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

Look What The Copyright Dragged In

It’s sad reading the stories below, because it shows how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.

There are copyright battles happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.

Because if being creative on the accounting side for the labels isn’t enough, they also need to have police gestapo like powers. And remember that Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.

Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co- creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales.

If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Other cases, got judges that had backgrounds in the copyright industry, so guess how those cases turned out. A victory for the copyright corporation.

The “Spinal Tap” case is a perfect example of a large corporation using copyright to benefit the corporation instead of the creators. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.

In other copyright news, the creators of TV show “Empire” got sued by another person who claimed that “Empire” is based on his script called “Cream” which he pitched to the show runners 8 years ago. Both shows centred on a black record label executive.

Yep, that was the similarity between the two scripts and the judge basically said, an African-American, male record executive is un-protectable.

Is the creator of the “Cream” script to blame here?

No.

The blame rests solely with the movie studios and the record labels who lobbied hard to get copyright extended to these current terms (life of the creator plus 70 years). Instead of assisting the public domain and giving people an incentive to create, these organisations are intent on destroying the public domain and giving people an incentive to sue, because hey, someone stole their idea. Well think of another idea. Or take that original idea and make it better.

And speaking of long copyright terms, remember all those cases involving streaming company payments over pre-1972 recordings, because those high commercial recordings fall under various state laws in the US. Well, organisations were trying to get remastered editions of those recordings passed as new derivative originals so they could come under the current copyright laws that would only benefit the copyright holder, which as we know is usually the organisation and very rarely the creator.

Meanwhile, Disney made a doco about Michael Jackson and they used some of his music in it without asking the Jackson Estate.

The Estate didn’t like that and thought Disney should have asked for copyright permission, in the same way Disney asks other documentary makers to seek copyright permissions from Disney when they make documentaries on Disney. So Disney cited the principle of fair use, a small section in Copyright law, Disney and other large organisations tried to kill off as their actual defence.

Funny how a large corporation which tried to kill off fair use in various copyright revisions are now using it as their defence.

And the copyright dispute is still going on, but it never should have even been an issue. Both organisations are holding on to intellectual property that should be in the public domain because the creator of the said works is dead.

If the creator dies, then there are no more works from that creator, so their previous works fall out of Copyright and become part of the public domain. It’s exactly how the 60s music explosion happened.

And what about YouTube’s Content ID system taking down works that are copyright free.

Isn’t it funny (a lot of sarcasm here) as to how an algorithm created by YouTube to protect the interests of the copyright holders (mainly the large organisations) is now over protecting them, to the detriment of the public domain.

Read the Torrentfreak article to find out how much time is being wasted to “protect the interests of large corporations”. A Professor uploads copyright free music and YouTube is taking them down. Time wasted. The Professor then counter claims and YouTube then restores. Time wasted again to be back at the start again. And the way the algorithm works, it will pick up these videos again in due time.

Seriously, this is the world that Copyright controlled by Corporations has created and for YouTube to exist they needed to create something for the Corporations. And if users uploading copyright free music isn’t a problem, then allowing websites to stream rip videos from YouTube is a problem to the large copyright organisations.

I think people are forgetting that the “users” of the service are responsible for how they use the service. And if the record labels can’t get the message that the users are sending them, then they will continue to miss business opportunities to monetise these users. These users go to so much effort to find videos and use another third party software to stream rip that video. That is a lot of effort there by a user to own music in a digital form.

And YouTube is still in the firing line for not paying the copyright holders fairly. They seem to make billions in ad-revenue and pay thousands to artists.

The article states:

Artists claim that a song needs to be streamed 51.1 million times before they can make the average UK annual salary of £27,600. Revenue is based on the number of streams a video has received and funded through advertising.

It is claimed that YouTube pays creators 0.00054p per stream of music, meaning a track that is streamed one million times would earn about £540. Artists say that 85% of YouTube’s visitors come to the site for music, contributing £2.33 billion to the website’s revenue in 2017.

It’s a new world we live in. People want to get paid right away, even if they have a hundred thousand views. But be careful what you wish for.

Organisations like YouTube have given artists access to a world-wide market instantly. If you compare now to the past,  for an artist in the record label controlled era up to when Napster hit our internet lines, artists needed a record label and a lot of money behind them to have access to a world-wide market.

And this is the model the record labels want back. The gatekeeper control model. And misguided artists are pushing for it. Scary if you ask me.

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

Plagiarists or innovators? The Led Zeppelin paradox endures

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here:

(THE CONVERSATION) Fifty years ago – in September 1968 – the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin first performed together, kicking off a Scandinavian tour billed as the New Yardbirds.

The new, better name would come later that fall, while drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980 effectively ended their decade-defining reign. But to this day, the band retains the same iconic status it held back in the 1970s: It ranks as one of the best-selling music acts of all time and continues to shape the sounds of new and emerging groups young enough to be the band members’ grandchildren.

Yet, even after all this time – when every note, riff and growl of Zeppelin’s nine-album catalog has been pored over by fans, cover artists and musicologists – a dark paradox still lurks at the heart of its mystique. How can a band so slavishly derivative – and sometimes downright plagiaristic – be simultaneously considered so innovative and influential?

How, in other words, did it get to have its custard pie and eat it, too?

As a scholar who researches the subtle complexities of musical style and originality as well as the legal mechanisms that police and enforce them, such as copyright law, I find this a particularly devilish conundrum. The fact that I’m also a bassist in a band that fuses multiple styles of music makes it personal.

