Music, My Stories, Copyright, Piracy

Cassette Copying Incorporated

Copying of music has always been there. People once upon a time used to listen to the radio and record songs from it. People used to record video clips from TV music stations. People would make a copy of an LP from their friend or a family member. Hell, we would make copies of a copied album and so forth. In other words, the music industry grew because of copying.

So if we used the buzzword of the modern era, piracy was rampant back in the 80’s. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music taped onto blank cassettes. Every time I visited my older cousin, I was armed with blank cassettes and proceeded to copy albums that he had purchased. I was not alone in doing this, nor was I the first. Most of the music from the seventies that was passed down to me by my brothers was in the same format (blank cassettes that got filled with music).

You know that peak year of sales for the recording business in 1998. Well there is research out there which suggests it was due to two reasons. One reason was people replacing their vinyl collections with CD’s and the other reason is the people who had music on blank cassettes in the 80’s finally having enough disposable income to buy their favourites on CD.

I fit into both reasons because in the 90’s, I purchased every album I had on dubbed cassettes on CD. I re-purchased every LP I had on CD. I went to second hand record shops and purchased LP’s from the Eighties and Seventies very cheap. I was not the only one that did the above.

All of this copying allowed bands to have fans. And fans are not people who just spend money on something because they are a fan. Fans are people who enjoy a particular product. Some fans pay for that product early on while others pay for it later on. Some don’t pay at all. If it wasn’t for cassette copying, I never would have heard the full length albums of bands that didn’t do the rounds on MTV. I never would have heard “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica. After hearing it, “…And Justice For All” was a purchase on release day. It was many years later that an original copy of “Master Of Puppets” came into my collection.

Funny thing, my brothers had a friend with a nickname “Greeny”. He got that nickname because he was a tight arse and even though in Australia we don’t call money “green”, my brothers saw a movie that used the word “Green” as an analogy for money, so Greeny got his nickname.

Now Greeny, would always purchase metal and rock music. It was in his car stereo, I heard Kix “Blow My Fuse”, Bonfire “Fireworks”, Night Ranger “Midnight Madness”, Leatherwolf “Street Ready” and so many more. I always asked to borrow a cassette and make a copy of it, or i asked if he could make a copy of it for me.

And Greeny always said no. He always said, why should he pay $15 for the album, while I paid $10 for three blank 90 cassettes and dubbed six albums from him. So I had to resort to a different strategy. My five fingers would stealthy move and take the cassette from his car, without him knowing. I knew that I had a small time window to dub it before he found out so I would use the high speed dubbing on my stereo to copy it.

When Greeny found out a tape was missing he was always storming over to get his cassette back. In time and before I left the car with my bros he would do a stock take of his collection, so my borrowing days were over. But from borrowing and copying (which the labels call stealing and piracy today), I never would have become the fan of music I am and I probably would have had four houses paid off, instead of having a tonne of grey concert shirts, ticket stubs and a wall to wall record collection.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Speaking Up

It’s hard to speak up today. The status quo is not kind and because we are connected 24/7, people like to work overtime for free in order to be part of the status quo. So when artists write lyrics that reflect society and our politics back at us, people get upset. When I think about the past, people who made real change persisted even when others tried their best to silence them.

Artists once formed the chorus of dissent to social ills and corruption. Once upon a time artists didn’t have millions, so they kept logging the hours, paying their dues to make enough money to live. It’s probably a reason why we got so many songs that still stand the test of time today.

Artists told the record label heads what to do, not the other way around. Of course, in the 80’s MTV made a lot of people global superstars and suddenly artists who had recording contracts and songs which connected, had funds in their bank accounts, however the record label bosses became more powerful that they now told the artists what to do.

Machine Head’s new album is causing division amongst their American fan base. Europe, Asia and Australia really don’t really care about their Anti-Trump stance, however America is divided over it. There is no doubt that fans of MH in the U.S come from different sides of the political debate. It’s expected. No one can agree on everything. If people did, everyone would wear the same outfit, the same colour and so forth. The world would be pretty bland if people all agreed. Wouldn’t it.

