A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Constant Releases

It’s been over 2 years since Sykes announced a new solo album was in the works and all we have is a leaked song on YouTube. To add to that, it’s been 18 years since “Nuclear Cowboy” came out. An album I illegally downloaded back then because I couldn’t get it in Australia, not even as an import because the distributor of the album, didn’t distribute into Australia. Seriously WTF.

The new music paradigm is to release music and to keep on releasing music. The listener decides what to listen to. It’s a scary thought for the artist, especially legacy artists who are used to the comfort metrics of the past, like a large advanced payment.

And in the past, the promotion and marketing campaign of the label would cast a net so far and wide, with the hope they would hook people in. I know it would be hard for kids born in the 2000’s to understand, but, if a label got behind an artist, then the scorched earth marketing policy they employed would get the artist a platinum record. But the really good albums, man, they didn’t have large campaigns behind them to begin with.

“The Final Countdown” broke through country by country, until it became a worldwide hit. Same deal with “Slippery When Wet”.

When “You Give Love A Bad Name” hit the airwaves and TV screens with the same promotion budget Jovi had for “7800 Fahrenheit”, something interesting happened. The song was so catchy and so infectious that people started requesting it on video channels and radio stations. Suddenly, there was a demand for the album. And man didn’t it sell, shifting over 100,000 units on a weekly basis. “Wanted Dead Or Alive” was already a hit with fans before it even came out as a single.

What an interesting concept when people/fans decide what is hot or what’s not.

Funny thing is, Europe and Bon Jovi had bigger recording and marketing budgets for the follow up albums “Out Of This World” and “New Jersey” and they didn’t even get close to the traction and numbers of the previous album. It doesn’t mean the albums are bad, but it goes to show a scorched earth marketing policy is not a guarantee of global reach.

They even had more money thrown at them for “Prisoners In Paradise” and “Keep The Faith” and again, they failed to get the public acceptance that “The Final Countdown” and “Slippery When Wet” got.

Hell, White Lion for “Pride” didn’t have an earth shattering budget. The band was just happy to be in the recording studio and to have an album out, but that album sold like crazy, while the follow ups had the advanced payments and the marketing budgets and they didn’t get anywhere near the staying power of “Pride”.

Money thrown at something doesn’t equal public acceptance. There is no magic formula for success, but if I look at the past, all of the bands I liked released music consistently. Led Zeppelin released 4 albums in 4 years, Black Sabbath the same, Deep Purple the same, Rainbow the same, Whitesnake the same, Dio the same, ZZ Top the same, Judas Priest the same, Bruce Springsteen the same and so forth.

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

To The Top

Desperate living- driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall
Tooth And Nail from Dokken

When your backs to the wall and you have nothing left, you either fight to reach the next step or you give up.

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when someone has so much power to make or break a career. But that is 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”.

If not for the money and not for the show
Are you here for me or here for the dough
Mr. Recordman, do you really give a damn?
Mr Recordman from Ugly Kid Joe

Is the label there for the artist if the money stops coming in and the shows sell a little bit less. White Lion were given a million dollars to record “Mane Attraction”. It came out and it didn’t set the world on fire. Grunge was rising in the distant and suddenly, 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. But for a brief period when “Pride” was selling thousands of units weekly, Mr Recordman was there, caring for the band.

You’ll never see a ray of daylight
So far in debt you’re struggling to survive
Dance In The Rain by Megadeth

And so many people define themselves by their status in society. Big house plus expensive car plus management job = powerful status. But, this perceived status is all in their head. No one really cares what you have or what job your do or how long you spend at work.

Why should they?

Life is short and the majority of people are too busy living. But others can’t turn away from it, because they are surrounded by people moving up. And they feel like they need to get on the same ride. So they borrow and then they borrow a little bit more. Because they believe when they get to the top they will repay it all.

The ride to the top is the reason why so many people started to play music.

MTV took the artists from the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. Yeah I know there was radio, but if people wanted information on artists, they had to buy magazines or their albums. Suddenly, their TV set was doing it all for them. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or via VHS to VHS.

And when kids have access to content, they have desires to be like their new found heroes on the TV screen. It looked easy. Learn to play an instrument, write a song and you’ll be signed and become famous.

The truth of it all is this.

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?

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Release Day

Spotify has a playlist ready every Friday for me in relation to bands I follow or bands who might be similar to bands I follow. Sometimes there is fluff in those playlists and sometimes it’s like the good old days of being in a record shop and deciding which album to purchase from the many on offer. In this case, I can listen to everything.

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

How are people going to find out who the hell you are?

You are not just battling for listeners attention from the artists who have new music, you are battling for listeners attention from the history of music. Yes, that’s right. We have “almost” the whole history of music at our fingertips. And even though the odds are really stacked against artists from making a living from music, people are still out there creating and releasing. Some artists are ahead of their time, so it might take a while for the audience to catch up. But one thing is certain, 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.

And truth be told, while the internet might have given people access to play in the recording industry arena, it didn’t kill the labels. Because the labels consolidated into three majors. And they amassed a lot of power through a little law called copyright. And with this power, they had a monopolistic bargaining position at the table when it came to licensing deals with the techies.

Anyway here are few releases from the most recent release day Friday.

Fake
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

Let’s promote the new album with a song that sounds similar in groove and feel to every other song we have written. Maybe some lawyer will sue the band for plagiarising their own sound and feel.

You talk a great game, trying to make a big name, soon you’re gonna run out of time

I’m a fan. Hell my six year old is a fan.

The song has a head banging riff (who cares if it sounds similar to other songs), underpinned by a drum groove that gets the foot stomping and a vocal line full of vengeance about a fake person.

Over It
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE

I’m still waiting for BFMV to decide what kind of album they want to make. A bone crushing “Heaven And Hell”, a sonic sounding “Dr Feelgood”, a metal sounding “Powerslave” or their own “The Blackening”. While I wait, they still release cool tunes like “Over It”, a product of where the band is right now, with only two original members left.

I can’t take this anymore, I’m over it

Trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved or can’t be reached is a difficult process to deal with.

