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

The Record Vault – Tommy Bolin

I first heard “Teaser” when Motley Crue covered it on the “Stairway to Heaven/Highway To Hell” compilation album for the Moscow Peace Festival. 

This was back in 1989, and the writer of the song is T.Bolin.

Pre Internet era, it meant I had to go to the record shop and ask them if they have anything on T.Bolin. And they didn’t, unless I wanted to import it.

Fast forward another 10 years and I had picked up both solo albums via record fairs and second hand record shops.

The first thing that grabbed me is the funky sleazy riff and the wolf whistle slide guitar.

She sips gin from a teacup, wears those fancy clothes
And somebody always knows her no matter where she goes
She’ll talk to you in riddles that have no sense or rhyme
And if you ask her what she means, says she don’t got no time

“Teaser” showed me how influenced a young Nikki Sixx would have been by the lyrics.

Then the solo breakdown section kicks in where it’s just the bass and drums simulating an excited heartbeat at the beginning and it moves into a free form jazz fusion lead break. 

Jeff Porcaro from Steely Dan and Toto fame played drums and Stanley Sheldon from Peter Frampton’s band played bass.

As I listened to the album over and over again, I found other gems in the instrumental “Homeward Strut”, with its James Gang Funk inspired verses and its unbelievable harmony lick that acts as a Chorus.

The piano ballad “Dreamer” with Glen Hughes singing the last verse (even though he is uncredited) and piano played by David Foster, the same David Foster that would go on to produce and compose songs for Whitney Houston, Michael Buble and many others.

You have the blues funk of “Savannah Woman” with Phil Collins providing percussion.

Side 2 doesn’t have the same impact as Side 1 but the closer “Lotus” makes up for it with its fusion of hard rock, blues, jazz, funk  and synth orientated pop.

Similar in structure to “Teaser”, it has that unbelievable breakdown solo section, which closes the album.

And “Private Eyes”.

It didn’t have the star studded guests and it’s more focused on its mixture of groove, funk, jazz rock. Better songwriting.

And then it was over.

In 1975, Tommy Bolin released “Teaser” and “Come Taste the Band” with Deep Purple, and in 1976 he released “Private Eyes” in September. By December he was dead.

His music forever lives.

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

Coming Home

The song “Home” from Daughtry came on via Spotify’s Family Mix. Actually, it’s a pretty cool concept/algorithm which organizes a playlist based on tracks the family members listen to.

“Home” is courtesy of my wife. I introduced her to Daughtry’s music and then she became a bigger fan than I. The more he moved away from the rock roots, the more I moved away.

And I thought Daughtry changed his sound because he wrote with too many different writers and producers, but that wasn’t it, because Daughtry had always written with different writers. But he had an ability to still make the songs sound dirty, raw and full of attitude and emotion, with a touch of modern rock and pop.

But “Baptized” released in 2013 sounded too sterile, too polished. It was lacking the grit of earlier albums. And when you have a song called “Long Live Rock and Roll” on the album, it needs to rock. But it didn’t. It was electro pop at best. A greatest hits package came afterwards and then in 2018, “Cage To Rattle” came out.

And again, I wasn’t sure what the intention was. While an improvement over “Baptized” it was still missing the special Daughtry ability to take whatever pop trend was in and make it rock hard.

And this kind of relationship cycle continues. We fall in and out with the artists we like, hoping that eventually they will return home to that rock and roll store and order up another serve.

Or the way Nikki Sixx wrote on Motley Crue’s “New Tattoo” album.

“I promise you this. One day you’ll walk into the tattoo shop of life and say “I’m back”. I’m ready for my new tattoo and her name is rock and roll. Now it’s time to make it permanent.

You will have been thru all the temporary 15 minutes of flash, you’ll have come to realize that you’ve been served fast food music and disposable heroes for so long. You’ve somehow forgotten what is real and what is not. And you know what the man behind the counter will say;

“We knew you’d be back.”

Amen.

I’m going home, back to the place where I belong.

And that home for me is rock and roll.

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

The Record Vault – Brides Of Destruction

Getting information about hard rock acts was becoming tougher and tougher at the start of the 2000’s in Australia. Sure Metal Edge kept the flag flying, but for mags to sell they had to still accommodate the popular bands and the internet news reels felt primitive.

Since Motley Crue was dormant, I was really keen to hear what any of the guys would come up with.

