Investment funds are purchasing licenses to music catalogues that make money. Streaming services have shown how much money they pay to the copyright holders which in most cases are the labels, the publishers, the few artists who own their rights and now, Hedge Funds and Investment Funds.
The three major music labels jointly brought in over $25 billion in revenue last year, with $12.5 billion coming from streaming recorded revenue alone. Spotify payments represent around a third of that streaming total. Major label profits combined in 2021 exceeded $4 billion.
Furthermore, social media services like Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat and the like also pay a lot of license fees to the copyright holders. Even games like Roblox had to settle a $200 million suit around licensing fees to the publishers and labels. There is a lot of money going out to copyright holders which isn’t filtering to the actual people who make those copyrights valuable.
Then again, a lot of those people are dead and their copyrights are unfortunately held by corporations (instead of being in the Public Domain) who might pay a few million or a few thousands to the artists heirs. Sort of like a lifetime pension that reverts to the spouse and then to the kids.
From a Metal point of view, investment fund, Tempo Music acquired a majority stake in some of Korn’s recordings and compositions. And another investment fund called, Round Hill Music did a deal with members of Supertramp.
David Bowie’s catalogue went for a lot and he’s not even alive to spend it. So did Bob Dylan to Universal Music Group, who is figuring out how to spend his $400 million at his age. And Neil Young sold 50% of his stake in his song to Hipgnosis for $150 million.
81 year old Tina Turner also sold her rights to BMG (a music publishing company) along with her image and likeness. “Chanisaw Charlie” from WASP comes to mind and how “Charlie” the label boss in the song, whores the image of the dead rock stars.
And the cases for plagiarism in music just keep coming.
You see, I find it hard to believe that an artist is so original and free from influence. And yes, some songs might sound the same or have similarities. Hell the whole Southern Rock genre sounded the same in the 70’s and so did the Blues Rock genre from the same period. They actually both sounded the same.
Listen to progressive music like Yes, ELP and Rush and you would start to hear a lot of similarities. It’s just how creativity works. Nothing is created in a vacuum, free from influences. Creativity is a sum of our influences and experiences.
Plagiarism cases don’t happen much in metal and hard rock circles these days, but if any of the artists have a hit song right now, well, where there is a hit, there is a writ.
Drake and Chris Brown are in court over copyright infringement. Kate Perry just won her suit. Bad Bunny is also sued for infringement. Ed Sheeran has a special team that constantly fights plagiarism court battles.
And Taylor Swift is almost done re-recording her old songs to get away from a restrictive contract in which her copyrights are owned by her original label and for some reason they had the right to sell those rights on to anyone, which they already did.
In other words, they used Taylor Swift as a bargaining chip, sold the copyrights they held in her music and took the money with no compensation to the artist.
“Frontiers” from Italy is constantly putting money out there to get famous artists from the 80’s and 90’s to record new music for them and to re-record their old songs for the label.
From looking at the metal and rock genre, “Frontiers” have the highest releases from any label that I am aware off. I guess the Frontiers execs are aware that having assets like “copyright” under their control, makes good business sense.
Those copyright assets will never go down to zero. Because streaming pays those who hold the copyrights and the money is in holding the copyrights for the life of the artist plus 70 years after death. In some countries its 90 years after death.
In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales. And artists will keep on creating.
AI can create new songs from Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. A company called OpenAI can generate new pop songs in the style of these artists. It’s not studio quality, more like garage demo’s as the AI creates derivative versions of music they’ve already released and new lyrics based on the songs the artist previously released.
But the biggest issue always facing artists is payments.
The streaming services have secret licensing agreements with the music publishers and the labels. These black box deals are worth a lot to the labels and publishers.
But the music publishers and labels are in these positions of negotiating power because of the works that the artists have created, however those licensing monies do not filter down to the artists.
Then again, these kinds of black box creative accounting from the labels is engrained in their system. It’s nothing new.
But I’ll sign my contract baby, and I won’t you people to know Every penny that I make, I’ve got to see where my money goes
From “Working For MCA” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
But artists don’t see where their money goes and they haven’t seen for a very long time.
And when the labels had the power and control of the distribution chain before Napster, they could sign artists to the most crappiest deals ever. Which they still enforce today.
Steve Gaines joined, making it a three guitar team again, with Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. Ronnie Van Zant is on Vocals, Leon Wilkeson on Bass, Artimus Pyle on Drums and Billy Powell on Keyboards. Sam McPherson is on harmonica. JoJo Billingsley, Cassie Gaines and Leslie Hawkins are the backing vocalists.
“One More from The Road” is a live album compiled from a few shows.
It’s also the only live album from the classic era of 1970 to 1977. And an essential album to own.
Workin’ for MCA
Written by Ed King and Ronnie Van Zant which more or less sum up the crap record deal they had with the label.
Slickers steal my money since I was seventeen If it ain’t no pencil pusher, then there’s got to be a honky tonk queen Well I signed my contract, baby, now I want you people to know Every penny that I make, I wanna see where my money goes
The creative accounting from the labels. What they give you, they get back tenfold. Bon Scott comes to mind when he sang, “getting ripped off”.
I want you to sign the contract Want you to sign the date Gonna give you lots of money Workin’ for MCA
I Ain’t the One
Written by Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant about a love affair between a whiskey swilling brawler and Daddy’s rich girl.
