I’ve been all over the place with posts this month.
It all started when I got Covid around the 7 January (from my brother in law who had it and decided to keep it secret and infect us all) and although I’m triple vaxed, there are still some minor symptoms like a constant cough, a small temperature increase and just tiredness or laziness.
So these posts are normally released on Sunday’s but I’ve been late.
4 Years Ago (2018)
“Better Days”, “Taking On The World” and “The Feeling Within”. From Gun, a very underrated and under-appreciated band.
With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote the music. They would basically compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully they would get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.
“Now Forever After” and “Stargazer”. From Kingdom Come.
The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the artist got one, they had another shot. If the artist didn’t get one, they got dropped.
Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.
Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.
Check em out.
“I Believe In You”, “Knock You Out” and “Hands Of Time”. From Y&T.
For many, “Earthshaker” is a landmark album. If you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” is the result.
For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band.
Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.
“Abandon” and “Heartbreaker”. From Dare.
Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band.
They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.
“Lovers”. From Fate.
One of those acts who are classed as B or C level. This is from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.
“Future World”, “We Came To Rock”, “Yellow Rain”, “Loud’N’Proud” and “Rodeo”. From Pretty Maids.
They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them. Check out the “Future World” album.
“Under The Gun” and “Turn It On”. From Danger Danger.
For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, and after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before he returned to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.
“Long Way From Home” and “Angel In My Heart”. From Britny Fox.
Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract. And while they sounded like other bands, I’m still a sucker for derivative rock.
“Misery Loves Company”, “Nobody Knows”, “Hard Luck” and “Letters In The Rain”. From Lillian Axe.
Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, “Lillian Axe”.
As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped. But check em out.
“The Right To Rock”, “United Nations”, “King Of The Rock” and “Don’t Say You Love Me”. From Keel.
The rock is strong with Keel.
And Ron Keel was always a full throttle with his voice.
Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life
But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay gets deposited into your account.
I’ll make my stand If you’re with me, raise your hands
We had splintered by 1987.
Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”.
Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”.
Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs.
The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal. We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.
In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.
It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well for Cyrus.
8 Years Ago (2014)
When original founding members are removed from the band they founded, the only winners are the lawyers.
Adam Duce claimed that Machine Head kicked him out of the band just before they signed a new record deal however the Machine Head camp said, Duce left on his own because he was “sick of it”.
So Duce sued the band, its three current members and manager in Federal Court, alleging trademark infringement, breach of partnership agreement and defamation, among other things.
When a member leaves or is fired from a band (depending on what story you believe), this rubbish normally happens.
It will all come down to the band agreement in place. Being in bands previously, the band agreement is a document that is meant to be fair amongst the band members. So if the other members feel like they are putting in more effort, then why should they split things evenly.
Robb Flynn is a lifer when it comes to music. He lives and breathes Machine Head. He is the main songwriter, the one that goes home and thinks about Machine Head. The one that dreams about Machine Head. The one that stays to the late hours recording the albums, mixing them and all of that.
There are no winners in court cases like these except the lawyers/attorneys.
And a few months later, the case was settled with the terms of the deal remaining confidential as both sides were able to reach a satisfactory agreement.
Fast forward to 2019, Adam Duce, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain had a jam session at the opening night of Demmel’s Pub. Which is bizarre as McClain was going to quit Machine Head if Duce remained.
I guess hell had frozen over.
It’s a chaotic and disruptive time in the music business and with chaos comes opportunity.
On one side you have COPYRIGHT. And that can be broken down into a lot of other little chaotic categories like infringement, the length of copyright terms, copyright monopolies, the lack of works entering the public domain and so on.
The public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’
Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all of the sixties greats like Hendrix, Clapton and Beck used this concept. They built off the blues.
However copyright law and its real purpose got hijacked by corporations and everything changed. Instead of culture being built up in the works that the public creates and shares, the public is now faced with copyright corporations locking away works that should be in the public domain by now.
It is important to respect the public domain.
Video games are one of those peculiar cultural items where the games are well-known, however the actual designers are not really known.
Does anyone know the names of Tomohiro Nishikado (“Space Invaders”) or Toru Iwatani (“Pac-Man”) or Yu Suzuki (“Outrun”)?
I didn’t, however I knew the games and I even spoke about the games to my kids.
And it got me thinking about some names behind some of the great music that I love.
Tom Werman is one person that comes to mind immediately. Regardless of the different versions of history out there from some of the artists that he worked with, one thing is clear; Tom Werman was a pop producer who got selected by the A&R people of the labels as the man to get hard rock acts on the radio. And he did that job with a lot of Gold and Platinum certifications along the way
Michael Wagener is another that comes to mind. He was a producer, an engineer and a mixer.