A pattern of ‘borrowing’

For anyone who quests after the holy grail of creative success, Led Zeppelin has achieved something mythical in stature: a place in the musical firmament, on its own terms, outside of the rules and without compromise.

When Led Zeppelin debuted its eponymous first album in 1969, there’s no question that it sounded new and exciting. My father, a baby boomer and dedicated Beatles fan, remembers his chagrin that year when his middle school math students threw over the Fab Four for Zeppelin, seemingly overnight. Even the stodgy New York Times, which decried the band’s “plastic sexual superficiality,” felt compelled, in the same article, to acknowledge its “enormously successful … electronically intense blending” of musical styles.

Yet, from the very beginning, the band was also dogged with accusations of musical pilfering, plagiarism and copyright infringement – often justifiably.

The band’s first album, “Led Zeppelin,” contained several songs that drew from earlier compositions, arrangements and recordings, sometimes with attribution and often without. It included two Willie Dixon songs, and the band credited both to the influential Chicago blues composer. But it didn’t credit Anne Bredon when it covered her song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”

The hit “Dazed and Confused,” also from that first album, was originally attributed to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. However in 2010, songwriter Jake Holmes filed a lawsuit claiming that he’d written and recorded it in 1967. After the lawsuit was settled out of court, the song is now credited in the liner notes of re-releases as “inspired by” Holmes.

The band’s second album, “Led Zeppelin II,” picked up where the first left off. Following a series of lawsuits, the band agreed to list Dixon as a previously uncredited author on two of the tracks, including its first hit single, “Whole Lotta Love.” An additional lawsuit established that blues legend Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett was a previously uncredited author on another track called “The Lemon Song.”

Musical copyright infringement is notoriously challenging to establish in court, hence the settlements. But there’s no question the band engaged in what musicologists typically call “borrowing.” Any blues fan, for instance, would have recognized the lyrics of Dixon’s “You Need Love” – as recorded by Muddy Waters – on a first listen of “Whole Lotta Love.”

Dipping into the commons or appropriation?

Should the band be condemned for taking other people’s songs and fusing them into its own style?

Or should this actually be a point of celebration?

The answer is a matter of perspective. In Zeppelin’s defense, the band is hardly alone in the practice. The 1960s folk music revival movement, which was central to the careers of Baez, Holmes, Bredon, Dixon and Burnett, was rooted in an ethic that typically treated musical material as a “commons” – a wellspring of shared culture from which all may draw, and to which all may contribute.

Most performers in the era routinely covered “authorless” traditional and blues songs, and the movement’s shining star, Bob Dylan, used lyrical and musical pastiche as a badge of pride and display of erudition – “Look how many old songs I can cram into this new song!” – rather than as a guilty, secret crutch to hold up his own compositions.

Why shouldn’t Zeppelin be able to do the same?

On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the racial dynamics inherent in Led Zeppelin’s borrowing. Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf were African-Americans, members of a subjugated minority who were – especially back then – excluded from reaping their fair share of the enormous profits they generated for music labels, publishers and other artists.

Like their English countrymen Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin’s attitude toward black culture seems eerily reminiscent of Lord Elgin’s approach to the marble statues of the Parthenon and Queen Victoria’s policy on the Koh-i-Noor diamond: Take what you can and don’t ask permission; if you get caught, apologize without ceding ownership.

Led Zeppelin was also accused of lifting from white artists such as Bredon and the band Spirit, the aggrieved party in a recent lawsuit over the rights to Zeppelin’s signature song “Stairway to Heaven.” Even in these cases, the power dynamics were iffy.

Bredon and Spirit are lesser-known composers with lower profiles and shallower pockets. Neither has benefited from the glow of Zeppelin’s glory, which has only grown over the decades despite the accusations and lawsuits leveled against them.

A matter of motives

So how did the band pull it off, when so many of its contemporaries have been forgotten or diminished?

How did it find and keep the holy grail?

What makes Led Zeppelin so special?

I could speculate about its cultural status as an avatar of trans-Atlantic, post-hippie self-indulgence and “me generation” rebellion. I could wax poetic about its musical fusion of pre-Baroque and non-Western harmonies with blues rhythms and Celtic timbres. I could even accuse it, as many have over the years, of cutting a deal with the devil.

Instead, I’ll simply relate a personal anecdote from almost 20 years ago. I actually met frontman Robert Plant. I was waiting in line at a lower Manhattan bodega around 2 a.m. and suddenly realized Plant was waiting in front of me. A classic Chuck Berry song was playing on the overhead speakers. Plant turned to look at me and mused, “I wonder what he’s up to now?” We chatted about Berry for a few moments, then paid and went our separate ways.

Brief and banal though it was, I think this little interlude – more than the reams of music scholarship and journalism I’ve read and written – might hold the key to solving the paradox.

Maybe Led Zeppelin is worthy because, like Sir Galahad, the knight who finally gets the holy grail, its members’ hearts were pure.

During our brief exchange, it was clear Plant didn’t want to be adulated – he didn’t need his ego stroked by a fawning fan. Furthermore, he and his bandmates were never even in it for the money. In fact, for decades, Zeppelin refused to license its songs for television commercials. In Plant’s own words, “I only wanted to have some fun.”

Maybe the band retained its fame because it lived, loved and embodied rock and roll so absolutely and totally – to the degree that Plant would start a conversation with a total stranger in the middle of the night just to chat about one of his heroes.