Save Yourself
BREAKING BENJAMIN

So much gloom in the lyrics. For one thing, I’m happy Benjamin Burnley is making music and has kept the band name going after the various lawsuits and what not. And like AC/DC, Disturbed and FFDP, Breaking Benjamin is churning out consistent same music, album after album to great success and platinum awards.

Monolith
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS

It’s an instrumental which keeps on building like the music in a movie preview.

Personally, I dig it, so I went to hear the album. As a fan of the first three albums and playing “Conquistador” to death from the previous album, the “America” album is not what I prefer in the first half and great in the second half, especially from “Great Wide Open” to the end.

Transition
CRASHCARBURN

South African rock band that fell of my radar the last four years, so it’s good to have them back.

GONE (Radio Edit)
RED

This band has changed a lot during the last 6 years, with more and more electronic elements added to their tunes.

The Human Radio
SHINEDOWN

I don’t mind the kind of rock that Shinedown is morphing into because it’s still Shinedown and it’s still Brent Smith on vocals. And come to think of it, all of my favourite bands took styles and sounds from what is current into their mix as their career went along.

Get the money, throw the tantrum
The human radio is playing your anthem

More Beautiful
HOOBASTANK

Don’t ever think your broken and not good enough
Cause all the things you want to fix are things that I love

Magazines in the 90’s did a great job selling beauty and the social media world created by Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram has only added more fuel to the fire.

And people are dying just to look beautiful, starving themselves to feel beautiful and paying stupid amounts to correct their natural beauty in order to look manufactured.

Liberta
MUSTASCH

A bunch of Swedes with moustaches that play some killer groove metal/rock with melodic vocals. If beards and moustaches worked for ZZ Top, why not for a band called Mustasch.

Set Free
JADED HEART

Experienced melodic hard rock from Germany with Michael Bormann on vocals.

For those who don’t know, Bormann handled vocals in another favourite German band called Bonfire, however it was after their US breakthrough albums.

Sacrifice Me
ISSA with DEEN CASTRONOVO

Cool to see Deen redeeming himself with some cool music over the last 12 months. “Freedom” from the last Revolution Saints album is still doing the rounds in my life and this time, he’s doing a duet with Finnish singer Issa which sounds like it’s from an Evanesence album.

Burn
W.E.T

Another Jeff Scott Soto collaboration, this time with Swedish songwriters Erik Martensson from the band “Eclipse” and Robert Sall from the band “Work Of Art”. It’s another great melodic rock song.

Show Me
NEIL YOUNG

Of course Neil Young surprised me with this cut, which takes the “Rocking In A Free World” chord progression and acoustifies it with some soul and blues and calls it “Show Me”.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Stand Your Ground

For a long time, we had no idea how we looked. Then mirrors came about and then we knew how we looked.

For a long time, we had no idea how we really sounded. Then recording techniques came out and over the last 80 years, cassettes showed us how we really sounded.

Cameras also came about and people could suddenly see how they looked and sounded at the same time.

And right now, we are surrounded by sounds and mirrors. If you have a social media account, you have a mirror looking back at you. If you filmed yourself doing something, you have a mirror looking back at you along with sound.

Our personal lives are out there for the whole world to see, regardless of your social media security settings. Even if your posts are secure and only for friends, other people who are not your friends could still potentially see them, because if your friends don’t have the same security as you and you tag them, then it’s on their wall as well.

And how dumb are we. We gave away our privacy and our lives for free to social media platforms like Facebook, who then went and made billions of dollars from our lives. And when people post something on Facebook, they either get likes or blowback. And no one wants blow back these days. Everyone wants to be liked. Even musicians.

Musicians fall into many categories via their lyrics. Some address social ills, some address loss and grief, some address relationships, some address mythology or history and some address partying and having a good time. And it takes guts to put yourself into a mix where your opinions and viewpoints can be attacked. But real artists will look to find a place that creates the change they seek and they will push boundaries in order to do it.

Freedom. It’s our fundamental right.

So what do we do when the politicians we voted in work for the corporations instead of the people?

What do we do when the politicians pass laws to benefit the corporations instead of the people?

This is a world-wide problem.

Our governments are using private companies to harvest our data from social media, based on our posts, comments, likes and friends, these private companies can determine which way you vote.

Stand your ground, don’t let the bastards grind you down, be bold, be strange, don’t let their fears make you afraid

Bastards from Machine Head

We need to stand our ground. The message is nothing new, but we have forgotten it. Machine Head is dealing with some flack in the U.S about their “Catharsis” album. But it’s only in the U.S as the rest of the world relates to the message that Robb Flynn is saying.

And Robb is sending out his message because he cares.

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

And when change happens, someone feels it’s for the better and others feel it’s for the worst. And the people who feel the change is wrong, speak up.

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 call for gun control.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics. Change is a happening. Be prepared to change or move out of the kids ways.

We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it

We’re Not Gonna Take It from Twisted Sister

It’s a simple assertion from Dee Snider that mobilised a generation. 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.

Well popular artists don’t.

Stand your ground.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Twitter Thoughts

As soon as Dee Snider and his Twisted Sister band mates threw the teacher for a three-pointer in the “I Wanna Rock” video, I was hooked. Yeah, he looked all wrong but his attitude and message stuck with me. So it’s no surprise I follow Dee on Twitter and recently a few tweets got some discussions happening.

“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987? You can use initials. Bonus points for naming the 1 live album. Good freakin; luck.”

You struggle your whole life to “make it”. And once you “make it”, you need to struggle to “keep it”.

And then “keeping the fame” ends up “breaking up” the band that “made it”. So you go solo but it’s many years later from your “making it” moment. And there are people who still crave your product but not as many as before.

For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success is sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again. The record label never considered that statistic because the sale has given them a monetary value, something they can count.

But as Dee said further on;

“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it. You want the world to see and hear “your children””.

The truth is, there is no secret formula for keeping the hits coming.

Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.

But the biggest obstacle is obscurity.

