I started this series with the Part 1 posts of 2001, then 1996 and most recently 1986. Now we go back in time another 10 years to 1976. And after this we go back to 2001 for Part 2 and the process repeats.
Rainbow – Rising
Album number two for Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Actually that was the title of the debut album, so the buying public would have some idea of who was leading the group. For this album, it’s just called Rainbow.
Coming into to this album, only Blackmore and vocalist Ronnie James Dio remain from the debut. Basically, Blackmore booted out, the Elf members. Cozy Powell is on drums, replacing Gary Driscoll. Jimmy Bain is on bass, replacing Craig Gruber and Tony Carey is on keys, replacing Micky Lee Soule.
It starts off with an Hammond or Moog organ.
But it’s that fast alternate picked riff of four note lengths and a small pause which gets the foot tapping. And once the drums and walking bass groove kick in, its blues rock heaven. But metal as well. The way I know metal.
Blackmore’s lead break moves between pentatonic licks and harmonic minor licks.
And I remember trying to learn the organ lead break in the outro on the guitar. Its worthy, check it out.
“Run With The Wolf”
This is basically a blues song however Dio’s choice of lyrics take it into a fantasy place about a hole in the sky and something evil passing bye.
How good is that foot stomping verse riff?
And it feels like Blackmore is playing slide guitar in the lead break.
Dio is a master at ad-libbing the outro’s with his vocals.
A great blues rock song.
It’s got everything a song should have. A harmony guitar intro. A memorable Chorus riff and a foot stomping 12 bar blues verse on steroids.
And while my first exposure to Dio was “Rainbow In The Dark”, I really dig his blues strut vocal style.
“Do You Close Your Eyes”
The Pre-Chorus is excellent, musically and melodically. But the lyrics are blah around asking the question “if your partner closes their eyes while they make love to you”.
After the drum solo like intro, the guitar riff kicks in. It’s got groove and it’s fun to play.
How good are the exotic sounding keys and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in the Pre Chorus and Chorus?
Dio is in his element here, singing about whips and chains, towers of stone, flesh and bone and rhyming fly, with die and why.
Blackmore’s lead is excellent. His use of vibrato and effects to kick off the solo, sounds like a sitar, and when he goes into the fast alternate picked lines around the harmonic minor scale, it sounds like a guitar solo spotlight at a concert. But the whole could have sounded flat, if it wasn’t for the powerful drumming of Powell.
“A Light In The Black”
A brilliant song, featuring another classic riff from Blackmore in the verses and Dio’s powerful vocals.
How good are the vocals when Dio sings “coming home”?
I like the nod to the past with its “Burn” like lead break with the organ and guitar in harmony. And the drumming from Powell is relentless. Ian Paige worthy.
For the next album, “Long Live Rock’N’Roll”, Bain was out, replaced by Blackmore on most tracks with Bob Daisley doing a few. Tony Carey also did keys on a few tracks with David Stone doing the other half.
And if you want to know what happened between Dio and Blackmore, well here is Blackmore’s point of view over at Louder Sound.
“I was always very close to Ronnie until, to be quite honest, he met up with Wendy [Dio’s future wife and manager], then it got very strained. She was a nice enough woman, but we didn’t really click. I remember trying to sort out a song.”
“I was playing an effect, trying to get the song down, and both of them walked by and one of them said: “We want to talk to you.”
Ronnie said. “I’ve just heard from Wendy that you’re on the front page of Circus and we’re not.”
“Really? I had no idea.”
The three of us had done the photo session, but the photographer did a couple of me on my own, and one of these got on the cover.
And Cozy [Powell, drummer] or Ronnie said: “If we’re gonna be your sidekicks then we’ll act accordingly.”
That really pissed me off, cos that was nothing to do with me. After that it went downhill, cos I had no respect for either of them after that. I didn’t like that.
“We’re not on the front cover with you!” Is that my fault?”
I wrote a post on this album back in 2013, called “What Made Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet Explode”. You can read it here.
You can call this an extra appreciation post.
Like all great movies, the actors and production team had to be in place.
The producer Bruce Fairbairn and the engineer/mixer Bob Rock are there. The band is there. The song writing team of Jovi, Sambora and Desmond Child is there. The three years of playing and touring together is there. Doc McGhee as manager is there. A label looking to break em big is there.
And the band decided that quantity will breed quality.
Along with the album tracks, the band had written over 30 songs for the album. YouTube has a lot of videos up. Start with “The Basement Demos” and then move to the “Pre Production Demos”. A Whitesnake evolutions style mix is required here.
The biggest win for the Jovi team was the release month of August.
For that month it was up against Motorhead – “Orgasmatron”, Vinnie Vincent – “Invasion”, Warlock – “True As Steel” and Great White – “Shot In The Dark”.
