A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Little Streams Of Heaven

Streaming is good for labels and artists. Indie labels are on the rise and artists have options everywhere on which digital aggregator to use when releasing music.

Taylor Swift and Neil Young’s music is back on Spotify and the normal PR outlets are silent but when they took their music off, well the narrative was very strong about poor artists vs big bad faceless tech giving the masses inferior sound quality and not paying enough.

But Pandora is declining in users, looking for a new owner and Spotify is not making money yet because its business model of a streaming service only does not allow it.

Spotify needs to diversify into a record label (like how Netflix diversified into its own content) because it can’t survive as it currently operates.

Apple has its own ecosystem and it bundles music with Apps and hardware sales.

YouTube is still there but viewership of music videos pales compared to streaming listens. Plus Google (apart from search) does everything half-hearted.

In the end streaming is king. The irrelevant sales charts had to amend their formula to include streaming and suddenly an artist is controlling all positions.

The old certification awards now include streaming in their formula and guess what, artists are getting platinum awards on streams alone. That’s right, no sales. Just listens. What a brilliant concept.

But those record label execs and publishing rights organisations want to strangle the streaming golden goose. They have a percentage stake in it, they get upfront license fees and they get royalty payments. Their profits are boosted by streaming and they still want more.

Meanwhile artists and songwriters keep on blaming the tech for the payments made instead of blaming the corporation who controls their copyrights.

Forgetting that Spotify is the new MTV. It’s influential. Think about it. Get onto a Spotify created playlist and watch your streams go into the million to 100 million territory.

Spotify controls data. It knows instantly when songs are skipped and when songs are listened to. The songs that people listen too are added to various playlists it controls. Suddenly those songs become hits.

Jasta’s “Chasing Demons” is the first track on Spotify’s “New Metal Tracks” playlist. It has 227,182 streams. The closest track from the same artist “This Is Your Life” has 22,433 streams.

“Lights Out” from Royal Blood is on 5 plus Spotify playlists and it has 6,435,533 streams whereas “Hook, Line & Sinker” has close to 2 million streams and it’s on 2 Spotify playlists.

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

Progress Is Derivative 3

Playlist 

Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. We can paraphrase it to “Good artists try to sound original by hiding their influences”, while “great artists let their influences show”. It’s how the language of music is learned. We imitate our influences.

If you don’t believe me, what is the first thing a person does when they are learning an instrument?

We start by learning songs created by other artists.

Inspiration is not theft. Theft is me taking something and you not having it to use anymore, like your apple or your car. Taking a musical expression and using it in your own song is not theft, as the original musical expression is still there. Here are some examples of taking musical expressions and re-using them in different songs. And in each example, the original expression is still there.

  • Five Finger Death Punch in the verses of “Lift Me Up” paid homage to Ozzy’s vocal melody from “The Ultimate Sin”.
  • Megadeth in the verses of “Kingmaker” paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”.
  • Dave Mustaine wrote “This Was My Life” from his “Phantom Lord” progression that appears from about 2.30 to 3.10.
  • “Live Wire” from Motley Crue borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right”.
  • “My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to “A Flock Of Seagulls” song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.
  • “Hey Hey My My” from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song “I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” from 1980 is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”
  • “Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.
  • “Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993.
  • Even the song “Come Undone” is an amalgamation of other songs. Duran Duran wrote a song called “First Impression” and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was creating a re-interpretation of the song for a covers album the band was doing which would include some re-interpreted songs. The bass line and drum groove came from producer John Jones and a song demo he did called “Face to Face”.
  • The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.
  • “Shepherd Of Fire” borrows from everything. The fire and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The drum pattern is very “Trust” like from Megadeth which is based on based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. The guitar riffs are also very Megadeth like and also based on “Trust” from “Cryptic Writings”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative” effect in action.

The list is just a summary of how the creative arts work.

We take what came before and we build on it. And for creativity to flourish and for cultures to grow like the British 60’s explosion, a healthy public domain is needed which means shorter copyright terms or even no copyright terms.

Copyright is never about paying artists/creators. Copyright was designed by the distributors (book publishers, record labels and movie studios) so who do you think benefits most from Copyright.

For centuries, the distributors have campaigned hard to promote how Copyright is there to help writers and artists. They have PR writers who tell the story of the poor artist who needs Copyright to pay the rent and how dare do people, copy a song instead of paying a price set by the industry for it. These PR writers have turning copying a song, (two songs exists) into theft (now product A is not in your possession).

Yes, Copyright operators do pay artists as a means to make it look like it’s doing the right thing, however more monies end up in the pockets of the organisations than artists.

And all of the great PR work the labels, movie studios and book publishers did in selling the copyright story is biting back at them, via the heirs of dead artists (who in reality should have no rights to songs they didn’t create) taking them to court with plagiarism law suits and what not.

Sort of like our governments who finance revolutionaries, only to have those revolutionaries rise up against their financiers once they seize power.

