Music, My Stories

My $80 Score

My last Record Fair review can be found here. It was five years ago and at that time my record music fair score cost me $85.

This one was at Hurstville while the one I went to in 2014 was at Parramatta.

This time I went for Vinyl and came back with a shit load of CD’s instead. Because I was pissed off at how the sellers exploited the metal and hard rock fans when it came to vinyl prices.

Any record from any artist that could be classed in this genre was listed as $30 and above. Seriously these are second hand records. Some of them are in mint condition and others are not so good. But they are second hand. Even bands which could be considered obscure had a large price tag attached to their LP’s. Bands like Shotgun Messiah, Abbatoir, Boss and Tangier are four that come to mind.

And any Maiden, Kiss, Metallica or any band still doing the rounds was $50 plus. If it was a picture vinyl it was $70 plus. If it was a double album, $100 plus and on and on and on it goes. This same exploitation was there five years ago.

One of the sellers had the 7 inch single of “Chainsaw Charlie” from WASP. It didn’t have a price on it and all of the other 7 inch singles in the box were $5 or less.

I asked the seller for a price and he asks me if I’m interested in it. I say I am, depending on the price. He replies back with $50. I reply back, that’s way too much. And he goes to me, how much am I willing to pay for it and I hold up the 7 inch single for Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” which is $5 and go, that much. He replied, “no chance” and that was that.

I think these sellers forget why people go to record fairs. It’s to find music at prices way below retail.

Anyway, here is the list of the of CD score.

AFI – December Underground (I have a burnt copy of this on CD).

Cold Chisel – East (I already own this on LP).

The Black Crowes – Three Snakes and One Charm (I have a burnt copy of this on CD).

The Goo Goo Dolls – Gutterflower (I do not own this on any format).

Powderfinger – Dream Days At The Hotel Existence (I do not own this on any format because Powderfinger is my radio band. In other words, since their singles are constantly on rotation on Australian radio, I never felt the need to buy or listen to the albums. But for $2.50 each, it was a no brainer).

Powderfinger – Vulture Street (same as per the above. Actually I own just one album from Powderfinger and that is “Internationalist” album with the excellent “Passenger” song).

Metallica – Hardwired… To Self- Destruct (I have listened to it on Spotify since it came out and when I saw it for $5 at the Record Fair, it was a no-brainer).

Bruce Springsteen – Chapter and Verse (I do not own this in any format and since I downloaded the book to read, again for $5, it was a no brainer).

Manowar – Fighting The World (I already own this on LP. ).

Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box (I always wanted to have this box set package since I saw it advertised at the start of the 90’s.)

Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning (A Spotify band for me, and now I have their music on CD).

Dead Letter Circus – The Catalyst Fire (As per the above).

Trivium – The Crusade (I actually purchased this 5 years ago at the last music fair I went to and I purchased it again at this one because I forgot I purchased it. I also had this on mp3 previously).

The Tea Party – Edges Of Twilight (I had this on CD before and I re-purchased it again at this music fair because I thought I didn’t have it).

Genesis – We Can’t Dance (I do not own this on any format).

Hole – Celebrity Skin (Another radio band and even though I know I can listen to the songs on Spotify, for $2.50, it was a why not).

The Butterfly Effect – Imago (I forgot that I already own this on CD, so now I have two copies).

Dead By Sunrise – Out Of Ashes (I had an mp3 download of this album).

Hellyeah – Hellyeah (I had an mp3 download of this album).

Hellyeah – Band Of Brothers (Like Metallica, I listen to this album on Spotify).

Sevendust – Alpha (I had an mp3 download of this album).

Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want (I do not own this on any format).

Faith No More –  Album Of The Year (I do not own this on any format).

Faith No More – Angel Dust (I have a burnt copy of this on CD).

White Stripes – Elephant (I do not own this on any format).

Rush – Working Men – DVD

Rush – Snakes and Arrows Live – DVD

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

Piracy

The debates and arguments never cease. There is no doubt that piracy has grown the fan base of established acts but it hasn’t brought the recorded income with it. For newer artists, look no further than Ed Sheeran, who used peer to peer services to spread his music. Without it, he wouldn’t be the megastar he is.

Researchers also try to quantify how ticket sales equate to people who pirated music. And there is a lot of research out there supporting it. Metallica post Napster started to play stadiums on their own. They rarely did that previously. On top of that, Metallica tested the waters on ticket prices.

Read this interview about how they seized the moment.

I know I became a fan of a lot of bands because of pirated material. Bands like Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Shinedown, In Flames, Evergrey, Killswitch Engage, The Night Flight Orchestra and Corroded just to name a few. And I had no qualms paying ticket prices if these bands came to town.