If it was released in July, it would have been up against DLR’s – “Eat Em and Smile” for listeners’ attention.
If it was released in June, it would have had to compete against Queen – “A Kind of Magic”, Genesis – “Invisible Touch”, Rod Stewart – “Every Beat of My Heart”, Madonna – “True Blue” and Cinderella – “Night Songs”.
If it was released in May as originally intended, it would have been up against AC/DC – “Who Made Who”, Journey – “Raised on Radio” and Europe – “The Final Countdown”.
In other words, August was perfect.
“Let It Rock” kicks it off Side 1.
Like Loverboy’s “Working for The Weekend”, the song is about letting your hair down on the weekend.
And Fairbairn had a thing that the bands he worked with should have an intro that could kick off the concert.
“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darling you give love a bad name.”
Its overplayed now but iconic and unforgettable back then.
Then the band kicks in and Richie does the vocal melody on the guitar until they start the strip bar sleazy verse riff.
“You Give Love A Bad Name” was the one that opened the door and as soon as the band unleashed “Livin On A Prayer”, the album started selling 700,000 records a month.
I saw “Social Disease” as pure filler back then as I failed to appreciate the blues soul swing of the track. And it needed to be written so that “Bad Medicine” could be written.
So you telephone your doctor Just to see what pill to take You know there’s no prescription Gonna wipe this one away
“Wanted Dead or Alive” was already a hit before it came out as a single. But the song didn’t reach number one because when the song was released as a single, the multi-million fan base had already digested it and made it their own.
“And the people I meet always go their separate ways”
“Raise Your Hands” kicks off side 2. The motto of this song is simply. Come to the show, raise your hands and get wild.
Raise your hands When you want to let it go Raise your hands And you want to let a feeling show
“Without Love” is lost on the album behind all the great tracks.
“I’d Die for You” has a guitar riff that reminds me of “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest.
“Never Say Goodbye” was too slow for me back then. It was many years later that I started to appreciate the song and that guitar melody from Richie is pretty cool to play.
Finally “Wild in the Street” closes the album with its 60s rock vibe.
“In here we got this code of honor Nobody’s going down”
If you want to experience 1986, then crank “Slippery When Wet”.
The first copy I gave to the drummer from a band I was in, along with “The Dirt” hardcover book and the “Rush In Rio” DVD. But when we had an argument, he wouldn’t return the items. So I repurchased “The Dirt” but this time in paperback, and this DVD. The Rush DVD price was extravagant when I was looking for it and I haven’t relooked since.
Now, live albums have been known to have a lot of studio overdubs or in some cases, total re-recording of some of the tracks in the studio. From what I can hear, nothing feels fixed or redone in a studio on this. So what you get, is a band that can deliver live, the chaos they create in the studio. If anything, I believe the guitars are tuned down ½ a step as Claudio’s voice was strained during this period. But man, he still delivers.
Coming into this release, Coheed and Cambria had released three studio albums, in “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”, “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” and “Good Apollo”. For the hardcore Coheed fans, yes, I’ve abbreviated the names of the album titles.
It’s the only live release with the original line up of Claudio Sanchez on vocals/guitars, Travis Stever on guitar and backing vocals, Michael Todd on bass and backing vocals and Josh Eppard on drums and backing vocals. Michael Petrak does additional percussion and Dave “Wavis” Parker is performing keyboards, backing vocals, some extra guitar and samples.
In a perfect world, the audio of this concert would be available on Spotify, but it isn’t. YouTube has the live concert footage and some of the YouTube users have created just the audio.
“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”
A perfect opener. It’s just a bit faster than the studio recording, but hey, that’s why I love the live show. And the crowd gets involved with the who-oh-oh chant towards the end.
“Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”
This version is electrifying. Again, a bit sped up than the studio, but I feel the energy smack me in the face.
“Blood Red Summer”
It follows the poppy rock vibes of “Ten Speed” perfectly.
This version is a metal beast and this live version is my go to track for it. As mentioned previously, its downtuned a little bit more from the studio cut and it sounds menacing.
After the two pop rock songs in “Ten Speed” and “Blood Red Summer” the placement of this is perfect to get the live concert back into progressive and metal like territory.
One of the best ballads from Coheed and Cambria, and live, you just hear the clean tone electric guitar, Claudio’s voice and the crowd singling along with him. It’s chilling, emotive and perfect.
From the debut album, the intensity of the song grabs my attention quickly. Hearing it played alongside songs from two of my favourite albums, works perfectly. The middle subdued section offers a calm before the song picks up again. With so much musical movements, nothing is lost and missed.