It never would occur to me to stop listening to an artist because of a stance they have on an issue. To me, music transcends all of those boundaries. Yeah, some artists have lyrics I don’t agree with, but man, it doesn’t take away my respect for them for having a stance on those issues.

And you know what, if an artist is anti – Wall Street or big finance in general (like the 1%), it’s okay. But these organisations are symptoms of Government granted monopolies, or Government oversight on certain law breaches or Government lack of action due to politicians being in the pocket of these corporations. So the issue always starts and end with the Government. If you don’t believe me, just look at the laws the US tried to pass recently.

Anyone remember SOPA, PIPA or TPA (yes I know it’s back on the table). All of these laws were written by politicians who had massive donations from corporations and corporation lobbyists. They all sat in the same room and wrote laws to benefit their organisations. The public were not allowed to inspect draft texts. This was more prevalent for the TPA piece of legislation. What we knew about the laws came from leaked drafts. Even other politicians who got elected into office, and who stood opposed to corporations couldn’t even see draft texts of these laws.

Imagine that. A legally elected politician who has no affiliation with a corporation was not privy to see a bill that his Government wanted to pass. And this happens all the time regardless of who is in power. It’s been happening since the mid 40’s. And it needs to stop.

Artists are not the enemy. They are mirrors, reflecting the world back to us. What we choose to do with the reflection is a different story.

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Music, My Stories

Remembering The Music

The problem with writing about 80’s music is those who remember it, care about it and those who don’t remember it or did not grow up in it, don’t care about it.

From the 60’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones survived.

From the 70’s The Eagles have survived. Black Sabbath had a golden run with the reunion of the Dio line up in the 2000’s and then with the Ozzy led line up (except Bill Ward got duped out of playing because he was told by them he was unfit. Maybe they should have got an expert opinion). Deep Purple are still creating however depending on who you ask, it’s hit and miss, while their live shows are doing okay numbers, but paling in comparison to Sabbath. Kiss are still a draw on the live circuit while Gene and Paul whinge about album sales being anaemic, so in the last 12 years, we got two albums with two good songs. Rush are retired and the Scorpions maybe should retire as well. Meanwhile Queen are still touring with Adam Lambert.

From the 80’s Metallica dominate everything. Megadeth want to dominate everything. Van Halen are somewhere, doing nothing. Motley Crue are retired and so is Twisted Sister. AC/DC will retire. Skid Row refuse to get back together even though all living members are alive. Bon Jovi still rakes it in on the live circuit, but are creatively bankrupt. Guns’N’Roses will never write another hit again, but will rake it in on the live circuit.

Def Leppard are doing big business on the live scene and now with their music on digital services, expect their tunes to pop up everywhere. Europe took control of their career and their copyrights and are laughing all the way to the bank. Night Ranger exists but no one knows it. Journey gave an unknown a dream gig and toured everywhere because their songs are everywhere and they are timeless. Cinderella had the charts sown up and no one knows their songs these days. Kingdom Come plagiarised everyone, made the record label millions, while they got squat and then got dropped. David Lee Roth, was once the poster boy, in every magazine and now he’s an old man with a tattoo of Elvis on his elbow that talks when his elbow moves.

Whitesnake and Judas Priest are experiencing a renaissance creatively and on tour. Iron Maiden have the live game sown up and still churn out a decent long player. Motorhead are all in heaven or in hell or in purgatory. Ozzy will be retiring as Zakk joins him on his farewell tour. Yngwie Malmsteen is unleashing the fury and Slayer are missing Jeff Hanneman. Stryper asked for Gods help to take back control of their songs and are having a wicked ride enjoying a new creative period.

But for so many of the old hit bands, they have faded into the pages of history. Maybe streaming services will make people access their works easier, but I don’t think they’re going to rise through the noise and time constraints of people’s lives. Bands like Ratt and Dokken are shadows of their former selves. Quiet Riot has no original members in it, but delivered a solid album with James Durbin on vocals which no one has heard.

