “Metropolis”, “Take The Time” and “Under A Glass Moon” to you. Dream Theater built a career off this album. If Dream Theater’s career started off with the technical wizardry of the Jordan Rudess era, they wouldn’t be as big as they are right now.

When Ozzy’s career was relaunched with the Blizzard Of Ozz band (that became the Ozzy band when the record was released), it was on the back of great songs, not on controversy. A simple catchy AC/DC style song like “Flying High Again” got radio airplay. It was only a matter of time before “Crazy Train” and “Goodbye To Romance” would become radio staples, along with “I Don’t Know”.

When the Whitesnake album exploded in 1987, it was really on the back of “Here I Go Again”. It was a cross over hit. Credit John Kalodner, who signed Whitesnake to Geffen and knew what needed to happen.

When Def Leppard released “Slang” in 1996, it was an attempt to play to a new audience that never liked them to begin with, and never would. But what had disappeared from “Slang” was the song. I purchased the album and played it to death over an eight week period. Three songs got more attention than others, but for the life of me, I am struggling to think of the titles. I think “Deliver Me” was one title. I could go to Google and check, but music should be instant recognizable if it is great. And “Slang” had nothing great on it.

When Megadeth released “Risk”, I was curious as to what audience they were trying to win over? It definitely wasn’t the core audience. Industrial fans wouldn’t embrace them and the speed metal fans would abandon them. But if the album had some quality tunes, then maybe a different story would be told. But it didn’t.

In songs we trust.

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

1983 – Volume 3 –Pyromania and Metal Health Are Breaking The Chains In Europe.

Being different was a uniqueness when I was growing up and it was the space heavy metal and rock musicians occupied. It was us vs. them mentality. The “them” was always a moving target. It could have been teachers, parents, police officers, neighbours or anyone else that did the wrong thing.

I grew up in a time where heavy metal music and long hair was frowned upon, where a person with a sleeve of tattoos was considered to be a freak in a circus show. Society bullied us. You couldn’t get a “real” job if you had piercings.

Music is best when it’s created and led by the outcasts, those artists that sit on the fringes. Record Labels and suits believe they know best, because all they care about is profits. When Quiet Riot exploded with Metal Health in 1983, it took everyone by surprise, but not the metal fans. Suddenly, our favourite form of music was becoming a mainstream commercial behemoth.

As soon as the bands started to find an audience that connected with their message, money started to roll in from large record label advances and tour revenue. Suddenly, everyone’s afraid to lose friends. Our favourite bands suddenly tried to have a career instead of destroying their career. All of those rough edges that made our heroes unique got polished off. And by the end of the Eighties, we had every band sounding the same, trying to cash in on the MTV Bon Jovi/Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Whitesnake/Guns’N’Roses formula.

But we still have 1983, when a lot of the bands recorded albums to build careers on. We still have 1983, when the record store section had one section called METAL and all of the bands fitted in.

Welcome to Part 3 of my 1983 saga.

It’s a few months late and if you want to revisit Part 1, click here.

If you want to revisit Part 2, click here.

Quiet Riot – Metal Health
“Metal Health” holds a special place in the canon of 80’s metal and hard rock and so it should for it’s the first album of that sound and culture to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. In doing so, a band that got rejected a hundred times in the late seventies, pushed The Police from the top spot.

I never owned any Quiet Riot music until the mid-nineties, when I picked up their 80’s albums, along with the Randy Rhoads era at second-hand record stores and record fairs. So the only music I had from Quiet Riot in the 80’s was the video clips, that I recorded onto a VHS cassette tape staying up late at night. “Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Bang Your Head”, “Mama Were All Crazee Now” and “The Wild And The Young”. That was it.

And it was two songs in constant rotation on music television that sold this album. “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Bang Your Head”.

Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
The opener and the united metal head soundtrack, when we all believed in the same form music and didn’t segregate into little factions that the record labels like to call “Genres”.

“Bang your head, metal health will drive you mad”

Enough said.