Saturday Night Special
Written by Ed King and Ronnie Van Zant.
How can you not like the intro and verse riffs?
Press play and enjoy.
My favourite song from the “Gimme Back My Bullets” album and written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant. The tempo is slightly increased and this version is my definitive version.
Written by Ronnie Van Zant and Leon Wilkeson.
The intro bass riff from Leon Wilkeson gets me interested straight away.
A classic written by Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant. Also check out Shinedown’s cover in the 2000’s. Brent Smith delivers a stellar vocal.
Press play on this to hear the harmony lead breaks.
Great song title, written by Ed King, Billy Powell and Ronnie Van Zant.
It was a rite of passage to consume whiskey and listening to rock and roll. The song is about hitting the road to the rock and roll show.
The Needle and the Spoon
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant.
I like the intro on this. And the verse riff that comes in is a cross between “Searching” and “Sweet Home Alabama”.
Gimme Back My Bullets
Written by Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
How good is that intro riff?
Its heavy and full of groove.
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant and man didn’t Zakk Wylde take a lot of licks from this. As soon as I heard it, I thought of “Road To Nowhere” and a few songs from the Pride and Glory album.
A classic. The leads alone hook me in.
Gimme Three Steps
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant, it’s a 12 bar blues with a bit of country rock thrown in.
Call Me the Breeze
Written by J.J. Cale. Everyone was covering Cale around this period. Simple 12 bar blues rock and roll and they blew another amp in the process.
T for Texas
Written by Jimmie Rodgers and the “new fella” Stevie Gaines was introduced. And it’s more soloing over 12 bar blues chord progressions.
Sweet Home Alabama
The hit, written by Ed King, Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant. Inspired by Neil Young’s song “Southern Man” which was seen as a diss to the south. This didn’t impress Ronnie Van Zant and he meant every word when he sang, “well I hope Mr Young can remember, a Southern Man don’t need him around”.
And during the performance, Van Zant, interjects over the solo, “there are plenty of good people in the South, so make sure you tell Mr Young about it”.
A Robert Johnson cover that Eric Clapton has made his own, but Lynyrd Skynyrd also deliver a pretty mean version full of energy and power.
The big closer written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant. At almost 12 minutes long, it’s not for the faint hearted. The guitar interplay in the massive outro solo section is worth the price of admission.
For a first purchase I became an instant fan of the band.
And they reformed during this late 80s early 90s period so when I was getting into their old stuff, I had new content to listen to as well.
Released in 1996, I got this on cassette originally, which I found in a 3 for $10 bin.
But I didn’t get it when it came out. It was a few years later and I got the CD recently at a record fair. Again it was in a 3 for $10 box.
Press play to hear the bass guitar riff.
It’s basically an artist writing a song, without a thought of it being a hit. And somehow it gets released as a single and it’s seen as a hit. I like the feel of the verses, the way the bass rumbles and those open string droning notes on the guitars builds up into the Chorus.
The lead single, and it followed a “Live (band) vibe”.
At 30.5 million Spotify streams it’s definitely the hit song from the album. But it pales compared to “Glycerine” at 151 million streams or “Machinehead” at 91.6 million streams.
Press play to hear how the song starts with the snare groove and how it just keeps building. You get to hear Rossdale throw his throat out in the singing.
It has a cool drum groove, with the guitars decorating the song in a nice way, as Rossdale is singing, “you will get yours” with the volume and intensity increasing. And at six minutes long, it’s the anti-single, but it still got released as a single.
A Tendency To Start Fires
The verses hook me, but the Chorus loses me.
It’s almost like the song “Black Sabbath”. Listen to it in its doom like feel.
“Nothing hurts like your mouth”
Truth right there. We might forget the words but we never forget the feeling.
Straight, No Chaser
They tried to re-write “Glycerine” but they didn’t get close.
I like the intro guitar riff on this. It just didn’t go on long enough.
The Chorus is a favourite, very Bowie like.
It’s “Mouth” part 2.
Another cool guitar riff to start if off but overall the song doesn’t connect with me as I felt they really tried hard to recreate “Glycerine”.
They should have ended the album with “Synapse” as the last three songs drag it down.
Like “Sixteen Stone”, it was the accessible singles of the album that got me interested in the album and then it was a matter of discovering some cool sections here and there.
They did an electronic remix album after this and they lost me with that cash grab. And I didn’t check out “The Science Of Things” until recently.
Tool announced a price of $810 USD for the “Fear Inoculum” Ultra-Deluxe vinyl version. The version, includes five discs of 180-gram vinyl, with music on one side and etched art on the other. The sets are also autographed, but are only available to fans who bought the Toolarmy VIP tickets to the forthcoming dates on their tour. In other words, they are seriously exclusive.
Go to Discogs and you will see physical albums (vinyl especially) selling for a lot higher than what they are worth or purchased for.
Wu-Tang Clan made just one copy of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” and auctioned it off for $2 million dollars in 2015 to Martin Shkreli who lost it when the Feds seized his assets in 2018. While this was more gimmick and marketing and not for every artist, it definitely opened up the minds of artists.
While it was always known by the fans, it also became a common viewpoint amongst the artists that purchasing “physical” music is not always about the listening experience to the fan, but a valuable artefact to own. In other words, if the artists stopped chasing the mass and focused on the core to provide them with Super Deluxe releases, we’ll they could make some serious money.