This love, this purity of focus, comes out in its music, and for this, we can forgive Led Zeppelin’s many trespasses.

Standard
Derivative Works, Influenced, My Stories, Stupidity

Solo

Full disclosure, I’m a Star Wars fan and I devoured the Expanded Universe content that Disney threw away when they purchased Star Wars.

So, I finally got around to watching “Solo: A Star Wars Story”. I heard the stories of the troubled shoot, the director change and further reshoots.

Eventually the movie is completed and Disney tells every news media it’s expecting a loss on it before it even comes out. Not a good start.

Anyway the movie comes out, in a post “Last Jedi” world, and its basically a heist movie with double crosses, criminal gangs and action scenes. A “Fast And Furious” styled flick set in a galaxy far far away. The concept is good.

But I’m asking myself what is the point of the movie?

I have a similar feeling about the Boba Fett movie in the works.

What is the point of the movie?

If anything the Expanded Universe books which existed before Disney purchased Star Wars told the story better. But those books are not canon.

At least in the Marvel world when the Origin stories come out of certain characters, it feeds the larger Avengers story arc.

We already knew Han did the Kessel Run in record time, did we need to see someone’s version of it?

Actually Lucas and the original trilogy script writers did such a good job explaining the back story of Han that a movie showing his back story wasn’t required.

“Solo” has Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan Kasdan writing. Lawrence wrote “Empire Strikes Back”, “Return Of The Jedi”, “Indiana Jones” movies and a lot more. Lawrence wrote the first “Solo” draft and then handed it over to his son, when he was given “The Force Awakens” draft to write (which also involved re-writes).

It looks like the original Directors couldn’t bring it too life and Ron Howard tried his best to bring an uninspiring script back to life.

The problem these days is movies have a lot of action scenes and hardly any good dialogue scenes. Meanwhile TV shows are winning the story script war hands down.

And do movies need to cost $300 million plus to make. In my view the higher the cost of the movie, the less story it has. And people are attached to a story.

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

What’s A Few Million?

I came across an interview from Vince Neil in Faces USA 1993. Post Crue departure, Vince was the man, the centre of attention. Here are some sections in italics.

Faces: It was announced in late 1992, that you were suing Motley Crue for 25 percent of future profits. Why did you instigate this action?

Vince: they’re trying to keep money that is owned to me. I was in the band from the very beginning, and you can’t kick somebody out of something and say ‘goodbye I’ll see you later’. I helped build up the name Motley Crue to sign the $30 million deal, so it was kind of a slap in the face. All I really want is my fair share. Nothing less, nothing more. They’re saying, “No! No! You can’t have anything because you’re not in the band anymore.” So it’s time for the lawyers to decide. It’s like they tried to throw me out on the streets. I’ve got a family to support.

Faces: What surprised you the most about the reception you received upon your departure from Motley Crue?

Vince: How quickly I was accepted. A lot of the labels had faith in me. I had a lot of different labels that were interested. It was a really exciting process, walking in there and talking with the different companies, like the heads of Geffen and Giant and Epic.

All these corporate presidents were like “Come on, come and be with us.”

I sat in with Mo Ostin at Warner Brothers and all these dudes and I felt so much power in the room. When I made the deal, went “Okay, give me the money I want and a Warner Bros jacket with Bugs Bunny on it and I will sign the deal.”

I went with a Warner Brothers basically because they gave me the money I wanted and the security of being on the Warner’s label.

Faces: Can you tell us what the deal was?

Vince: Eighteen million dollars for 5 records.

Think about the sums.

Motley Crue signed a 5 album deal with Elektra worth $35 million and the singer who wasn’t even the main songwriter then goes and signs a solo deal with Warner Bros for $18 million and 5 albums. It goes to show the value the record label boss Mo Ostin attached to Vince Neil as a marketable product.

And to be honest, the “Exposed” album is a great slab of hard rock during a time when hard rock albums started to disappear from the record store shelves.

But in music, these long term deals very rarely are seen to the end. Two years later in 1995, Vince was no longer accepted, and he had no record deal and no management after “Carved In Stone” disappointed commercially.

The person who signed him, Mo Ostin left Warner Bros in 1994, so it’s safe to say the new team, didn’t really like some of the signings that the old team did.

Even Motley Crue didn’t see the end of their Elektra deal. The people who negotiated the Motley deal in 1992, were no longer at Elektra by 1995 and the new Elektra management team didn’t really care for Motley. All they cared about was the bottom line and Nikki Sixx constantly called out current Elektra boss, Sylvia Rhodes at the groups concerts, even calling her from the stage, so the crowd could tell her to fuck off.

So what’s a few million when bands make the labels multi-millions.

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

Kingcrow

I’ve been listening to the song, “Perfectly Imperfect” on repeat today.

It’s from a band called Kingcrow.

Who, you say?

Exactly, who.

It’s a symptom of the times we live in, where the artists we listen too are unknown and yet their music is connecting on so many levels.

Their new album “The Persistence” came out last week. I didn’t know it came out, I wasn’t a fan, until the title track came up on my Spotify Discover playlist.

And I was interested.

So I called up the album and I started to listen. After track two, I was hooked. You know on some albums, you skip songs, well I didn’t skip any. Now I’m a fan.

And then I came up to the last song, “Perfectly Imperfect”, on my drive home from work.

