Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Release Day Friday Garbage

Spotify needs to sort out their algorithms. They really need to get serious music fans involved here.

Every week my Release Day Friday songs get hijacked by crap.

Check out these hip hop/dance artists the algorithm recommended today;

  •  M.O Flashy, Hurricane (because I follow the hard rock band Hurricane)
  • Dope (because I follow the hard rock band Dope)
  • Monteaga K, Asia (because I follow the supergroup Asia)
  • InQfive, Cresta, Heart (because I follow the band Heart)
  • Charlie Puth (because I have no idea)
  • Grant Burgess, Widowmaker (because I follow Dee Snider’s band Widowmaker)
  • Coby Ras, Rainbow (because I follow Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow)

From my understanding, these artists are collaborating with other artists called Hurricane, Asia, Heart, Widowmaker and Rainbow, who have the same names as artists I follow, but in different genres. Whatever the case, surely the algorithm can be tweaked to not screw up my feed with crap.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The More Things Stay The Same

Back in 1999, the record labels argued that they lost billions of dollars due to file sharing via Napster. They came up with this figure by saying that one file shared is the same as one lost sale. 20 years later, they are still exaggerating the same BS. And politicians get lobbied hard and suddenly there is legislation to support the record labels business models.

As internet speeds got faster, file sharing then started on movies and TV shows. Suddenly, politicians had even more money thrown at them to pass legislation from the movie studios. In democratic lands, ISP’s are forced to censor the internet, courtesy of the movie studios and music labels, which is no different to what dictatorship governments carry out on a daily basis. And when ISP’s don’t censor the internet, the movie studios and music labels take them to court for facilitating piracy. And while this is happening at the hands of the entertainment industry, the government themselves are stifling free speech by raiding the homes of reporters or by keeping eyes on the public through surveillance. ISP’s are also meant to store text messages, phone calls, web searches and tower pings on its customers.

So much for trusting the good guys.

Meanwhile, the music labels today are raking in billions courtesy of streaming (which started off as a legal alternative to peer to peer file sharing, which brought in $0). This shows, that if people are offered a legal alternative at a price which is right, they will take the legal option.

And those streaming billions were not there in the past. It took a tech company to create this revenue stream, while the record labels (the ones who should have been doing this) decided that the only way they could make money again is to get laws passed to protect old business sales model instead of innovating.

And an artist wants to have a label deal.

Why?

The labels don’t care about you and all they want is to lock up your copyright forever, because without the rights of songs, the labels have no power and if they have no power they cannot negotiate these huge licensing deals with streaming platforms.

Even the movie studios like Disney lobbied hard for laws to get passed to protect their old business models. Then Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazon came out with streaming services and brought in billions of dollars that were not there before. And now Disney is entering the streaming market. Enforcement doesn’t work but better legal alternatives do.

And the record labels still complain at the price of streaming. They reckon Spotify should charge more and also do away with the free tier, but are too gutless to bring out their own streaming platform and charge the money that they believe customers should pay. So they bash on Spotify or YouTube or Pandora.

And when politicians leave office, they get a nice cushy job for the very firms that lobbied them hard to introduce legislation in their favour. And this happens in democracy, which brings to mind the “One” video clip from Metallica and the scenes from the movie, “Johnny Got His Gun”.

Little Kid – When it comes my turn, will you want me to go?

Father – For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son.

We might want to re-think what the hell we are fighting for.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Hot Metal June 1992 – Issue 40

Let’s get into the time machine and go back to 1992.

In the magazine, it was announced that Vivian Campbell joined Def Leppard.

White Zombie was in the “Fresh Flesh” section even though the earliest incarnation of the band had been doing the rounds since 1985. It’s a long way to a major label deal and an even longer way to mainstream success.

“Invincible she devils from the fifth dimension, living aliens and warped sexual experiments” was how “La Sexorcisto: Devils Music Vol. 1” was explained/promoted.

The “Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert” got a five skulls out of five skulls review.

Kiss was promoting the “Revenge” album by saying “We’re Kiss and That’s The Revenge” which got a four skull out of five review. So did “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion” from The Black Crowes who also had a tour on the cards.