Ask David Coverdale. He has commemorated major album releases with fantastic box sets for the super fans who all paid higher than expected.
Metallica have been doing the same.
Def Leppard have been doing large box sets of time periods. Slaughter are now doing deluxe Vinyl editions of albums. Gene Simmons unleashed “The Vault”. Sell a 1000 of them at $1000 dollars and that’s a cool million.
Each artist has a fan base who will either pay nothing for music or will pay for the normal album release or would stream or would pay a lot more for a Limited Edition Deluxe version.
Like how I paid $129USD ($259AUD with postage included) for the new Coheed and Cambria Super Deluxe album. The band has no problems moving 20,000 units at that price and that’s a cool $2.58 million.
If it wasn’t for Zakk Wylde, I wouldn’t have gone and purchased any Lynyrd Skynyrd. His love for Southern Rock, was on show for the “No More Tears” album. Check out his leads in “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”, “Road To Nowhere” and “Mama I’m Coming Home”.
In the interviews Zakk conducted with the Guitar Mag’s, he spoke about a technique called chicken’ picking that he picked up from learning Southern Rock songs and he demonstrated great knowledge on Southern Rock and the 70’s bands associated with the movement.
Then he dropped the debut “Pride and Glory” album a few years later, which is basically an amalgamation of Black Sabbath and Southern Rock. And it made me a fan, so I went searching for Southern Rock bands.
Enter “Lynyrd Skynyrd”. The story of the band should be a Netflix TV series. Working for MCA, the worst label in the business, the band was never going to make a profit regardless of how successful they became and how many records they sold.
The band for this album is Ronnie Van Zant (RIP) on Vocals, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins (RIP) on Guitars, Leon Wilkeson (RIP) on Bass, Artimus Pyle on Drums and Billy Powell (RIP) on Keyboards.
Guitarist Ed King, quit the band before this album, making them a two guitar band instead of three. King would pass away in 2018 due to various health issues.
There was a saying that the Wilkeson and Pyle (and before Pyle it was Bobby Burns) set a groove, which Collins, King and Rossington danced over. And Pyle has been ostracised from the organisation due to being a sex offender while original drummer Bobby Burns died in a single car crash after hitting a mailbox and tree on a sharp bend, Things don’t end well for these guys.
But the biggest tragedy was the plane crash on the “Street Survivors” tour.
Van Zant, new guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray all died in the crash. The survivors had been seated toward the back of the plane and all of them were seriously injured with broken bones, crushed arms, sever facial disfigurements and severe burns.
And the plane was earlier inspected by Aerosmith’s tour crew for the band to use on their 1977 tour but it didn’t pass the Aero’s safety inspection.
But before the tragedy, the Skynyrds debauched their way through the U.S on the backs of whiskey, brawling and great music.
“Gimme Back My Bullets” is studio album Number 4, released on February 2, 1976. It reached number 20 on the U.S. albums chart and was certified gold on January 20, 1981 by the RIAA.
Gimme Back My Bullets
Written by Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
The staccato like count in reminds me of the “Back In Black” intro. After that, a funky blues rock riff kicks in, before the Southern Rock chord progression kicks in
Every Mothers Son
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant.
The acoustic riff grabs your attention straight away, an amalgamation of “Sweet Home Alabama” and blues rock songs like “Shooting Star”.
Written by Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
It reminds me of The Rolling Stones and I like it.
(I Got The) Same Old Blues
Written by J.J. Cale. Every artist was covering his songs.
The 12 bars groove is heavy, yet funky. The slide guitar is simple yet effective.
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant.
It follows the trend set with “(I Got The) Same Old Blues”. And the name used by Steve Ray Vaughan, could have come from this song. The blues on offer here is similar to what SRV would play, just more amped up and more technical.
Roll Gypsy Roll
Written by Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
The acoustic riff to start it is campfire like, and riding on the greyhound to leave town was a rite of passage for the youth once upon a time. These days, the kids are over 30 and still at home.
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant.
My favourite song on the album. Musically and lyrically. Rossington and Collins steal the show here.
Cry For The Bad Man
Written by Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
It starts off like a Kinks song crossed with “Mississippi Queen”. And I like it.
All I Can Do Is Write About It
Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant. Zakk Wylde basically took this song and wrote “Road To Nowhere”.
Press play and enjoy it.
It’s listed as “not their best” album, but if you like southern rock, you shouldn’t skip it and I see it as an underrated album.
Machine Head had been leading up to a demo release for the song “Killers and Kings” since February. In the lead up, Robb Flynn talked about his youth, the San Francisco thrash scene and how bands used to release demo’s of songs before the album and how the fans would go away and debate it.
Then the marketing started. Machine Head (along with Nuclear Blast) started releasing the different single covers on a weekly basis (which look great by the way) and they got into partnership with the Record Store Day event.
To put it in simply pseudocode;
Where an audience exists and if an artist has new material, release it.
They are no more and according to the internet, they barely existed.
Faktion’s self-titled release hit the streets in 2006. I came across it in 2014. It was up against some stiff competition for listener’s attention. The audience that could have gravitated towards Faktion had already devoted their ears to other bands.
