My favourite album from Stabbing Westward. It was my first proper listening experience from them. I purchased the single, “So Far Away” and then downloaded a copy of the album before purchasing it.
And it’s not on Spotify which pisses me off. But of course YouTube has all the music.
What’s the deal with the cover?
If your making a statement about a self-titled album, is that the cover you want to advertise it?
After this album, I went back to listen to their earlier stuff via various Cyberlockers, Limewire, AudioGalaxy sites.
They needed to press the reset switch on their career.
How much more darker do they want to go?
The first album was called “Ungod,” the second was called “Whither, Blister, Burn and Peel” and the third was called “Darkest Days.” And for a name like “Stabbing Westward” I didn’t expect to hear a pop rock album.
They had three albums with Sony and two of em achieved a Gold certification from the RIAA. But they signed with an independent label after that in Koch Records.
Their new manager wanted the band to create an album with a heavy pop influence. Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Mark Eliopulos fought against this decision. Somehow the manager had more power within the band than the actual band members and guitarist Mark Eliopulos was fired by the manager who brought in Derrek Hawkins as both a studio and live musician, as well as a new producer, Ed Buller.
For this album, Stabbing Westward is Christopher Hall – vocals, Derrek Hawkins – guitar, Jim Sellers – bass, Walter Flakus – keyboards and Andy Kubiszewski – drums.
Released on May 22, 2001, the album did well in Australia, but ultimately failed to sell worldwide like their previous albums. They got put on a tour opening up for “The Cult” however the label told them to drop out as they were wasting their money being the opening band on a tour that wasn’t setting any attendance records and to wait around for a better offer.
So Far Away
The themes of anger, hurt, regret and despair are still there in the lyrics, however the music is straight ahead heavy rock and the vocal melodies could have come from an 80’s hard rock album.
A strummed acoustic guitar which reminds me of Tonic. It’s a happy song about Hall’s girlfriend. I guess she was just perfect.
My favourite song on the album. It’s a soft rock song with a simple D to Bm to A to G chord progression and a haunting vocal melody. It also reminds me of tracks from Porcupine Tree like “Lazarus” and “Trains” hence the reason why I probably like it.
As good as any hard rock song that did the charts before and after. Most people associate it with drugs, but it’s not. It’s about looking back at your life so far and seeing how the decisions you made in the past lead to you burning so many bridges and feeling lonely.
Oasis wasn’t writing songs like this anymore.
Do the same old demons haunt just me?
Sometimes it’s hard to escape the past and the feelings you have to those occasions.
The Only Thing
It reminds me of The Verve and that alternative soft rock.
Very similar to “Wasted” in feel.
Breathe You In
An acoustic guitar riff reminiscent to The Verve and Oasis.
A short drum intro and then an aggressive Bush/Live like vibe kicks in with the main riff.
It sounds like a cut from “The Tea Party” and it’s a nod to their past albums.
Is anyone alive / Or am I lost in a world where nothing matters / Am I lost in a world where no one cares
I suppose the question can be asked about again about social media and all the noise that comes with that.
A bonus track for the Australian and Japanese edition. It has a “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” vocal vibe in the verses.
This record made me a fan. But. Before a fifth LP could be recorded, the band disbanded on February 9, 2002.
Vocalist Christopher Hall started a band called “The Dreaming” and by 2016, that band had Walter Flakus and Mark Eliopulos in the fold. In other words, three/fifths of Stabbing Westward. So it was just a matter of time before Stabbing Westward reunited. First for a reunion tour and in 2022, they dropped a new album called “Chasing Ghosts”.
Life always throws curveballs. I have reached the stage in my life where I don’t have the time to do my full time IT job. I wouldn’t have it any other way with all of the family distractions, however my blogging has suffered a fair bit in 2022, from the usual daily posts to a post or two in a week and then back to daily posts and then to one or two a week again. Even reading and commenting on posts has gone a bit slack, but I will get around to reviewing it all.
So here is a two week review of Destroyer Of Harmony History.
4 Years Ago (2018)
Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. It did this, by giving the artist a monopoly on their works, so they could make money from their works and have an incentive to create further works. This monopoly was for a short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use. Like how the 60’s musicians took all the Blues classics from the 30’s that had terms which expire in the 50s and the “British Invasion” was born.
Corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be. For over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning.
“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?” Todd Rundgren
“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device” Lawrence Lessig
The songwriters and the actual artists will never be properly compensated because of poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but these same organisations blame the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.
But the labels licensed their catalogues to the techies, so wouldn’t they have the information as to who wrote what. Especially for the lesser artists.
There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down the Sunset Strip in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The “Censored” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV had a ball with it.
And the clip is misleading. While it looks like the guys are having fun, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow managed to get married and still screw anything that moved, while Vince Neil was still on probation from his car crash homicide and pretending to be sober. In other words, life in the Crue was chaos with a capital MC.
The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.
Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion Greed has been crowned the new king
From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.
And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.
Artists always had a lot of songs in the bank. Sometimes they didn’t even release their best song. They always withheld some for the next album and the album after. And they kept on writing.
Majority of artists are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.
Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.
Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. Be creative and never stop.
It takes artists a while, but they eventually realise how much their copyrights are worth. Nikki Sixx on Twitter said that the best industry lesson he learned was that Motley Crue didn’t really need a record label after the first two albums. And this antipathy towards labels ended up with Motley Crue getting their rights to the Masters back in 1998 from Elektra.
And then you have instances where artists need to sell their songwriting credits because of bad business decisions. K.K. Downing, founded Judas Priest. He left the band in 2011 due to issues with the other members and he purchased a golf course, which went into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing sold the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually back in 2018. Those numbers are only growing and the Copyright holders, (the Labels and The Publishers) are making their money back tenfold.
On the other side, is the graphic artists who normally get paid a flat fee for their services to create/design an album cover. At the time of designing the cover, no one really knows the impact the album might have on culture. So is the graphic artist to get paid extra when the album they designed the cover for broke through and sold millions. Case in point, Jethro Tull and the iconic “Aqualung” cover.
In the 70’s a young artist was hired by Chrysalis for $1,500 via a handshake deal to create three paintings to his style and content for Jethro Tull’s new album. The album went on to become Jethro Tull’s best-selling album, with over 7 million copies sold and so many anniversary editions issued. And apart from the great music, the album cover has become iconic, being re-issued on cassettes, CD’s, T-shirts and what not. And the artist who painted it, well, the label contends it was a “work for hire” agreement. And with no written contract, the label can say anything, so Chrysalis (now Warner Brothers) said the copyright for the paintings belonged to them. Fancy that. A label claiming to own the artistic rights to art.
When it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works as the companies don’t want to lose the rights to valuable works. So the corporations always try to extend Copyright terms.
As much as I like using Spotify, once they reach critical mass, the prices will go up. But it’s easier said than done, as there is a lot of competition in streaming these days. And one of the key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but every time they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Copyright monopoly anyone.
And back in 2018, my Netflix subscription went up and it went up again last year, while the shows I watched they keep cancelling like “Altered Carbon” or “Sense8”. But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.
Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. It’s was good then and it’s still good today, a timeless album.