Meanwhile Slaughter’s “The Wild Life” and Twisted Sister’s “Big Hits And Nasty Cuts” both got three skulls.

And Body Counts self-titled album and Iron Maiden’s “Fear Of The Dark” both got five skulls.

I guess you know which albums I got during this period. Anything with three skulls and above.

Geffen Records was hedging it’s bets by promoting Guns N Roses, Nirvana, White Zombie and Roxy Blue all on one ad, with the slogan “HIT someone you love with metal”.

And the HM editor spent six days on the road with Metallica and the best quote from the interview came from James on Lars traveling drum kit:

I find it silly. As much as he wants to be in the spotlight, he also gets to move around. He’s basically a front man on drums.

Speaking of drummers, Motörhead sacked Philthy Phil (again) and hired Mikkey Dee from Don Dokken’s solo band. Dee was also helping out World War III because Vinny Appice left to rejoin the revamped Black Sabbath.

Wayne’s World became part of popular culture and L7 was getting heavily promoted in Australia.

Motley Crue still hadn’t announced their vocalist. Maybe because Sebastian Bach was still auditioning. This is what John Corabi’s Scream band mates had to say:

I guess the dedication from Corabi didn’t come through and those cool cats on vocals to replace John Corabi also didn’t come through for The Scream.

And the song “Young And Dumb” from The Scream appeared on the Encino Man soundtrack, but it was Vince Neil who took top billing. How fitting.

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

The Record Vault – Beethoven Symphony Nr. 5 / Wiener Philharmonic, Carlos Kleiber

Beethoven came into my life when I was studying guitar. Yngwie Malmsteen made it clear that violinist Niccolo Paganini and Johan Sebastian Bach are influences. Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads showed a nod to classical music, but there was no clear artists influence there. Meanwhile, Accept made it clear that they liked to reference Beethoven in their songs, but my main exposure to Beethoven came from Looney Tunes cartoons.

This record was a loose change pick up at a record fair in the 90’s.

Fast forward to 2012 and a New Yorker article names the Carlos Kleiber recording as one of the greatest interpretations of this piece. And when you hear the power of it, you wouldn’t disagree at all. It is a perfect snapshot for the ages.

The various musicians on the recording are nameless, no one will know who they are, but the mastery they exhibit over their instrument, the power and the passion they generate is unbelievable. Even in the quiet sections of the symphony.

And conducting it all was the eccentric Carlos Kleiber, who according to BBC Music, is the greatest conductor of all time.

He was born in Berlin, in the 30’s to an Austrian father (who was also a conductor) and an American mother. They moved to Argentina a few years before war broke out in Europe, and he was lucky to be learning and developing during a period of instability and war.

Like all conductors, there is praise and disdain for them from people. And a lot of what happens in rehearsal rooms remains secret. More so before, than today. Even his death was secret. The world found out he had passed on the day of his burial in 2004. Regardless there are various performances conducted by Carlos Kleiber from various classical masters that are preserved for the rest of the world enjoy.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Spotify Family Mix

The Family Mix playlist from Spotify has really opened my eyes as to how kids consume music.

For those that don’t know, Family Mix is a playlist that combines music that a family (in our case, my wife, kids and I) listen to on our Premium family account.

For example, the song “Youngblood” came up from 5 Seconds Of Summer on the playlist, because my eldest (14 years old) listened to it. But, he hasn’t listened to it in the last six months, but before that he did listen to it a lot. And it’s the only song he listened to from that artist.

So is my son a fan or has he moved on to other songs/artists?

When I asked him, he said if they (5SoS) release another good song he will probably check it out. Basically my children are “fans of songs, not artists.”

So while the streaming stats might look great for 5 Seconds Of Summer, and their monthly listeners (worldwide) are high, how many of those listeners would go on and watch the band live?

How many are really fans of the band or just a fan of the song?

I am a fan of the song “It’s Time” but I’m not an Imagine Dragons fan by no means as the other songs don’t connect with me. But “It’s Time” did.

I suppose it’s the same old argument from the sale model.

How many people who purchased an album listened to it once and how many people who purchased an album listened to it thousands of times?