“A Favor House Atlantic”
It’s faster. When I watched the band live, this song is sing-a-long. You can’t make out the audiences here and you sort of lose the power of when Claudio drops out and the crowd sings. But the energy is still there. “Bye, bye, beautiful” alright.
The pop punk energy comes through. I wanted a bigger impact for the “wishing well, will you marry me” part but not all songs can be winners.
I don’t think this song worked well live.
The best cut and I like the sped up vibe of the song. And even though its quicker, the intensity of the vocals is still there. I would have loved to be able to hear the crowd cheering the who-oh-oh at the end.
“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”
At 14 minutes long, its eight minutes longer than the CD version and the jam aspect vibe they bring to this track is brilliant.
When there jamming the middle section lead break, they play this lead break that I swear comes from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” lead break.
And when they come out of the jam back into the normal song, its powerful and beautiful. The crash cymbals are smashing, the guitars are screaming and all hell is breaking loose as they finish off the concert.
In the end, “The Last Supper” leaves you wanting more of the Coheed and Cambria supper.
I did a recent post on this album in February 2021.
This album gets no love. The people who run the Ozzy Osbourne machine are trying their best to kill “The Ultimate Sin” because of the complicated relationships they have with the people involved in creating it and the various disputes over royalty payments.
Jake E. Lee circa, 1989 when he was promoting Badlands, blasted the sound of the album and the fixed mindset of producer Ron Nevison to not allow him to try any different sounds. Bob Daisley in his book blasted the album as the worst Ozzy Osbourne album he’s been involved in. And recently Ozzy, in a Rolling Stone interview, said the songs were just put down weird and that everything felt and sounded the same. Ozzy further mentioned that “The Ultimate Sin” is his least favourite solo release.
By 1986, Ozzy was in rehab and the people that held it all together were Bob Daisley and Jake E Lee. Lee got burned on the song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, so he demanded a contract up front before he even started writing. By the time Ozzy came out of rehab, Jake had already compiled 12 songs and the contract issues from the past made for a tense recording session.
Apart from “Shot In The Dark” (which is credited to Phil Soussan and Ozzy Osbourne) all of the lyrics on “The Ultimate Sin” are written by Bob Daisley to vocal melodies and titles put to him by Ozzy. But as usual, Daisley had a falling out with the Osbourne’s and was fired again and in spite, the first 500,000 copies of the album don’t have Daisley credited. This was corrected after the Osbourne’s were served with court papers.
But for all of the backroom band and business politics, this is one of my favourite albums from Ozzy.
“The Ultimate Sin”
The drum intro from Castillo sounds like it’s recorded on paper skins, but as soon as the riff kicks in from Lee, it’s head banging time. The song is credited to Daisley, Osbourne and Lee.
Overkill, enough is enough There’s nothing left of me to devour You’ve had your fill, I’m all I have left What can stop your hunger for power?
Intoxicated Ozzy gave the media and the religious zealots a lot of material to work with. Daisley had been around Ozzy long enough to see how the headlines played out.
Check out the solo and the outro section with the double kick drumming.
I’ve written about this track before, but who remembers the Charlie Sheen movie “The Wraith”?
In the movie, Charlie Sheen plays a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers one by one, by car racing each gang member and then setting them up to crash and die. “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.
How good is the intro riff?
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease / I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees
Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.
Check out the guitar solo from Lee.
“Never Know Why”
If we’re offensive and pose a threat You fear what we represent is a mess You’ve missed the message that says it all And you’ll never know why
I guess too many people judged heavy metal and hard rock music without really getting to know it and the people involved with it. I guess they will never know why we rock.
Make sure you check out the outro solo.
“Thank God For The Bomb”
The intro riff from Lee, is sleazy and sinister at the same time.
The title is almost Alice Cooper like, and musically, it feels like a Van Halen track from back in the David Lee Roth days.
An underrated track.
The “I Don’t Know” meets “Suicide Solution” verse riff is the link to the past which gets me interested.
“It is the chain that you’re dragging that was once your relief”
That house you wanted, is now the thing that gives you worry. The family you wanted, is now the thing that gives you happiness but also stress and fear.
How good is the Chorus!
Did I mention the solo is killer.
It’s so creative what Lee did here.
Take the riff from “Crazy Train” and play the higher notes in a different order over the F#m pedal point. It’s the essence of creativity. Take something that came before and tweak it.
I’m not apologizing I am what I am There is no compromising I don’t give a damn
Ozzy was rocking all night, alright and he didn’t give a damn.
“Killer Of Giants”
The acoustic/clean tone electric intro grabs my attention straight away.
But how good is the fingerpicked verse when Ozzy sings “if none of us believe in war, then what are the weapons for?”
The vocal melody and guitar riff for the Chorus gets me out of chair, singing, “mountain of protests for not stopping the war”.