Tommy Lee had already dropped a Methods Of Mayhem album, a sex tape which sold more than the whole Motley catalogue and a solo album called “Never A Dull Moment”.

Nikki Sixx at this stage was still a relative unknown outside of the Motley Crue world and Brides Of Destruction would be the start of getting him front and centre into the minds of music consumers. Plus he was starting to write songs for other artists via his partnership with James Michael, which would become very productive when Sixx A.M happened.

So BoD was formed in 2002 by Nikki Sixx and Traci Guns and the only deal they could get was for a Japanese release via Universal.

Nikki Sixx was paying Traci Guns $2000 a month and Sixx’s manager was paying for the rehearsal space. This period was the last few years of the record labels controlling the distribution by placing a person as the culture decider. And this gatekeeper decided that these two major label dudes from the 80s will not get worldwide distribution in 2002.

Finally, Sanctuary Records came on board for a worldwide release but then they just kept on pushing back the release date until March, 2004.

John Corabi was in as a co-guitarist and appears on the album but was out of the band because of a falling out with Guns. And the shit that Sixx has said afterwards about Corabi, then why did he decide to work with him again.

I was hooked as soon as the riff started for “Shut The Fuck Up”, dripping in punk attitude.

“I’m so sick of you, Shut the fuck up”

If you say something like this today, get ready to be ostracized and crucified by the moral police on social media and the internet. And if you say it, well expect to have it said back to you as well.

“Life” has some great lyrics. This one is my favorite;

“Don’t let the negative steal the blue from the sky”

What a great lyric.

Our memories are all that we have. What we remember are the stories we have told, and even then those stories change over the years.

If we don’t tell these stories, then the memory will fade.

Choosing what memory we tell is a way of choosing who we will become. Focus on the negative memories and the downward spiral begins. Focus on the positives and a different path begins. We need a balance.

Don’t forget the hurt but remember and talk about the joy.

“I Don’t Care” is full of attitude. “I Got A Gun” is a favourite. “Only Get So Far” is one of those ballads that has this 70’s vibe which I dig.

“2xDead” and “Brace Yourself” rock out of the gate with their sleazy grooves that remind me of Motley Crue. While “Natural Born Killer” sounds like it came from the 80s and its “Slice Of Your Pie” ending which was influenced by The Beatles, “She’s So Heavy”.

To me, the album sounded like an extension of the songs that Nikki Sixx wrote for the Motley Crue “Greatest Hits” album.

And the second album came out in 2005 and I don’t really remember nothing much about it except that Nikki Sixx wasnt the bassist as he had already left to reboot Motley, but there are songs on the album co-written by him.

That picture above is from the second album that Sixx didn’t play on, but hey, let’s make a band member look like Sixx in the cartoon drawing.

Rumors said the Sixx and Gun’s had a falling out because Guns continued with the band while Sixx wanted it to be on hiatus.

Fast forward to 2017 and Twitter started to fill in some gaps. Read the article over at Metal Sludge.

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Metal Journey

I grew up in a time when AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden were classified as metal acts. Black Sabbath was seen as a bit more extreme and darker. Venom even more so. But as the years went on, the way people viewed metal music had changed.

Suddenly it’s faster or groovier or math like or whatever else you like and depending on the act, you wouldn’t be able to understand a word they are saying, without referring to the lyrics. So on occasions I cannot resonate with all the acts today classed as metal.

But one thing I do know is that music labelled as “metal” is made for loyalists.

You hook in a fan, they would be along for the ride, dedicating their lives because they believe. And hearing a song just once, is never enough. To become a fan of an artist, it meant you had to invest time and be prepared to take the journey.

Recently the Evergrey album became a journey, exploring the depths of darkness, depression and hope. Every 13 years, the Tool Comet comes past Earth and a new album drops and when it does, that in itself is a journey. Rival Sons took me on a journey deep into the Delta and Volbeat showed there is still life in streets of the 60s.

Take us on a journey and we are fans for life.

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Charts

I’m sure you have read or heard or skimmed the reporting of how Tool beat Taylor Swift for the Number 1 spot. High fives all round for the perfect execution of the album release.

Tool is in Week 1 and Taylor is in Week 2 of their respective release cycles.