I guess, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In streaming’s case, how many people come back to the streaming account of the artist and listen to their tracks over and over and over again, year on year. As these people are the real fans, the super fans, the ones who will buy those super deluxe packages and what not.

Because Spotify does have an Artist Dashboard, which does offer great numbers on what songs are being listened to, where and by what demographic.

But it doesn’t say which cities and demographic constantly come back to the artist account/songs and on which song.

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Music

Black Sabbath’s Version of Children of The Grave And Ozzy/Randy Rhoads Tribute Version

The difference between the songs is the groove/feel.

Black Sabbath started off as a blues band and blues songs are built on grooves and swing feels. As history tells us, the guys saw a horror movie being played across the road from their rehearsal space and decided to write songs that scared people. But no matter how low they tuned, they still kept the swing groove/feel from the blues in the process.

So when Ozzy decided to cover some Black Sabbath songs for the “Blizzard Of Ozz” tour, he picked some of the classics, like “Paranoid”, “Iron Man” and “Children Of The Grave”. And from reading a few bios, Randy Rhoads (RR) was against covering these songs, as he didn’t want the project to be an extension of Ozzy’s previous band.

Regardless, “Children of The Grave” with Randy Rhoads (RR) is a stand out. RR ignored the triplet swing feel that Sabbath had on their “Masters Of Reality” version and went straight for the metal tempo feel of 146 beats per minute. RR also refused to tune down, so he fretted the C#m note instead of playing it as an open string the way Iommi does. By doing this, it allowed RR to me more precise with his picking and little melodic motifs.

And there is no doubt in my mind that by learning to play some of the Sabbath songs, RR used em all as influences for “Over The Mountain”.

If you don’t believe me, check out the Black Sabbath riff just before the “Over the Mountain” solo. And RR plays the intro/verse riff of “Over The Mountain” more or less the same as he plays “Children Of The Grave”. The only difference being, “Children of The Grave” is in C#m and “Over The Mountain” is in G#m.

And the solo break that RR throws in for the outro, made me want to learn the song. It starts from 3.15 and ends at 4.40.

There is also a little nod to all of the blues players from about 3.56, as RR plays a standard blues lick that even Ace Frehley used in “Love Gun”.

One song doesn’t take away from the other and both songs stand on their own.

If you want groove, then Black Sabbath’s version is for you. If you really like the NWOBHM and the LA Scene, then the live Ozzy/RR version is for you.

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

1984 – VII – The Crusader Blitz Lays Down The Law To Steal The Light

Here is the playlist for 1984-7.

If you want to read the previous 1984 posts, here are the links.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Keel – Lay Down the Law

Ron Keel did everything at 12. When he delivered a vocal, he was up there at an 12 intensity.

I really thought Keel would go on and do great things. They had Gene Simmons writing and producing the band at one stage. By 1987, they had Jimmy Bain from Dio writing with them, along with Jack Ponti. But each new album started to become the same as the previous album, that even the core audience started to move on. I felt like the same theme carried over four separate albums.

How many times can you re-write, “Metal Generation” into “The Right To Rock” into “Raised On Rock” into “The Final Frontier” into “United Nations”?

Anyway.

“Born Ready” starts off with a “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” style riff for a song about coming of age and being ready to take control.

“Metal Generation” has this Ratt like riff based on “Lack Of Communication”, but hey, the LA scene was awash with similar sounding riffs and bands. And while the song sounded generic, the lead break is worthy of guitar hero status. Listen to it, and if you are not playing air guitar by the end of it, you don’t appreciate shredding.

“You’re The Victim (I Am The Crime)” is just a fast dumb song that’s too good to turn away. The double kick throughout brings back memories of “Overkill” from Motorhead and the riffs are that fast, that they could have been lifted from “Kill Em All”. But the lead break steals the show again. Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay proved to be a dynamic guitar duo.

If you dismissed Keel because of the vocals or the generic themes, you need to revisit them just to hear the lead breaks.

Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve – Through The Fires

What a great idea to get a few guys with chops in a room and letting them jam. HSAS is a perfect example of what is beautiful about music. These guys didn’t get together to create songs to sell millions of albums. They got together because they wanted to create. And from those creations, they wanted to gig. And then they ran out of time to record more studio albums because Schon went back to Journey and Hagar joined Van Halen.

“Top Of The Rock” has this foot stomping riff to kick it off and Sammy Hagar during this period is in top form. And his lyrics about life, status and society are brilliant.

It aint easy speaking out, some people take it to heart

And if you’re not standing on top of the rock they will tear you apart

“Missing You” for such a generic, ballad sounding title is nothing as such. If you want to hear where “Ghost” takes his influences, then you need to check out this song. Take out Sammy’s voice and add the voice of the clergy and you will have a Ghost song. The vocal line that Hagar delivers here is out of the park.

And Neal Schon, is referencing his “Don’t Stop Believin” riff with a few tweaks here and there for the Chorus. Plus he really lets loose on the lead break, as Journey Neal Schon started to become a decorator instead of a shredder.

“Valley Of The Kings/Giza” has everything, as HSAS become world musicians and take the exotic Phrygian Dominant scale into their set list. “Whiter Shade Of Pale” is a song I always enjoyed playing and hearing, as it was one of the first songs my guitar teacher showed me back in the day. It’s got such a cool chord progression that soloing over it is awesome and Neal Schon does exactly that. “Hot and Dirty” while dumb lyrically, is great melodically and musically.

“He Will Understand” has a riff which should have been a number 1 pop riff. Sammy again delivers a great vocal, although lyrically the song didn’t connect. But the music. It’s excellent. And check out these lyrics.

“Friendships can fade away”

“There’s not much to talk about because there’s too much to say”

And then Neal Schon starts to deliver a metal like riff from the 2.20 minute mark and then the band morphs into a 70’s progressive style band, in the Chorus. Plus have I mentioned how Neal Schon goes to town in each song and shows the world why he’s one of the great guitarists.

I thought “My Hometown” would have been a ballad when I saw the title, but man, in my mind, it’s a song that is influenced 100% by Van Halen and ZZ Top. And that Chorus riff, is the Seattle sound and groove. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

The Rods – Let Them Eat Metal

When Johnny Rod joined WASP, I thought he came from a band called The Rods (it was actually King Cobra). I was always curious to hear the origins of musicians, but to hear an album meant I had to spend money on it and I had other more higher profile releases earmarked for that. So I didn’t hear these guys until well into the 2010’s decade and it was all because I thought a bass player came from the band but he didn’t.

And this album is a cool listen. You can’t take it seriously but you can enjoy the hell out of it.

There isn’t really a stand out song, but there isn’t a bad song either. But if I was been tortured by some doctors from a dictatorship government and I had to pick a favourite, it would be “Nuclear Skies”, for its enlightening lyric, “from the air we are breathing, we should all be dead” and its vocal harmony chorus.

And I don’t know how they had the balls to release “Bad Blood” because man, that song is “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest. But hey, music is based on the sum of our influences and you can hear in this song, The Rods had a pretty big Judas Priest influence.

Saxon – Crusader

They’ve had a career in music for a long time and they still write and record albums today. When they came across my radar, my initial impression was that they would be as big as Iron Maiden. And it didn’t happen and I was confused as to why.

The “Crusader” intro was enough to get me ready to break desks. The bass rolls along like “Heaven And Hell” and the guitars decorate.

“Fight the good fight, believe what is right”

The song is about the Crusades, but some of the lyrics can be interloped with the current world situation. We have democratic countries, with democratically elected leaders, spying and carrying out surveillance on their citizens, in the same way that dictatorship governments do/did. And the hypocrisy is that our leaders then stand on their soapbox and condemn these kinds of governments, but it’s okay for our leaders to do it, because they tell us they are the good guys, but we all know they are beholden to the corporations.

“Sailing To America” actually took me by surprise, because the vocals sounded like a cross between Sting and Steve Perry and I really dug that vibe. And this is probably the predicament Saxon had. They dabbled in many different styles, but the record labels like to promote (in other words pigeon hole) an artist in a particular genre/style, which is totally wrong.