Like Breaking Benjamin released “Phobia”, Skillet released “Comatose”, Stone Sour released “Come What(ever) May”, Daughtry released his self-titled debut, 10 Years released “Autumn’s Dream”, Crossfade released “Falling Away”, Pillar released “The Reckoning”, Red released “End Of Silence” and Papa Roach released “The Paramour Sessions”. Already it is a pretty crowded marketplace.
BUT it gets worse.
They had a deal with Roadrunner Records who didn’t know how to promote them in a crowded modern rock scene.
Should Dave Mustaine been inducted with Metallica into the RNR Hall of Fame?
Jason Newsted and Rob Trujilio got inducted however there contribution pales to what Mustaine brought to the band. If you make an assessment of early Metallica, the evidence is there for Dave Mustaine to be inducted. The style of technical thrash that Mustaine brought to Metallica would end up influencing their first four albums. Otherwise they were just another NWOBHM copycat.
The induction criteria does state that the committee looks “at the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll” on an official recording, but as you know, the first album was written while Mustaine was in the band. He just didn’t play on it.
Metal and hard rock are niches. Accept it and focus on it. It can be a lucrative business for you if you do. It will not bring back the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties, however it will give you a career.
A song takes off because fans start to spread the word. They share links to it, they talk about it, they blog about it. A marketing campaign can never achieve this. Only great music can.
Back in 2014 I wrote, “when are the people involved going to realise that Queensryhce is no more. Move on, forge a new career and a new identity.”
And I still stand by that.
Vinyl, CD’s, Digital Downloads
Streaming has won. The rest of us that actually purchase any music in physical form do it because we are collectors.
I listen to most of my music on Spotify however I still purchase physical product of bands that I like. BUT I haven’t even opened the shrink wrapping as yet. I have no need to.
MONEY IN MUSIC
Back in 2014, I wrote that “there is still a lot of money in the business. Streaming pays the labels well. It’s just doesn’t filter down to the artists. Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube surpassed the $1bn mark.”
Streaming Revenue is at $22bn in 2022.
ENTERTAINMENT LOBBY GROUPS ASKING GOOGLE TO DO MORE TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS MODELS
23 years post Napster we are still hearing about this. It is the usual b.s. about how Google “could do so much more” or that Google has “not been effective” in preventing illegal music downloading.
If you never experienced the Seventies, then this album from a super group of melodic death metal bands recaptures it all.
From the “Immigrant Song/Achilles Last Stand” references in “Siberian Queen” to the “I Was Made For Loving You” references in “West Ruth Avenue” or the “Play That Funky Music/ Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious in “Internal Affairs”.
Play it loud.
Adrenaline Mob – Omerta
It is a balls to the wall metal classic in the style of Accept, Scorpions, Dio merged with the metal stylings of Disturbed and Godsmack. “Undaunted”, “All On The Line”, “Angel Sky”, “Indifferent” and “Hit The Wall” are worthy additions to any metal bands setlist.
The cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” is also a fitting metal tribute to a pop number one hit.
So put aside all of your views on the members that make up the band and from what bands they come from and embrace a great balls to the wall metal project.
Digital Summer – Breaking Point
DIY band from Phonenix, Arizona, getting stronger with each release. “Breaking Point” was a Kickstarter funded project and it didn’t disappoint. The lead single “Forget You” has racked up 1,027,533 views on YouTube. They are great numbers for an independent band, that also manage themselves, record and release their own music and hold down day jobs.
If you like modern rock, then you will like this band.
Richie Sambora – Aftermath Of The Lowdown
The good old Richie Sambora released a great modern rock album that didn’t get the recognition it deserved because at that point in time he was still in Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi (the band) needed him to start the promotional interviews for the “What About Now” album.
Check out “Seven Years Gone”, “Nowadays”, “Every Road Leads Home To You”. Hell, the whole album is good. Give it your time.
Lizzard – Out Of Reach
This band is definitely under the radar for what they do. Think of Earshot meets Tool meets 10 Years meets modern rock. Vocalist, Mathieu Ricou has a voice that crosses between Chad Kroeger, Aaron Lewis and Maynard James Keenan.
There is a feel of Progressive Metal, TOOL, Hard Rock, Trance & hypnotic music, DEFTONES, YES and PINK FLOYD. It’s a potent mix.
Vaudeville – Vendetta
Vaudeville is one band that deserves more recognition for what they do. They merge the styles of Muse and Radiohead with Hard Rock. It sounds beautiful and original.
Check out the song “Restless Souls”.
Hell Or Highwater – Begin Again
The new band from Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller. Hell or Highwater finds Saller stepping away from his drum kit and taking the mic to be the band’s lead vocalist. It’s hard rock people and it rocks real good and it doesn’t sound generic.
One Less Reason – A Blueprint For Writhing
This EP was my first introduction to One Less Reason. I knew nothing about them and when I heard “All Beauty Fades”, I was left speechless. And they are another DIY band. It’s six songs and there is no filler. A very smart decision to release the best.
Corroded – State Of Disgrace
Corroded have a decent following in their own country of Sweden. They are a skilful band that create groove based hard rock. Stand out songs are “Let them Hate As Long As They Fear”, “I Will Not”, and “Believe In Me”.
You know Copyright is all wrong, when you have a composer of several Motown hits combining copyright law with divorce law. Seriously, how much more distorted can copyright get.