And on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums hated this album.
On May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”. The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”. It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Can’t This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.
And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is popular on the charts today. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be.
Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road to make some money and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.
Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.
Music is a lifers game. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come home alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message.
So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.
Did anyone hear about the copyright infringement suit between The Script and James Arthur.
Back in 2018, James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” released in 2016 had 846 million streams on Spotify and on YouTube it had over 600 million views.
Meanwhile “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from The Script, released in 2008, doesn’t even rate a mention in the Top 10 streamed songs for The Script and even their biggest song, “Hall of Fame” released in 2012 is sitting at 419 million streams on Spotify. On YouTube, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” has 172 million views.
G, D, Em and C is the chord progression under question. The Script are adamant that the way they use the Chord progression with the vocal melody is unique and original and they are the first ones EVER to do it. Go to a Christian church and a lot of the songs they sing there use this chord progression. Pick up any album from any era and this chord progression will be there.
The songs do sound similar, but any song which uses this chord progression will sound similar. Of course it’s no surprise that the attorney’s representing “The Script” are the same ones Marvin Gaye’s heirs used for “Blurred Lines”. According to The Script’s legal team, at stake is $20 million dollars.
The reason why music became such a large commercial force is because songs sounded similar. In the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson, it mentions how our tastes in music are based on something we’ve heard before with some slight variation.
How many times have we stumbled upon a new song that we like, listen to it constantly on repeat while we try to figure out what other song it sounds like?
But we live in a world that if someone is winning, someone must be losing. So in this case, James Arthur is winning and The Script are losing, because he is winning with a song that sounds similar to their song and their song sounds similar to another song and that other song sounds similar to another song and so on.
8 Years Ago (2014)
Remember the days of purchasing an album based on a heavily marketed opening track and to find out that the album had 1 great song and 2 to 3 maybe 4 decent songs. And the rest were there as pure filler.
After being burnt so many times on purchases like these, did the labels or artist need any more evidence as to why people took to cherry picking when the mp3 became available. And with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.
The big songs just keep getting bigger and the album cuts are forgotten. A lot of music listeners wouldn’t even be able to name the album that had “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.
This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.
The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy. Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete of Beats, it will be even richer.
Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire. If there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.
Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the labels money. No one buys an album because Elektra released it.
The labels have purchasing power because of the artists.
The labels have status because of the artists.
The artists have made the label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.
So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares. The answer should be YES.
Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.
But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.
The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. Teenage kids from 1999 built a better system.
And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. But the artists want to apply the old charging system to the new system.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did this with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up. These people would never have purchased physical anyway.
Music is cultural. It was always possible to identify people’s musical tastes by the clothes they wore and the style of their hair. Our musical identity was a source of pride.
The definition of a casual music fan twenty to thirty years ago meant having a high music IQ and typically purchasing a seven inch single on a weekly basis. The definition of a casual music fan today means having a lower music IQ about who was involved in the song’s creation and focusing all on the song.
Nobody owes a musician a living and what is valuable is subjective.
From the beginning of time, musicians always made money from public performances.
Copyright at its basic level ensures that people receive compensation for a valuable good that they spend time and energy to create. This creates an incentive to put more time and energy into producing new work. Longer Copyright terms do not benefit the original creator in any way whatsoever.
People start to create for the sake of creation rather than money.
Whether people want to admit it or not, every song that is written relies on some sort of connection to past works.
Piracy has never been the problem. The RIAA just found it convenient to blame Piracy. It was all a smokescreen to fool the politicians into action so that they can get control back over the distribution/gatekeeper monopoly they had.
Recording revenues never recovered because it turns out that most people just want the best songs and not all of the songs.
There is a big difference between getting paid a “living wage” and earning one. Just because a musician creates a song or records an album, it doesn’t mean that you need to get paid a living wage. You need an audience that believes that you have provided a service to them by releasing your music.
Music is something people choose to do free and money is a by-product of doing music. A wage is something your employer pays you for doing your part in bringing him profit. If you want a wage for playing music and you are not a superstar act, then you need to put in your 40 hours a week. Be a music teacher, gig every day.
Being paid is good, but being known is better.
You could say wrong time, wrong place.
I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such a band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.
A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.
The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.
While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.
They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.
The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.
Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.
Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.
But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.
It’s there Eighth album.
How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release?
Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”. Bon Jovi’s 8th album was “Bounce”.
When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.
I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.
What I did know was the music. And the music was great.
In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off.
The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.
The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.
“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.
Then the album blew up.
Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.
“One Wild Night Live 1985–2001” was released in May 2001.
It’s compiled from different shows. In Australia, we also got a Bonus disc of songs recorded live in Australia. The release I have is known as the “Australian Exclusive Collector’s Edition” and the bonus disc has five songs from a March 24, 2001 show in Melbourne.
Tico Torres behind the kit needs more respect. He is a beast, happy to keep the beat when he needs to and when they jam the songs out, he’s brilliant at improvising. Richie Sambora likes to solo and on this album there are some songs which have decent outro solos like “Keep The Faith”. It’s things like this that makes the live show unique.
Jon Bon Jovi vocally is on form and having a blast. The 1985 recordings of “Runaway” and “In And Out Of Love” from Tokyo, Japan are gold, showing a band hungry for success and using that fire to light up the stage.
And I forgot how good songs like “Just Older” and “Something To Believe In” are. There are seen as deep cuts now behind all the Top 10 hits.
It’s My Life
Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Max Martin, the Desmond Child like persona from 1998 to current. The song was recorded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on November27, 2000.
Derivative or not, this song saved Jovi by renewing its audience. The 80’s fans remained and suddenly a whole new generation of kids joined them on the backs of this song.
Livin’ on a Prayer / You Give Love a Bad Name
It’s time in the set list to play some songs written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child. These two songs are from the Zurich, Switzerland show on August 30, 2000.
In 1998, Child sold his rights to these songs and other Jovi songs plus songs he wrote for other artists like Kiss and Alice Cooper to name a few. It was basically his whole catalogue up to 1997. He know wishes he hadn’t sold his rights as he has seen how much these songs make these days.
Keep the Faith
Another Jovi, Sambora and Child cut from New York City, United States on September 20, 2000.
Sambora is shredding his way through it and Tico Torres is thundering behind the kit, keeping up with the faster tempo.
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
The Jovi, Sambora, Child cuts keep coming. This recording is from Melbourne, Australia on November 10, 1995. The band is even more on fire here, with Jovi brilliant vocally. The increase in tempo makes the song a lot better as I wasn’t a huge fan of the studio cut.
Rockin’ in the Free World
A Neil Young cover from Johannesburg, South Africa on December 1, 1995. The tempo is increased and it sounds a lot better.
Something to Believe In
Written by Jovi and recorded from a show in Yokohama, Japan on May 19, 1996.
This one is a hidden deep cut in the Bon Jovi live set lists. I don’t think it gets played anymore but it’s a crowd favorite.
The beat from Tico sets the groove, while Sambora, Bryan and McDonald set the sombre tone.
Stick around until the Chorus kicks in to hear Jovi sing the melodies with Sambora doing the hey, hey, hey backing chants.