And that guitar solo. So emotive and really bluesy.
“Fool Like You”
Another underrated deep album cut.
How good is that intro?
If it doesn’t get you up and banging that head, then you have no heartbeat.
You’re hearing what you want to hear Misunderstanding all you see An attitude in all of us Is it really you and me
As much as we tell ourselves we don’t have a bias, we do. All of us.
Did I mention that the lead break is a killer?
Lee goes all exotic and harmonic minor.
And how good is the section, when they come out of the solo, with Lee allowing the power chords to ring out, while Castillo goes to town with drum fills.
And there is an outro solo, which is too brief as someone made the dumb decision to fade it out.
“Shot In The Dark”
The big hit.
The way Lee decorates the song with the riffs, melodic fills and leads is excellent and of course Soussan keeps the bass line driving along.
The album is 35 years old and no re-release has happened.
But the fans don’t forget.
And for me, it was my entry point to Ozzy.
Play it loud.
Part 1.1 on Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time is here.
Part 1.2 on David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile is here.
Part 1.3 on Metallica – Master Of Puppets is here.
The media loved to play off Bon Jovi and Europe against each other, but they operated in different spheres. Europe always had the Euro/classical vibe to their music. Even at their commercial zenith, this Euro/classical vibe was still prevalent.
In Australia, the album was double platinum. In other parts of the world, it was the same, if not more.
Apart from the mainstays in vocalist Joey Tempest and bassist Jon Leven, “The Final Countdown” is the first album to feature keyboardist Mic Michaeli and drummer Ian Haugland, and the last to feature original guitarist John Norum until Europe’s 2000’s reboot.
“The Final Countdown”
At 294.7 million streams on Spotify, it’s a monster track. It’s on every Spotify playlists when it comes to hard rock and the 80’s and number ones and what not.
That intro. Iconic and memorable.
Wikipedia tells me it was a riff composed by Joey Tempest in 1981/82. It sat on the backburner until 1985, when bassist Jon Leven, asked Tempest to bring it back in the mix and write a song around it.
An interview that Tempest did with the BBC he mentions the following;
“I was in college and keyboards had started to make their way into rock music. I thought that could be a good idea and so I borrowed this keyboard from the only guy in school that had a keyboard. I went home and tried a few sounds on it and I came up with that riff. I thought it was very special and I kept it in the drawer until we did the third album many years later.
By then, there were some other bands experimenting with keyboards, like Van Halen with “Jump”. So on the third album, I gave this demo to the guys and said maybe we can do something nice with the demo and then we had an opening for the show.
I can trace bands like UFO in it, sort of a galloping theme like Iron Maiden had on “The Number of the Beast” album on quite a few songs.”
I like how Tempest mentions the influences of the song. It’s how we create. Take something that came before and make it better. And it also shows how ballsy the move was from EVH to create a song based around a synth riff. It inspired other bands to do the same.
How good is that lead break from John Norum?
He left the band as the album was being released. The original album cover has him on it, however subsequent versions afterwards had Kee Marcello, his replacement.
“Rock The Night”
50.46 million streams on Spotify.
A great “Rock You Like A Hurricane” inspired intro kicks off this song.
It was already a fan favourite, as it was played live on the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour, and in Sweden, it was on the soundtrack of a Swedish film called “On The Loose”, along with the songs “On The Loose” and “Broken Dreams”.
Just don’t watch the video clip.
123.96 million streams on Spotify. It’s also on a lot of playlists from Spotify, with the main one being the “Power Ballads” playlist.
Listen to the lead break from Norum. It’s the style of lead breaks that Vito Bratta would become known for.
“Danger On The Track”
The lyrics are silly but the vocal melodies are infectious.
But the interlude. It’s got everything. Norum plays a bluesy riff while the keyboard solos, and when he gets his chance, he delivers.
The intro melodic lead hooks me in straight away. Or maybe it was the “Lights Out” groove from UFO.
This song, along with “Rock The Night” were the first songs written for the album and played live during the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour.
Make sure you check out the lead break. Norum brings his Michael Schenker and Uli John Roth influences to the table on this one.
It’s a perfect closer for Side A.
Artists that weren’t American, were writing about American issues and the treatment of the Native Indian tribes. The idea for this song came from a book that the wife of producer Kevin Elson had and it was the last song written for the album.
The intro riff, which is also the Chorus riff is excellent.
And how good are the small leads in the Outro chorus. Tempest sings “Cher-o-kee” and Norum plays three notes after it, to mimic it.
“Time Has Come”
It’s like a soundtrack song. “Drive” from The Cars comes to mind.
But the bomb in this song is the whole solo movement. It is orchestrated brilliantly. It starts off with a Def Leppard like inspired riff before it goes into the lead.