Smokey Robinson is seeking a declaratory judgement against his ex-wife. You see, Robinson is reclaiming the rights to his pre-1978 songs from Jobete Music Co. Robinson’s main problem is that his ex-wife (since 1985) believes she should be entitled to 50% of whatever income these songs generate and she has filed suit to ensure that happens.
The labels claim that all pre-1978 songs are “works of hire”.
Smokey Robinson claims that his ex-wife isn’t entitled to his profits but his heirs are.
Remember Copyright’s meaning. To give the creator a monopoly on their works for a limited period of time, so they could create more works. Something looks a miss here.
The smarter acts started building their Ark’s. They saw the warnings while the rest all drowned in the flood. Castle Donnington in August had AC/DC, Metallica, Queensryche, Motley Crue and Black Crowes. All of those bands survived the flood, however Queensryche managed to commit hara-kiri many years after.
But from a hard rock point of view, 1991 had a lot of guitar heroes looking for work.
Jimmy Page announced that he was working with David Coverdale. The media reported it as White Zeppelin and Led Snake. The band was filled out with Denny Carmassi (Heart) on drums, Ricky Phillips (Bad English) on bass with Johnny and Joe Gioeli from the band Brunette rounding out the band. Fast forward to March 1993, “Coverdale/Page” finally came out. The wheels of motion in the recording business travel slowly.
Neal Schon along with Deen Castronovo signed an unnamed band to MCA which also featured Johnny and Joe Gioeli (who apart from being in the band Brunette, had a gig with Coverdale/Page) whom Schon discovered when he started dating their sister. The bands line up was completed by Todd Jensen (DLR) on bass. And that project would become “Hardline”.
Vinnie Vincent was writing songs with Gene and Paul. Most of those songs would end up 1992’s “Revenge” including the excellent “Unholy”.
John Sykes was rumored that he joined Def Leppard to replace Steve Clark and those rumours started to earn some credibility when Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin quit Blue Murder.
Adrian Vandenberg was out of a gig after David Coverdale disbanded Whitesnake. Rumours started circulating that he was forming a project with John Waite as Bad English was done.
Then he had a solo deal with Victory Records. Then rumours persisted that he was tapped to join House Of Lords who also had a deal with Victory.
Adrian Vandenberg went on to be involved in the supergroup “Manic Eden” that had Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge as well as Little Caesar vocalist Ron Young. The House Of Lords connection was there in the early incarnation of the band, as James Christian was the original vocalist.
Steve Stevens was also between employers. He was also on the radar to fill the guitarist slot with House Of Lords and then he was working on a solo record and then he was announcing plans to work with Michael Monroe which became Jerusalem Slim. And a few years later he would be the guitarist on Vince Neil’s rocking debut album.
Randy Jackson spent 5 years working on the “China Rain” project, assembling a brilliant band that included Brian Tichy on Drums, Ronnie Snow supporting Randy on guitar and Teddy Cook on Bass. Then the label decided to not release it.
Vivian Campbell was in a new hard rock band called Shadow King, with Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Bruce Turgon on bass and Kevin Valentine on drums.
Vito Bratta at that point in time had a solo deal with Atlantic. And then nothing.
Jeff Watson was rumoured to be in a project with Carmine Appice, Bob Daisley and Derek St Holmes. That project ended up becoming “Mother’s Army” and the final line up consisted of vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, guitarist Jeff Watson, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Carmine Appice.
Richie Sambora didn’t know if Bon Jovi would continue and released a solo album based on the blues infused with a little bit of pop and rock. He never achieved the platinum sales that he got with Bon Jovi, however he got to show a side of himself that could never have been shown in Bon Jovi.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra were a jazz fusion band formed in New York City in 1971, led by English guitarist John McLaughlin.
The group underwent several line-up changes throughout its history across two stints from 1971 to 1976 and 1984 to 1987.
The first line-up which consisted of musicians Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, and Rick Laird, the band received its initial acclaim for its complex, intense music consisting of a blend of Indian classical music, jazz and psychedelic rock, and its dynamic live performances between 1971 and 1973.
After the original group dissolved, it reformed in 1974 with a new cast of musicians behind McLaughlin:
“Inner Worlds” came out in 1976. It’s the group’s sixth album release and it would be the last album by them for nearly ten years, when leader and guitarist John McLaughlin re-formed the group in 1984.
All in the Family
The song is written by John McLaughlin who also plays guitar and guitar synth. Stu Goldberg is on all things keys related.
Ralphe Armstrong is on bass and the star of the song is Narada Michael Walden on Drums, congas, bass marimba and shaker.
And the reason why Walden is the star is because the song opens with a drum solo before it moves into a fast jazz like beat. Its chaotic as all the instruments come in and somehow it all makes sense. Progressive rock is the best way to describe it.
There is this section between 3.25 and 3.45 in which McLaughlin and Goldberg play this fast unison lead line and I like it.
It’s written by John McLaughlin who plays all things guitar and a special instrument called the “360” systems frequency shifter. It’s actually not an instrument, but an effect. These days, it would be in a stomp box, but back then it was a pretty large unit.
You hear it in action in the Intro and throughout the song. Stu Goldberg is on the Mini-Moog and Steiner-Parker synthesizers, Ralphe Armstrong is on bass and Narada Michael Walden on drums.