Slaughter can’t get themselves together to record an album, because it’s easier for ¾ of the band to go on the road with Vince Neil and play Motley hits. Dio songs are in car commercials. Poison, Warrant and Extreme ruled the charts once and now they play their greatest hits to a few hundred people. Queensryche exists in two different versions and so does Great White.

Anthrax and Scott Ian are still lamenting that sales are not the metric anymore for a successful album, while Volbeat have shown that streams lead to sales and an aggressive live show conquers all. Y&T rock Europe and do okay business. WASP cannot eclipse their debut album, even though “The Headless Cross” and “The Crimson Idol” are better albums. White Lion and Vito Bratta ruled everything for 36 months between 87 and 89 and when sales started to go downhill, so did Vito’s drive.

But for those of us who lived it, these artists inhabit a special place inside us, where our memories are triggered by the melodies and distortion. Play a Top 100 Rock list from the 80’s and you’ll be surprised how many songs you can sing along to.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Appetite For Copyright

Seriously you can’t make up the madness that Copyright comes up with these days.

It looks like the music labels will get even more richer. Facebook is making licensing deals with all of them so users are allowed to upload their own videos to copyrighted music.

Of course musicians can earn royalties from the views/plays, but how much of the licensing fee is going back to the musicians, because it’s those works the label used in the negotiations. So far Universal and Sony have made the deal and Warner Music Group is in conversation.

And music creators believe a government bill increasing the royalty rate services that play music need to pay, will increase the payments get back. Umm, it won’t. The record labels and publishers will have more money in their bank account and the creators will still get the payments they always get based on their publishing and label contract.

And seriously how many times are we going to read how the music industry’s revenue declined to about $15 billion in 2015, from the $40 billion it brought in around 1998. First, those figures are about the RECORDING industry, not the music industry. The music industry encompasses income from tours, merchandise, radio royalty payments, licensing and sales of recorded music. Sales of recorded music is just one portion of recorded music. And if the people who are writing the songs are not getting paid, then they should be renegotiating their agreements with the organisations.

And being a music creator doesn’t guarantee you an income.

Then again, suing other artists for creating a song which is similar to another song has become a new income model for businesses who hold the copyrights of songs. And these cases bother me, because it sets a precedent that the person suing has created an original piece of work, in a vacuum, free from influence and other songs that came before it.

Here are two more suits around copying.

Ed Sheeran and Tim McGraw are being sued by Australian songwriters. Seriously, how many suits has Ed Sheeran faced in the last 5 years.

And then you have Boomerang Investments, the copyright holder to songs written by Harry Vanda and George Young suing an American band for their 2011 song, “Warm In The Winter” because it contains a line “love is in the air” with a similar melody. Now I have heard interviews from Vanda and Young back in the day where they state how classical music is a great influence for writing melodies.

The issue with this case is not the copying or the similarities, it is the fact that Air France paid a license fee to use Glass Candy’s song and the subsequent song is now making decent money.

And somehow people own the copyright to white noise. You know that noise you hear when you can’t find a TV channel. Suddenly on YouTube, a video containing “white noise” had a copyright complaint made against it. What’s next, copyright complaints against songs featuring distorted guitars. It’s madness.

Read about the white noise takedowns here and here.

And Spotify is still getting sued for licensing issues over songs played on the service. Someone is always aggrieved. Check out the text from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Spotify hired Harry Fox Agency (HFA) to obtain the correct licenses, which Wixen calls “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.” Moreover, the complaint alleges, “Spotify knew that HFA did not possess the infrastructure to obtain the required mechanical licenses and Spotify knew it lacked these licenses.”

You see, this is what happens when you create a law that creates a monopoly, which in turn gives rise to corporations who become powerful entities. Wixen is not about helping the creators and paying them the correct monies. They are all about their own pockets. People who have created no value and no art which is popular, living off the hard work of others.