“Heart Of Stone”
This track is one of those “deep album cuts” which is a fan favourite. The riffs are heavy metal like and that Chorus vocal melody is infectious.
And the solo.
Man, check it out as Norum pours his creativity in it.
“On The Loose”
It’s the “Blackout” feel from Scorpions that gets me to pay attention.
It’s a combination of “The Final Countdown” riff and “Danger On The Track”.
And what a shred-a-licious lead break to close the album with.
Europe would go on and release the excellent “Out Of This World” in 1988 which had more of a classic rock and metal vibe to it, and after a lot of delays and demanded re-writes by the label, “Prisoners In Paradise” in 1991, before calling it quits for the rest of the 90’s. But when they returned in the 2000’s, they returned with power, fully in control of their masters and their careers.
Part 1.1 on Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time is here.
Part 1.2 on David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile is here.
There is a lot of hate for the Public Domain from the corporations that hold the Copyrights to a lot of culture and the hate will get even bigger now that other corporations like hedge funds and investment funds are buying up the rights to valuable works.
A lot of artists hate streaming, but streaming has really shown how valuable music can be, which has brought in a new player to the Copyright table.
The Night Flight Orchestra got some love as being hot as well as the Sweden’s music scene. Adrenaline Mob was also back after the death of AJ Pero and the previous departure of Mike Portnoy. But a much larger tragedy was on the horizon.
“It’s a cheap tag (on being called Heavy metal) and its been stamped on us mainly from a media point of view. It’s an insult to be slapped in with hundreds of other bands. We look at it this way, we’re a rock and roll band. Calling AC/DC heavy metal is like saying The Police is a reggae band, even though they may have a bit of that style.”
AC/DC is still found in the Metal section of the record stores.
“You should give someone a chance to develop their own technique. If someone tells you how to play something it could easily mess up your talent and corrupt you for life. Everything you play should be done how you feel like doing it—very naturally. Playing guitar is like doing anything else—you’ve got to be able to think for yourself.”
So I wasn’t surprised when by 1990 so many guitarists sounded the same and had very similar techniques.
Vito Bratta’s guitar playing was still coming through the speakers. He spent so many years to make it, only to walk away, a few years after making it.
Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains was pissed because “something you’ve worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it’s no longer deemed valuable. That’s fucked up, to me.”
But I disagreed. His art is valuable to the people who find it valuable. Just because someone spent two to three years creating art, it doesn’t mean that people will find it valuable to pay you for it. The ones that want to pay, will pay.
I was overdosing on “West Ruth Avenue” from The Night Flight Orcheatra. It’s the Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin You” guitar like riff that grabbed my attention. It’s from their 2012 album “Internal Affairs” released via Coroner Records.
The NFO captures the magic of classic rock and they make it sound so authentic.
“Children of The Grave” is my best Sabbath song. I still prefer the blistering Randy Rhoads version on “Tribute”. It’s got more of a metal feel to it and the lead break that Randy unleashes is another one of his songs within a song lead break.
Thirty Seconds To Mars dropped “Conquistador” and I was/still am a fan of its massive blues rock riff.
Dragon is a New Zealand rock band which was formed in January 1972 and relocated later to Sydney, in May 1975.
“Body and the Beat” is album number seven. The album was released in June 1984, peaking at number 5 on the Australian charts and gained a platinum certification.
But it’s their first album since 1979.
At the time, Dragon was on the verge of breaking through worldwide but vocalist Marc Hunter was out of control with his heroin addiction and on stage antics, offending everyone, including audiences, other acts and label heads.
They had a US tour opening up for Johnny Winter that went pear shaped when Hunter called Winter’s blues rock audience rednecks and faggots. Then again it was another stupid decision to place Dragon on this bill, it’s like Imagine Dragons opening up for Iron Maiden.
Actually when I watched Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time”, the opening act “Behind Crimson Eyes” was the support. Now they are an Australian metalcore band with screaming vocals and they got booed after each song, until they played a cover of “Ace Of Spades” and the crowd cheered. Again, another misplaced opening act.
Anyway, back to Dragon, the band which included his brother Todd, fired him. This brought to an end the first period of Dragon which also involved the heroin overdose of drummer Neil Storey in 1976.
Hunter went solo and had some success and then the band got together again.
“Rain” was the output in 1983. Written by Johanna Pigott, Marc Hunter and Todd Hunter, it’s 3 minutes and 40 seconds of hard rock glory. Make sure you stick around for the “if you go out in the rain” melody.
Due to its success, the band went into the studio to record an album worth of songs.
It’s worth noting that the songwriting team of Johanna Pigott and her partner, Todd Hunter (Dragon bass player) also wrote the smash hit title track “Age Of Reason” for John Farnham.