As soon as the piano chords started I was transfixed. I was driving, I knew what I was doing and yet I was somewhere else. The vocals started at about the 36 second mark.

Won’t let you down
In this silence
Won’t let you blame only yourself
Again

Emotion drips off each melody note.

Then an arpeggiated guitar line comes in from about the minute mark.

Won’t let you down
In this moment
Won’t let you bear this weight alone
Today

Then the drums come in at about the minute-thirty eight second mark with tremolo style distorted chords shimmering in the background, while another guitar line is playing a bendy lick with some digital delay. It all feels like your in nature, with the mountain right in front of you.

Yes, problems are so real
Please give us a chance
Cause let me say it clear
We feel the same way

We’ll take the fall and rise, you know
We’ll take the fall and rise

Then at 2.26 it starts this piano melody that the drummer follows with the middle of the ride cymbal. And you know it’s leading somewhere.

Actually from the start, the song just kept on building with little bits of emotion each time, so when the Chorus comes in from 2.48, it’s soaring, emotive and uplifting at the same time.

Time to go
Two perfectly imperfect
As we are
Time to take this chance

That last section from 3.30 to the end, takes the emotive feel up to 11 and when that octave guitar melody from about 3.55 kicks in, it’s cranked to 12. Add to that the super drumming and the way the fills happen at the end of each 4 bar loop is brilliant.

Who but you
Who but me
Can do it now?
Who can do so?

As soon as I parked the car in the garage, I couldn’t even remember getting there.

So I pressed repeat and listened to the song one more time, in the car. That’s the power of a song. Take the time and give it a listen.

And for Kingcrow, the embryo of the band began in 1996 in Rome, Italy. Yes, they are Italian, and yes, the Italians can create great music, however there are so many people living in bubbles who only believe the best music comes from the US or the UK.

Right now, I’m back tracking their previous releases on Spotify, in the same way I started to seek out earlier Whitesnake and John Sykes albums after the 1987 album infected me.

And if you want to read a review I totally agree with, check it out here.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

11 Crue Years

It was pointed out to me recently how “Generation Swine” and “Saints Of Los Angeles” both came out on June 24, 11 years apart.

How fortunes can change for a band in a decade?

Before 1997, Motely Crue was riding high after “Dr Feelgood”. They renegotiated their Elektra contract for a lot of money and dropped “Decade Of Decadence” with 3 new studio recordings. Life was good.

And then Vince left or was fired (depending on whose story you believe). Regardless, the Crue got Corabi and delivered a stellar self-titled album in 94. But it didn’t sell the way Elektra wanted it too, and since they were footing the bills, they wanted the blond guy back in. Yep, Elektra Records A&R in 1995, referred to Vince Neil as the blond guy.

The Crue camp remained defiant and went ahead writing songs for an album to be called “Personality #9” with Corabi. But money wins in the end and Corabi was out and Vince was back in.

It’s never been confirmed, but the Chinese whispers were in full voice, and the story doing the rounds mentioned how Corabi’s wage was coming from the other guys. Basically, Elektra paid Nikki, Tommy and Mick. Management took their cut, legal took their cut, Corabi got paid a wage and the rest was shared between the other three based on the band agreement.

By 1996, Metallica had gone all glammed up artsy gothic, Megadeth put on flannelettes, Bon Jovi became a balladeer, NIN was becoming a force to be reckoned with, Pearl Jam was at the height of their powers and a band called Smashing Pumpkins was starting to smash the charts around them.

So where did Motley Crue fit into this?

I think even the guys in the band were not sure as well, because when “Generation Swine” came out, you heard it was a confused album.

A few streets away from where I lived, we had this mad super Crue fan called Tony G and when this album came out, we all purchased it on the same day, went home to listen and then met at a park down the road. No one said if they liked it or didn’t. Then Tony G turns up. I asked him what he thought of the album.

“It’s a load of crap”, he screamed. And that was that, we never spoke about “Generation Swine” again because everyone was scared of Tony G. He was older and 6ft 2. No one was going to disagree with him.

Anyway “Generation Swine” did not re-capture their “Dr Feelgood” glory. During the tour, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil punched on and Tommy leaves, then comes back and leaves again. Nikki gets into a slanging match with Elektra and eventually he terminates the contract and somehow gets the copyright of the Crue songs back in the hands of the band. They form their own label and away they go.

Randy Castillo comes in, “New Tattoo” comes out, Randy dies, Samantha fills in on drums, Nikki gets it going with Samantha and his marriage goes to pieces while the Crue play theatres and cancel shows all over the world. I know, their Australian tour got canned. And after “New Tattoo”, the Crue went on hiatus.

In between, they got some stories together and a book called “The Dirt” came out. The band got back together for a few select shows and demand was so huge, those few shows turned into a huge world tour which was encapsulated in the “Carnival of Sins” DVD release.

So a new album was the next logical choice. “Saints Of Los Angeles”, is the album and it’s written by the “Sixx AM” members for Motley Crue. Tommy Lee has no song writing credits whatsoever on this one and to me, it’s a huge loss to the sound and feel. I know people don’t like it, but the album was the right fit for the Crue at that point in time.

If any new fans came across “Saints Of Los Angeles” how could they not like it. It tells the bands story. “Down At The Whiskey” tells the true story of paying your dues and playing for free. “Welcome To The Machine” highlights how record labels rip you off and the album ends the way the band started, “swinging”.