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

Progress Is Derivative – One Riff To Rule Them All

Spotify Playlist

Remember “Progress Is Derivative” means to take the best things of what has come before and merge it all together to come up with something new. In some cases it might sound similar to something in the past and in other cases it might sound unique, original and innovative. And the “One Riff To Rule Them All” is a perfect example of how so many songs can have the same riff conceptually and still be able to stand on their own.

One Riff To Rule Them All…
Yep, it’s the A pedal point riff… It all started with a motor city madman called Ted Nugent, and his song “Stranglehold” released in 1975 (actually it’s a bluesy groove that has been around for a lot longer before then). Since then, the riff has morphed to inspire the following songs.

  • “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest released in 1978.
  • The intro to “Swords and Tequila” from Riot released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Never Surrender” by Saxon released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Riding With Angels” by Samson (with Bruce Dickinson on vocals), released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Hellbound” by Tygers of Pan Tang released in 1981.
  • The main riff for “Flash Rockin’ Man” by Accept released in 1982.
  • The Intro in “Curse Of The Pharaohs” from Mercyful Fate released in 1983.
  • The main riff in “Power And The Glory” from Saxon released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Stand Up And Shout” from Dio released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Seek And Destroy” by Raven released in 1983.
  • The intro and main riff in “Two Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Heavy Metal Breakdown” by Grave Digger released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Phantoms Of Death” by Helloween released in 1985.
  • The main riff to “Skin O My Teeth” by Megadeth released in 1992.
  • The main riff to “Break The Chains” from Tokyo Blade.
  • A small variation of “the riff to rule them all” morphed into “Welcome To Hell” from Venom released in 1981.
  • And this morphed into “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue released in 1983 and became known as the Sunset Riff. So it was no surprise that other Sunset guitarists started using it.
  • “Young Girls” from Dokken in 1983 has a riff that’s similar.
  • “Tell The World” from Ratt, released in 1983 also has it.

I guess you can’t keep a good riff down. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Music is derivative. Always has been and always will be.

Ted Nugent’s originality in the 70’s is due to him writing derivative versions of blues grooves. There would be no metal music without rock and roll and there would be no rock and roll without country and blues. In the early blues (circa 30’s), copying and transforming was the norm. The same blues song would be recorded by different artists in different states. Sometimes, the titles would change. No lawyers got involved and especially no courts. In return, this allowed the blues sound to grow.

If you look at the bands above, they all built careers from the same patterned riff without a lawsuit to be seen.

What an amazing concept?

Stone Temple Pilots
Fans of Kiss smiled when they heard “Sex Type Thing” from Stone Temple Pilots. The main riff is influenced by “War Machine”. How strange it is, that one of Kiss’s heaviest songs is co-written by pop rock songwriters, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance with Gene Simmons.

Motley Crue
The Chorus riff to “Ten Seconds to Love” sounds like it was influenced by a certain riff in “Rock & Roll” by The Plasmatics. Actually they sound the same, but who cares. Both are different songs and unique and as you all know, I am a fan of the “progress is derivative” viewpoint.

The Led Zeppelin Effect Again
The impact of “Immigrant Song” cannot be underestimated.

Recently I heard it in “Siberian Queen” (2012) from The Night Flight Orchestra. The drum pattern is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (1970) and the guitar riffs reference “Achilles Last Stand” in the intro and verse riff.

Meanwhile, John Sykes re-invented himself as Jimmy Page when he combined “Black Dog” with “Immigrant Song” in “Still Of The Night” (1987). In case you are not sure, it’s the riff that comes in after the intro singing.

Then there are the obvious clones of “Immigrant Song” in “Hold Her Tight” by The Osmonds (1972) and “Burning” by Sweet (1973).

Music is and always will be derivative. Enjoy.

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Music, My Stories

Rambles and Thoughts

I believe that most metal and hard rock fans have relatively wide musical tastes. A lot of times we come across music that doesn’t necessarily form part of our normal listening habits, but we are still happy with it and enjoy it. The saying normally goes; meet a person rooted in metal and you will find other non-metal music that form their listening habits.

But sometimes we come across people who like to waste their time and energy on hating music that is not metal. You know the ones, who keep on saying it’s not heavy enough, you can’t call this metal and so on. And if you look at the comments to YouTube clips and articles, you can see some serious debates between patriotic metal heads with their fixed mindsets and others. One thing is clear, the patriot will never abandon their valued opinion.

When Grunge hit the airwaves I was cold towards it. But going back to the 70’s musical output in the 90’s and then reading the interviews with the Grunge artists, I saw there wasn’t much of a difference when it came to influences. Those same artists/guitarists that Jake E Lee and Randy Rhoads liked Stone Gossard and Jerry Cantrell also liked. Those same artists that James Hetfield liked, well, Jerry Cantrell also liked em.

Everyone changes. We abandoned sending letters in order to send emails. We gave up dial-up internet for broadband. We gave up analog telephones for mobile phones and eventually smart phones. Typewriters went out in favour of computers. Film cameras got replaced by digital cameras. Laptops replaced desktops and tablets are replacing laptops. So for all of life’s other pleasures, people can change and adapt different viewpoints, but for music, people can’t. Then again there is no rulebook when it comes to music. I remember when Dokken splintered and my friend asked me, who will I support, Lynch Mob or Don Dokken. I said to him, why can’t I support both. Same deal with Motley and Vince, Ozzy and Jake.