The album kicks off with “Rain”. “Promises” and “Wilderworld” are melodic rock songs perfect for a summers day.
If it wasn’t for “Rain”, then “Cry” would be a favorite.
“Body And The Beat” has a bass groove and a feel that bands like INXS were making popular.
“Magic” feels like a driving song, with the window down and the warm winds blowing through.
Apart from “Rain”, this album is forgotten.
Everyone told the band the album would break the band overseas. But it didn’t. Within a year they were back in the studio recording another album..
A year after this album came out, keyboardist Paul Hewson and the writer of their classic songs “April Sun In Cuba” and “Are You Old Enough” was found dead in a friends car, hours after he told the band he wanted to leave.
Dragon continued and released the super successful (in the Australia market), “Dreams Of Ordinary Men” in 1986 and my favourite “Bondi Road” in 1989. A few greatest hits and acoustic re-recordings hit the shelves. And then tragedy struck again.
Marc Hunter was diagnosed with throat cancer in November 1997 and he died on 17 July 1998. Dragon have continued on with Todd Hunter still the driving force.
It’s the album that defined the Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton line up. By 1986, they had been together for three years and the musical creativity between the guys was at an all-time high.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted any Metallica reviews at all. When I started this blog I tried to focus on artists who didn’t get a lot of love and stayed away from acts like Metallica because the internet is littered with stories and reviews. But each story and review is personal to the person who wrote it.
For me, Hetfield and his commitment to down picking and writing killer riffs is a huge influence when it comes to guitar playing. The lyrics he wrote, living in corporate Reagenomics showed a maturity far surpassed for his young years. There is and never was, no tease and please in his lyrical lines.
The cover foreshadows that other unseen masters control our lives from the cradle to the grave. Designed by Metallica and Peter Mensch and painted by Don Brautigam, it depicts a cemetery field of white crosses tethered to strings, manipulated by a pair of hands in a blood-red sky.
With “Master Of Puppets”, Metallica took the diverse musical elements of “Ride The Lightning” and raised the bar even higher. Live, they performed even faster and looked like your friend standing next to you watching the show, so far removed from the image put out by Ratt and Motley Crue, to name a few.
The ominous Ennio Morricone themed intro kicks off this monster track. It’s even classical sounding in nature as James Hetfield creates a melody that moves from F to E to D while the low notes move up chromatically from E to F to F# and to G. And while those chords ring out, a subtle harmony guitar outlines a different melodic idea.
Eventually, the power chords start crashing in and those subtle harmony guitar licks come to the fore.
Then all hell breaks loose at the 1.05 mark, when a chainsaw galloping riff smashes through the boundaries and James starts singing with his four day alcohol infested throat. The song isn’t pretty, but its message is about a light that burns within despite the violence and darkness around.
It could be seen as a bastard, a collision between punk and metal.
“Smashing through the boundaries / lunacy has found me / cannot stop the battery”
And a sea of bodies run, circle and smash each other into bits, creating scars to prove that the battery cannot be stopped.
How good is that hard rock like groove and lead from 2.58 to 3.18 before the breakneck solo section.
And make sure you bang your head on the military foot stomping chromatic riff from 3.49 to 4.00.
Which also closes the song. I guess battery is found in me.
“Master Of Puppets”
They wanted to write another “Creeping Death”.
Hetfield grew up in a Christian Science house. The person here is controlled by the religion first, then the family, the social circles of the family and the cultural values of the family and their circle of friends. Hetfield explored these themes of control and subjugation in “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.
In its essence, it’s asking for sanity to prevail in a control-freak society/world. Then again, it could be seen as a band saying to their audience, “taste our music and you will see, more is all you need”, because once everyone got a taste of em, they more or less stayed hooked and agreed with Hetfield.
After a few descending and chromatic power chords, the intro riff kicks in at the 3 second mark. Hetfield’s combination of syncopated chromatic lines with a driving low E pedal at 220 beats per minute creates an urgent feeling.
The verse riff has so much power because of the vocal line. They complement each other.
The song could have ended at the 3.32 mark. A 3 minute thrash-a-thon. But this was Metallica, and suddenly we get a haunting Em arpeggio riff, with harmony guitars and James Hetfield breaking out into an individual solo before joining back up with the harmony lead.
Then the clean tone arpeggio riff is played menacingly with distortion while power chords crash down around your senses, while Lar’s just keeps building into the “master, master” chant section.
“The Thing That Should Not Be”
An ominous D to E clean tone chord rings out. On this they drop the E down to D and all the other strings remain the same. It was my first exposure to the DADGBE tuning.
Lyrically, I read a track by track analysis book from Mick Wall and Malcolm Dome, who said the song is about the madness that lives at the bottom of the well of all human souls. And it stuck with me, because even though it could be about the mythical creature Cthulhu, I always saw lyrics from a personal and social point of view.