I like the bass intro from Goldberg, it’s creepy like, and funky. McLaughlin plays a staccato like guitar riff, which is more funk and reggae like. When he activates the frequency shifter, it sounds chaotic but the drumming of Walden is super-fast, technical and on point. Somehow it makes sense.
In My Life
Written by John McLaughlin and Narada Michael Walden.
John McLaughlin is on 12-string acoustic guitar, Stu Goldberg is on backing vocals, Ralphe Armstrong is on bass and Narada Michael Walden is on the piano and drums, along with the lead vocals.
It’s a poor song and the lyrics are very childish, like seriously, they sing “thank you for the fish in the sea”. A skip for me.
Written by John McLaughlin and it’s another song with vocals that doesn’t connect with me.
A short one minute piece, written by John McLaughlin who plays guitar synthesizer and Narada Michael Walden who plays organ.
It sounds Oriental and Celtic like but it’s another skip for me.
The Way of the Pilgrim
Written by Narada Michael Walden and it’s got some intricate instrument sections, but this far in, these kind of passages are starting to sound same same.
River of My Heart
Written by Kanchan Cynthia Anderson and Narada Michael Walden.
There is no guitar on this, with Ralphe Armstrong on double bass and Narada Michael Walden on Piano, Lead Vocals and Percussion.
But it’s a skip for me.
Written by Ralphe Armstrong, this song could have been on a Stevie Wonder album. It’s got that blues, jazz funk fusion happening.
And are you ready to be a planetary citizen?
Written by John McLaughlin. I like this instrumental.
There is a guitar that plays arpeggios and a MiniMoog playing a lead break with percussion as the foundation.I
It sort of reminds me of “Albatross” from Fleetwood Mac, the Peter Green version of the band.
The title track. Part 1 is written by John McLaughlin and Part 2 by Stu Goldberg. But it’s a bit of mess and that Frequency shifter gadget is just noise to me, however it would have been cool to have that whooshing effect back in the day.
In the end, there are better Mahavishnu Orchestra albums, which we will get to as I work my way back through history.
The band is unchanged. Chris Robinson is on vocals and harmonica, Rich Robinson and Marc Ford are on guitar, Johnny Colt is on bass guitar, Steve Gorman is on drums and Eddie Harsch is on keyboards.
Released in 1994, “Amorica” took a while to come to fruition. It wasn’t a hazy 8 day recording session like “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion”.
You see, in 1993, the band worked on an album called “Tall”. But the recordings got scrapped because Chris and Rich Robinson didn’t see eye to eye during the sessions. Rich felt that Chris alienated him from the rest of the band. Chris reckons that Rich was upset because he was leading the sessions and was rejecting his riffs and ideas.
Well, Rich ended up winning the argument and the “Amorica” album is the result of moving forward with the ideas of Rich and not Chris.
And man, the cover caused a stir in even in the more progressive 90’s.
Who would have thought that a picture which was deemed offensive in 1976 when it appeared on a cover of Hustler was still seen as offensive almost 20 years later?
Well in Australia, we didn’t really see anything wrong with it so we got the cover as intended, while the U.S got two covers.
It sounds like they had a few drinks, wrote some riffs and then jammed em. It’s complicated blues, as there is so much going on but it didn’t set my world on fire.
They tried to recreate the groove and infectious melody of “Remedy” with this. While they didn’t get close, they still got a very rocking song out of it.
High Head Blues
A sleazy soul blues rock riff starts it off. It’s almost funky and I like it. One of the best songs on the album.
A piano like slow rhythm and blues tune, very Rolling Stones like and the solo section gets all aggressive and swampy.
An acoustic track with a vocal that sounds like 70’s Rod Stewart. But it’s a skip for me.
She Gave Good Sunflower
Chris is asking a babe to do him and the track could be interchanged with any song from the previous albums.
Press play to hear some nice wah wah soloing from Marc Ford over a thundering Johnny Colt bass riff. And stick around to hear the outro soloing as well.
P. 25 London
A throwaway track.
Ballad in Urgency
Another ballad, with some unique blues/jazz like chords, nicely phrased guitar fills and Johnny Colt’s bass thundering in the background.
The song then fades into a piano section along with Mr Colt’s bass.
Steve Gorman brings it here, showcasing that even though the Robinson brothers write the songs, the performances of the band members are just as important. This one is also a favourite.
Rich Robinson plays some tasty slide and he also duets on lead vocals.
And each section has so much variation. The verses are based on a three chord “Sweet Home Alabama” like chord progression. The Chorus is classic blues rock.
It’s the later sections which takes the track and makes it a signature song.
It’s not for the crossover fans who just liked “Remedy” and nothing else.
This is for the hard core fans. It starts off with a swampy Delta bluesy acoustic slide solo, which is followed by an electric piano solo, very Doors like.
This then gives way to an electric guitar solo, very B.B. King like with a bit more grit and it all crashes in to a Lynyrd Skynyrd soaring lead, full of harmonized guitars.
After five minutes and thirty seconds, the only thing you can do is press repeat.
Downtown Money Waster
Old time blues with a ragtime piano and acoustic slide guitar.
Another favourite and another five plus minute ballad-esque song, which starts off with a piano riff. And when the band kicks in, it gets the head moving and the foot tapping. If it doesn’t, feel for a pulse.