Someone tweeted back, “Didn’t know you did one, lol” in response to Dee’s post about the seven unsuccessful albums to which Dee re-tweeted with the following comments;

“This is the #1 response to my name the seven albums I’ve done since leaving Twisted in 1987. Which brings us to the age old question: “If someone puts out an album and nobody hears it…did it make a sound?””

Which someone else replied that Dee’s last album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;

“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”

Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.

And here we are again wondering what success is.

Is it sales?

Is it streams?

Is it video views?

Is it concert ticket sales?

Is it just people interacting with you on social media?

For Dee, he hit the mainstream with Twisted Sister and for a three year period he was on top. Success is defined as that same public acceptance for his other music.

So let’s talk about “Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker.

Post Twisted Sister, it was deafening silence. From being everywhere, Dee was nowhere. My cousin Mega, who has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder told me about his Desperado project. It was mentioned in a shorts column of a U.S magazine. That’s it. One of the biggest voices between 1983 and 85 was reduced to a paragraph.

Then there was silence again. We got nothing Dee Snider related in Australia.

I then read a “Blood And Bullets” review in a magazine, three months after the Widowmaker album was out. It was in a Guitar magazine, because of Al Pitrelli’s involvement. Nothing from the mainstream metal rags.

So I went looking for it in the mainstream record stores and I couldn’t find it. I asked at the counter if they could get it and they could get it as an import and charge me $50.

I went to Utopia in Sydney, the home of heavy metal, who only had a few copies of the album and already sold them. They said they would order it in for me and it would cost me $30. It took another 3 months for it to “arrive” in Australia and into my hands. Imagine that. 3 months to arrive.

So six months after the album was released I had it. And I played it non-stop and I still play it and I told everyone I could about it. It’s angry, it’s hopeful, it’s sombre and it’s tongue’n’cheek.

For me, it’s highly influential. It’s got the kind of music I like making, all over the album.

“Reason To Kill”, “Blue For You”, “Calling On You”, “Snot Nosed Kid” and “Emaheevul” straight away stood out for me. “Blood And Bullets” and “Widowmaker” grew on me with every listen. The cover of “Evil” surprised me with its energy and increased tempo while another pop rock cover called “The Lonely Ones” was a sleeper hit waiting to smack me in the face. “Gone Bad”, “You’re A Heartbreaker” and “We Are The Dead” while sounding clichéd on earlier listens grew into unique contributions to the album.

Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all. Of course, Desperado guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.

If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions and the failed Desperado album release.

But the problem with the album not setting the sales department on fire was not Grunge. It was obscurity. People didn’t know about it because there wasn’t a source of truth anymore.

Even in 1992 going onto 1993, we had a lot of different sources for information. The magazines were struggling to sell like they did in the 80’s, hence the reason why so many of them finished up.

So in order to stay relevant, the magazines only reported what was popular so they could sell. And no one bought all the magazines but in the 80s if you purchased Faces, Hit Parader or Circus or Metal Edge, you more or less had your rock/metal “source of truth” covered.

And MTV was moving into reality TV and out of music, especially music made by the metal community.

And speaking of the metal community, we had fractured into different styles. Once upon a time we liked metal. We listened to metal bands.

Suddenly metal (courtesy of magazines and record label A&R reps) had different genres like Glam, Pop, Thrash, Heavy, Hard, Death, Black, Industrial, Hardcore, Grindcore, Rap and whatever other term someone could think of like Sludge, Weed, Fart, etc.

So those metal bands in the early 80s got relabeled to something else.

And it shits me because the Widowmaker debut album is not on Spotify (well I don’t know about the rest of the world, but it’s not on Spotify Australia) and people who are fans of the band and who pay for Spotify cannot listen to it.

But it’s on YouTube and I don’t do YouTube. But I have a CD mp3 rip of the album on my devices and I listen to it that way.

The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1984 – Ep 1

I bought a few CD’s recently. They are still in the plastic wrapping. I don’t even think I will be opening them as I am listening to the music via Spotify.

I used to buy CD’s weekly once upon a time. It wasn’t really news, but hey we are in 2018 and just buying a CD is news. Even though I stream, the itch to buy is still there. Old habits die hard. And the majority of music fans are collectors, so we collect CD’s and vinyls the same way people collect stamps, coins, sports cards, instruments and what not.

The recording industry did an incredible job in brain washing us to believe we needed to purchase these products. They did have a few false starts in the 40’s and 50’s, however the post WW2 rebuilding phase started to put people into jobs, which meant money to spend in society. And once they got a foothold, their Government granted monopoly just kept on growing.

Anyway, buying CD’s got me thinking about vinyl records and how I was pretty peeved that vinyl records got stopped. And just like that, I was in an 80’s mood.

So here is the playlist.

Dokken – Tooth And Nail
Elektra wanted to drop em. Lynch and Dokken wanted to drop each other. Croucier dropped them for Ratt. Werman dropped the producing gig because of everything that came before. Lynch dropped in and out of the band a lot of times. Eventually Pilson dropped into the band to replace Croucier on the recommendation of Shrapnel Records boss Mike Varney. Michael Wagner dropped in to record the vocals, while Roy Thomas Baker dropped in to do the rest.

For a band threatened to be dropped, the production team was top notch. Werman would have got his cut, Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagner, would also get their cut. And then you have the record deal that Don Dokken got by using the songs Lynch and Brown had written. Imagine being in a band where Don Dokken would get the money and then he would need to pay Lynch, Brown and Pilson.

But they had Q Prime Management in their corner. In Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, Dokken had an influential team who could build them up into global superstars, organise the tours, the record deals, the funding, the video clips and what not.

Side one kicks off with the instrumental “Without Warning”. For a song that’s 1:35 long, it’s showing Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson as songwriters. Seriously. Three dudes for a minute and thirty five seconds. I don’t think so. Moving on, the title track “Tooth and Nail” kicks in, delivering a 1-2 knockout punch. It’s basically a speed metal song written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson.

Desperate living- driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

Such powerful words from people about to call it quits.