Wanted Dead or Alive
A Jovi and Sambora cut from a show in New York City, New York on September 20, 2000. As you would expect from this song, it has a little acoustic improvisation at the start before it kicks in.
Sambora on the lead is always perfect. His pinch harmonics, bends, palm muted notes and legato licks have a life of their own.
Runaway / In and Out of Love
From Tokyo, Japan on April 28, 1985.
“Runaway” is written by Jovi and George Karak, while “In And Out Of Love” is listed as written by Jovi. Alec John Such is on bass and backing vocals on these tracks. Remember him. The forgotten bass player, written out of Bon Jovi history.
The band is hungry and on fire on these songs. JBJ even brings out the falsetto for the “Runaway” outro.
The things a younger voice could do?
Before “In And Out Of Love” starts there is some guitar doodling and then the song starts, which is a bit different to how it normally starts and after a minute or so, the song we know begins. And I like the tempo increase. It’s only slight but man doesn’t it change the song from pop rock fare to hard rock fare.
I Don’t Like Mondays (featuring Bob Geldof)
A Bob Geldof cover recorded in Wembley, London, United Kingdom on June 25, 1995. I didn’t like the original version, so this did nothing for me.
How good does this sound?
Written by Bon Jovi and Billy Falcon. It was recorded from the Toronto, Ontario, Canada on November 27, 2000. It’s another cut now known as a deep cut.
Something for the Pain
A Jovi, Sambora, Child cut recorded in Melbourne, Australia on November 10, 1995.
It sounded better on the CD then it did live. Some songs work live and some don’t. The “These Days” Australian tour took Bon Jovi out of the arenas and into the stadiums. The Sydney gig was at the Eastern Creek Raceway. It’s a crap venue for live music and terrible to get to via public transport. It was a horrible experience a few years before for Guns N Roses and Skid Row, so I skipped any band that played that venue after Gunners.
And thank god that no act plays at that venue anymore.
The band should have changed their name to Jovi, Sambora and Child. As most of the big cuts are written by the these three dudes. This is from the Zurich, Switzerland on August 30, 2000. It’s basically an undercover 12 bar blues rocker.
One Wild Night (2001)
And the CD finishes with a new studio cut of “One Wild Night”. The cut is also written by Jovi, Sambora and Child . It’s faster and more party like. You can tell that by playing it live, they enjoyed the increased tempo, so why not capture that power and passion in the studio.
Do you know how hard it is to find a Dream Theater single in Australia?
And as soon as I found one, I purchased it straight away. But I haven’t found any singles since and in the 2000’s I just stopped looking for em in the record shops.
“The Silent Man” is the third EP released by Dream Theater in 1994.
The personnel for the band was Mike Portnoy – Drums, John Petrucci – Guitar, John Myung – Bass, Kevin Moore – Keyboard and James LaBrie – Vocals.
John Purdell and Duane Baron are producing the songs “Eve” and “The Silent Man”.
I actually purchased the single for the song “Eve”. At the time it was an unreleased bonus track.
It’s an instrumental, but it’s not the kind of instrumental you think with a thousand notes per minute. There is emotion and feel. Kevin Moore on the piano lays down most of the music which belongs to a soundtrack in a film.
His keys and piano riffs dominate the song and then there is Petrucci, who knows which notes to wrestle out of his fingers with his melodic leads. Especially that lead from 4.02. Press play on it.
Close you eyes and let the music take you to a peaceful time. It’s soothing, I could use it to meditate to.
Take the Time (demo)
This demo along with a few other songs, are part of “the” demo tape that got them their ATCO deal for the “Images And Words” album.
The Silent Man
It’s an acoustic song, and man can Petrucci write a complicated acoustic song with unique chord voices.
This week in 2018, the Tygers Of Pan Tang were getting a listen. And the cut “Mirror” written by John Sykes got a post.
It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album.
2014 (8 Years Ago)
This week in 2014 was all about advice.
So the first piece of advice is; “Each style of music regardless of the genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.”
The 80’s hard rock scene began in 1981 and the freeze happened in 1992. Some bands found success again many years later and some acts never recovered.
Crossfade is a band I like but singer/guitarist Ed Sloan is a slow worker when it comes to new music. The review of their album “We All Bleed” is here.
It came out in 2011, five years from the last album. Five years is a long time to be gone from the music industry these days. A lot of living takes place. Fans grow older. Tastes change. At the moment they are 11 years gone with no new product. But Ed Sloan did release a few solo singles around 2017.
Glen Hughes is a survivor, a lifer who has survived a lot.
I’m a big fan of the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes so I wrote a “Primer” post on his melodic rock career with the disclaimer, “by no means is the list complete”.
Check it out. It covers a lot of ground and different artists like Deep Purple, John Norum, Don Dokken, Hughes Thrall, and Glenn Hughes.
Music used to be about finding some Avant garde musical and lyrical edge and pushing yourself and that edge to the limits.
Want to be as big as Metallica. Forget about the Napster court case and remember that Metallica was a band that had an edge. They were an outlier versus the LA Glam Rock movement.
And credibility is everything.
That is why Rock/Metal bands didn’t really last forever. Most acts had a shelf life of less than 10 years.
Credibility equals musical differences.
How long were The Beatles together? Eight or nine years.
What about the original line up of Kiss? Eight or nine years.
Twisted Sister (the version of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and AJ Pero) had a run of 7 years before AJ Pero was booted and another year after that the band itself was goneski for a long period of time.
Motley Crue had a run of 11 years before Vince Neil was outed.
Dokken had a run of 7 years before they went down in flames because George Lynch couldn’t get over the fact that the band he was in was called after the lead singer.
Niches. There are lots of them.
There’s always an audience that sees their scene as a sense of belonging and a badge of honor. In some cases, that sense of belonging is more important than the quality of the music.
If you really want to have success, you need to know as much information on music publishing. Because the longer you control your own publishing, the more power you will hold in negotiations if you have a hit song.
If you really want to have success, don’t hand over your copyright unless you are aware of the consequences of doing so.
Because there is so much music available we gravitate to what is great. And that could happen the instant you put out a new song or it could happen years after. Sometimes decades.
Which means there will be fewer acts that will reach critical mass. And for the ones that miss the old days guess what, they are never coming back. A career in the music business was always about that one song.
It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens.
In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and others got rich from the lifestyle.
Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.
Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.
In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.
Artists started to spend 12 months in a studio and albums started to cost millions.
The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.
So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?
It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walk away and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. When the song turns into a great song, the band will hit the road.
1976 saw AC/DC’s first internationally-released album, “High Voltage”. The demand for Oz Rock was already on the up.
Enter Cold Chisel.
After years of hitting every place and pub in Australia and drinking those places dry with their road crew, or getting banned due to fighting, Cold Chisel finally got a record deal and released their first album on WEA/Elektra in 1978.
If you ever caught the band live, the self-titled debut sounded nothing like the band did on stage.
They also had a producer that kept telling em that live is live and the studio is the studio. They cannot intersect. Well tell that to Bob Rock who made it his mission to capture how good a band sounded live, in the studio.