My thoughts on the charts, is an industry holding on to the past. Combining physical sales with a certain number of streams which count like a sale. Come on, that by no means indicates what is hot or not.

Still selling CD’s and mp3’s, even though CD players don’t even come in computers or cars anymore. And mp3 players are obsolete. The iPod is dead. And the way my kids don’t even know what a Blackberry is, there will be kids in 10 years time who won’t even know what an iPod is.

Seen the article about how vinyl will outsell CDs for the first time since the 80s.

Does the majority care?

Of course not. The amount of people streaming is greater than the amount of people buying.

Streams are facts, harder to scam, but people still try. Streams give an indication of what people are listening to as there is no way for an artist to know how many times a CD or vinyl sale has been listened to.

And streaming pays forever, whereas a sale pays you once. You might feel rich now but you will be complaining in the future.

And the record labels have manipulated the charts from the start, because they know the media reports on it, like it means something. Maybe it showed how many records got sold once Soundscan came into force in the early 90’s, but before that it was based on how many albums got ordered by record stores.

And the last 15 years have shown us how the first week of sales are high and the stories are reported everywhere, but by the fourth week, it’s down to a trickle and by week eight, its underwater. And people move on. Music in general is more important than any particular album. It’s a sign of the times, the era we live in.

Sure, bands in the metal and rock genre create albums which sustain and reach some status, but it’s all because of a mathematical formula combining streams with physical.

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Genre Labels

When you upload music to Spotify as an artist, the service via the digital distributor an artist uses, asks what kind of genre you are in, because for an algorithm to work it needs a label to refer to. And the genres an independent artist has to pick from are Metal or Rock or Alternative Rock and a host of other ones that are not relevant if you play music with distorted guitars.

But what genre would you be, if you see yourself as progressive, with a little bit of metal, a little bit or rock, a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a little bit of soul, a little bit of classical, a little bit of folk and a little bit of pop.

 And why wouldn’t the lyrics play a part. You could sing about death and depression or you could sing about censorship and oppression or you could sing about dungeons and dragons or you could sing about history.

Seriously, look at the genre names that the labels and music writers of the past have come up with.

Metal, rock, blues, country, soul, classical, folk and pop.

If “Thrash” was a genre to select from, I would add that to the list as well.

So how would people promote all of this different music if it was just labelled “music” without any word before it like metal or pop?

Well marketeers knew that genre labels work for people. In life we more or less label everything. Our ethnicity, first name and our surname is a label we get from the start. Because if a sheet of paper doesn’t exist stating our name or birth, we obviously don’t exist according to official records.

And we keep building on labelling?

We develop labels for suburbs like that is a “good place to live vs bad place to live”, people like fat people vs skinny people to nice people vs rude people, races, schools (public vs private vs religious school), workplaces (government vs private), sporting teams and family/friends. So it’s pretty obvious that labels in music work for pushing the product. And it makes it easier for people because they don’t feel overwhelmed.

But as the article states, labels are for cans, not people. Always be curious and don’t fall into the label/categorisation trap. Keep exploring.

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A Bit More Tool

I realised in the last week, I haven’t written anything about Tool since this blog started in 2013. And the reasons I could come up with is because their music didn’t exist digitally in any legal way for me to access and I really hate using YouTube, putting up with their ads and how I could come across a song with the audio quality being hit and miss. Plus since I pay for Spotify, I’m not interested to pay for YouTube. And even though I own a lot of vinyl and CD’s, I don’t play em anymore. And Tool, up until a few weeks ago, were a band that existed in the physical world.

So out of sight, out of mind.

And then Tool is suddenly back in.

And for a lot of people Tool is known as an “acquired taste”. Tool writes music that is progressive, but not a thousand notes style progressive. It’s elements are more about exploring and building grooves, some of them in 4/4 and others in 7/8, 6/8 and so forth. They have elements of styles known as rock and metal in there. Vocally, it is a bit harder to categorize. On the “Aenima” album, just check out “Stinkfist” and the lyric, “Elbow deep beyond the borderline”. I don’t recall too many bands who sell out arenas singing about fisting.

And people talk about the band and people come back for more and people pay more for their product. Because Tool is a unique artist. Most of the other artists in the major music markets are lumped into a few genres, while Tool lives without category, regardless of what the marketeers want from them.

Go left when everyone wants you to go right. Be the “none of the above” answer when everyone wants you to be part of the above.

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