“”Just Got Lucky” written by Lynch and Pilson came next but it didn’t get lucky in the charts. “Heartless Heart” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson deals with a heartless baby who lied. And finally, lead singer Don Dokken gets a song writing credit for the side 1 closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” co-written with Lynch and Pilson. Lyrically it could have been used for the first “Nightmare On Elm Street” movie.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Side two fires up with “When Heaven Comes Down” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson and it’s followed by “Into the Fire” written by Dokken, Lynch and Pilson about a relationship which is wrong and somehow it goes sour and now he is falling into the fire. I had a theory once, it’s about Lucifer.

“Bullets to Spare” is written by the band and seriously it’s terrible lyrically, linking bullets to spare to a certain substance that comes out of a male. The big power ballad “Alone Again” is written by Dokken and Pilson and it’s underpinned by a great lead from Lynch. The album closes with another speed metal song in “Turn On the Action” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson, the same team that wrote “Tooth and Nail”.

I’m looking over my shoulder
I’m running reckless through the night
Forever young not getting older
Satisfaction guaranteed tonight

Who didn’t do something naughty or slightly illegal in their youth and when we made our great escape, we laughed but constantly looked over our shoulder in case someone was chasing us.

And while Lynch got a lot of press and front covers in the guitar mags, and Don Dokken got a lot of press and covers in Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Faces and what not, the real hero of this album is Jeff Pilson. While others let egos get in the way of creating, Pilson went on with the task of creating and he co-wrote every single song on the album and paved the way for Dokken (the band) to have a career.

Van Halen – 1984
I will try my best to keep this review as short as possible as this album is highly influential to me, especially the songs “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”. Actually, this album and “5150” are the ones I always go back to. And there is no denying that EVH was at the peak of his powers between 1983 and 1987. It’s like everything he touched turned to gold.

It’s also the last VH album to feature David Lee Roth until 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth” and it’s also their biggest album to date in relation to sales and now streams. However as Sammy Hagar likes to point out to DLR, the Van Hagar albums went to Number 1 on the charts, while the Van Roth albums didn’t. But Van Roth albums outsell Van Hager albums. And the VH fan base streams more of the Roth era songs than the Hagar era songs.

Like many bands which start out, each album shows songs written by all members, however it’s rarely the case that all members contributed to the song writing. Van Halen kept this going for every album, even with Hagar. However, when Van Halen, which is now a company run in conjunction with management, renegotiated their royalty deal with Warner Bros in 2004, Michael Anthony was left off the song writing credits. People argued that Alex Van Halen also should have been left off as a songwriter, as all the music came from EVH and all the lyrics from Roth except for “I’ll Wait”.

Jump
I wrote “Jump” on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-10 in my bedroom while the studio was being built. Every time I got the sound that I wanted on the right-hand split section of the keyboard, it would start smoking and pop a fuse. I got another one and the same thing happened. A guy I knew said I should try an Oberheim OB-Xa, so I bought one of those and got the sound I wanted.
EVH

A band I was in from the 90’s wanted to cover it. The problem was, we had no keyboard player, so I had to learn the synth riff and lead on the guitar. The riff was cool to play and the lead was 70% of the recording with the other 30% improv.

For those who want to know, the synth hook was inspired by the Hall & Oates track “Kiss on My List”. Producer Templeman hated it. Roth hated it. Funny how Roth’s biggest hit as a solo artist “Just Like Paradise” also revolves around a keyboard riff.

Panama
The riff.

I remember pausing and rewinding the cassette tape to learn it. Only I didn’t do a very good job as I couldn’t make out all the nuances of the different triad chords moving under the pedal tones.

When the guys once asked me to write something with an AC/DC beat, that ended up being “Panama.” It really doesn’t sound that much like AC/DC, but that was my interpretation of it.
EVH

Oh, but it does sound like AC/DC. Listen to the riff just before the verse kicks in. It’s AC/DC on steroids.

Top Jimmy
It’s a swinging/out there Van Halen track.

For “Top Jimmy” I had a melody in my head and I tuned the guitar to that melody. Steve Ripley had sent me one of his stereo guitars that had 90 million knobs and switches on it. That was too much for me to comprehend, so I asked him for a simpler version. He sent me one with a humbucker in the bridge and two single-coils at the middle and neck positions. It was just a prototype.
EVH

Drop Dead Legs
That was inspired by AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I was grooving on that beat, although I think that “Drop Dead Legs” is slower. Whatever I listen to somehow is filtered through me and comes out differently. “Drop Dead Legs” is almost a jazz version of “Back in Black.” The descending progression is similar, but I put a lot more notes in there.
EVH

Remember progress is derivative.

Take what came before, tweak it, slow it down, alter it, swing it, mash it and what you have as the end result is something that is yours. It’s the way art evolves and it’s the way music has evolved. Don’t let no one tell you any different and all of those artists and heirs of artists who believe they are so original, they aren’t. They are full of crap. We are all a sum of our influences.

Hot for Teacher
The film clip came first for me. It’s brilliant and who can forget the teacher.

If you want to hear this song’s embryo, then check out the 70s demo from Van Halen called “Voodoo Queen”. Actually you will hear riffs in that song that appeared in other Van Halen album songs as well.

I’m a shuffle guy. I love fast shuffles. I think that stems from my dad’s big-band days. Every Van Halen record has a song like that—“I’m the One,” “Sinner’s Swing.” It was an extension of that—more of me! I distinctly remember sitting in front of Al on a wooden stool and playing that part during my solo where it climbs. Well, I can’t count, so Al needs to follow me. I’d sit right in front of him, and then he’d look at me like, “Now!”
EVH

It’s a full on jam song. If you don’t believe me, check out the solo section. There is no backing guitar. It’s just bass and drums holding down the rhythm, while EVH wails.

I’ll Wait
Co-written with Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan veteran Michael McDonald. Roth and Templeman both voted it out, however Eddie and engineer Donn Landee prevailed. As a guitarist, the keyboard riff is pretty cool to play on guitar.