Before the album was even released “Khe San” was already a crowd favourite however it was a lot faster live than the studio version. But there is something special about the slowed down studio version as well.
It’s a rocker, more STYX like with a little bit of “Evie” from Stevie Wright and “Mississippi Queen” from Mountain.
“Khe Sanh” was released as a 45 rpm single in May 1978. It captures, the despair and the anger of an Australian Vietnam war veteran. There were no parades for these guys. They came back home, hated. And the promises made by the Government to look after them never came to be.
It was banned from commercial radio as the lyrics had references of sex and drugs. Lines like these were scandalous. “And their legs were often open/But their minds were always closed”.
But a great song is never born from marketing. It’s from word of mouth.
And the Battle of Khe Sanh was fought mainly by US Marines but this didn’t matter.
The piano riff is rocking and the best part of the song is when Jimmy Barnes sings, “the last plane out of Sydney is almost gone”.
And maybe all of us were a bit damaged as well so the song resonated with a lot of people who had addictions and couldn’t make meaningful contact with woman, and the need for casual sex with East Asian women.
Home And Broken Hearted
The verse riff reminds me of AC/DC, who were influenced by Chuck Berry.
One Long Day
The bass rumbles while the piano plays a jazzy riff that reminds me of “Long Way To The Top”. And it takes a left turn when it changes to lounge rock.
Blues rock at its best
It could be a STYX or Bee Gees cut. It’s almost progressive the way Don Walker plays the piano.
Its fast and aggressive.
Almost Rose Tattoo like and when “they speak her name in cheap hotels/From Turkey to Marseille” we get an understanding as to who Daskarzine is.
Just How Many Times
Its lounge jazz blues rock, slow and relaxed. The lyrical message is more important than the rest. Barnesy is a crooner on this, an R&B style of crooner.
They never got the big break in North America that they wanted, but it’s pretty hard to sell your act when your lyrics paint a picture of Australia.
By 1993, a lot of artists who got their break in the 80’s had nothing doing. Even his band Danger Danger was struggling. Their album “Screw It”, released in 1991 got zero skulls out of 5 in the reviews I came across. The reviewers had enough of song titles like “Slipped Her The Big One” and “Horny S.O.B”.
The million bucks spent on the album would never be recouped, the band got dropped and it took another four years for Danger Danger to resurface with “Dawn” in 1995 on an unknown label.
But before they got dropped by Epic, there was an attempted album called “Cockroach” scheduled for 1993, however vocalist Ted Poley sought legal action to prevent it from being released as Bruno Ravel fired Poley after the album was completed and then got Paul Laine to re-sing it.
Due to the court case, Epic shelved the album but money talks and in 2001, it was finally released with Disc 1 being the Paul Laine version and Disc 2 being the Ted Poley version.
But while old friends had their various issues, Al Pitrelli was steaming ahead.
He was doing studio work with artists like Taylor Dayne. At this point of her career, Dayne was on fire, and a lot of money was thrown her way by the label for her third album. A lot of great songwriters were commissioned to work with Dayne and they bring their own players. Pitrelli on this case, played guitar on two tracks “Dance With A Stranger” and “I Could Be Good For You” on Dayne’s “Soul Dancing” album released in 1993. And like his previous studio work, Pitrelli was asked to perform again on a cut written by Diane Warren (“I Could Be Good For You”). I guess he had the soft rock mojo Warren was looking for.
His “Coven Pitrelli O’Reilly” project released “CPR” in 1993.
His “Morning Wood” project finally saw a self-titled release in 1994 (in Japan only and it wasn’t until 2002 that it saw a European release), along with Asia (“Aria”), Widowmaker (“Stand By For Pain”), the self-titled “Ten Ton Tide” album and “Out Of Control” by TM Stevens.
The “Morning Wood” band was Pitrelli’s old pal, Chuck Bonafante on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars, Tony Harnell from TNT on vocals and Danny Miranda on bass and keyboards. The album was all acoustic, mainly covers with a few originals.
The “Stand By For Pain” by Widowmaker is an album to be spoken of highly in relation to Hard Rock/Groove Metal. But like the heavy rock Widowmaker debut, it is largely ignored or forgotten. Dee Snider couldn’t catch a break post Twisted Sister, however he has shown his resilience, slowly rising back up year by year, first by a radio show, then as a screenwriter/director and when Twisted Sister reformed in the piracy decades, they were surprised to see that their music was more popular than ever.
Pitrelli also helped an old mate in Derek Sherinian get the keyboard job with Dream Theater after the departure of Kevin Moore. Al Pitrelli and John Petrucci used to teach guitar at a Long Island Guitar store, and Pitrelli put a call in to Petrucci to hire Sherinian who Gene Simmons described as the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher.
Pitrelli was also back in Asia for another album called “Aria” released in 1994. This period is known as the John Payne period. Al Pitrelli played on the previous album “Aqua” but didn’t tour. He played on “Aria” and went on tour this time, however after 4 concerts the tour was cancelled. Pitrelli left the tour early (how early can you leave a 4 show tour) and was replaced by ex-Simply Red guitarist Aziz Ibrahim for the other few shows. The album was also a complete commercial failure.
Another project called Ten Ton Tide released their self-titled debut. The band is listed as “Hard Rock” and “Prog Rock”. If you like Rush, then this band definitely fits the bill. This YouTube video is the only thing I could find on the project but it’s not the album that Pitrelli played on.
The band for the debut album is Jim Toscano on drums, Anthony Tirado is on Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Rob Glick is also on Bass and Guitar, Dan Gibson is on keyboards, Al Pitrelli and Zak Rizvi are on Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Dennes Cynd is on Vocals and Violin. One review mentioned the singer as a cross between Mick Jagger and Kip Winger. But I don’t hear that.
1994 or 1995 also saw a release from “TM Stevens – Out Of Control” called “Boom”, a fusion of hard rock, funk, rhythm and blues and metal.
For those who don’t know, TM Stevens is an American bass guitarist from New York City. He was a go to session guy and if you purchased a Billy Squier album, there is a chance you heard TM playing bass on it. The same goes for Pretenders, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Taylor Dayne, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Riot, Billy Joel and Steve Vai. And it was James Brown who got TM to sing. You know the track, “Living In America”. One of the voices on it is TM.
Apart from Al Pitrelli playing on the first album “Boom”, Richie Kotzen and Al Pitrelli both play on “Sticky Wicked” released in 1996.
In relation to “Boom”, check out the songs, “Supernatural”, “I’m A Believer” (a totally different song to the one you are probably thinking off), “The Gift”, “Hair”, “What About Love” and “Freedom (Never Gonna Give It Up)”.
Savatage were about to be dropped by Atlantic. They had given the band advances for each album and to the label, they never recouped that advance. Pitrelli was the studio player Paul O’Neill brought in to play lead guitar on their last album, “Dead Winter Dead”, released in 1995.
He went on a European tour with them as a hired gun and was to have no more involvement with the band after that.
The song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) was a hard rock mash up of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of The Bells”. The guitar leads you hear on the track that a violin normally plays are from the fingers of Al Pitrelli. And when Savatage returned to the U.S, this song had crossed over into the Charts and became a holiday favourite.