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

Catharsis

I have no issues with lyrics of any kind whether they are political, about social classes, racism, war or just having a good time. I also have no issue with artists I like taking a stance and commenting on what they see is the state of the world. Opinions are important whether you agree or disagree with them.

Robb Flynn is an artist. First and foremost, as an artist, he has a duty of care to himself first. The art he creates needs to satisfy him first. If it doesn’t, what is the point. What is the point of creating art if you write factory art. On occasions, the art an artist writes for themselves ends up going global and on other occasions it doesn’t.

So it’s no surprise that on “Catharsis”, Robb Flynn is giving his take on the world. It’s not pretty, but no one said the six o’clock news is pretty. And there is no denying the power of the message in the songs, regardless of what political party you support.

Volatile
“It’s an angry, brutal song. We’ve had long intros on the last five or six albums, so it was time to start with something direct and violent.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Musically, this is a classic MH song.

Sick of the white folks privileged and vain
Protesting the culture that isn’t the same

Sometime in the past, our leaders started to serve the corporations. Those lobby dollars became too great to refuse. Many years later, those corporations leaders are now leaders of nations. They bought their way in. It’s real and it’s happening. We need a reset, an anti-corruption watchdog for politicians, who can assess if these politicians serve the people or the corporations. Then again, give this body enough power and it will become corrupted like the rest. It’s a vicious power vacuum.

Dead, dead and bloated
These times are volatile
There’s no room left for you

The bed of music under the chorus is brilliant. And there is truth in these lines. Our times are so volatile there is no room for nothing else. We seem to move from conflict to conflict. Terrorist attack to terrorist attack. Mass shooting to another one. And it just keeps on going.

Sick of the racists, sick of this shit
Sick of them telling me its immigrants

I am sure that people know that Apple, Google and Amazon are all founded by immigrants. Spotify is an immigrant product from Sweden.  Marc Randolph, one of the Netflix co-founders is a son of an immigrant. Immigrants don’t come to a country to bomb the hell out of it. They come for a better life. And with all races there are people who do things which puts a stain on the name of the race. Based on our leaders reasoning, when a person from their own race commits sickening child offences, do we assume that all people from that race are the same sickos.

Sick of the phonies on my phone screen
Sick of the NRA trying to scare me

The amount of mass shootings that happen in the U.S is a worry. When nothing is done about it, its a bigger worry. However, if the mass shootings happened to be linked to a terror organisation, there will be changes to legislation straight away, which will give Governments more spying power and further reduce its peoples’ privacy and liberties.

Break it, smash it, burn it to the ground

It’s been our evolution. Humans will be known for building, smashing and burning. And those lines work in the slower groove.  When I first heard the song, I thought Robb was singing, break it, smash it, bullet through the crowd.

And man, when they get to the lead break, it’s pretty full on.

Catharsis
“This is a special song. The lyrics say it all: ‘The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins / If these words are my fists, this is my catharsis.’ That crystallised everything we were trying to say.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The transition from “Volatile” into “Catharsis” works. It isn’t your usual crushing Machine Head song. It has atmospheric keyboard samples in the forms of strings and piano to kick it off and when the guitars come in with the open string riff, you know you’re in MH territory. And the structure of the song is experimental and I dig that.

I could never be another brick in the wall
You’ll remember me
As you break all our spirits down and push us to the ground
Call me a fool with a gasoline can
Burn it f down, start it over and over again

The powerful all want us to have jobs, so we can take out loans. Once we take out loans, we are in a cycle of repayments. Basically we are just bricks in the wall. When we crumble or die, another person replaces us. It’s a vicious cycle. But, people can make change if they are not so easily swayed over money. Hell most bands lose members over money arguments.

The only thing keeping me sane
The music in my veins
And if these words are my fists
Can you feel my catharsis?

It’s a primal scream. To me, music is king. We went to the shows to commune with the band and to make our lives complete. Today, going to the show is seen as  “a look where I am, look what I am doing” promotion job on social media. Hell, I was at a Metallica show with people who turned up so they could say they went to a Metallica show, but they don’t own any of their music and really don’t listen to em.