Ted hated that song. When I played it for him, he kept humming “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent just to piss me off. It doesn’t sound anything like that.
EVH

And that keyboard riff before the solo belongs in a Rocky movie, especially in the training montages.

Girl Gone Bad
This song is basically Rush merged with “Achilles Last Stand” from Led Zep.

I always carried a microcassette recorder with me. I recorded my idea for “Girl Gone Bad” by humming and whistling into it in the closet of a hotel room while Valerie was sleeping.
EVH

The beauty of Van Halen was their unhinged jams and this song sounds exactly like that.

House of Pain
“House of Pain” originally dates back to the demos Van Halen recorded for Warner Bros.

The only thing that’s the same is the main riff. The intro and verses are different, I guess because nobody really liked it the way that it originally was.
EVH

Always taking what came before and tweaking it for something better. It’s the way we create art. EVH is a master at it.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
The film clips hooked me in and I became a fan. While those film clips sold the album, my first TS purchase was “Come Out And Play” on LP and man, I played that album to death. This album was purchased on cassette tape at the start of 1986.

I remember as a kid it struck me as unusual that all songs are written by Dee Snider, because he’s only listed as vocals. I was like, how come Jay Jay and Eddie don’t have no credits as the music is dominated by guitars. We’ll it’s been explained in great detail in Dee’s bio how the song writing process worked for him.

Stay Hungry
A nod to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If your fire has faded and you can’t feel it no more
If your tired and overrated, let me show you to the door
Expect no sympathy, There’s none to be had

In other words, you never quit.

We’re Not Gonna Take It
The film clip was into every TV screen around the world at that point in time. And we all resonated with the “right to choose our own paths and fight the powers that be” message of the song. Hell, my little guy learned how to talk by saying “Twishhted Shishter,  Vere Not Gonna Hake It” into the YouTube microphone.

Eventually he started to pronounce the words perfectly.

Burn in Hell
This is the Twisted Sister I became a fan off. Cuts like this, “S.M.F”,  “Run For Your Life”, “Under The Blade”, “The Fire Still Burns”, “Come Out And Play”, “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll”.

The doomy start is a perfect welcoming for all the listeners coming into the abandoned hand. And from 1.17, the song really shifts gear.

Take a good look in your heart, tell me what do you see
It’s black and its dark, now is that how you want it be
It’s up to you what you do will decide your own fate
Make your choice now for tomorrow will be way too late

Great lyrics. Our fates are tied to the choices we make. If we hate, we walk the path to hate. If we love and help others, we walk a different path.

Horror-Teria (The Beginning):
a) Captain Howdy
b) Street Justice
I didn’t appreciate these songs back in the 80’s. After “Burn In Hell” I would press the fast forward button on the cassette deck and wait until the reel went to the end. I would open the tape deck and change the side of the cassette from side 1 to side 2. Oh, how my kids have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

But these songs are a concept story within a song. Progressive rock bands do this a lot. Hell even Greenday did it.

I Wanna Rock
And I was greeted with this. The opener on Side 2. Another song with a film clip to match and with a message of don’t tell us to turn it down and cut our hair. We are the youth of rock and we wanna rock.

The Price
The intro lead break hooked me in. I loved it. It wasn’t highly technical, it wasn’t a thousand notes, but it was emotive.

And the lyrics showcase the emotions involved for a person to have a career in music.

Don’t Let Me Down
A relationship song on an album which is littered with songs about standing up for your rights was confusing. Nevertheless, it’s still a cool song and it rocks along at a cool speed as well.

The Beast
It’s “Destroyer” part 2. I never associated this song with some natural force moving in like a predator to take someone’s life. I always associated “The Beast” as the “Hard Rock and Heavy Metal” movement happening at the time and how it was so natural.

So when Dee sings “You are his only target, you’re his only goal”, it’s like an analogy for how Rock and Roll has set its sights on a person and it will not leave that person alone until it converts them into a fan.

S.M.F.
The massive closer for all of the SMF’s and one of my favourites. The real TS anthem, the hit that never was about the black sheep of the family being a metal machine and when they went to the rock and roll show, they saw thousands of others just like them.

The album was released as “Still Hungry” in the 2000’s with all of the above songs re-recorded along with a couple of new ones.

“Never Say Never” is more or less a speed metal punk song. “Blasting Fast and Loud” is a groovy 12 bar blues punk song however if both songs were actually written for “Stay Hungry” they didn’t cut it.

“Come Back” is a good listen but not worthy of album inclusion while “Plastic Money” is a miss. “You Know I Cry” I always enjoyed from the Club Daze live performances. Actually you can hear the embryo of “Stay Hungry” on this track in the riffing and drumming.

“Rock N Roll Saviors” starts of like “Children Of The Grave” from Sabbath. Even in the verses, it’s got that feel.

“Heroes Are Hard To Find” is a classic Twisted Sister song. It made its appearance on the “Strangeland” soundtrack in the late 90’s, however I don’t know if it was written during the “Stay Hungry” period.

The album was then re-issued as a deluxe edition with the demos of the album appearing on the second side.

“Death from Above” has a decent riff and “Prime Motivator” has a decent bass groove. Both songs have good melodies but the lyrics don’t do em justice. “Death Run” was re-written and it became “Kill Or Be Killed”. “This One’s for You” has a sleazy riff but you can hear why it never made the album. “We’re Coming On” is an interesting one. I reckon it could have worked on the album. It has all the ingredients of a classic Twisted Sister song. And when you have a chorus that screams “We’re Coming On like a mf”, you can’t go wrong.

“Call My Name” and “Our Voice Will Be Heard” got a remake for Dee’s solo album, “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” and to be honest, both songs are favourites of mine. “Pay the Price” is a song from their “Club Daze” which is probably why it never made a Twisted album. It just wasn’t good enough as Dee became a better songwriter as he got older. “What’s Love Without You” is also a miss.

“You Got to Fight” has all of the classic elements of the “youth of the world” fighting for their futures and their voices against the institutions and our leaders and maybe they should have taken it to the studio to finish off.