When there is a hit, expect a new album to come out. Savatage went back into the studio with Paul O’Neill producing again, but this time around, Pitrelli was a fully-fledged member, playing all the guitars and he was known as the “musical director” of the band. But Savatage was seen as a heavy metal band, and some due diligence by the label suggested that they should change the name of the band for this Christmas themed album.
And “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” was born. Otherwise known as “TSO”.
Also in 1995, a few other projects that Pitrelli was involved in got a release. The band “Place Called Rage” released their self-titled debut. Joe Lynn Turner released “Nothing’s Changed” and “Mojo Bros.” released their self-titled debut.
The “Place Called Rage” band had a few friends from the 80’s, like Chuck Bonafante on drums, Danny Miranda on bass and Tommy Farese on vocals. Released in 1995, it’s a great slab of hard rock rooted in the 70’s Rock movement with a lot of Springsteen style “Americana Rock” thrown in.
The Joe Lynn Turner album “Nothing’s Changed” is also rooted in 70’s Rock. Almost Bad Company like. Pitrelli co-wrote 4 tracks with JLT and also Co-Produced the album with JLT. Other musicians to play on it are Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums, with keys being provided by Gary Corbet, Derek Sherinian and Al Pitrelli. This is another great slab of hard melodic rock, lost in the noise of 1995.
The Mojo Bros. self-titled debut is hard to find. A few YouTube clips exist and that’s it. Joe Lynn Turner and TM Stevens even appear on their Temptation’s cover “Ball Of Confusion”. The music is mostly instrumental except when they get in a guest singer for a cover song. The band is Danny Miranda on bass, Joe Franco on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. These three albums released in 1995 are not on Spotify.
1996 brings us to Vertex.
The “A/2” album from Arcade disappeared from stores as soon as it was released. The music that Stephen Pearcy made a living off was out of style. So Vertex was born when Pearcy was asked to be part of an industrial band by Japanese drummer Hiro Kuretani. Al Pitrelli joined on guitar and Juan Croucier from Ratt was meant to be the bassist, however that spot went to Robbie Crane from Vince Neil’s solo band for the tour. Al Pitrelli plays the bass parts on the album except for two songs (“Time And Time” and “Aint Gonna Be”) in which Bob Daisley plays the bass. Fate would have it that Crane would became the Ratt bassist as well afterwards. In a dropping the names moment, the guitarist in Arcade Johnny Angel had a connection with Al Pitrelli from their brief Talas days.
Vertex was way ahead of their time. Musically, Vertex sounded like a cross between Rammstein (before anyone knew of Rammstein globally), the hard rock genre and Megadeth. Pearcy even sounds like Dave Mustaine in the vocal department. I believe critics just saw it as a glam rocker faking his way through the 90’s pretending to be industrial. But Pearcy is really good on this and the album is forgotten. “Industrial RATT” is a term that I came across a fair bit in the YouTube comments section. The bands Orgy, Coal Chamber, Snot, Static X, Powerman 500, Stabbing Westward and early Filter all sounded very similar to what Vertex was doing.
Another release that happened in 1996, was from the “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” (TSO) who dropped the “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album around the Holiday season and man, it sold. 3 plus million is sales in the U.S for a triple platinum certification. A tour was organised in the U.S and it sold like crazy as well. The fusion of hard rock, progressive rock, classical and Christmas themed music with a bit of blues rock and jazz found itself an audience. A large one at that. And for the audience it was all about the experience.
After a long time as a journey man, a session guru and as a band member/leader trying to get a project up and running, Pitrelli had a project that would provide him with stability and success.
Produced and Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell who were still riding the wave of success from the “No More Tears” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Dave Prater who produced “Images And Words” was not considered due to the difficult working relationship between the band and producer.
“Awake” is the third studio album but the first album for the band, written knowing that there was an audience for their music. Artists would like us to believe that they write music to please themselves but they are lying. Once an artist experiences public acceptance of their music, their minds want to experience more of it. That in itself leads to a different kind of pressure. And the guys in the band were still young, so they didn’t know how to deal with this pressure and the pressure from the label.
Released on October 4, 1994, the album came out at the peak of the Seattle movement. The heaviness was evident and the label wanted it, but the label also wanted a song like “Pull Me Under” even more, a combination of that Iron Maiden meets Metallica sound. But that song never came.
But with this album, Dream Theater unknowingly went from a progressive rock band with roots in hard rock, to a progressive rock band, with roots in groove metal, paving the way for a fertile new genre known as progressive metal. But the critics were mixed on it and even the fans were split. But the years that have passed have been kind to the album, and now it is seen very differently.
The writing sessions began in February, after a small 4 week break after the “Images And Words” tour. Each song had weird working titles like “Kittens On Crack”, “Blowfish”, “Beach House Reality” and “Squid”. A lot of music was written and when this happens, a band leader would need to decide as to what is kept and what is discarded. Dream Theater had no band leader. So the creative disagreements started.
Once the demos were completed, the tracks were given to their A&R Rep, Derek Oliver to listen to. While the songs were good, Oliver didn’t see a marketability to them, however he still gave the go ahead to record the album, as his boss Sylvia Rhone wanted the album done so she could show orders for the album.
It’s also the last album to feature original keyboardist Kevin Moore, who announced his decision to leave the band during the mixing process of the album.
Larry Freemantle, who had designed the cover of “Images and Words”, provided the artwork for “Awake”. As with “Images and Words”, the band instructed Freemantle to include several lyrical references in the cover, such as a clock showing the time 6:00, a mirror and a spider in the middle of a web.
“It’s 6 o clock on a Christmas morning”.
I’m not sure what I expected from Dream Theater for the follow up to “Images And Words”. But voiceovers saying it’s six o’clock on a Christmas morning was probably not it.
A Mike Portnoy drum groove kicks it off, rooted more in freeform jazz fusion.
And there is a Rush like groove that reminds me of “Natural Science”.
The lyrics are written by Kevin Moore about routine, duty and commitments in a person’s life, like cutting wood to keep a family warm and working to put food on the table. It’s so far removed from Rat Tailed Jimmy in “Dr Feelgood” or Metallica’s evil Sandman.
Caught In A Web
The 7 string guitar with the Low B string is in action here.
Truth be told, I saw the 7 string as a fad. I never saw a reason why a guitarist would need one. If you wanted a low B, increase the gauge on your strings and tune the E string down to B.
While someone like Iommi tuned down to C# out of necessity to make the strings easier to bend due to cutting off the tips of his fingers in a work accident, I still didn’t get why artists needed to go lower.
Because it sounds muddled when you play fast riffs, but press play to hear the killer lead.
Would you expect anything else from Petrucci?
Petrucci wrote the lyrics of “Innocence Faded” with Wikipedia telling me “it was inspired by his deteriorating friendship with Moore”.
When Dream Theater do major melodic rock, they do it well.
Press play to hear the outro.
Petrucci comes in with an outro riff with triads over an E pedal point. And if that wasn’t good enough, he starts to solo over it in a Steve Morse and Paul Gilbert manner.
Next up we have the “A Mind Beside Itself” Trilogy featuring the three separate songs, “Erotomania”, “Voices”, and “The Silent Man”.