But the thing that blows me away is the rollercoaster ride between “Generation Swine” and “Saints Of Los Angeles”.

If you want to have a career as an artist, you need to be a lifer, and be ready to ride the journey. It’s not always bright lights and success after success. There are hard times and good times. Doors shut and other doors are opened. And when everyone wrote them off, they came back stronger than ever. And signed off the way they wanted to, on their own terms.

For a band who were just average musicians at best, they built a career 30 plus years long. And that period between 1997 and 2008 could have been the end, but it wasn’t.

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

1979 – III

1979 was a year of transition. While some bands were on their last legs, some were just starting to find their own.

Led Zeppelin were coming to an end while Thin Lizzy was on the ascendancy. The Scorpions had bigger things waiting with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Winds Of Change” while Fleetwood Mac and Bad Company delivered stellar albums that unfortunately got compared to their previous mega gazillion selling albums.

Aerosmith became a shell of the band they were with “Night In The Ruts”, while Motorhead after a few up’s and downs with record label crap, got lumped in with the NWOBHM movement starting off and started their brief commercial rise.

Uli John Roth left Scorpions and created Electric Sun, but in all honesty he should of stayed with Scorpions, while a supergroup of “musicians who all had small record deals” got together and called themselves Survivor. “Eye Of The Tiger” was a few years away, but you get to hear a band allowing their influences to shape their sound.

Basically, all the bands on this list just kept on creating, regardless of their status on the record label commercial tree. Because that’s why people get into music, to create. Not because copyright terms are forever or because some label said I will give you money to create.

Here is the playlist.

Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door

For me, Jimmy Page is the main songwriter in Led Zep, much the same way, James Hetfield is the main songwriter in Metallica. And when the main songwriters goes missing, the final output is not so good. Case in point, Metallica and “St Anger” and Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door”. In Zeps case, Jimmy Page was battling heroin addiction and was totally unreliable.

Wikipedia tells me that the album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during its recording. Frontman Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son, Karac Plant, died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Jimmy Page was strung out on heroin and John Bonham on booze.

The story and drama behind the album makes you want to listen to it and to find something to like.

In The Evening

The Middle Eastern influences kick off the song and it’s enough to hook me in. And when the whole band comes in, Page keeps it simple, outlining the synth chords with a repeating guitar line.

Then at 4.28 it changes to a ballad, which is cool because 8 albums in, Led Zep is still trying to be progressive with their song structures, before ramping it back up around the 5 minute mark.

Fool In The Rain

The song could do with some editing, but then again, when the bands controlled the music they produced without any record label interference, this is what normally happens. A band rolls the tap, feels the groove, jams out a song and suddenly it’s on the vinyl.

I wasn’t sure if I was listening to Phil Collins or Led Zep. The beauty of Zep was the many different styles of music they incorporated, without being accused of selling out.

Carouselambra

The synth riff that kicks off the song is epic. No wonder, EVH was so keen to incorporate the synth into Van Halen. As a guitarist, you can make simple guitar riffs, sound really complex on the synth. Not too sure what Plant is singing but the music is enough to make me like it.

There is a cool section from about 3.30 to 4.30 which is progressive and so far removed from the mainstream. But at 10.32, the song could also have been edited down.

All My Love

I dug this song from the first time I heard it. It’s written by Plant and Jones and the vibe/groove of the song connects from the beginning.

And man, that vocal line from Plant is emotive as he references his loss in the same way Clapton did in “Tears In Heaven”.

Scorpions – Lovedrive

If Zeppelin, Metallica, Jovi, Acca, Motley and so many other bands have their whole collection on Spotify why can’t the Scorpions be on it. I kid you not, most of their big albums are not on Spotify Australia (it’s maybe on Spotify in other parts of the world, but us Aussie’s still have to deal with geo-restrictions).

From memory, I really enjoyed the two Michael Schenker co-writes in “Coast To Coast” and “Holiday”.

Out of sight equals out of mind. Eventually people will just move on to something else.

Like Thin Lizzy.

Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend

This was album number 9 for the Lizzy. I didn’t end up hearing this until well into the 90’s and the only reason why I picked it up at a record fair was because Gary Moore stayed in the band long enough to record. In saying that, it didn’t take long for Moore to walk out on the band in the middle of another tour, like how he did in 74 and 77.

My first Lizzy album was “Thunder and Lightning” because it had Sykes on it, and again this purchase was a few years after the 87 album blew up all over the world.

Do Anything You Want To

The drum and bass intro was enough to get me going and when the harmony guitars kicked in, I was sold. It’s written by Phil Lynott and man, he can write a good lyric.

There are people that will investigate you
They’ll insinuate, intimidate and complicate you

Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in and that everybody else is too busy betraying you so they can get ahead.

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I’m saying, it’s true

It’s the same war cry as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” war cry from the mid 80’s.

People that despise you
Will analyse then criticise you
They’ll scandalise and tell lies until they realise you
Are somebody they should’ve apologised to
Don’t let these people compromise you

I like to hang with people, talk about things we like and exchange ideas. And sometimes I listen to people who don’t have a clue about anything and they just won’t shut up. And then there are people who know everything and they just won’t shut up. And in amongst these groups are people who want to break you, spread lies about you, criticise you or shake you down.

Hey you
You’re not that puppet on a string
You can do everything
It’s true

But a lot of people don’t believe they can. Culture and society fosters a fixed mindset and after so many years of being conditioned to follow, it’s hard to believe that you are able to lead.