What about Randy Staub?
He engineered “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue, the black album from Metallica, “Keep The Faith” from Bon Jovi, Motley Crue’s self titled album, “Subhuman Race” from Skid Row, “Load” and “Reload” from Metallica, “Satellite” from POD and many others like Five Finger Death Punch’s “War Is The Answer.” He never was the Producer but was an in demand engineer. Those sounds are from Staub.
Mike Fraser is another whose name is in the majority of albums that I like as mixer.
Of course there are others like Max Norman, Roy Thomas Baker, Jack Douglas, Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock, Duane Baron/John Purdell, Dave Prater and many more that shaped the albums that we have come to known to love. The music has achieved worldwide acclaim, the bands and the song writers have achieved worldwide acclaim however a lot of the people behind the scenes that captured the sounds, mixed them, edited them, spoke out about arrangements and so forth, have not.
Randy Jackson from the band Zebra does Robert Plant better than Robert Plant!
It was Dream Theater’s cover of their song “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” in 2009 that re-awakened my interest in Zebra.
Isn’t it funny how a cover song brings back the original song and the band into the psyche.
Jackson founded Zebra in 1975.
They had a very large following before their first record ever came out in 1983 on Atlantic Records.
Like most bands in the later part of the Seventies and the early part of their Eighties, most of their fan base had been developed from their live shows.
In addition, the majority of the bands had been slugging it out for a decent time in the clubs before getting their recording contract.
The follow-up album “No Tellin Lies” in 1984 stalled in the U.S and by 1986, their 3.V album wasn’t even noticed and Atlantic dropped them.
Then it was over.
Randy Jackson formed China Rain and they lived in development hell and never got a fair shake.
Randy Jackson finished the China Rain record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it. Sound familiar. Gatekeepers controlling the fate of musicians. Dee Snider suffered the same fate with his “Desperado” project.
From 1992 to 1996, Randy was involved in the development of an interactive musical instrument called “The Key”.
“Zebra IV” started recording in 1996. The drums were done in a week in 1996 and the rest of the album was done sporadically after that. The album didn’t see the light of day until 2003.
Throughout the Nineties, Randy also built up his acoustic shows. Nobody wanted to book him in the beginning, even his trusted agents in New Orleans who had booked Zebra for 20 years rejected him. Now he is playing places like Japan and criss crossing the US and he hasn’t even put out a record of the acoustic project. Yep, while labels and artist still believe it is about the album, here is Randy Jackson delivering a show that is spreading via word of mouth.
In between Randy did “The Sign”, a melodic rock supergroup. He also handles the vocals for the wildly successful Symphonic Music shows of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Eagles performing to packed houses across the country (from 1996).
He is a lifer in the music business. Prepared to do what he needs to do to get. He didn’t get the fame that other bands did, however it didn’t mean he didn’t have success.
If you want to have a career in the music business, “Lifer” is a term that you need to get used to. I’m other words, you need to be in it for life.
Sebastian Bach believes he’s been ripped on the songwriting credits of the songs that Bolan and Sabo wrote. Doc McGhee said that Bach doesn’t understand how Copyright works and that their is a difference between writing a song and performing a song.
Some musicians believe that their performance on the song should give them a songwriter credit, which is a false belief.
There is always a main songwriter in each band. That is why in Motley Crue you see a lot of songs written by Nikki Sixx. Iron Maiden have Steve Harris. Skid Row has Rachel Bolan. Zebra has Randy Jackson. The Police had Sting.
In the majority of the cases, the original song writer will be listed as the song writer. There could be a band agreement in place here that distributes monies earned from the songwriter to the other band members in relation to licensing royalties.
Dee Snider had one with Jay Jay French.
Van Halen had one but in the 90s they started to give the songwriting credits to the people involved in the songwriting and that didn’t include Michael Anthony.
Dokken didn’t get much traction in Australia so you rarely saw them on the music television shows in Australia.
And just when Dokken had the world in their hands, unresolved internal conflicts made the members part ways. The internal conflicts stem back from the beginning of Dokken.
This is how drummer Mick Brown summed up the conflicts;
“A few years after running into Don Dokken, he took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract.
So he called me up to play.
I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs.
But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started.
I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” (laughing) but he did anyway.”
And if there was any doubt to Lynch’s guitar god status, “Wicked Sensation” cemented it.
In 1990, I was in a rut in relation to my guitar playing. “Wicked Sensation” re-awakened my desire and showed me new ways to play chords, create rhythms and structures.
Much in the same way that the “Randy Rhoads Tribute” album and Tesla’s “The Great Radio Controversy” became my bibles, “Wicked Sensation” was next in my list.
And that’s another wrap for another week.