Music once upon a time was as important as water and electricity. My Dad told me, the first thing he did when he got his house was to set up the stereo. And I’ve kept the same motto.

And how can you not start to get ready to lose your mind when the military style snare pattern at 3.39 starts. It’s a perfect example of how you do bridges and interludes.

The lead work after two songs is stellar. And really after hearing the first 2 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

Beyond the Pale
“It’s a straight-ahead Machine Head song, about embracing being outsiders and misfits. ‘I found my heroes / The freaks and zeros!’ That sums it up.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I am skin and bones, broken stones,
See the scars that I show.
I live outside the bounds, in the unknown.

It’s a cool opening lyric line.

And yeah, the main riff sounds similar to Strapping Young Lad’s “Love” which Devin Townsend has said he’s flattered and the Chorus of “Love” was influenced by “City Of Love” from Yes and the cycle continues. Take what came before, tweak it and release it. And you know my views around riffs, progress is derivative.

And if people like SYL “Love” then there is no reason why they shouldn’t like “Beyond the Pale”. The mosh pit will go off when the chorus kicks in.

Beyond the pale,
I found salvation, emancipation.
Beyond the pale,
I found my heroes: the freaks and zeroes.

Metal music is about embracing the ones spurned by the mainstream and the popular. Then metal became popular and everything changed. Suddenly, popular metal bands were not cool, because of their popularity and metal started its fragmentation into different record label genres.

I’ll break down every wall, fight and claw.
Take their punches, stand tall,
My middle finger raised, so fuck em all

It’s a revolution. Musicians have been saying the same message since the 70’s. Why is it any different today?

And the two duelling leads works. And really after hearing the first 3 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

California Bleeding
“This is a dumb song full of ignorant s, ha ha! It’s about my love/hate relationship with California. It’s a balls-out, rockin’ song, I think.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The intro hooks me, the Chorus is cool and when the intro comes up again at 2.25, I was hooked.

And the lyrics are a blast.

I’m not the billionaire class, from San Lorenzo with the trailer trash

Take that all you social media users who portray a perfect life.

Sail me down the river, temper like a trigger
Take a shot of vodka, blow out my liver
California’s bleeding me

Angels and Demons live in California. Our quest to have a good time also carries it’s risks.

Highway 5 down to 99, I’m getting head near the Fresno sign

Brilliant.

Triple Beam
“I’m just gonna say, ‘This is a nu metal song’ ha ha! It came together super-quick. You’re basically hearing the first time that we ever played that song and the first time I ever sung it.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, this song could have been a left over from “Supercharger” and should have been left off this album. But If I’m being honest, if this song was released back in 99, I probably would be cranking it based on the main riff, because in 1999, these kinds of riffs sounded heavy and original but now the whole thing seems recycled.

Kaleidoscope
“Again, it’s about the power of music. I’m not a religious guy, but music is as close as I get. The line, ‘Songs fill what religion won’t’ says it all.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

This hole in my soul
Songs fill what religion won’t
No hope, I can’t cope
Music plays in kaleidoscope
And if I’m lost
I don’t want to be found
Haunted by sound

The Chorus is a stand out and when the second verse starts off with the lyrics, “Open up the floor and start a pit, this shit is building up inside of me”, you know there will be circle pits.

Catatonic ignorance, the cronies run the show
Preying on our differences, divide and conquer the low

And it’s been that way for centuries. Will it ever change?

Bastards
“Bastards is a straight-up folk song. I would relate it to Springsteen and Tom Petty, but it’s still Machine Head. It’s probably the most important song on here.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I liked it when Robb Flynn released his acoustic YouTube take months before the album and I like it now. It’s different for MH but it works and those tapped arpeggio lines under the simple D, A, Bm, G chords ties it all together.

The vocal melody in the chorus, when Robb is singing, “Stand your ground, Don’t let the bastards grind you down, Be bold, Be strange, Don’t let their fears make you afraid”, how can you not like it?

