A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 11 to April 23

It’s been a crazy two weeks with some limited posting on the site due to one of my boys tearing his ACL and then having the surgery.

So here is a fortnights worth of DOH history.

4 Years Ago (2018)

STAND YOUR GROUND

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The majority likes it this way, like the parental system, the schooling system, the corporate system, the law and enforcement system and overall, the Government. But sometimes, a change happens.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and climate change.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics.

“We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it” is from “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there. Some do. Stand your ground.

RELEASE DAY

There is a lot of music out there to digest. The enemy to global stardom is not illegal downloading, it’s obscurity.

Artists are not just battling for listeners attention from the artists who have new music, they are battling for listeners attention from the history of music. And even though the odds are really stacked against artists from making a living from music, people are still out there creating and releasing. Creativity is at an all-time high.

Which is a good thing, because the recording industry and the copyright monopoly tried their best to convince everyone that creativity would die due to illegal downloading all in their push for government intervention to protect their profits.

TO THE TOP

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when a person has power to make or break a career. That’s exactly what the recording business came to be. A business with gatekeepers who could crush dreams or make dreams. Like “Chainsaw Charlie” in “The Crimson Idol”. Or like “Mr Recordman”.

White Lion were given a million dollars to record “Mane Attraction”. It came out and it didn’t set the world on fire. Vito and Mike couldn’t even get in touch with their A&R rep.

When the band broke up, no one from the label called them or even tried to make contact with them. It’s like they never existed.

MTV took the artists from the pages of the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was due to music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or via VHS to VHS.

If you are working for a corporation, you are building someone else’s dream. The corporation is benefiting from your hard work and the hard work of the rest. Artists have made the record labels into monoliths because they signed away their copyrights for a record deal.

And the internet was meant to level the playing field. Instead it’s made the labels even more powerful as they use the works of artists to negotiate large licensing deals.

What kind of journey do you want to the top?

8 Years Ago (2014)

YOUTUBE

The labels and the movie studios tried to kill it via the courts, but YouTube survived. And it’s got everything.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did have it. Again unlicensed.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

THE MOST BROKEN HEARTED SINGER

To create you need to have lived, loved and experienced highs and lows.

David Coverdale is all about the love. He built a career spanning 40+ years because he wrote his experiences into his songs. People always connect with that.

And at the height of his MTV fame, he disbanded Whitesnake.

Then when his contemporaries delivered grungier sounding albums, Coverdale came back and delivered two blues rock albums with “Restless Heart” and “Into The Light”.

He ignored every passing fad and fancy and still managed to assemble a cast of musicians to produce some of the most enduring hit records/songs of the Eighties era. Some might say that he glammed it up in the mid-Eighties. I say he adapted or else he would be dead.

GUN

It’s 1992 and the only words on people’s lips are Metallica, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, Seattle, Vince Neil leaving/fired from Motley Crue and Mr Big.

And then you have this rock band from Scotland called GUN releasing a straight-ahead hard rock album that had roots in the Seventies era than the dying Eighties era.

“Gallus” was a defiant record. Serving as Gun’s second album, they let the music do the talking. But when Rock ‘N’ Roll history is written by the commercial winners, Gun will be relegated to a mere footnote. But their presence at a time when everyone was selling out to become mainstream darlings was a welcomed relief.

“Steal Your Fire”

It’s got this “AC/DC” meets “The Cult” attitude in the verse and chorus, while the Pre-Chorus has this INXS vibe. It’s a blend of rock’n’roll that is so distant from the LA Glam Rock scene however I love that Dokken “It’s Not Love” vibe after the solo section.

“Money To Burn”

Check out the “When The Levee Breaks” groove in this song. Progress is derivative is the catch cry.

“Long Road”

The tone of the vocals just resonate. It’s got that powerful “Jeff Martin/Tea Party” kind of tone vocally and the music is very melodic, like Def Leppard.

THE PIRACY DEBATE

Bit Torrent is a tool. How people decide to use the tool depends on them. The Bit Torrent protocol was designed to move large amounts of data. So, companies like Facebook and Twitter use Bit Torrent to send updates to its employees. Then you have other people who use it to download torrents.

And illegal downloading is a pretty big reason why bands are going to South America, even when the number of albums sold in the continent don’t equate to the fans who attend the shows.

Who would have thought that a bill of “Bring Me The Horizon” and “Of Mice & Men” would gross about $70,000 per show. Play 20 of those shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Or, who would have thought that a bill of “The Used”, “Taking Back Sunday”, “Tonight Alive” and “Sleepwave” would also gross about $70,000 per show. See above, do 20 shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Even the mighty “Manowar” still gross $60,000 per show.

It all adds up.

It’s hard work being an artist however if you are in the game because you love it, it makes it easier. If you are in the game to bitch and moan about piracy, then get out of it and join the bankers or the techies.

DIVIDED WE STAND

Metallica resorted to a professional coach to get it together again. So did Aerosmith.