But the Classic Rock and MTV acts forgot what their dedicated fans wanted. Metallica taking 8 years to make a new album is completely missing the point. In today’s music world, you need to be in the game. Cut a track today and release it the next. The best music that lasts forever isn’t the music with the best promotions and marketing behind them. The music that lasts forever is the music that fans decide should last forever. We know it when we hear it.

And do we still get that kind of music these days?

Are artists stuck in sequel mania, delivering derivative copies of albums they delivered before, which generates cash, satisfies a few but leaves a lot unsatisfied?

When it’s hard to get peoples’ attention, are artists avoiding the albums where they try to grow and experiment with each release?

What’s the last big blockbuster release we’ve had in the metal or rock world?

That’s right it goes back to 1991 and Metallica’s “Black” album. Even in the 90’s, when the labels controlled the market, there was not a metal or rock blockbuster that topped the “Black” album. But then in 2000, when piracy was decimating the recording business (according to the labels and the RIAA), a band called Linkin Park release an album called “Hybrid Theory” and it became a blockbuster. The follow-up “Meteora” released in 2003 is no different. Having lived through the era of Linkin Park so far, I can say each record is a little bit different from the last. On a few occasions, they kept pushing the envelope and delivered something totally different to what they became famous for while their contemporaries repeated the formula. But Linkin Park is still here, not too sure on their contemporaries.

“What I do best is play thrash music. Having labels and management tell us we had to do a follow-up to “A tout le monde” or we had to do a follow-up to “Symphony” or saying we had to write another radio song—you know, if I could do that, I would, but I’m a thrash guitar player, and I got lucky with those songs.”
Dave Mustaine

It’s about vision and freedom. When Shinedown took the hard rock world by storm with “The Sound Of Madness” in 2007 (their 3rd album by the way), it wasn’t on the back of a huge social media campaign, nor was it with a corporate sponsor. All they did was make great music and the fans did the rest. What a great concept. And Brent Smith has the freedom to create what he wants. No one told Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath what to record. They delivered what they wanted to and the label’s only aim was to sell it. What an amazing concept?

Deliver something fantastic, people will pay in mass

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

Ready An’ Willing

Coverdale posted on Twitter that 31 May is the 37 year anniversary of the “Ready An’ Willing” album. So I called it up on Spotify for a few relistens.

My Whitesnake fandom started with the 1987 album. It was my first introduction and I was hooked. It was so guitar heavy, yet accessible. Sometime after I had the album, I purchased the 7 inch single to “Give Me All Your Love” because of an unknown B-side track. The track in question is “Fool For Your Loving”. I got home, dropped the needle and I was shocked. It sounded like a garage demo compared to the polished 87 album.

But the song was good, so I was curious to hear more. The magazines of the time didn’t really talk much about the earlier part of Whitesnake, so I went to “Rings Music World” (our local record shop) with $10 in pocket change. I looked under “W” and all that was there was the 87 album. I went to the discount boxes and found the cassettes to “Ready An’ Willing” and “Saints And Sinners” for $5 each. So for $10 bucks I had some new tunes to listen to, albeit many years after their release.

The band is what makes Whitesnake roll so good during this period. Neil Murray on bass and Ian Paice on drums lay a solid groove and foundation. Jon Lord on keys is a bit more in the background, compared to his Deep Purple output, however he does offer some cool keys on “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden on guitars are really unsung heroes and veterans of the stage by 1980, while David Coverdale brings it all together with his voice. Plus he’s a pretty cool bluesy guitar player, something he doesn’t get enough recognition for.

The album leads with “Fool For Your Loving”. The track was originally written for BB King and it went on to become Whitesnake’s first hit. I was asked by a friend which version do I like better, the 1980’s version or the 1989 version. My answer is both. The original version has that bluesy feel which I dig, while the 89 version has the Steve Vai modern feel which I also dig. Both are different, but the essence of the song is still there.

“Sweet Talker” is a breather before the sleaze and roll of the title track. “Ready An ‘Willing” has one of those addictive foot stomping grooves that still works today. It’s a timeless song, in the same way “Fool For Your Loving” is. While “Carry Your Load” has this Beatle’s vibe that sounds fresh, it’s “Blindman” which is the piece’de’resistance on this album.

“Blindman” is one of my favourite Whitesnake songs. Yeah it might sound similar to “Soldier Of Fortune”, but hey, that’s music. My wish would be for “Blindman” to achieve the same love as other Whitesnake songs.

Like a Blindman
I can feel the heat of the sun
But like a Blindman
I don’t know where it’s coming from

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own.

“Love Man” is a 12 bar blues dirge. “Black and Blue” is another 12 bar blues rock and roll drinking style of song. “She’s A Woman” is “Black and Blue” part 2. Personally, the last three songs are pure filler, but the first six are not.

Happy 37th Birthday.

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