“30” is a cool AC/DC style track released with this edition, however it wasn’t written for the “Stay Hungry”. It was written as a 30 year anniversary track and it was released as a stand-alone single. It’s a cool song to have in the Twisted Sister catalogue.

There is always the argument between quality and quantity. I believe if you write 30 songs for an album, you will be able to get 10 quality tracks. And once upon a time, this kind of thing happened. I know some bands wrote 10 songs for the album and all 10 appeared on the album.  So it’s no surprise that Twisted Sister’s most successful album had a lot of different songs considered for it before the final nine got selected.

RATT – Out of the Cellar
I had “Out Of The Cellar” dubbed on a cassette. Before I got the album dubbed, Ratt was purely a video band for me. The video clip for “Round and Round” was played on every TV station. I always had blank VHS cassettes and my finger on the record button.

And revisiting this album, it’s no surprise that Ratt’s biggest album has a lot of song writing contributions from Robbin Crosby, the real Ratt’N’Roller.

Wanted Man
Side 1 opens up with this track. The credits show Robbin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy as songwriters, however bassist Joey Cristofanilli, who had briefly substituted for Juan Croucier is also a co-writer, however it’s never been properly clarified.

What a shredalicious lead break?

Round and Round
The other good song on Side 1. This one is written by Robbin Crosby, Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

What a riff to kick it off?

It’s big, hooky and melodic. It’s also good enough to please the metal audience and the rock audience. And when Stephen Pearcy starts singing about meeting out on the streets, our simple brains resonated. Those lyrics today would be something like, “Out on these cyber streets, its where we meet”.

And when that harmony lead break comes in, it’s just a perfect end to the solo section.

Lack of Communication
Side two opens up with this track written by Pearcy and Juan Croucier. The riff is that good, Pearcy and co mimicked the vocal chorus line off it.

And for a Ratt song, it’s got some good lyrics.

Too many problems, the world can’t solve
Too many people, no one wants to be involved

People want to be involved but no one listens to them. School children are demonstrating for gun-reform and the adults in power are failing to listen. People are demonstrating against the FCC changing net neutrality laws to benefit corporations and no one in power is listening. In Cape Town, South Africa, they are going to run out of water and no one in power is doing anything. In Nigeria, 100 plus schoolgirls get kidnapped from a school and no one does anything. 5 years ago, the same number also got kidnapped and they still haven’t returned.

Put up our boundaries, we build our walls
It’s alright, no-ones gonna change us at all

In the past, kings and queens had their castles fortified behind walls and walls, to keep undesirable people and invaders out.

How did that work out as a long term policy?

Back for More
It’s a Crosby and Pearcy cut, under pinned by a fantastic melodic riff. From memory, I think the song was in the key of A minor.

The Morning After
One of my favourite cuts because of the riff and it’s also written by the same song writing committee that produced “Round and Round”.

The lead break is also structured like “Round and Round”, where it starts off with some shredding and then it goes into a harmony break, which by the way is all killer.

I’m Insane
It’s a cut Robbin Crosby wrote in his pre-Ratt band. It’s basically a speed metal song straight from the NWOBHM scene.

While side 1 had the hits, side 2 was stronger.

And every good song on this album was underpinned by a memorable riff.

Iron Maiden – Powerslave
I had this on cassette. I actually had “Live After Death” on cassette first and after “Somewhere In Time” came out, I purchased this album on cassette.

Seriously, how good is the cover. Remember when you used to purchase an album based on the cover alone.

And the 13 month world tour had Maiden visiting 28 countries and in the process, they kick started South and Central America’s devotion to the band.

Aces High
Side one opens up with this. But I enjoy the Live version with Churchill’s Speech before it.

Written by Steve Harris, this song is relentless. It’s got key changes and what not. The intro starts in the key of A minor, the verse riff is in E minor with a key change to G minor. The Chorus also has a Em to Gm key change.

Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die
Run, live to fly, fly to live, Aces high

When Maiden reformed, this chorus become a sing along arena rock chorus. Who would have thought? Credit the fanatical South American fan base and the “Rock In Rio” DVD.

Minutes to Midnight
It’s basically a killer one/two knockout punch and like the “Live After Death” release, these two songs go hand in hand.

Adrian Smith’s addition to Maiden made them a lot better. This song is written by Smith and Bruce Dickinson and the One Riff to Rule Em All is also the main riff for this song.

Go to war again, blood is freedom’s stain
Don’t you pray for our soul anymore

The borders that we know exist because of the blood our ancestors spilt for freedom.

2 minutes to midnight,
The hands that threaten doom.

Nuclear war was once a reality. Maybe it is again between the US and North Korea.

The body bags and little rags of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you
As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song
To the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.

More like starving billions.

Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)
It’s listed as written by Harris, so if you believe his haters, it means he copied it from someone or stole their intellectual property. I seriously can’t believe our world has come to this.  The section from 2.34 to about 3.20 is why this song is on this list. If it doesn’t lift you up and inspire you, then I have no words.

Flash of the Blade
Written by Dickinson about a young boy chasing dragons. Did he write the cool open string intro riff?

Who knows, but it’s a pretty cool riff.

The Duellists
Another Harris track about a swordfight to the death.

Back in the Village
Side 2 opens up with this cool track, written by Smith and Dickinson.

Turn the spotlights on the people
Switch the dial and eat the worm
Take your chances, kill the engine
Drop your bombs and let it burn

Is it about Vietnam and the Napalm bombing of villages?

Powerslave
It’s up there as one of Maiden’s best songs and it’s written by Dickinson.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death

For all the wealth and power people have, they cannot buy or negotiate their way out of death. It’s the only certainty in life, for every human who is born, will eventually die.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.
So bring me the blood and
Red wine for the one to succeed me,
For he is a man and a God –
And He will die too.

And the circle of life keeps on repeating. A person dies, a successor is made and in time they will die as well.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Another Harris track to close the album and what about the music. It’s got everything, great riffs for both bass and guitar, a cool drum groove and vocal melodies to match.

That section from about 8.30 that starts building up from the bass interlude into the lead feels like it’s desk breaking time.