The whole musical structure is tasty but that chorus riff has enough power to crush the power chords from Malcolm Young.

I’m like a laser 6-streamin’ razor
I got a mouth like an alligator
I want it louder
More power
I’m gonna rock ya till it strikes the hour

It’s clichéd and a thousand bands had similar themes. You were either a long-haired rocker or a black t-shirt metal head standing up against the establishments so you could listen to the music you love. And we congregated to the churches of the record stores and the arena’s, to show our love and appreciation to this godly music.

Cum On Feel The Noize
A lot of the metal fans had no idea this was a cover. Hell, I didn’t when I first heard it. We didn’t own a lot of music back then. Only the credits on the album (if you owned it) would have told you it was a cover, or the reviewer of the album would mention it.

So you think my singin’s out of time
It makes me money
I don’t know why

A lot of the bands in the 80’s didn’t have the most technically gifted singers. It was more of a lifestyle than a job. DuBrow was not the best singer on the planet, yet he became he star.

So cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We’ll get wild, wild, wild

All the boys wanted to rock and roll with the girls.

Don’t Wanna Let You Go
It’s got potential musically, but lyrically, DuBrow serves up crap.

Breathless
Musically it’s good, but the lyrics let it down.

Run For Cover
It’s a speed metal song and musically I love it.

How good is the whole solo section?

It starts off with the frantic drums, then the lead guitar kicks in, then the whole band joins.

Let’s Get Crazy
What came first, “Fight For Your Right” from the Beastie Boys or “Let’s Get Crazy” from Quiet Riot?

While “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” reached no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Quiet Riot’s “Let’s Get Crazy” is virtually unknown.

The riffs are identical and the vocal melodies are more or less pretty close.

Lookin’ for some action, want a mean machine
Gettin’ hot ‘n’ nasty, climbin’ in-between

Both songs are great and a perfect indication of how music is the sum of our influences. But in today’s world, these songs are perfect for a plagiarism claim.

I’m-a rockin’ in the mornin’ and in the night
I’m gonna find a mama makes me feel right

For the other songs, I preferred the Randy Rhoads version of “Slick Black Cadillac” and while “Thunderbird” is mentioned as a tribute to Randy Rhoads, I believe it wasn’t really written to honour Randy. I believe the song was written before Randy’s death and it was just a cash grab from DuBrow or the label to capitalise on it. Seriously, DuBrow has the lyrics, “leave your nest baby” in the song.

Every album after, got worse and eventually DuBrow left Quiet Riot and Paul Shortino was in. But the debut of the 80’s version of the band stands as a testament to paying your dues.

Def Leppard – Pyromania
Def Leppard doesn’t exist in the world of iTunes and Spotify except for a few re-cut versions of some of the classics.

The reason is money.

The record label wants to pay Def Leppard a royalty based on vinyl sales for streaming, however Def Leppard believe they should be paid at the higher licensing rate. And the labels are paid a monza to license the music they hold the copyrights on but then pay the band a royalty on sales and listens. Def Leppard said FU to the offer and because of it, we have no classic Lep on Spotify.

In 1983, there was “Pyromania” and everything else. The Lep’s wanted to be on top of the pop charts. That was their mission. The rise was slow but gradual. If you like rock and metal music, you would like this album. If you liked pop and other forms of music, you would still like this album. And the people responded in the millions, with sales breaking through the million barrier all over the world.

There is a great write-up over at the teamrock.com website which I have taken some sections from.

The “Pyromania” story begins with “High’N’Dry”. The album and the tour didn’t do anything spectacular in the sales department.

“That album didn’t do what we all hoped it would. And touring the UK was a complete waste of time. We were pulling in 400-500 people in 2000-seat theatres.”
Joe Elliot

Def Leppard was then given a supporting slot on the European Leg “Point Of Entry” tour by Judas Priest. But they never had a chance to make an impact, coming on second after Accept and their “Balls To The Wall”. The tour finished in December, 1981 and by February 1982, the band had most of the songs written for their third album.