High profile bands from the Eighties also had a renaissance in the 2000’s because of pirated material. Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Europe and Whitesnake come to mind immediately.

In the same way MTV gave the Seventies bands another chance in the Eighties, piracy gave all the Eighties acts who had some traction another chance in the Two Thousands. Provided they still wanted to work together. Bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant and Dokken unfortunately missed out because key members hated each other.

It’s a pretty simple business model.

Have your music available worldwide for free and people will access it.

All of those bands mentioned above have played cities they’ve never played before and to crowds larger than before. They played these cities without selling any real recorded product in those cities.

But the Copyright holders still complain.

Seriously, is stream ripping really an issue these days. Think about the work/time involved to rip a stream. The people who are doing all of that are not interested to pay for recorded music. Those people will pay via other methods.

I can tell you that in Eastern Europe, I have not come across a legitimate music shop. The few shops I have come across (and I use that term loosely) sell rips of albums. So how do you think the people in Eastern Europe will access music.

In most cases, they will download a copy of the album. But that hasn’t stopped bands from hitting Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Russia on tours. And streaming services are fragmented. Spotify is not available in Serbia, Romania and Russia. Apple Music is available in Russia, but not in Serbia and Romania.

And YouTube is always to blame when it comes to stream ripping, but all the service did was to provide a gap that existed in the market, which Napster highlighted and the labels tried to kill.

Seriously if stream ripping us an issue, then video ripping of video clips in the 80s would also have been an issue.

Who knew that my video ripping ways would end up being a $2000 a year music habit.

It happens. People start to invest when they are ready or have the means to. And again if there is no artist to fan relationship, all of these issues the labels find are pointless.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Utopia Records

It had the motto “The Home Of Heavy Metal” and for a long time it was my home.

I first visited the store when it was located in Martin Place, Sydney. It was basically a tiny hole in a wall. Actually the first location in Martin Place was from 1978 to 1980 and the second location in Martin Place was from 1980 to 1990. The second place is the one that I remember.

As mentioned it was tiny, but packed with metal and rock vinyl from every band I could ever imagine and more.

I’d never seen pictured vinyl before, well Utopia had them. I’d never seen 12 inch singles of metal bands before, well Utopia had them as well. And those yellow and black plastic bags with the logo and branding proved to be a badge of honor. It’s like we got patched in to the club the same way bike gangs patch in their members.

I remember the stories about the owner, how he couldn’t get a job at other Sydney record stores and he borrowed some money from his Dad, imported some boxes of vinyl, got himself a business partner and the rest is history.

Then from 1990 to 1995, they moved to Clarence Street, Sydney, not too far from the original shop. Instead of getting off at Martin Place, I would get off at Wynard.

It was bigger but below street level. Actually you walked in at street level and proceeded to go down a few flights of stairs. If I didn’t go up to visit, I ordered via mail. Lynch Mob’s “Wicked Sensation” on LP and Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” on CD are two purchases i distinctly remember via mail.

I waited in line for a Sepultura meet and greet because my cousin Mega was a fan of the band. He took in his battered snare skin for signing. Even Igor the Sepultura drummer was impressed at the brutality of the snare skin.

Hours would be spent here and some big decisions would be made as to what to buy between my cousin and I. Then as soon as we got back to my cousins house I would dub the records he purchased and he would dub the records I purchased.

From 1995 to 2001, they moved to George Street, Sydney next to Hungry Jacks and then from 2001 to 2006 they moved across the road under the cinemas. For these stores I would get off at Town Hall.

Again, another step up in size and a lot of my money went Utopias way.

Between 2001 and 2003 I was working as an Insurance Broker in Sydney, about a 10 minute walk from the George Street store and I got a few of my band mates and some metal friends jobs with the same company.

Even though we had corporate haircuts and wore three piece suits, you couldn’t take the metal out of us metalheads. Twice a week we would venture into the store and of course we would get some funny looks like what the fuck are these guys doing here. But we always purchased something. After about a month it was the norm to be seen there in a suit.

But for some of the stuff I was after, the prices did border on the ridiculous. I remember the John Sykes solo albums listed as Japanese Imports and they had $50 on them. I already had downloaded them via Napster but wanted the originals. I got em eventually via Amazon in 2010.

And for the music I was seeking, the second hand shops, the record fairs and other smaller independent shops started to prove better value. Because the bigger Utopia got, the uniqueness culture it cultivated got lost.

Eventually online and especially Amazon proved to be the place to go and purchase what I needed. That was until Amazon closed their US site recently to us Aussies because they didn’t want to charge GST and the Aussie Amazon site is a total waste of space.