Elvis is dead
The king of rock and roll is dead

It’s fitting that the song ends with these words as Elvis’s death was still fresh in 1979. And it’s fitting it ends with him, because in the end he did what he wanted. He sang black man music when he was told not to sing it. He danced and moved in a provocative way when he was told not to. He went into movies when he was told to stick with music. He stopped making movies and went back to music when he was told to stick with movies. He did a Vegas residency when he was told to go on tour. The king of rock and roll did what he wanted to do.

Toughest Street In Town

It’s written by Scott Gorham, Lynott and Gary Moore.

Outside the window the neon flashes
In the morning light
Down on the sidewalk there’s a woman with a problem
But she don’t know how to fight
She’s destitute and broken down
She softly whispers, is there no one around
And no one hears the sound
Her knees give way and hit the ground
This is the toughest street in town

Growing up in the 80’s, there was no internet. We lived apart and you knew the people in the street, in the town and maybe some other people in another town. Long distance phone calls were expensive and people sent letters to relatives in Europe.

A lot of us felt there was something bigger, more exciting out there, so we wanted out. And then we had peers who were more than happy to sell narcotics or work in the steel mill.

But the streets were tough.

Tough in the sense, that people would bash you just for the sake of bashing you as new immigrants adjust to life in a new world, with different cultures. But everyone got on as everyone had jobs.

Then when the banks and the copper mill started closing, the drug dealers and hookers moved into the main street. Suddenly, you had a seedy side. And the drug dealers brought with them all the addicts from every nearby town, who would urinate and defecate in front of shop doors, pass out in parks, break into houses and just be general troublemakers. And suddenly we had homeless people in the street and suddenly we had homeless people dying.

It’s just another black spot
Where far too many people have died
It’s just another graveyard
And there’s not too many people left alive

It was a black spot, but the place is being re-born. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. It’s location is excellent and it has one of the best beaches in NSW.

Waiting For An Alibi

Another Lynott composition that kicks off with a funky bass line and some cool harmony guitar lines.

Valentino’s in a cold sweat
Placed all his money on that last bet
Against all the odds, he smokes another cigarette
Says that it helps him to forget he’s a nervous wreck

Before “Cold Sweat” there was “Waiting For An Alibi”. Lynott loved to spin a tale about gambling. Of course the music is totally different. While “Cold Sweat” was a metal gem, “Waiting For An Alibi” is like a funk rock song.

Got To Give It Up

This one is written by Gorham and Lynott and I like the way it starts, with a simple strum of a chord and the chorus vocal line. Then when the distorted guitars kick in, how can you not play air guitar.

Tell my mama and tell my pa
That their fine young son didn’t get far
He made it to the end of a bottle
Sitting in a sleazy bar

He’s singing from experience. It’s about himself, but he’s spinning a story around it.

I’ve got to give it up
I’ve got to give it up
That stuff

He knows he’s got to quit but he cant. The people around him, will not let him.

I’ve been messing with the heavy stuff
For a time I couldn’t get enough
But I’m waking up and it’s wearing off
Junk don’t take you far

It didn’t take him far. It was only a matter of time before the junk creeped up and took him out.

And how good is that outro lead break.

Get Out Of Here

This one is written by Lynott and Ultravox vocalist, Midge Ure.

I used to be a dreamer
But I realise that it’s not my style at all
In fact it becomes clearer
That a dreamer doesn’t stand a chance at all

Get out of here
Get out of here

We all wanted to leave our towns behind and head for the bright lights in the city. These days, kids don’t want to leave home. They are comfortable and comfort is a problem.

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

“Rumours” sold 10 million copies.

So how do you follow it up?

Easy.

You rack up production costs of a million and release a double album which is totally different to “Rumours”. In the process you sell 4 million copies of it and you are regarded as a commercial failure by the label.

The label then comes out to say, “we told them they were crazy for trying to push a double album” as the business was in decline and a few artists were propping up the labels. But the bands had the power in this era, and Fleetwood Mac, like Pink Floyd, did whatever they wanted and the label suits had to follow. This of course changed when the labels created MTV and it shifted power into the labels hands.

To me, it’s the Stevie Nicks tracks that connect.

“Sara” has a piano riff which is repeated all the way throughout the song. “Sisters of the Moon” has a chorus riff which is simple, but addictive. Buckingham is a veteran of colouring the tracks and if you don’t believe me, check out the minute or so outro of the song. It’s emotive and a delight to listen to.

“Tusk” is the other track I like written by Lindsey Buckingham and it’s the drum groove that connects with me. Most pop music today is built around simple drum grooves.

Bad Company – Desolation Angels

This album I didn’t hear until I purchased it from a record fair in the 2000’s.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

A Paul Rodgers cut. I never heard the album when it came out, but I do recall reading how Bad Company had been written off and then bang, they came out firing with a modern sound and a catchy song.

I love the music and I love to see the crowd
Dancing in the aisles and singing out loud, yeah

Rock N Roll music became an escape from the daily grind of life. The people attended the shows and the acts lapped it up. And rock and roll grooved, like this song.

Crazy Circles

While Led Zeppelin morphed into a band with synths in 1979, Paul Rodgers channelled his own Zep spirits and recreated what Zep might have sounded like if they stayed within their roots.