As the article over at teamrock.com states;

Some of the songs were brand new, built from a stockpile of riffs the band had worked through after the “High ‘N’ Dry” tour. But they also remodelled a couple of older songs that hadn’t made the cut for “High ‘N’ Dry”: “Medicine Man” was beefed up and renamed “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”, and a previously unfinished track, described by Joe as “a dual-guitar pop song”, was finally completed, and titled “Photograph”. Aside from drummer Rick Allen, every band member contributed to the writing, as did Mutt Lange, who co-wrote all of the album’s 10 tracks. Guitarist Pete Willis wrote the riff to “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”. Their other guitarist, Steve Clark, a Jimmy Page fan, created the Zeppelin-styled epic “Billy’s Got A Gun”. Rick Savage came up with the express-train rocker “Stagefright”.

Recording began in March, and money was tight. The band was in debt to their record company to the tune of £700,000, and each band member was on wages of £40 a week.

A cold hard fact on the realities of the recording business and their creative accounting is the debts bands incur. It was this “money is tight” situation that led to Pete Willis getting the boot from the band and Phil Collen joined. However, as the article states;

Elliott is keen to stress the importance of Pete Willis’s contribution to Pyromania. The guitarist co-wrote four of the album’s 10 tracks, including Photograph, the key hit single. And despite his run-ins with Mutt Lange, Willis also played the rhythm guitar parts on every track. Phil Collen joined the band for the final stages of recording, when they returned to London for overdubbing and mixing at Battery Studios. Collen played solos on five of the tracks, with Steve Clark taking the other five.

The album finally hit the streets in January 1983. But.

In the UK Pyromania was still selling slow. It peaked at No.18. And after a showcase gig at London’s Marquee club on February 9 the band’s British theatre tour drew disappointingly small audiences. Joe called it “The Nobody Cares Tour”. In America, however, it was a different story.

MTV put the songs “Photograph,” “Foolin’” and “Rock of Ages” on constant rotation. So did the other video shows. And in all honesty they looked geeky compared to the American bands but with the help of Mutt Lange, they blew up the rock/metal paradigm. Suddenly rock and metal bands changed the way they recorded. NWOBHM bands started to sing more melodically and with backing vocals. They had too, if they wanted to survive in the new world.

“Pyromania” takes its pop rock cues from Journey’s “Escape”, Loverboy’s self-titled debut, Foreigners “4”, Reo Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity”, .38 Special’s “Special Forces” and Boston’s larger than life Chorus’s from their self-titled debut released in 1976 and the follow-up “Don’t Look Back” released in 1978. The rock and swagger comes from AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Queen’s and Led Zeppelin’s 70’s output.

More pop rock influences came from Slade, The Sweet, Mott The Hoople, T-Rex and David Bowie. The metal overtones come from Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Scorpions.

Joe Elliot once said that he wanted the power of AC/DC mixed with the variety of Queen for Def Leppard.

Rock Rock (Till You Drop)
Mutt Lange is digging in to his AC/DC “Back In Black”/“For Those About To Rock” and Foreigner “4” experiences with “Rock Rock (Till You Drop). It’s a sound and groove that Cinderella and Kix and many other wannabe acts would put to good use to build careers’ on.

Hold on to your hat, hold on to your heart
Ready, get set to tear this place apart
Don’t need a ticket, only place in town
That’ll take you up the heaven and never bring you down

Anything goes
Anything goes

Are they singing about the rock and roll show or the real meaning of what rock and roll meant back in the 30’s to the Black Blues artists of that era.

Women to the left, women to the right
There to entertain and take you through the night
So grab a little heat and come along with me
Cause you mama don’t mind, what you mama don’t see

Anything goes
Anything goes

It looks like the “rock” in this song is not the musical “rock” at all.

Photograph
There is no denying the riff. It’s as good as any of the classic riffs that guitarists play in guitar shops and so forth. Structurally, the song goes all AC/DC style riffing in the verses and pop rock like in the Chorus.