The last time I walked into Utopia was at an address on Broadway in Sydney. I actually drove to this store and parked at The Broadway Shopping Centre.

They occupied this store between 2006 to 2010. By then I felt it was a shadow of itself. Peer to peer downloading was at full swing. I still purchased some albums because that’s what I do but it felt weird being there. It felt barren and totally void of the culture that made Utopia popular.

But during this time they did things differently by having live bands in store and battle of the bands contests. They kept it going. They kept the name in the conversation.

From 2010, they have been at their Kent Street address and I haven’t been.

I either purchase from the bands directly these days those super deluxe box sets or I stream. And on Record Store Day, there is a shop locally called Music Farmers that stock the releases I’m always after.

But I will return, because that’s what us Metal fans do.

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

The One You Loved Is Gone

What a solo from Slash! Actually two solos.

But it’s the middle one that hooks me.

It’s one of those moments that brings a smile to my face. You feel the emotion in the phrasing and the note bends. It’s on par with his “Estranged”, “November Rain”, “Sweet Child O Mine”, “Civil War” and “Don’t Cry” solos.

The way Slash starts off the solo in the lower register playing G major pentatonic notes in the open string position, then sliding up to the 5th fret position of the scale and finishing up on the 10th fret position of the scale. It’s a lesson on using the modes of the scale and a lesson in constructing a solo to any wannabe guitarist.

Each time he moves up the neck it’s by sliding and he bends the fuck out of those notes either half a step or a full step.

And this is where Slash is a natural.

He bends the string before he picks it, so when he does pick the string, the listener hears the bent note first and then when Slash eases off the pressure on the string, the listener then hears the natural note. This is a special skill as Slash must know the right pressure to apply to the string to achieve the right pitch for the bent note.

For example, Slash will have his finger on the 7th fret on the G string. This is a D note. But what he will do is to bend the string so the listener hears the E note first. And then he will release the pressure so the listener hears the D note.

Other guitarists will pick the D note and bend up to the E note and back. It’s easier as you hear the D note and your ears can guide the bend to the E note.

But Slash, while he also employs this technique goes a step further and pre bends to the E note and when he picks it, it’s spot on the pitch.

Of course Slash isn’t the first to this. But he is the one we are talking about now.

And that acoustic intro where Slash takes an open C chord shape and plays it on the 10th fret of the 5th string to make a G chord and then he plays an open G chord on the 10th fret of the 6th string. It’s brilliant and again, he’s not the first to play open string chord shapes higher up on the neck but he does it in such an assessable way.

This combination between Slash and Myles is musically excellent. And yeah, it might sound like an Alter Bridge song, but that solo is 100% pure grade Slash.

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A to Z of Making It, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

The Discrimination Against Grassroots Clubs

We played a tournament recently that involved accepted grassroots and representative teams. The difference between grassroots and representative teams is money. The parents of kids who play in grassroots pay no more than $200 in registration, while the parents of kids who play in representative teams pay $2500 in registration.

So now that you know the difference you should understand what happens in these tournaments.

The tournament had three high performing grassroots teams enter an age group. They put all those three teams into one group with two low performing representative teams. So that meant 5 teams in Group A. The other two groups (B and C) had four teams each and all representative teams.

Now for the interesting part, only the team that came first in Group A would progress to the Semi Finals, not the team that came second. So effectively, the Governing State Body ensured that the high performing club teams knocked each other out, so only one would survive to make the semi-finals with three representative teams (who by the way played cross over matches of 1 v 3, 1 v 3 and 2 v 2 to decide the three SF spots).

Basically, the Club teams needed to come FIRST to get a spot in the SEMI FINALS and the representative teams could have come first, second or third and they still had the same chance.

However if they put these three club teams in each group, there could be a possibility that the semi-finals could involve the three club teams and one representative team.

And this is how discrimination occurs to protect an income source.

You have footballing associations so scared of failure and the brand damage which might come with it, they use their local area monopolistic power to influence everything.  If three club teams made it to the semi-finals of this tournament, how can the representative teams justify their inflated fees.

Imagine a starting line for a second.

All the kids that play football (soccer) are lined up on the starting line. A person says for all the kids who play football to take a step forward. And all of them do. The person then says, take a step forward if you want to play professionally and 80% of the kids step forward.

The person then says, all the kids who have played in a representative team take a step forward and 20% of the kids left take a step forward. The person then says, all the kids who are playing at grassroots, take a step backwards while the representative kids take another step forward.

The person then says, if you’ve played for a representative team for one year, take another step forward, for two years, two steps forward, for three years, three steps forward and for four years or more, take 4 steps forward.