Life is like
A merry go round
Painted horses
Riding up and down
Music takes you
And you’re gone again
Crazy circles never seem to end

Damn right. Music takes you on so many emotive rides. We went to the show to connect. Our memento was the ticket stub and maybe a t-shirt, which once upon a time could only be gotten on tour. Now people go to the show, to say there were there and to film it (like they are going to watch it back later).

Life is like
A game of chance
Some find riches
And some romance
Some find happiness
And some find sorrow
Some find it today
And some maybe tomorrow

Life it a nutshell. Each day is a game of chance. Well it’s meant to be. Maybe, we are too comfortable and in routine that we have forgotten to take chances.

Life is like
A carousel
You aim for heaven
And you wind up in hell
To all the world
You’re livin’ like a king
But you’re just a puppet
On a broken string

So true. How many of us crash and burn trying to be someone we’re not.

Gone, Gone, Gone

Boz Burrell wrote this tune about his baby leaving him, and it’s got a nice distorted bluesy riff underpinning it.

And the beauty of the album so far is that each track sounds different from the one that came before it.

Evil Wind

Paul Rodgers is now channelling what Santana should sound like. The first 4 songs are a knock-out punch combo.

I’ve been gone such a long time,
I never thought I would return,
Now I found myself standing in the rain,
Waiting for your key to turn, yeah, yeah.

You been on the road for so long, it’s not the same when you get home. People have moved on. Once you stop being around, you start to disappear.

Evil wind, passed me by,
Troubled waters, pay me no mind.

You’ve gone through a difficult situation to return home only to find the situation is even more difficult.

I have crossed the waters
That will keep them miles apart,
Now I know the time has come
To make a brand new start.

Acceptance of the situation and acknowledging it’s time to move on.

Aerosmith – Night in the Ruts

It was meant to be called “Off Your Rocker”.

It’s another album I heard well into the early 2000’s. It’s pretty poor to be honest. Joe Perry left midway through the recording, Steve Tyler struggled to complete lyrics and vocals due to his drug use. The label was putting pressure on them to write “another hit”. The band had blown their money up their noises and in order to generate more budget, they went on a tour while the album was half-finished, which led to crap performances and eventually Perry’s departure.

And you can tell that Tyler had nothing to offer.

“Remember (Walking in the Sand)” has a 12/8 groove that hooks me. The credits tell me it’s written by Shadow Morton and to be honest, I still haven’t researched who Shadow is.

“Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)” is a Tyler/Perry cut about a used rubber.

“Mia” is a Tyler piano song.

Motorhead – On Parole
Motorhead – Bomber
Motorhead – Overkill

All of these albums I heard well into the 2000’s. I was actually inspired to check em out, after seeing a Motorhead documentary on “Behind The Music” and the “Classic Albums” documentary on “Ace Of Spades”.

Overkill

After so many false starts, Motorhead finally started rolling with album number 2.  Lars Ulrich credits this song as his first introduction to double bass drumming.

Know your body’s made to move
Feel it in your guts
Rock ‘N’ Roll ain’t worth the name
If it don’t make you strut

All of the 70’s acts started off playing rock and roll/blues covers and somehow they ended up as metallers.

And how good is that outro for the last 30 seconds.

No Class

Shut up, you talk too loud
You don’t fit in with the crowd
I can’t believe you exist
I’ve crossed you right of my list

Lemmy wrote brilliant lyrics. Sometimes I marvelled at how simple, but effective they are. Check out his lyrics for some of the songs on Ozzy’s “No More Tears” album.

Tear Ya Down

I was talking to you all night long
Every line was a favourite song

Who hasn’t done that before?

Trying to pick up by quoting lines from the songs that you knew.

Too Late Too Late

It’s a bonus track.

Did someone say “Paranoid”?

Your credibility
Don’t cut no ice with me
You’re just a feeble con
I know what’s goin on

By 1979, The Lemster had skin in the game with more than a decade of trying to make it. He’s come across untrustworthy business people, especially those associated with the record labels or the live venues.

From Bomber

Album number 3 with a producer high on smack.

Poison

It’s about how Lemmy’s father left him and his mother.

He was poison
I wish my mother wasn’t his wife

Abandonment with our metal and hard rock heroes is real. Is this one of the main motivators to keep driving people to make it?

Stone Dead Forever

You’re a financial wizard, a top tycoon
A sweet lounge lizard, with a silver spoon
You know you never had it quite so good
Cos you didn’t know that you even could
But the time has come to pay
Turns out to have been a play
Whatever happened to your life?
Stone dead forever

It doesn’t matter what you have or all the wealth you have. You will die. It’s simple.

The Watcher

It’s basically a 60’s blues rock song and it’s originally from “On Parole” however it also appeared on the debut self-titled album.

“On Parole” was meant to be their first album but the label at the time United Artists didn’t like it and shelved it until December 1979 after the band had broken through with “Overkill” and “Bomber” released the same year on a different label.

Human greed destroys your sphere
And there’s no room for you out here

Electric Sun – Earthquake

Uli John Roth knew he was a good guitar player. The people around him, told him, so it was no surprise he left Scorpions and went solo. However, writing great songs that crossover and connect to a wider audience is another matter. But writing songs that would influence thousands of other guitarists, well, that’s what Uli John Roth is good at.

Sundown

Cough, “All Along The Watchtower” cough, cough, choke, choke. Still, it’s a great listen and a nod to Dylan and Hendrix’s re-interpretation of Dylan’s song.