“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”
This song is the definition of taking the best things of what has come before and merging those things all together to come up with something unique, original and innovative.
INTRO (0.00 to 0.20) Back in 1971, Yes released “Roundabout”. The intro is more or less a droning note, with some harmonics and a hammer on/pull off lick on the E string.
Take something from the past and make it better.
INTRO 2 and VERSE (0.21 to 1.48) and (2.10 to 3.10) Anyone heard of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band called Bleak House?
If the answer is NO, then you are in the majority. However, a certain person called Lars Ulrich has heard of this band. James Hetfield has even said in an interview that the band shall remain anonymous.
So Bleak House release a song called “Rainbow Warrior” as a seven-inch single in 1980 via Buzzard Records. By 1982, the band called it a day. The intro riff of “Rainbow Warrior” is catchy. It was so good that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are influenced by it. They start to jam on it and they start to tweak it into “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.
Hetfield and Ulrich made this riff the centrepiece, as Hetfield arpeggiates a serious of 5th power chords on the A and D strings, surrounding them with the Open G and E strings, which forms like a double pedal point. The lead break from Hammett is phrased perfectly.
Metaphorically, I saw the world as a lunatic asylum and you know how truth is meant to set you free, but in this song, truth actually imprisons you. In a cruel twist of fate, knowledge is maddening, instead of being powerful. I’ve definitely overanalyzed the lyrics, but god damn, what else was I meant to do during this time except listen to music, analyse the music, read the interviews in the mags I purchased and since I played an instrument, learn the music and write my own music.
In the “Guitar Legends” #108 issue, Hetfield said that the idea for the song came from the move “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and that “the riff was lifted from some other band, who shall remain anonymous.”
OUTRO (4.05 to 4.26) and (04.48 to end) Metallica have taken the intro from “Tom Sawyer” and used it as their outro. The feel and the phrasing of the two songs are almost identical.
Again, take what has come before and make something new.
One of the most underrated cuts on the album. This song is a blast to play on guitar with so many different movements and bone crunching riffs, like the open string palm muted chugging riff after the power chords intro.
And that open string palm muted riff comes back in the verses.
At 8 plus minutes, it’s a tour de force, another metal classic, the way metal should sound.
“Back to the front / you will die / when I say / you must die” as even in war, the soldiers are controlled by masters. These kind of concepts Hetfield explores a little bit more in “One”.
Make sure you stick around for the various lead breaks between the 4.50 and 5.25 mark.
And the lyric, “I was born for dying” scared the hell out of me, because it’s true. Everything that is born will die eventually.
The song is written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. The title comes from a David Bowie lyric in “Ziggy Stardust”.
It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica. Hammett denies this, saying that just before the guitar solo there is a less than 10 seconds of music that could be his and that it was actually Lars Ulrich that came up with the main motif.
For all of those haters that said Metallica had sold out with the “Black” album obviously didn’t know that Metallica had similar style songs on their earlier albums. “Leper Messiah” is one of those songs.
The best part comes in around the 30 second mark. Cliff’s trademark bass lines just rumble along while James lays down palm muted staccato power chords.
“Send me money, send me green / Heaven you will meet / Make a contribution / And you’ll get a better seat / Bow to leper messiah”
Turn on the TV and you see some evil right there. These TV evangelists made some serious bank, using heavy metal and hard rock music as topics of discussion, while spending a lot of their time in seedy motels doing drugs and hookers.
Make sure you check out the section between the 3.20 to 3.35 mark.
The drums are stock standard while the bass plays phased out chords, but when the distorted guitars kick in, that riff is head banging, back breaking and desk breaking worthy.
At the 4 minute mark, the song slows down into a Sabbath like blues rock riff courtesy of Burton and the guitars really shine here, with their harmonies. From the 5.13 mark, a lone lead starts but its quickly harmonised. This whole section was written by Burton.
At the 5.41 mark, there is another melodic lead which keeps on repeating and it builds into a single lead break. Then you get a bass solo. At the 7 minute mark its back to the thrashing mad lead sections, but here Hammett is all Michael Schenker like.
I will leave this review with the following lines from “Damage Inc.”;
“Following our instinct / not a trend / go against the grain / until the end”
I had no idea who Steve Vai was until I saw him in the “Yankee Rose” clip, making his guitar answer questions that Dave Lee Roth put forward. And if you think it was a fluke, make sure you check out the cat/kitten noises Vai did for the intro on “Kittens Got Claws” on the Whitesnake “Slip Of The Tongue” album a few years later. The way Vai could manipulate the guitar with the whammy bar, bends and slides and effects to create animal and human like voices is unique.