A large section of this song was written for the song “Pull Me Under” however it was removed from the song before they went into the studio to record it. And those sections which were removed ended up in this song.
The intro. Press play to hear it.
An acoustic song during the unplugged craze. It deserved more attention.
Its heavy courtesy of the 7 string and its ready to challenge all the groove metallers. Here the 7 string works because the riffs are slower.
There is a section in this song, when they play the main piano riff from “Space Dye Vest”. Brilliant.
Portnoy wrote the lyrics to “The Mirror”, describing his battle with alcoholism. He would return to the subject on later Dream Theater albums with the group’s so-called “Twelve-step Suite.”
It was the leadoff single. Not sure if this should have been the song as lyrically its poor. “The Mirror” was a better choice.
But the lead is killer.
And it ends the same way “The Mirror” started as the two songs are connected. But this time around the heavy groove sets the foundation for Petrucci to solo over.
Lifting Shadows Of A Dream
It began as a poem and two chords brought to the band by Myung. They worked on it, hated it and the next day they liked it.
This is DT being like U2 and Marillion. Myung sets the foundation with his bass riff and Petrucci brings out his Marillion and The Edge influences with digital delay melodic riffs, while Kevin Moore lays a keyboard riff which is sad but hopeful.
The blues jazz fusion intro hooks me. For an 11 minute song there are so m at good sections.
Like the Metal verses and the solo and the outro.
Space Dye Vest
Kevin Moore is listed as the sole writer here, much to the protest of Mike Portnoy who in hindsight wanted to leave this track of it.
But it was one of my favorites because it had a soundtrack like quality to it. I could feel the sadness in the music. And James LaBrie is like Peter Gabriel in his vocal delivery.
It’s a style that I liked from em.
To tour they had to find a keyboard player.
Jens Johansson from Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo band was the first to be approached. While the label and management were keen on Johansson, the band wasn’t.
Jordan Rudess was the second and the band were blown away by him at the audition. Jordan agreed to play a small gig with them (which went terribly) and then rejected the offer to join them at that point in time. He had a gig with the Dixie Dregs, a full time job with Kurzweil and a very young family. He chose to be around his family during this period.
Enter the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher (as described by Gene Simmons), the one known as Derek Sherinian. By this point of time, Sherinian had worked with Lita Ford, Alice Cooper and Kiss.
John Petrucci and Al Pitrellil are both from Long Island and they used to teach at the same guitar store. Pitrelli put a call to Petrucci and basically said to him, “you got to hire this keyboard player”. And Sherinian was hired on a temporary basis to begin with.
In relation to the album, the label considered the album a commercial failure, which would lead to the band being pressured to write more radio-friendly songs on their next studio album. For Dream Theater, the label situation was never easy. Their Atco seven album deal was moved to East West Records, a division of Atlantic Records and then to Elektra.
This would lead to more problems. But that’s for another post.
The whole “Images and Words” album was a surprise success as it was released in a market that was very anti-technical. But “Pull Me Under” was not technical at all. It was actually pretty simple, with riffs that could have come from a Metallica or Maiden album.
So when an act is successful, the label is keen to capitalise on more sales. The best way to do that between studio albums is to release a live album.
Enter “Live At The Marquee”, released in 1993, on the back of the failure of the “Another Day” single. The music video for “Another Day” was totally ignored by MTV and never played on the music network.
There would also be a live video release of this period called “Live In Tokyo” from this tour. But that release would be covered a bit later.
In case people are not aware, The Marquee Club is a small venue in London. It’s a rite of passage for a lot of artists to play at The Marquee.
The band is the same as the “Images and Words” album with James LaBrie – vocals, Kevin Moore – keyboards, John Myung – bass, John Petrucci – guitars and Mike Portnoy – drums.
In relation to how live it is. All the music is live as captured on the night and most of James LaBrie’s vocals were actually re-recorded in a studio. In the book “Lifting Shadows”, Portnoy jokingly said the album should have been called “Dream Theater Live At The Marquee But With James LaBrie Live At Bear Tracks”.
The actual set list as found on Mike Portnoy’s concert database is as follows;
Metropolis Part I (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
A Fortune in Lies (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
Under a Glass Moon (not released)
Surrounded (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
Ytsejam (w/ Drum Solo) (not released)
Bombay Vindaloo (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
Another Day (only released in Japan, replacing “Surrounded”)
Another Hand (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
The Killing Hand (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
Pull Me Under (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
Take the Time (not released)
Wait for Sleep (not released)
Learning to Live (not released)
Metropolis—Part I: “The Miracle and the Sleeper”
The show opened with this and the CD release also did. The abilities of Petrucci, Portnoy, Myung and Moore are evident here.
The comments I read on a YouTube video of this song all mention the vocal performance of James LaBrie on this track. And it is a great vocal performance, regardless if it was recut in a studio.
A Fortune in Lies
I heard James LaBrie singing the debut album songs before I heard Charlie Dominici. Sort of like how I heard Bruce Dickinson sing the Paul DiAnno songs first.
The production sound of this song is a lot better live than what was captured in the studio. Especially the machine gun snare section before the solo break and then Petrucci nails his lead which has fast tapping, sweep picking, alternate picked lines and legato playing.
Named after a vicious curry that played havoc with the band. It’s an improvised instrumental performed live only six times and never recorded in a studio. They really set the mood of India here with the use of exotic scales to highlight the themes of the song.
I’ve read reviews that mention “La Villa Strangiato” as an influence.
Petrucci again shines with his emotive leads as he builds and builds on em, very Al DiMeola like. It’s rare tracks like these, that make these kind of EP’s special.
The best part of this song is Petrucci’s digital delay lead, however the effect wasn’t as prominent live as it was on the studio cut. And for some reason it sounded very Van Halen’ish this time around.
If you are a fan of Marillion, then you will like this.
Another Hand / The Killing Hand
The newly written major key intro titled “Another Hand” that bridges “Another Day” with “The Killing Hand” is beautiful. Press play just for that.
And LaBrie delivers a great vocal on this. And yes, I don’t care if it was recut in the studio.
Pull Me Under
Could there be a Dream Theater set list without “Pull Me Under”?
Of course not. It’s their title winning MVP.
I have seen Dream Theater perform live on a few occasions in Sydney and they are excellent.
Sykes first official band was an outfit called “Streetfighter”. They played mainly cover songs and an original song called “She’s No Angel” appeared on a compilation album called “New Electric Warrior”. There was also an EP released which can be found on YouTube with Sykes playing guitar and doing vocals.
In 1980, Sykes saw an ad for a lead guitar position. He auditioned and ended up joining Tygers Of Pan Tang for two albums, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”. Although good albums, they didn’t sell like the record label wanted them to sell.
Meanwhile, Sykes was getting some recognition and was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
In the book “Thin Lizzy” by Alan Byrne, its mentioned how Sykes was brought into Thin Lizzy on the suggestion of producer Chris Tsangarides who had worked with Sykes in Tygers Of Pan Tang, and also secured a deal for Sykes with MCA to release a song that Sykes had written.