I see your face every time I dream
On every page, every magazine
So wild and free, so far from me
You’re all I want, my fantasy

This is Def Leppard trying to bottle the magic of the song “Centrefold” in a rock/metal context or it could be just a stalk like anthem of someone Joe had seen in a magazine.

Stagefright
It’s got this Sweet “Action” vibe merged with metal riffage in the verses with a pop chorus.

You’re going for my head, you’re going down
Gettin’ good at being bad, you’re hangin’ ’round
A fun inspired asylum, toys for the boys
Love on the rocks, forget-me-nots, you got no choice

Is it about groupies?

Too Late For Love
As soon as this song starts off, I swear I’ve heard it somewhere else. The Em – C – D, G – D, C – Em is instantly recognisable.

Somewhere in the distance I hear the bells ring
Darkness settles on the town as the children start to sing
And the lady ‘cross the street she shuts out the night
There’s a cast of thousands waiting as she turns out the light

The lyrics are interesting to say the least as they set up different scenes with each verse.

Die Hard The Hunter
Let’s welcome home the soldier boy (far away, far away)
No angel of mercy, just a need to destroy (fire away, fire away)
Let’s toast the hero with blood in his eyes
The scars on his mind took so many lives

You feel sad as soon as the Emadd9 clean tone arpeggios kick in and it gets even sadder when Joe starts singing “Let’s toast”. Then it goes into a riff that Queensryche used when they wrote “Revolution Calling”.

That section from 4.05 to 5.05 always gets me to stop what I’m doing and start paying attention.

Foolin
The opener to Side 2, with that majestic guitar part.

“Foolin” was not my favourite song on the album, but hearing it almost 20 years, I realised the magic was in the arpeggiated intro and the eventual build up with the layered backing vocals singing “Is anybody out there?”. And I now dig it. It stands the test of time.

Lady Luck never smiles
So lend your love to me awhile
Do with me what you will
Break the spell, take your fill
On and on we rode the storm
The flame has died and the fire has gone
Oh, this empty bed is a night alone
I realized that-ah long ago

The music and the vocal melody are top-notch in this intro section.

Is anybody out there?
Anybody there?
Does anybody wonder?
Anybody care?

The backing vocals in this section are brilliant. We spend so much of our life looking into the past that we don’t see what’s right in front of us.

The lead break begins with a call and response. It reminds me of “Over The Mountain” from Randy Rhoads and Ozzy.

Rock Of Ages
The first time I heard em. My cousin Trajko had a lot of VHS tapes full of metal and rock music videos he taped from the TV stations or from friends. On a visit to his place, he dubbed me three of them. For those who grew up in the 80’s, we dubbed videos by connecting two videos together, so while one video played the image on the TV, the other video was recording it.

Yeah, it’s better to burn out
Yeah, than fade away

A rock and rollers creed.

Rise up, gather ’round
Rock this place to the ground
Burn it up, let’s go for broke
Watch the night go up in smoke

Rock on (rock on)
Drive me crazier
No serenade, no fire brigade
Just the pyromania, come on

This is the embryo of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and they take inspiration from Queen, by using songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites The Dust” as influences for the verse delivery/structure.

When the Chorus comes in after two verses, it’s well worth the wait. “Don’t Stop Believin’” from Journey also used this kind of song structure.

Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, keep a-rollin’
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, rock ‘n’ rollin’

You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along with the chorus.

Comin Under Fire
This song is a must for any wannabe guitarist. It merges 70’s classic rock, with NWOBHM with Scorpions Euro Metal.

The intro alone has it all. Arpeggiated guitar lines hook you in and then the pedal point riff blasts through the speakers. When the verses come in, we are greeted with volume swells that outline the different chords.

Is it any wonder?
You got me comin’ under fire
Comin’ like thunder
You know you make me walk the wire

Like the pre-chorus of “Foolin”, the chorus of “Comin Under Fire” has excellent layered backing vocals. Lyrically, it’s not the best, but musically, it rules.

Billy’s Got A Gun
Never underestimate the ability of a song to paint a picture.