It’s an anthem and no different to the messages from the 80’s. The difference between then and now is that we smoked in the boys room, felt the noise and sang together, we’re not going to take it. Now we are older and in a different fight for our lives and futures. Those baby boomers born after WW2 infiltrated our government in the 80’s and became its leaders in the mid 90’s. And this generation does not care about the past or the future. All they care about is now. And we cannot let these bastards drag us down. Because they will crash and burn. Everyone does. It just takes time and it starts with us.

Screaming At The Sun
“This is one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It’s pretty straight-ahead, but we went into some very weird places after writing this one.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I really dig the riff on this one, the middle eastern feel, even the Arabic sounding vocal melody.

And that section at 2.38 works.

They see you blinded us, reminded us of all that’s ugly

Life is not perfect. We get blindsided by events or people. Sometimes the improbable becomes the probable. How we respond is what defines us.

Behind A Mask
“It’s all clean vocals. It’s all acoustic. It’s essentially unplugged. We’ve explored a lot of melody and harmonies on this record.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Now this song is not what I expect from MH, but I like how they did it. It’s like Staind merged with Days Of The New and to me, it’s a pretty cool combination.

The Chorus is mad on this one, how the vocals are orchestrated. How can you not like it?

The old man sits alone staring at the screen
And contemplates these failures, done to his family
Cause depression’s bottles come along and filled his whiskey glass
With every sip put to his lips, erases all the past
So he tells another little lie and tells another tale
In hopes to spare the family and hide his private hell
But the more the words come out of him, like little cuts and scabs
Tearing at the tender hearts who gaze upon a mask

The verse is powerful. How we deal with our past skeletons later on in life is crucial. For some people, everything is perfect and they did nothing wrong. For others, they realise their mistakes, their ways and they try to make amends.

Heavy Lies The Crown
“It’s an epic and it’s about Louis XI, the Spider King of France. I’m a history buff and it’s just a great story. He’d weave these elaborate webs of deceit!”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

It’s like a movie soundtrack. And when that riff kicks in, it’s yeaahhhhhhhhhhh time.

I slink along the boulevards and listen to the streets
The avenues and gutters give me truth to speak

And it’s in the streets revolutions start. It’s in the streets wars are won and lost.

Psychotic
“This one’s gnarly. It’s ugly and pissed off. I guess we could try to write more hits for the radio, but that’s just not how I write, you know?”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, the song is ugly alright. The intro is cool and so is the music in the chorus and that 12/8 section which is like a bridge is also cool. I would love to hear these sections fleshed out in future songs.

Grind You Down
“The phrase ‘stand your ground’ from Bastards appears in a few songs, including this one. Another classic MH rager.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Man why did MH have to put that melodic chorus in this song.  And why did that have to put that speed metal section from about 2 minutes in this song.

Razorblade Smile
“This one turned into a tribute to Lemmy. I just started writing lyrics and all this crazy, debauched st just came out. It’s totally Motörhead.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Something about this songs feels so familiar, I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s a more rocking version of “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” or maybe it’s the “Painkiller” start. When that double kick comes in after the intro riff, how awesome is it.

And that riff from about 1.45, I could be screaming “Die”, like in Creeping Death. Love it…

I got a razor blade smile and a cocaine tongue
I got a boner for miles, I’m slinging loads for fun
Carry a whiskey brown suitcase loaded with hash
I’m eatin’ pussy by a dumpster, beard stinking like snatch

The funniest lines I’ve seen in lyrics for a while. Brilliant.

Eulogy
“It’s a pretty dark end to the record, but the lyrics to Bastards pop up again. Late on, I realised that the songs have the same chords. That was kinda weird.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Should have been dropped from the album.

So if I put my John Kalodner hat on and I had to bring the album down to 10 songs…..

Side One

Volatile
Catharsis
Beyond The Pale
California Bleeding
Kaleidoscope

Side Two

Hope Begets Hope
Bastards
Razorblade Smile
Behind The Sun
Heavy Lies The Crown

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