“Do It All For You” has one of those intro’s that makes you pay attention, like “The Hellion”. And when I was expecting an “Electric Eye” style riff it goes into a ballad, which was okay, but not worthy of the intro. And I enjoyed “Just Let Me Rock” and “Rock City” but they didn’t connect. I think I was over all the song titles coming out with “Rock” in the title. In saying that, did Dee Snider get influenced by this song for a certain song on “Come Out And Play” called “You Want What We Got”. As “Rock City” states, you want it, we got it.

Krokus – The Blitz

I think they tried really hard to shake their AC/DC tag on this one, bringing in a lot of Judas Priest like elements, a cover songs and some outside writers. But when you have a vocalist who sounds like an AC/DC vocalist, it’s hard to shake that tag.

The production team behind the album is unbelievable. Bruce Fairbairn is producing, Bob Rock is an engineer and Mike Fraser is an assistant engineer. Even Survivor’s Jimi Jamison makes an appearance as a backing vocalist.

I want to talk about “Hot Stuff”. Now this song is what Krokus is all about to me. The intro is like “The Hellion” from Judas Priest, while the verses roll along like AC/DC and the Chorus is very LA sounding. And the lead break combined elements of Schenker, Young and EVH.

On “Boys Nite Out”, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are also co-writers, so the label really wanted this album to succeed.

Legs Diamond – Out On Bail

So Legs Diamond (stupid band name by the way) came into my radar because I kept hearing from the one person in the area I grew up in (that seemed to have every single rock and metal album), that if I liked Tom Keifer’s voice, then I would like Legs Diamond. The band could play, and they bordered on NWOBHM and melodic rock.

The electronic drums. You either like em or you don’t. To me, they are a major distraction from the rawk and roll of the music.  

The band was actually broken up, but when they saw that their albums started to sell here and there, they reformed to capitalise on this new found interest.

The way I see it, “One Way Ticket” captures what the band is all about, combining all of their rock, metal and melodic influences into their own style. And at seven minutes long, it wasn’t long enough for me. It made me, press repeat. To compare, the title track “Out On Bail” comes across as rooted in the AC/DC/NWOBHM groove, “Radio” feels like a ZZ Top/Deep Purple medley and then “Fugitive” comes across like Journey synth AOR. Three distinct compositions. “Walkaway” should have been a Top 10 hit, but it wasn’t.

But “One Way Ticket” is the song and its unknown.

And the other song that defines their sound is “One Last Kiss”. Musically, it has so much happening, it has a flute solo and its over pretty quick.

Tony Carey – Some Tough City

I didn’t know what to expect on this album. I saw it on a melodic rock list, so I cued it up as the name Tony Carey appeared on a few Rainbow albums as a keyboardist. And I swear, it feels like “Lost Highway” from Bon Jovi was written after hearing the song “A Fine Fine Day”, then again maybe Mellencamp was an influence here.

Q5 – Steal The Light

I knew about this band, because Floyd Rose played guitar in the band. And for those who don’t know, Floyd Rose invented of course,  the “Floyd Rose” tremolo locking system that stopped guitars from going out of tune whenever the whammy bar was activated. In a Guitar World issue, years ago, this invention was rated as one of the most ground breaking guitar inventions.

So one day in the 90’s, my fingers were walking over the $1 bin LP’s in a second hand record store and it was there I came across Q5’s album. I took it and a lot of other obscure metal and rock bands home, dropped the needle and I just enjoyed every note and every word. There is not a bad song on it.

The opening NWOBHM style riff of “Missing In Action” hooks me. The intro harmony leads in “Lonely Lady” get me playing air guitar. “Steal The Light” has an intro riff that forces me to pick up the guitar and learn it.

“Pull The Trigger” is AC/DC all metalized. “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” could have come from the “Highway To Hell” album. “Rock On” feels like it’s a metal version of “Peter Gunn” in the verses and “Hells Bells” like in the Chorus.

They had one more album on Polygram a few years later, argued when it didn’t do anything commercially and disbanded. Frontiers then resurrected the band around 2014 and a new album came out a few years after that.

Well that’s it for another 1984 post, I am pretty sure I have a few more to go.

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