This is my favourite Def Leppard cut and it has so many good bits.

The verse bass riff reminds me of “Heaven and Hell”. The backing vocals are so layered, melodic and operatic. The overall drum groove reminds of “Kashmir”. And I guarantee you that Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton all had this album and paid particular attention to this song as the “Operation Mindcrime” album is very influenced by “Billy’s Got A Gun”.

Billy’s got a gun, he’s on the run
Confusion in his mind, the blind leads the blind
Yeah, Billy’s got a gun, he’s gonna shoot ya down
He’s got evil in his eyes, got a reason to despise
There’s danger in the air

It sets the scene of what Billy is about to do as he is hell-bent on revenge for doing time, for a crime, he didn’t commit.

In a world of black and white, they were wrong and he was right

A powerful lyric.

And you get an unbelievable solo and an ending that makes you press play again, so you hear the album over and over and over again.

As time marches forward, the greatness and power of this song is being forgotten. Not on my watch.

Europe – Europe
When Europe broke through into the mainstream in 86’ with “The Final Countdown”, the triumph seemed like it happened overnight. But the reality is so much different. And once word started to spread, people took notice and the band would never be the same.

But before “The Final Countdown”, there are two albums. The self-titled debut released in 1983 (and it’s not on Spotify) and 1984’s “Wings Of Tomorrow” (also not on Spotify).

There is always something unique and interesting to hear a bands early music. To me, it always captures a point in time when a band is free to write what they want and develop their style away from the mainstream and record label know it all’s.

The debut doesn’t have the sale numbers as “The Final Countdown” or “Out of This World”, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock as hard. Hell, it was finally released in Australia in the 90’s, which I picked up as a cassette.

To me, the album captures a form of classical inspired metal, drawing influences from U.F.O, Randy Rhoads era Ozzy, Scorpions, Accept, Rainbow and Deep Purple.

In the Future to Come
John Norum goes to town on this song. It’s guitar heavy and it’s littered with so many good things.

  • A classical inspired intro that ends with double stop bends.
  • Power chords over a galloping pedal tone.
  • A shred like lead break.

Drummer on this album is Tony Reno, not Ian Haugland. And there is no Mic Michaeli on keys either.

So many years ago the people on this earth, they were laughing
They didn’t think of anything else than love and peace
But generations failed to see that they were causing trouble for the future
They didn’t know that one single war would continue to increase

For a young band, these are very social conscience lyrics.

Oh lord, where will it end
When tomorrow is gone
Oh lord, can we stop to pretend
That we can survive in the future to come

How much freedom do we really have when our governments are spying on us and we are so busy working we haven’t got time to think or care about the loss of our liberties?

Seven Doors Hotel
A piano riff rooted in classical music kicks the song off. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s a great riff that kicks in.

Seven Doors Hotel
One of seven gates to Hell

The seven seals to open before a judgement is released or the apocalypse begins.

Do always watch out for things
That you see but don’t understand
The Devil is there always somewhere
Ready to command

In Australia and the U.S, the use of the “devil” in lyrics would have caused some controversy. However, in Europe and it’s million churches, it looked like it was accepted.

The King Will Return
Another song with roots in classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.

The king will return with gold in his hands

But he didn’t return alive.

Children of This Time
It’s got the gallop that Iron Maiden put to good use in “The Trooper”. Again, the overall roots of the song is inspired by classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.

You are the children of this time
You are the bread and the wine
You are companions ’till the end
You’ve got yourselves to defend

Another song with social conscience lyrics, that has Joey Tempest asking people to be there for each other and support each other until the end. I really dig the lead break from Norum.

There is a pretty cool review of the album over at mikeladano.com

Dokken – Breaking The Chains
I didn’t get this album in 1983. I got it in the 90’s. Dokken was another band introduced to me in 1986 via a dubbed VHS copy of their “Unchain the Night” video and to be honest it was a great introduction.

“Into the Fire”, “Alone Again” and “Just Got Lucky” from “Tooth and Nail”, “Breaking the Chains” and “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams” and “It’s Not Love” from “Under Lock and Key” all appeared on it.