“Eat ‘Em and Smile” is the debut full-length solo album by original Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth, released on July 7, 1986. The band on the album is Steve Vai on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums.
Produced by Ted Templeman, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a party about to go out of control.
Penned by David Lee Roth and Steve Vai. The intro is iconic with the walking bass line and of course the “talking guitar” which seems to have a conversation with David Lee Roth.
From a musical viewpoint, Vai is in cruise control here, making a very simple guitar riff sound interesting with his additions of arpeggios, legato lines, bends and whammy bar manipulations towards the end of the fourth bar of the riff.
The video clip was also designed with MTV in mind, with moves orchestrated to show the technical abilities of the individual band members.
The Talas track penned by Billy Sheehan got some added muscle on this album with Vai’s virtuosic playing complimenting Sheehan. And of course, Gregg Bissonette on drums is in his element here.
From Aussie artist, Billy Field who he co-write the song with Tom Price. The whole big band sho-be-bop is not my thing however I don’t mind when rock artists take a song from that style and rock-ify it.
But this isn’t really rock-i-fied.
“Ladies’ Nite In Buffalo?”
Another Roth and Vai cut, this one sounds like it came from the fingertips of Joe Walsh.
The blues rock boogie from Sheehan and Bissonette is excellent and the funky guitar riff by Vai compliments it perfectly. It’s tracks like this that made Dave Lee Roth’s solo career interesting and exciting.
And that lead break from Vai is outta this world.
It’s another Roth/Vai penned song.
Vai brings the goods with an iconic guitar riff to kick it off. If you think the riff sounds like something you’ve heard before, I always said that the riff in “Finish What Ya Started” which came a few years after, is very similar to this.
The synths compliment instead of detracting.
Check out Vai’s solo and then go to YouTube to watch the video clip put together from the movie that never came to see the light of day.
A cover song written by John D. Loudermilk, it’s got that big blues rock feel and the way the DLR and the guys in the band do it, is excellent.
Another track penned by Roth/Vai and this one is full of great Van Halen inspired riffs. Vocally, Roth sings in a deep baritone, something which Axl Rose would do a lot within the Guns catalogue.
The solo section starts off with an impressive bass solo, which keeps happening, when Vai starts shredding the guitar lead.
The “Big Trouble In Little China” film always come to mind when I see this song title.
Does anyone remember the Kurt Russel and Kim Cattral film?
The song has nothing to do with the film except that it’s a sleazy little rumble, written by Roth/Vai with a rap like vocal melody in the verses and a progressive like Chorus.
Check out the blistering Vai solo full of his trademarks fast legato lines with finger taps.
“Bump And Grind”
Another Roth/Vai composition.
Great title with a riff which bumps and grinds its way through the song and Roth is being Roth, having fun and talking his way through the song.
A big band cover song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. What can I say, is Roth being Roth.
And this line up wouldn’t do another album again or perform together once the tour ended. However a reunion show was planned recently, and it was killed seconds before the band took the stage by a fire marshal who was worried at the size of the venue and the amount of people in the venue.
The free spirited nature of “Eat ’Em and Smile” is attractive and exciting as it feels like the whole album could just go off the rails and crash at any time.
At 31 minutes, man, its short for a release, which was strange for a highly anticipated and expected album. But the impact it left behind is huge, introducing Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan to large rock audiences, along with drummer Gregg Bissonette.
After this, Vai and Roth would do one more album in “Skyscraper” while Sheehan formed Mr Big with another ace guitarist in Paul Gilbert. Both acts had huge success with their releases.
Vai would finally release his second solo album “Passion and Warfare” and he also got a chance to decorate the songs that Adrian Vandenberg wrote for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album after a cool million dollar advance.
Meanwhile Roth hooked up with various guitarist to write the follow up, eventually settling on 19-year-old guitar virtuoso Jason Becker to replace Vai.
“A Little Ain’t Enough” was released in 1991, produced by Bob Rock. It did okay business in sales but before the tour started, Becker was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, rendering him unable to perform onstage. Guitarist Joe Holmes stood in for Becker during the tour.
But the audience just wasn’t there for DLR to fill arenas in 1991, After 15 years in the spotlight, Roth’s brand of hard rock became unfashionable.
And the original era of Roth’s solo career fractured shortly after.
P.S. this is the second part of a post that was meant to be just one post. Here is the link to the Maiden post covering “Somewhere In Time”.
I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.
The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.
Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.
Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.
As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.
The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.
The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.
This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.
In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.
A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.
“Second Stage Turbine Blade”
It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.
The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.
“Devil In Jersey City”
It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.
This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums
The heaviest song on the album.
“Hearshot Kid Disaster”
It has a funky riff.
A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.
“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.
The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.
“God Send Conspirator” A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.