Chris Robinson is on fire vocally and Mr Colt’s bass is thumping throughout, synced up to the bass drum of Gorman’s.
The track closes with a ramped up piano solo over another thundering bass riff from Mr Colt.
The album did good business in Australia again, charting at 11 which they also replicated in the U.S and a Gold Certification.
But it took the record buying public by surprise because it didn’t really have that “accessible” song that people could latch on to. The debut album had “Hard To Handle” and the follow up had “Remedy”. But this one had some deep cuts and some fan favourites.
Eight hazy days is all it took for the band to record album number 2, released on May 12, 1992. Having done the pre-work, the band was ready to capture their live sound onto tape.
The band of Chris Robinson on vocals, Rich Robinson and Marc Ford on guitar, Johnny Colt on bass, Steve Gorman on drums and Eddie Harsch on keyboards are on fire. And the jam live spirit drips from the speakers.
Wikipedia tells me that it was the first time an album featured four album rock number-one hits. The previous record was set by the great Tom Petty in 1989, with three number-one rock hits. The album itself reached the top spot of the Billboard 200 album chart, propelled by the success of these singles.
The album’s name comes from an influential 1835 hymn and tune book compiled by William Walker. While I never knew that at the time, I did think the title was unique.
We needed rock and roll to reset from the glamorized rock and metal that did the rounds in MTV.
That’s what “Sting Me” is about. It shows the bands intention and confirms that the first album, “Shake Your Moneymaker” was not a fluke.
“If you feel like a riot, don’t you deny it” are the opening lines and man, with all that was happening in LA, it could have been the protest song of the rioters, when the shitty verdict was handed down to the four white policemen in their beating of African-American Rodney King.
And the Chorus is so Rolling Stones like, I love it.
This song deserved to be a smash hit everywhere. It was the perfect amalgamation of blues rock and pop rock.
And I love the lead break on this from Marc Ford. It reminds me of the leads that Slash does with GNR and it’s something which Slash doesn’t get enough credit for, being a great blues rock player in the vein of Jeff Beck. And Marc Ford is up there as well, so underrated.
And how good arethe female backing vocals.
But the song is forgotten on streaming services, compared to the debut album songs like “Hard To Handle” at 132 million streams on Spotify and “She Talks To Angels” at 78.6 million streams, “Remedy” pales at 27.3 million streams.
I guess all the fans already have the album, and we’ve overdosed on it, so the last thing we want to do is to play it again on a streaming service.
Kind of like playing “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Enter Sandman” or “The Final Countdown” or “Kick Start My Heart”. Then again, people are playing those songs in the millions each week.
Thorn in My Pride
The acoustic guitar playing is so Led Zep like and the lyrics of “my angels and my devils being the thorn in my pride” are favorites of mine. And Marc Ford brings it again in the lead department, with a very accomplished SRV like shred.
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
I like these kind of slow blues songs, like “Little Wing”, “Since I’ve Been Lovin You” and “Black Magic Woman”.
Actually Poison with Richie Kotzen wrote a killer track like this called “Until You Suffer (Fire and Ice) from the “Native Tongue” album, but no one purchased that album. So did Richie Sambora, with “Stranger In This Town”.
It’s a slow maybe mid temp blues rock song, about lessening your troubles, by hanging with less vultures, and wishing you had a nickel for every time you were tricked by some miracle.
It’s got this Beatles and Rolling Stones blues rock vibe and I like it.
Black Moon Creeping
I like the groove on this.
No Speak No Slave
The opening riff reminds me of “When The Levee Breaks”. It could easily be interchanged with a Corrosion of Conformity song.
My Morning Song
This should have been another hit off the album, but “Remedy” was so big that nothing else could measure up.
Time Will Tell
A Bob Marley cover, with acoustic guitars and gospel like backing vocals, as the band takes the reggae feel to the muddy waters of the Mississippi Delta and turns it into an acoustic blues rock track.
We loved the album in Australia. It charted as high as Number 6 on our ARIA charts and it earned a Gold Certification.
In the U.S market, it went to Number 1 on the Billboard charts and earned a 2x Platinum certification.
For a long time I called it “The Great Southern Harmony Musical Corruption”. So put it on and let it corrupt you.
While everyone was complaining about freemium and the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music, Fortnite “Battle Royale” came out for free and conquered all. It’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.
But Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.
For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” style of a hit. And it’s still going strong because the best marketing tool is word of mouth.
Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.
And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. The game kept growing in popularity because Epic constantly upgraded it on a regular basis.
In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. Like how fans of artists wait years for new products.
I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.
Mick Mars said that he almost left Motley Crue during the “Generation Swine” sessions and that still to this day, he hates the album.
It was meant to be called “Personality #9” with John Corabi on vocals. But the label was still reeling from the $3 million loss on their accounts from the 1994 self-titled album so they demanded that Vince Neil come back in.
The Crue started working on the follow-up in 1995. Nikki Sixx wanted to road test the songs before they recorded them, in small venues and using different band names, like the Four Skins. It was a back to the seventies approach, when bands used to debut new songs on the road before committing them to tape in a studio. That is why so many songs from the seventies worked well in a live setting. Deep Purple played “Highway Star” for at least 12 months before recording it. Same as Ted Nugent and “Stranglehold”. The list goes on, however today’s rock star doesn’t need to pay their dues on the live circuit.