I was an instant fan and I started to notice George Lynch appearing in the guitar magazines I was buying at the time. Also that year, a badly dubbed copy of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” came my way and it interviewed people before a Dokken and Judas Priest concert.

Then “Dream Warriors” came out via the “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” movie and suddenly Dokken was on my radar of bands I needed to purchase. So my first actual purchase was the “Back For The Attack” album.

Even back in the 80’s we didn’t have any time. Lifestyles were different and we went out more than what we do today. Our music wasn’t really portable, so we didn’t take it with is. But when something great starts spreading by word of mouth, we find time. You can see how an accumulation of events via word of mouth and pirated video tapes led me to Dokken fandom. If there’s no word of mouth about your act, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Breaking The Chains
The riff is excellent and far removed from the L.A sound that was happening at the time. But what I remember most about this song is the tacky camera angles on the chain like strings on Lynch’s guitar, plus Don’s terrible lyrics.

“Breaking The Chains” had the title for another teen angst anthem however Don delivered very confused lyrics loosely based on heartbreak.

How can you take these lines seriously!!

Got this letter
Came today
From my baby
Who left me yesterday
Said she loves me
She’ll come back
She wants to try

But it was the 80’s and it was cool to be this tacky once upon a time.

In The Middle
This is more in the vein of the L.A sound.

In the middle
Of love

I dig the music, the vocal melodies, but not the choice of words.

Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
Another speed metal song. This one is written by Lynch, Croucier and Dokken.

Run out of breath
And I feel I’m moving too slow
Backwards and forwards
I don’t know which way I should go

You know the feeling. You worked hard all week and you spent so much time away from loved ones and things that you like. You get paid and nothings really paid off. Outstanding bills still remain and to top it off, your car broke down. And you ask yourself the question, “Did you live up to your promise?”

Live to rock
Rock to live
It’s all you got when
You’re down on the skids
Live to rock
Rock to live
One way or another
Survive until the end

Pop music, written by a committee of writers, rules the mainstream. But we live in a world of chaos. We have so much music on hand, we don’t where to start. Hell, we don’t even know what is out there most of the time. I dig this modern era, but in the 80’s it wasn’t like that. We had gatekeepers, self-appointed people who would act as filters. And the youth just wanted to rock. So we looked for artists who would inspire those passions.

“Live to Rock” is one of many songs that capture’s this feeling. It was an innocent era, with great ideals, before our heroes became busy chasing the dollars.

There is a reason why the 80’s produced acts who are still going strong and it’s called scarcity.

When we purchased an album, we stayed up all night listening to it. Even though it had one good song on it. Our view was, if we gave our money, we had to get a return on our investment because we knew we didn’t have any more funds to purchase new music for at least another fortnight (if we were lucky), so we had to listen to it.

Feeling it flow through my veins
Rock will never get old

Damn right. It’s always been there in the undertow. And in some era’s it’s the raging river.

Nightrider
Musically it’s excellent, but the lyrics are stupid.

In the car, slam the door, turn the key and I’ll be free
On that highway tonight

See what I mean.

Paris Is Burning
The original studio version didn’t cut it, so a “live version” was used instead. Live is not really live, as all of the tracks get re-recorded in a studio, along with the vocals. So after some doodling by Lynch that made me want to go back in time and unplug his guitar cable, good ol’ Mick Brown blasts the song off.

I don’t get the lyrics but I love the music and the vocal melodies. I just wished they used better words for the melodies.

The first two lines in the opening verse deal with getting out of his town, sort of like “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and then the verse finishes off with two lines about a woman who became so hard and cold. Check it out for yourself.

This town I’m in can’t take no more
Decadence and sin
You were my woman
Why’d you have to be so hard and cold

And then we are into a Chorus that again doesn’t make sense or have any logical flow.

Paris is burning
Want to see it from afar
Paris is burning
Want to get to where you are

But that was the 80’s and it was allowed.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

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