“Thunder and Lightning” started to re-establish Thin Lizzy in the 80’s as they album had a metal heavy rock edge. At the same time, David Coverdale tried to hire Adrian Vandenberg and Mama’s Boys Pat McManus on guitar however they both rejected the offer. John Sykes was then offered a million dollars advance payment to join Whitesnake.
Mel Galley eventually left the band during the tour and Sykes went on to handle the guitar parts himself. Jon Lord also left to reunite with Deep Purple, thus making Whitesnake a four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell.
Money plays a part in every band and Whitesnake was no different. Cozy Powell didn’t like what he was offered to continue with the band and left. Aynsley Dunbar got his chance and ended up being the drummer for Whitesnake’s most successful album.
The 1987 Whitesnake sessions had delays, illnesses and personality issues. Murray didn’t know if he was in the band or out of the band, however he kept on turning up to the studio and completing his bass parts. Coverdale told them all to explore other projects if they got a chance as the money from Geffen was running out and Coverdale couldn’t keep them on the payroll.
The 87 album was rumoured to have cost $3M dollars to write and record. This financial pressure destroyed the song writing partnership known as Coverdale/Sykes. It could have been one of the best song writing partnerships in hard rock music for many years after, but we’ll never know. David Coverdale called the writing process a “musical conversation” between Sykes and himself. And we got to hear the results of the musical conversation.
Remember in “The Social Network”, the final scene, Zuckerberg is alone in his house, surrounded by darkness except from the light coming from his computer and he is still sending friend requests to his ex-girlfriend who told him she doesn’t want to see him or hear from him again because he is a sociopath. It sure seems a very social way to communicate with someone.
But he was a misfit in his circle and a lot of people identify with misfits. It’s a big reason why rock music became a commercial force. Today, those metal and rock T-shirts are available everywhere as designer clothing, but once upon a time, they were patches earned from a lifestyle lived. Because it was all about the music. Divided we lived, but united we stood.
Then we grew up, started to earn money, started to borrow money and suddenly we became part of the rat race. And no one forced us to enter the rat race. We tried to climb a greasy pole, believing if we worked hard enough, we would get to the top.
We might live in a country that is a democracy, however as long as you are living to please others and to build other people’s dreams then you are not free. Without realising it, your whole life is tied to a job.
Everyone has a story and the less you have in possessions and dollars, the more you have struggled, the better the story is. So the story of this generation should be about standing up against injustice. When pushed to the wall, how do you react?
Life is a process, with ups and downs. We fall in and out of love. We make money, lose money. We have children, watch them grow up and then we are alone. And somehow through it all we survive almost anything thrown at us and come out of it for the better. As long as we made a choice.
You can choose a ready guide In some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide You still have made a choice You can choose from phantom fears And kindness that can kill; I will choose a path that’s clear- I will choose free will Free Will by Rush
So many people have grown up in countries where free speech is respected. But today, people are scared to speak freely, scared to be attacked by the bots, the trolls, the politically correct hipsters, the angry left, the angry right and whatever else the internet social media predators can throw at you.
Maybe it’s time to say we’re not gonna take it anymore.
There was a saying that if you followed enough of the rules, you would get a recording contact, millions of dollars and the red carpet. Perhaps one in a 1,000,000 acts pull this off. Actually you have a higher probability of being hit by a comet than making a lot of money in music.
So, the record labels wanted to maintain the sales model but they got dragged kicking and screaming to downloads. Credit Apple for pushing it and credit Warner Music for being the first major to sign. Suddenly their revenues went up. But they still complained. They screamed to their friends in politics for laws to be passed. Then streaming came out and they got dragged kicking and screaming to streaming. They even got a percentage of the streaming company and surprise, surprise, the revenues went up again.
Times are changing. Nothing will look the same in relation to labels and streaming companies in the next ten years.
As for the labels, they are not going away. Morphing more into marketing companies, who could help with your world domination ideals, but do you need them.
But for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle for artists to regain their rights is happening.
According to Nielsen Music, almost 70% of the monies received by the labels is because of older catalogue items. So giving back the artist their copyrights as dictated by law is bad business for the labels. As the article states, around 20 artists have reclaimed their rights from the thousands who are entitled to.
And the labels pull out all the tricks, like telling the artist they will pay them a higher royalty rate (which is useless if the label does nothing to re-promote the tunes) or paying the artist a large advance to hold on to profitable masters.
Then came hedge funds and investment houses, purchasing older catalogues for a lot of money.
It seems that the ones who passed away before the internet age are more or less forgotten by the masses unless they were part of a superstar act or where the superstar act themselves.
Criss Oliva who tragically passed away on October 17, 1993 when a drunk driver crossed the road and hit Criss Oliva and his wife head on in a motor vehicle accident.
The “Gutter Ballet” LP was my first introduction to Savatage. Without knowing how the band sounded, the excellent album cover by Gary Smith was the decisive factor.
This album was a true turning point for the band.
It didn’t sell in the millions, but a classic album it is none the less. As a by-product it also became a leader for a new genre that incorporated power metal with orchestral/symphonic flourishes.
“Of Rage And War” kicks off proceedings with helicopters and other sounds from the various war machines. The whole intro reminds me of Megadeth. The song is about transforming powerlessness into anger.
“Gutter Ballet” is the epic six-minute anthem. It starts off with that melancholic piano intro in the key of D minor and then when the guitars come in along with the head stomping drums, the song transitions into a unique groove of “hard rock” clashing with “classical” and “classical” clashing with “symphonic” elements. It leaves an everlasting memory.
In the end it is the guitar the drives the song along. Check out the whole section before the lead break, then the lead break itself and then the syncopated parts coming out of the lead break. It’s perfect and the legato phrasing is liquid like melodic.
The title “Gutter Ballet” actually came from a play that producer Paul O’Neill had written in the early seventies, which of course went on to become the basis for the “Streets” concept album that followed “Gutter Ballet”.
“Temptation Revelation” follows and it is an instrumental. At one stage it was the original title for the LP. The guitar work from Criss Oliva again makes it. It has this Euro-Vibe style of guitar playing.
“When The Crowds Are Gone” is one of the best ballads, ever. Jon’s melancholic voice carries the song as it is filled with genuine emotion.
“Silk And Steel” is another instrumental and it reminds me of “Air” from Jason Becker. Another guitarist that in this case was tragically struck down with a terminal illness. “Silk And Steel” is a highlight as it features Criss Oliva’s at his “Segovia” best. A virtuosic, lively and carefree performance.
Side one ended and I needed to replay it before I moved onto side two. That is how music should be. Replayable over and over again.
“She’s In Love” kicks off side 2. The only song with weak lyrics, however it is important to note its place in the Savatage canon and an ode to the Accept style of Hard Rock/Metal that Savatage also dabbled in.
“Hounds” was an inspiration to me as a guitarist. I used the songs structure as a template for songs that I would write back then. I loved it’s epic feel and under it all there is this doomy technical atmosphere.
“The Unholy” could be from any classic metal album. The whole intro at first reminds me of “Lucretia” from Megadeth.
“Mentally Yours” sounds like an Alice Cooper song. Even the lyrical themes are very shock-rock Cooperish.