And that harmony lead break from about the 10 minute mark. It’s perfect.

To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.

So many evils are unleashed due to the killing of the albatross. Don’t disrespect the old wives tales. There is truth there.

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
I got this on LP as a gift and spun it to death.

It’s rock and roll music for the bars and the pubs and in my opinion it’s a pretty good reason why the album is so successful. Everyone in those venues played the album on the jukebox and every band that played covers in those venues played songs from the album.

It was my first Springsteen album and I was blown away at how solid and catchy each song is. Seven Top 10 singles and 15 million plus sold in the U.S alone. Not bad for a rock and roll album and not bad for a guy from Jersey. Hell, even John Cougar Mellencamp’s career got a boost from Springsteen. With every genre defining album, the labels are quick to jump on genres. American Heartland music was the term and suddenly “Scarecrow” has a budget to be recorded and a year later it’s everywhere. Same deal with Tom Petty and “Southern Accents”.

Born in the U.S.A
The album opens up with the snare and keyboard riff and the iconic lines of “Born down in a dead man’s town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground, end up like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up now”.

So many of us are born in these towns which boomed while the factories boomed after the wars. But all towns have their rogue element and kids get into trouble and adults get into trouble. And those factories experience hard times and suddenly, the great town is losing its soul.

And that chorus. Man, even people not born in the U.S.A were screaming it in their bedrooms and at the gig. And there’s no lead break, just a band jamming on a riff and Springsteen coming up with once in a lifetime generational lyrics.

Cover Me
The times are tough now, just getting tougher
This old world is rough, it’s just getting rougher

Springsteen sums up it all up with these two opening lines. And as much as we smile and put our happiest faces on social media, the reality is different. Times are tough. Try living without using your credit card and just your wages. Try buying a house with your savings and no loan from the bank. It’s tough, I know.

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough, I don’t want to see any more

The other epidemic in civilization is narcotics.

I get up in the morning and do a cleaning job close to home from 5am to 7am. I come home, have a shower, put on my office suit and then do my normal job from 8am to 4pm. After work, I coach kids in soccer. U7’s from 4.30pm to 5.30pm and U14s from 5.30pm and 7pm. I come home and the cycle repeats the next day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meanwhile, the drug dealers poison other people’s children, while they get to be around their children, provided they haven’t been arrested.

Darlington County
It’s a cool tune about two dudes called Bruce and Wayne from NY City, whose Dad’s own each of the World Trade Towers (remember them – actually who can forget them and how they came down), driving down to Darlington County on the fourth of July for a little fun and it ends up with Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a State Trooper’s Ford.

Working on the Highway
Springsteen is showing his 60’s influences on this one.

Friday night’s pay night, guys fresh out of work
Talking ’bout the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt
Some heading home to their families, some are looking to get hurt
Some going down to Stovell wearing trouble on their shirts

There was a working factory class once upon a time. Now the kids of that class are bankers or techies, while the factories moved to Bangladesh, Taiwan and China.

I work for the county out on 95
All day I hold a red flag and watch the traffic pass me by

Working on the highway, laying down the blacktop
Working on the highway, all day long I don’t stop
Working on the highway, blasting through the bedrock
Working on the highway, working on the highway

And the working factory class is replaced by a new class called infrastructure building. Our governments are constantly zoning land for new developments, which means more roads, bigger roads and more motorway’s connecting these areas. If they can’t build the motorways on land, they will tunnel it.

Downbound Train
This song is my favourite. I think it’s because I always caught the train into the city, so it was a memory of walking to the train station, the 90 minute ride, the laugh with friends and just the pure innocence of it all.

For the song, the guitar groove and the lyrics just connect from the outset.

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going, mister, in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard

And people wonder why Springsteen was called “The Boss”. So much truth in the lyrics. He’s reflecting society back at us.

Now I work down at the car wash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don’t you feel like you’re a rider
On a downbound train?

When it goes bad, it really goes bad. And sometimes, the only way out of a bad situation is to have the guts and move to a different city because if you stay in your hometown, there is a good chance you will be screaming, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”.

I’m on Fire
Again, everyone was singing, “Hey little girl is your daddy home” from the top of their lungs. And not bad for a song that was demoed and good enough to keep as is.

No Surrender
And side two kicks off with another favourite.

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school

It’s how I learned about life. Drop the needle on an album, kick back and digest the lyrics. Any word I didn’t know the meaning, I would look it up. Any reference to something as an analogy, I would find it in the library. But in the end, the records told me that love is great when it’s good and pretty sad when it goes bad. The records told me that everyone who is born, will have an end. The records told me about social problems, history and fantasy.

Bobby Jean
Now, you hung with me when all the others
Turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands
We liked the same clothes

Friendships or relationships with mutual tastes are killers when they end.

I’m Goin’ Down
I wonder what kind of “going down” Springsteen was singing about.

Glory Days
Another cool story about catching up with two friends and talking about glory days. One was a big baseball player in high school and the other was a girl who turned the boys heads back.

Dancing in the Dark
Springsteen at his catchiest and cheekiest, basically saying, he’s home after a night out, he has a loaded gun and he needs a little help to make it fire. So in other words, Dancing In The Dark is a clean way to say “let’s have sex”.

My Hometown
Everyone could relate to this.

In ’65, tension was running high at my high school
There was a lot of fights between the black and white, there was nothing you could do
Two cars at a light on a Saturday night, in the backseat there was a gun
Words were passed, in a shotgun blast troubled times had come

In my hometown
My hometown

I never grew up with these kind of tensions, but on some days in the 80’s, I swear it could have exploded. Because there are still people aggrieved with what happens. There are black people who feel the push to equality is not enough or too late. There are white people who still believe they should enslave black people. And year after year, the eggshells which people walk on, start to break. Until it explodes.