But they road tested nothing.
The biggest Achilles heel to “Generation Swine” is the lack of the hit song. Like “Kick Start My Heart”.
It wasn’t a hit on the Billboard Charts, however in rock circles it was a song that all the rock heads and the metal heads could latch onto. Even the self-titled album, didn’t have that kind of song that people could latch on to.
Here is a summary, however each rule is expanded in the blogpost.
On Motley Crue’s 2008 song ‘Welcome To The Machine’ they provided a few general rules about the recording business and the machine that is the music business.
Rule Number 1: “Sign on the x to sell your soul”.
Rule Number 2: “It’s so automatic, Hocking broken plastic, Royalties you’ll never know”.
Rule Number 3: “Give your ass like a whore, Once you take a hit, You need more more more”.
Rule Number 4: “Welcome to the machine, Once it sucks you in you’ll never leave, Grind you up spit you out, After all you’re just a piece of meat”.
Rule Number 5: “Sell out to the rats, Make em rich make em fat”.
On Motley Crue’s 1999 song ‘Fake’ they seem to provide a few more general rules about the recording business.
Rule Number 6 (supporting Rule Number 1 and 2): “Sold my soul while you sold records, I have been your slave forever.”
Rule Number 7 (supporting Rule Number 5): “What are you fat cats doing anyway?, Take our money and flush it down the drain.”
Ugly Kid Joe asked “Mr Recordman” if he knew who they were or if he gave a damn about them or if he was purely there for the dough. Based on their career trajectory, the answer was obvious. Mr Recordman didn’t give a damn about them once they stopped being “commercially viable”
Rule Number 8 – Mr Recordman doesn’t know who you are. Look at the band “Winger”. When Reb Beach called the label after the Beavis and Butthead episode hit TV screens, the label claimed they never knew a band called Winger.
Rule Number 9 comes from Disturbed and their song “Sons Of Plunder”.
Rule Number 9: “You say you’ve found yourself a new sound, one hundred more all have the same sound”
The song Chainsaw Charlie from WASP is littered with music business rules. The first three lines, “Will you gamble your life?, Sign right here on the dotted line, It’s the one you’ve waited for all of your life” fall into Rule Number 1. Then the lyrics of “And tomorrow when I’m gone, Will they whore my image on?” brings us to Rule Number 10.
Rule Number 10: The record label will forever whore your image on after they have dropped you or after you have departed this Earth. There is a lot of money to be made in death.
Rule Number 11: “We’ll sell your flesh by the pound you’ll go, A whore of wrath just like me, We’ll sell ya wholesale, we’ll sell your soul, Strap on your six string and feed our machine.”
Rule Number 12: “Welcome to the morgue boy, Where the music comes to die” is about songs written by a committee. It’s soulless, however it sells.
Rule Number 13: “Ah, trust me boy, I won’t steer you wrong, If you trust me son, You won’t last very long”
Rule Number 14: “The new morgue’s our factory, to grease our lies, Our machine is hungry, it needs your life” is the definition of the recording business.
Rule Number 15: “I’m the tin man, I’ve never had a heart, I’m the tin man, But I’ll make you a star” is the Record Label CEO. All promises and that tin heart doesn’t care if those promises are broken.
Savatage is another band that covers the music business in a bit of detail. Rules 16 to 18 are from the song “Jesus Saves”.
Rule Number 16: “You know Jesus he started changing, Things got really strange, He saw his tee shirts everywhere, He started missing shows, The band came down to blows, But Jesus he just didn’t care.”
Yep, it’s a tough gig keeping a band together, especially when a band member becomes the idol that the fans latch onto.
Rule Number 17: “Things got out of hand, And so he quit the band, Still the critics they would rave”
Rule Number 18: “hear Him cut through the night, On those late night radio waves”
Eventually, we get old and we become “classic rock”. There is no way around out. Embrace it and play to your core audiences.
The final two rules are from the song “When The Crowds Are Gone” from Savatage.
Rule Number 19: “I don’t know where the years have gone, Memories can only last so long, Like faded photographs, forgotten songs”
Rule Number 20: “The story’s over, When the crowds are gone.”
Adrenaline Mob are seasoned professionals collaborating on a hard rock project. For some reason they remind me of Night Ranger.
The debut album “Omerta” was number 4 on my list for releases in 2012. I hold the vocal talents of Russell Allen and the guitar talents of Mike Orlando in high regard. Add to those talents the powerhouse drumming from Mike Portnoy on the first album (and the two EPs) and of course the mighty AJ Pero appears on the second album. As a Twisted Sister fan, this is a great thing to see happen. And finally John Moyer from Disturbed is providing the bottom end.
Listening to “Men Of Honour”, it comes across as a band having fun. Check it out and while you’re at it, listen to Mike Orlando.
I don’t know what to call Orlando’s guitar style. One term I have for it is “Technical Chaos”. He has the chops, but he plays with an improvised abandonment that sounds so precise and I like that.
If you remember back to 1998, the recording business became famous for saying that no one will be interested in downloading a crappy mp3. Guess they didn’t know how many billions those no ones came too.
Pono came out at a time when fans of music had decided that YouTube and Spotify are better alternatives.
And that is what Pono Music fails to understand. The fans of music are in control. If they want to pay, they will. If they want to go to a show, they will. If they want to download for free, they will.