I guess he loved Hendrix so much, he was even involved with Hendrix’s girlfriend Monika Dannemann who unfortunately was found dead in a fume filled Mercedes Benz in 1996.

Winterdays

It’s a cool instrumental.

Survivor – Survivor

Check out the production team on Survivor’s debut album.

The producer is Ron Nevison. The engineer is Bruce Fairbairn. The assistant engineer is Mike Clink and one of the mixers assiting Fairbairn is Bob Rock. Every single one of them would go on to produce multi-platinum albums in the 80’s and early 90’s. And overseeing the whole thing is John Kalodner.

For those who don’t know, Ron Nevison produced the “Bad Animals” Heart album, Damn Yankees, Ozzy’s “The Ultimate Sin” and “Crazy Nights” from Kiss.

Bruce Fairbairn did “Slippery When Wet”, “New Jersey”, “Pump” and “Permanent Vacation” along with all of the Loverboy stuff.

Bob Rock did “Dr Feelgood” and the “Metallica” black album, while Mike Clink did “Appetite For Destruction” and “Rust In Peace” by Megadeth.

I remember reading a story in a newspaper after the Rocky IV movie came about and the guys in the band at the time talked about its origins and I was like, wow, this band is like a super group of artists who all had recording contracts with different bands on smaller labels who just couldn’t find their audience.

So what you hear on the debut album, is a band, finding their feet and letting music from their peers influence their sound and song writing.

The opening track “Somewhere in America” is written by Jim Peterik and man it sounds so similar to “Hurts So Good” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Hurts So Good” sounds so similar to nearly every 12 bar blues boogie that came before it.

I need a teacher who can use a pet
Give me a lesson in etiquette
If there is anyone who’d like to try
Maybe she’d like to come and teach me tonight

Are lyrics like this still acceptable today?

With so many movements, and with everyone having a voice via social media, people are too scared to voice an opinion in case they get vilified.

One more other thing worth mentioning here is that Jim Peterik would always talk to a “lawyer” if a song came out that sounded similar to something he wrote, but for some reason it was okay for him to write songs similar to what somebody else wrote. Me personally, I have no issue if songs sound similar, because most of them do. “Somewhere in America” and “Hurts So Good” are similar but one doesn’t take away the glory from the other.

There is a song that Survivor wrote or Jim Peterik wrote called “Is This Love” from 1986 that had a line “Is this love that I am feeling” and there is another little unknown song called “Is This Love” from Whitesnake that came out in 1987 which has a similar line. Jim Peterik went to talk to a lawyer, because according to Jim, he was the only one ever in the history of the world to have thought of that lyric line. But the fact that Bob Marly had a lyric line, “is this love that I’m feeling” in the 70’s is irrelevant. The fact that the term “is this love that I am feeling” appeared in novels since people started writing books is irrelevant.

Breathe. Relax. Move on.

“Can’t Getcha Offa My Mind” is track 2 and it’s written by  Peterik and Frankie Sullivan with a big nod to Journey. Track 3, “Let It Be Now” is very similar to “Hold the Line” from Toto. Quick, call a lawyer. But in all honesty it’s a great track.

“As Soon As Love Finds Me” has a verse riff that Judas Priest would sort of use for “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” a few years after. Otherwise, it’s a cross between ELO and Bad Company to me.

And that’s why I love music, the many connections and links the songs make.

Side 2 opens up with “Love Has Got Me”, and it’s another track written by Peterik and Kiss comes to mind here in the verses while ELO comes across in the Chorus. “Whole Town’s Talkin'” is like it belongs on a Bee Gees album but with a stellar melodic guitar solo.

“Freelance” has a riff that I swear the 80’s LA bands used in every song.  “Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)” is another Peterik cut with a brilliant acoustic guitar intro and the song just keeps on building. It has this climbing riff that sounds wicked. It probably didn’t set the charts on fire, but this song perfectly encapsulates an era and a time to perfection.

Overall, it’s a fun album with 35 minutes of quality material and to top it off, it didn’t even make a commercial dent.

“Rockin’ into the Night”, was written for this album, however Ron Nevison rejected it because it sounded like “Southern Rock”. So it was given to .38 Special and the song became a hit and it gave Jim Peterik another side business, writing songs for others, which of course displeased control-freak Frankie Sullivan.

Susan – Falling In Love Again

The album came out on RCA and there was a running joke that anything that came out on RCA would just go away. Susan (it’s a terrible name for a band by the way) only released one album and their sound is basically a cross between Badfinger and Cheap Trick.

The album is produced by Frank Aversa who I think is the same Aversa who would go on to be involved with Spin Doctors and their big hits.

I Was Wrong

It’s a Ricky Byrd composition and the riff from “It’s Not Love” from Dokken comes to mind and Dokken’s song came many years later.

A Little Time

It’s like Boston merged with the British 60’s rock movement. Guitarist Ricky Byrd shines on “A Little Time,”

Power

I think George Michael would have heard “Power” and recreated it as “Faith”. There is a section in the song, that reminds me of how Candlebox sounded on their debut album.

Guitarist Tom Dickie would go on to form Tom Dickie and The Desires and release a few “New Wave’ sounding albums on Mercury while guitarist Ricky Byrd would join Joan Jett & The Blackhearts for their “I Love Rock N Roll” album and would continue being her lead guitarist until 1993, when Tony Bruno from Saraya took over.

Well that’s it for Part 3 of 1979.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

Standard