“Summer’s Rain” is another great ballad.
Criss Oliva is one of the most emotive and eclectic metal guitarists. The album is littered with so many different guitar techniques.
All in all, if metal is your taste then you need to hear this album. If you are a genre hopping musical fan, then this album is a must for the metal genre.
Who remembers watching interviews or reading interviews from their favourite bands about how much the band members loved each other, how they are brothers and so forth.
The cold hard truth is this. Bands/artists want to show a solidarity, a unity. They don’t want people and fans of the band to see weaknesses, so they try their best to make it look like everything appears fine on the surface.
However underneath it is a different story.
Every biography I have read, from “The Dirt” about Motley Crue, to “Enter Night” about Metallica, to “Lifting Shadows” about Dream Theater, to “Face The Music” about Kiss or to Dave Mustaine’s bio about his career. The same theme is prevalent throughout. The band members didn’t like each other.
No one really speaks their mind as it would cause problems in the band. And when dollars are at stake, management is doing their best to suppress what people think.
Song writing is the main reason. When you see artists leaving an act due to musical differences, its because they wanted to have their songs included on an album, however the other members kept on rejecting the songs or changing the song loses it’s soul.
Look at a few bands that are doing the circuit today and they have their own issues with members.
Volbeat – holding on to lead guitarists is problematic.
Five Finger Death Punch – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic. And recently they changed drummers.
In This Moment – holding on to bass players, guitar players and drummers is proving problematic.
Shinedown – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic.
Dream Theater – vocalist change after one album, three different keyboardists and a drummer change.
Trivium – changing drummers on a regular basis, however over the last few years it looks they have settled on that issue.
Evergrey – only Tom Englund is the original member.
Machine Head – only Robb Flynn is the original member.
The way we improve as humans is by finding a better way of doing things. In other words we copy what we see and we improve upon it. We do that from the day we are born.
The whole English rock movement in the sixties was born from copying the blues and folk movements and improving on them.
Keith Richards even went on to say that you can’t copyright the blues as all of the blues standards were copied over and over again so that thousands of derivative works existed.
Deep Purple built a career on taking certain sections from jazz standards that Jon Lord knew and turning them into rock songs.
Led Zeppelin built a career on taking certain sections from obscure folk songs, unsigned aritsts they toured with, blues standards and blending them into definitive masterpieces.
Black Sabbath had their roots in blues, classical and jazz. They borrowed from those genres. Listen to Bill Ward’s drumming on the early records. It’s almost got a swing, jazz feel to it.
Metallica initially built a career on taking certain sections from obscure New Wave Of British Metal acts and turning them into thrash metal masterpieces. For the self-titled BLACK album, the lead off track “Enter Sandman” has an intro that is copied and improved on from a local Californian band.
It is human nature that we are always looking at ways to improve. And copying something that came before, and then adding incremental improvements to it is how we do it.
One thing I do know is that copying is a key ingredient in the process of creating new works and it is a shame that the corporations that owe the majority of the copyrights are destroying this culture so that they can protect their bottom lines.
Look at any artist or band you like and you will notice one important element. They are lifers in the music business.
Dee Snider went through a long and drawn-out bankruptcy after Twisted Sister imploded. This is his big low from the platinum highs of “Stay Hungry” three years earlier. After bankruptcy he was free to make a new record and re-negotiate publishing deals.
The next high came when he signed a high pay deal with Elektra Records for the project that would become “Desperado”.
The next low started when Dee got that call that Elektra Records had dropped “Desperado” and shelved the album. That kicked off a process of more lows. Elektra didn’t just drop Desperado, they also prevented Dee from recording for any other label. Basically a record label that claims they are here to protect artists was destroying the career and personal finances of an artist.
Dee Snider just kept on going, trying to get the rights to his songs returned to him. He kept on going trying to get the right to license the Desperado record to another label for a fair price. In the end, the only thing that Elektra Records would accept was full reimbursement of the money they’d laid out for the deal—$500,000 or $50,000 per song.
But, but, the record labels are here to protect their artists.
The truth is, the record labels are there to make money from the lifers in the music business. It’s that simple.
It is those outliers, those misfits that end up changing the world.
Metallica got traction when they first came out because they didn’t fit in. And then when the “thrash scene” started to become saturated, Metallica delivered an album that didn’t fit into that scene and sold 25+ million in the U.S alone. Suddenly, elitists of that movement labelled them as sell outs.
Same goes for Motley Crue. Love em or hate em, when all the labels were looking for Devo style post rock acts in the early Eighties, along comes Motley Crue. Merging punk attitude with classic rock they paved the way for another band with a bigger appetite for destruction.
Guns N Roses came in an era when every label wanted a band like Bon Jovi. They came in an era when every label wanted their current roster of bands to deliver an album like “Slippery When Wet”. How anti-Bon Jovi was the classic Guns N Roses line-up? And guess what, they sold millions upon millions of albums. And they did it by not fitting in.
Dream Theater got traction in the era of Grunge. Even the analysts are still scratching their heads at that one. How could a progressive rock band break through when the record labels along with the media perpetuated the myth that knowing how to play your instrument was uncool.
The thing is most of the artists that we like never really fit into any circle/genre when they came out.
Foxy Shazam and “Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll”.
Who’s that guy singing?
That was my first impression. I was hearing Geddy Lee from Rush. I was hearing Freddie Mercury from Queen. I was hearing Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin.
“Your music sucks including us It’s time we cleared our name”
Rock N Roll is a virus that never leaves the body. We all always return to it over and over again.
“All you suckers are a flock of sheep I’ll be your shepherd, follow me”
Hallelujah is what I say.
And then as soon as I got into the song it was over after 2 minutes. It was like a freight train going off the rails and screaming the message for the “Church Of Rock N Roll”. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I replayed it over and over again. And the magic went through me one more time.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS!
It is that kind of album. It had me interested to find out more. When I heard it in 2012, I had no idea who was in the band, who produced it or how long the band had been together. It’s always cool to hear a fresh sounding retro album while most of the other acts chase modern rock hits that they still don’t have. The first eight tracks are special.
The album is produced by Justin Hawkins from “The Darkness” fame and you can hear the vocal influence on Eric Sean Nally.
And “Welcome To The Church of Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a classic because it hops genre’s so effortlessly and Foxy Shazam get away with doing a good job at it. It doesn’t sound like pop music but it does sound like the classics on radio. And back in 2012, it had me spreading the gospel of Foxy Shazam.
You are an artist performing solo or within a band.
You decide to record an album.
You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.
You do some promo and release it.
It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.
And the streams are growing slowly but not enough in the first week. But after a year or two, the streams start growing and growing and growing.
Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy/streaming era, and that hasn’t stopped the band from racking up Platinum and Gold certifications. But it took time. It wasn’t an overnight, first week sales success.
And fans consume music differently. They will buy music. They will stream music. Some will do both, buy and stream. They will download music without paying for it. They will download and pay for it. They will buy a concert ticket or a T-shirt or a book from the artist. They might miss the first few albums and then invest a lot of dollars in a limited/deluxe edition release.
WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything to get a certification. But it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.
Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell to get a certification, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.