Bon Jovi and Megadeth resorted to group therapy. For Bon Jovi it was a way to keep the band together after “New Jersey” and for Megadeth it was a way to keep a stable line-up together.

And other bands declined to use any coaches.

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and they kept bad mouthing each other. Then they booted Sammy Hagar and the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Sebastian Bach and Skid Row are still at loggerheads. Matt Kramer left Saigon Kick because he felt ripped off.

Machine Head and Adam Duce are in the courts because Adam Duce felt ripped off. Dave Lombardo is spitting venom at Slayer and their management team because he feels ripped off.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun.

The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.

Bands that claim that their song writing is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

GUN continued…

GUN are way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

Coming in to 1994, GUN needed to make a statement. After a well-received debut album in “Taking On The World”, the follow-up “Gallus” didn’t set the world on fire in relation to sales and back in 1992, sales was the barometer of success.

“Swagger” was released in 1994 and to great success.

How could that be?

Because the band didn’t fit the conventions of the now defunct hard rock and glam rock movement. The band also didn’t fit the conventions of the Seattle sound.

They fitted the conventions of a rock band. It is that simple. It is that pure. And it was a rocked up version of an R&B Funk hit from 1986 by Cameo that connected.

“Word Up”

Who would have thought that a cover of an R&B/Funk song from 1986 would prove to be so popular. When Korn covered it, they more or less copied this version.

The first 3 albums, “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are the career albums. No shredding or weird time signatures. Just an honest, arse kicking album with gutsy vocals and prominent guitars.

However, the line-up changes kept on coming. In this case, guitarist Rob Dickson left before the release of “Swagger” to join Bruce Dickinson’s solo band. Drummer Scott Shields also left before the release of “Swagger” with Mark Kerr brother of Jim Kerr from Simple Minds replacing Shields on drums. Music is a relationship business and GUN benefited from a lot of relationships.

ADAPT OR DIE

The ones who adapt to the changes fast, survived. While the ones that complained and whined about peer-to-peer either perished or downsized.

Traditional music distributors are either gone or downsized. Replaced by Digital distributors.

Record Store Retail Outlets. More or less gone. Replaced by online shopping carts, streaming and digital downloads.

Record Labels. Downsized or merged. Saved by the tech industry.

Bands. Either are breaking up or are constantly replacing members.

In business, cash flow is everything but in music, cash flow is a by-product of great music.

In music, rules are meant to be broken. Innovation is about breaking the rules.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GUITAR RIFF?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar.

But in 2014, the number 1 hits around the world belonged to “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we want to play air guitar to.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff like “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album.

And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

HAREM SCAREM – THE FIRST THREE ALBUMS

From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.

The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley.

1991 – Harem Scarem

It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.

Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music.

Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.

1993 – Mood Swings

Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.

1995 – Voice Of Reason

Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.

Check out tracks like “Voice Of Reason”, “Warming A Frozen Rose” and the Euro Metal vibe of “Candle”.

If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.

RECORD STORE DAY – Killers and Kings

For “Record Store Day” in 2014, I paid $30AUS for the “Killers and Kings” single from Machine Head.

Online I could purchase the single for $15US from the Nuclear Blast store. Since the single came in four different covers, I selected the three other covers that I didn’t have and added them to my cart.

The total was now sitting at $45US. Then I registered my account and since I am in Australia I was charged $29US for postage and handling. The total of my purchase was now sitting at $74US. Once I paid it via PayPal, the final payment figure from me was $82.21 in Australian dollars.

That equates to about $27AUS for each single.

Now if the Independent Record Store was selling it for $30AUS, then that would mean that the actual independent record store would be making $3 per item. Maybe a bit more.

Hell if that is the mark up for each limited edition item they were selling and let’s just say that one record store sold 200 items, that would mean that the pure profit for the record store would be $600 for that day.

So is the “Record Store Day” there to benefit/save the independent record store or are the labels using the whole “save the record store” in their promo as a way to sell over priced items.

And that’s a wrap of DoH History.

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7 thoughts on “The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 11 to April 23

  1. I was about to check in with you to make sure everything was alright as I was wondering where the posts were? lol. Hope your son heals up well….
    Harem Scarem are a great band. I’m one of those that thinks Mood Swings was the best. Some real great hard rock on that one.
    Had a good laugh when you said that if Coverdale hadn’t adapted he would be dead. lol
    Cheers pal

  2. All the best to your son, hope for a speedy recovery.

    It is pretty amazing how so many people still believe their favorite bands all get along really well when the reality is that a great deal of them do not. Many are ok with each other and are on good enough terms to keep the show going, but in the cases you outlined and in many others, the people are just plain sick of one another. They do their best to keep going for the paycheck but there aren’t all that many of these “bands of brothers” that musicians get made out to be. They are co-workers in the vast majority of cases.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your son, Pete! I hope he makes a speedy recovery! Also, this quote could not be more true: “The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.”

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