And suddenly, you have 16 players who are steps ahead of the rest. But are those 16 kids really that far ahead or so much better than the grassroots kids.  Maybe there are 15 kids who don’t belong there, however due to being born earlier in the year, they have matured and grown faster than the later born players.

As the kids get older, those late developers are progressing and catching up or those players born at the start of the year that didn’t specialise early in football are also now catching up, but the Coaches and Technical Directors of representative teams (not all of them, but a lot of them) have a fixed mindset.

These people cannot believe how kids outside of their academies/representative teams can develop into great players on their own initiative or under the guidance of a grassroots coach or their own parent.

The Germans have shown how this is possible.

“Of those who were recruited at an age of under 11 or under 13, at the age of under 19, only 9 percent are left. On the other hand, those who made it to the national A team of Germany, those we see in the World Cup for example, were being built up gradually across all age stages.

The population of senior top athletes emerges in the course of repeated selection, de-selection, and replacements across all age stages rather than developing from those early selected.

There were athletes who did not exceed initial D squad (regional junior squad), they were first recruited into the system at 15 years. The C squad (the national junior squad) were first recruited at the age of 17. Those who made it to senior world class (A squad) were first recruited at 19 years. So the more successful at the senior level, the later was the recruitment into the talent development system.

Most early selected youngsters do not become successful seniors. Most successful seniors were not selected particularly early.”

Professor Güllich gave an example from the German football TDP (talent development programme) system

In Michael Calvin’s documentary, “No Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream”, of all the boys who enter the academy at 9 years of age in the U.K, less than 0.5% make it or make a living from the game. Of the 1.5 million boys playing football, only 180 will make it to the Premier League. A success rate of 0.012%.

As the article states, the odds are the same as being hit by a meteorite as you are going home.

There are good coaches and Technical Directors  in Australia, however there are also TD’s in denial. So focused on their source of income, and the selling of their curriculum pathways.

Governing sporting bodies have done a great marketing job in making people believe in the pathway. This magic golden brick road, a linear path, that promises athletes who start as beginners will end up as experts.

It’s a myth. It doesn’t exist.

The belief in “The Pathway” is destructive to the sport. The road to being a professional is different for every player. Kids start playing a sport for various of reasons. Some enjoy manipulating the ball, others want to have fun, others want to be a professional player from a young age, some just like competing and winning.

The pathway puts forward the idea that if a player joins an academy, then a rep team, then a National Premier League Team they will eventually progress to the Professional League and the national youth teams and main team.

Instead of everyone investing in “The Pathway”, maybe the monies and the coaches should be invested in building the grassroots clubs, there facilities, and growing Football from the grassroots clubs and not the other way around. And one thing is clear, if the child isn’t technically proficient, then they will struggle.

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My Stories

Final Thoughts On My European Adventures

Nothing like “Home Sweet Home” when you’ve been away but as I went through Duty Free in Sydney and stocked up on whiskeys before I picked my luggage up, Van Halen’s “Take Your Whiskey Home” came to mind. I guess I prefer to stumble and fall after all.

So as soon as I got inside my house, I started summarizing our Euro Adventure.

So here are my thoughts on my European Adventures.

Berlin

We just touched the surface of what Berlin had to offer. It’s definitely a city I would like to return to (Barcelona is also in this bucket as we only touched the surface of what Barcelona has to offer in 2016) and explore a bit more, especially the villages outside Berlin like Spandau and it’s Old Town.

I was comfortable with the drink prices but believed that the food in restaurants was a bit expensive especially when you have a family of five eating and drinking, but it was easy to communicate as the places always had an English speaking worker.

The public transport was the best in Europe I’ve seen so far (I’ve heard Switzerland is the top one but I’ve never been there, so I can’t comment on it and when we did Barcelona two years ago, we didn’t use the public transport, so I can’t comment on that either) and the way the train stations are situated, everything is within 2 to 5 minutes walking distance. Plus you can buy those one day cards or five day cards that allows you unlimited travel.

I just hope they fix their airports up and finish off their various capital works projects as it makes the city look like a construction site. Then again Sydney has the same problem with construction sites causing mayhem.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen was a rip off. It didn’t matter where we stopped, everything felt like it was super inflated and it left a bitter taste. The only bitter taste allowed is alcohol.

But the city is good to see even in the wind and rain. Most of the shops had English speaking staff and like all European cities it had construction sites set up around some of their old buildings. Plus their public transport system is excellent and we had no worries navigating.

I wanted to go to the Carlsberg Factory for a tour but time ran away from us.

Tallinn

It was windy, cold and rainy on day one and just windy and cold on day two. Then again it was towards the end of September.

We did Old Town and some of the shopping sites around it, like the train station mall/market like shops and an actual three story shopping centre that I believe was underneath a Hotel.

I felt the prices were okay for food and drink but any clothing price was extremely high which I found strange.

A local store worker told me the beaches are great when it’s summer and to come back to experience it, but I’m biased towards Australia and the beaches we have. Our beaches are fantastic, clean, well patrolled and for those who don’t know how to handle waves, currents and rips, very dangerous.

St Petersburg

It was very show offy like, here is a statue of a previous leader who crushed this country in this war and this statue was made to commemorate the victory and here is a statue of that same leader on his horse, stepping on the Danish snake after this war. And this dogma goes on and on. Here is a palace, here is a weekend Palace, here is a Palace with a Garden, here is the Post Office (which looks like a Palace) and so forth.

Everything is grand, everything has gold and every attraction has fantastic ceiling paintings/murals about some religious event/interpretation. Even the underground train stations.

Communication was difficult as the store workers didn’t have a great grasp of English and doing this city via a tour is totally worth it. There is a “Like A Local” tour via SPB that a few friends did that was highly recommended and it included drinking a lot of vodka and eating Russian style food.

Skopje, Bitola, Ohrid and Struga

The price of food and alcohol and cigarettes is dirt cheap. When it comes to food basically everything is made from scratch. There are no additives and preservatives added. The produce is grown organically with no spraying. The mountainous climate must help in some way. Check out this Vogue article that sums up the food side perfectly.

One Euro gets you 62 Denari or in my case, one Aussie dollar gets you 38 Denari so when you compare that beer is more or less between 30 to 80 Denari and a Macchiato is 30 Denari it’s pretty cheap.

Eating out for five people cost me on average 2500 Denari which comes to about $65 Australian. We had salads, entrees, mains, a lot of beers, soft drinks and sparkling water. For what we had, in Australian I would have paid close to $300 dollars. And because you had so much food you more or less ate one big meal and that was it.

And Ohrid had this ice cream place close to Lake Ohrid that was excellent. We visited that place regularly.

But the hotel prices are the same like Australia, ranging from 70 Euros a night which equates to about $120 Australian. And to hire a car, it cost me 25 Euro a day.

It’s pretty easy to drive here. Just need to watch for tractors on the road who don’t even try and give way or people walking on the road and refusing to move to the side. Otherwise all okay.

But it’s polluted. Everyone just burns shit like the crops they harvested or their rubbish.

Funny thing we arrived in Macedonia and left with the Government getting enough votes to change the constitution for it to be Northern Macedonia.

Visiting this place got me interested to check out the other countries that used to make up Yugoslavia like Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Helsinki and Stockholm we didn’t end up doing due to bad weather, which meant our Cruise ship couldn’t dock, but I made a vow to fly there direct and spend time.

So maybe I already have the embryo of my next trip in mind already. We’ll see what transpires for 2020.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

Learning Music In Reverse

We hear a song. We like it and we seek out more songs from the same artist. And the cycle repeats with different artists.

It’s how we get into music.

It happened to me in the 80s.

When i heard Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Kiss and Judas Priest, i didn’t think for a second that these bands would have had influences.

I saw it happen in the 90s when people got into music because of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. These bands came first for a whole new generation. There was nothing else except these bands.

I never got the debates over Kingdom Come in the 80’s until well into the 90’s when I started seeking out bands from the 70s and started really paying attention to Led Zeppelin.

I remember when Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” album and every song was a derivative version of a classic album that came out in the 90s. I heard the influences but kids born in the 2000s were none the wiser. As they get older, they would learn the history of music in reverse.

If you want to listen to Shinedown, do you need to listen to Soundgarden, Nirvana, Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Bad Religion and Springsteen first, until you work your way to Shinedown.

Of course not.

You hear Shinedown and you get into them. You enjoy them. When I first heard them, my ears told me it’s Audioslave. A colleague at work who at the time had never heard Audioslave, so it was just Shinedown.

Dream Theater came first for me. And many years later, Rush, Marillion, Yes and Pink Floyd would come into my life. All because of Dream Theater. Even the band Muse would come into my life because of Dream Theater.

From Tool, I came to appreciate King Crimson, The Cure and Adrian Belew. Artists I wouldn’t normally listen to.

I remember when I first heard Aerosmith and Whitesnake. It was in 1987 and I had no idea these bands had a long history dating back to the Seventies.

And that’s the beauty of music. We listen, we get moved by the listening and we start to explore.

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