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says, these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back

To your hometown

I grew up in a steel city. The factories employed over 30,000 people. European migrants came to Australia to work in these factories. But then, it started to change. By the mid 90’s my hometown was vacant stores. We had three banks on the Main Street and suddenly we had none. All the fruit and veg shops and convenience shops shut up shop, as a large shopping centre was built 5 minutes away. But we still had three Pubs, a RSL club and a Leagues Club. All with pokie machines and a lot of alcohol.

Last night me and Kate, we laid in bed, talking about getting out, Packing up our bags, maybe heading south

I actually did get out and go south, about 30 minutes’ drive from my hometown, while my parents still live in the same house they purchased when they arrived from Europe. And suddenly a house which sold for $80K in 1998 across the road from my parents now sold for $600K. You see, my hometown is right on the beach. It has views of the Pacific Ocean. My parent’s house is on top of the hill. And when I moved out, I knew it was only a matter a time before my hometown became great again. The shutting of the steel factories and cooper smelters did hurt it. But in time, new businesses have come about. And Main Street has been getting a revitalisation over the last 10 years, with café’s, restaurants, hairdressers and a lot of other businesses popping up. And we still have two Pubs out of three left and a Leagues club.

Stryper – The Yellow and Black Attack
I got this album from a Saturday market on the same day I purchased the “To Hell With The Devil” album.

Loud ‘N’ Clear
I dig the guitar riff written by Michael Sweet. And yeah, I know in the verses he sings about wearing his hair long and looking like a freak, but he will always praise His name. Well, I always took His name to be Rock and Roll.

Loud, clear, let the people hear
Scream, shout, show what it’s all about

Like so many other songs from the 80’s. It was all about a statement, about accepting people for who they are.

C’mon Rock
Another Michael Sweet composition.

We’re here to rock for you an rock is what we’ll do
Until your body feels the sound
So don’t be afraid to shout cause that’s what it’s all about
We’ve got to spread it all around

C’mon rock, rock, rock
C’mon never stop

Like Keel, there is a lot of rock in this song. But it was a sign of the times. As the 60’s had Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Woodstock, we had a whole metal and rock movement sweeping across the globe courtesy of MTV.

Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer
I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at this band or take them seriously when my cousin Mega played me their albums. Their manly Viking look and their battle charged lyrics just didn’t really connect, however a few songs did. “Fighting The World” is my favourite, and “All Me Play On Ten” is not far behind.

All Men Play on Ten
The album opener and the best track on the album. Written by bassist Joey DeMaio, but it’s Ross The Boss on guitar and Eric Adams on vocals that steal the thunder, while Scott Columbus lays down a great groove.

I made a Rock’N’Roll sin when I tried givin’ in to
Make money had to turn down low
They said, “Why be proud, don’t play so loud
Be like us and get a sound that’s real thin
Wear a polyester suit, act happy look cute
Get a haircut and buy small gear”
That’s when I turned to them and said
“Hold it, right there!”

You could just imagine a confrontation between the Club owner and Manowar over “turning it down”. I played a gig once were I got told to turn it down, so I just walked over to my amp, touched the nob and pretended to turn it down.

Nobody tells a man how to play
It just ain’t that way hey, hey, hey
Can you hear me say…
All men play on ten
Never gonna turn down again

LOL. Nobody tells a man how to play. But Spinal Tap went to eleven.

Kick Axe – Vices
I picked it up from a second hand shop on vinyl. Spencer Proffer from Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album is on board to produce so it convinced me to buy.

I didn’t like side 1 and after a few tracks on side 2, I was about to give up and then “Cause For Alarm” started. Yep, it wasn’t until track 8, that I heard what I liked.

Cause for Alarm
It’s got that “Neon Knights” Sabbath vibe in the verses merged with a little bit of Priest, a catchy chorus and a good finger tapped lead break.

What more does a song need?

All the Right Moves
It’s a cross between “Ten Seconds To Love” and AC/DC which suits the lyrics about a woman with all the right moves.

Just Passing Through
And this one has got this ZZ Top vibe that hooks me in. Three songs and three different musical styles. Hence the reason why I hated genre labels like metal and rock. To me, it’s all rock.

The personnel in the band never had the stardom that other artists had, but they could play. Larry Gillstrom and Raymond Harvey formed a wicked twin guitar team while vocalist George Criston can be a rock god or metal god, depending on the song. And under pinning it all is bassist Victor Langen and drummer Brian Gillstrom.

Well that’s the first part of 1984 Done.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Ritchie Blackmore

“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.”
Adam Grant, Originals

History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states how “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world. But, we all know it wasn’t the case. Hell, it wasn’t the case with their first four albums. But, their first four albums are seen as different and a better alternative to the MTV friendly form of metal.

Black Sabbath as a band gets a lot of attention for being original and influential and so does Deep Purple. But in every band like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, there is always a person who is more influential than the others.

Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists and vocalists all at the same time while carrying influential bands.

It’s common knowledge the iron fist Blackmore wielded to get Ian Gillian to record the “Child In Time” ohhhs and ahhhs. Eventually the production team needed to resort to studio trickery to make it sound like Gillian was more able than he was. And guess what happened after the record came out and people heard “Child In Time”. Suddenly every young wannabe singer started practicing. In the same way Roger Bannister achieved the first four minute mile in 1954, and inspired a whole new generation of runners that they could achieve the impossible, in music, “Child In Time” in 1970, inspired singers to practice and achieve a new standard.

A 12 year old kid called Bruce Dickinson became attracted to hard rock, after hearing Deep Purple’s “Child in Time” being played in another student’s room at his private school. As a result, the first album Bruce ever bought was Deep Purple’s “In Rock”. A 19 year old unknown called Rob Halford heard “Child In Time” and started to change his vocal style.

And when Ian Gillian couldn’t deliver the vocal performances Blackmore wanted, he fired him and hired a young singer/songwriter called David Coverdale to do what Blackmore wanted. From this vocalist change, a whole new range of singers saw this as a new standard and started practicing. And just in case David Coverdale couldn’t deliver the vocals Blackmore wanted, he had another singer in bassist Glenn Hughes as back up.

But in the end, Blackmore felt frustrated with the musical constraints of Purple, so he left “Purple” to start up Rainbow with a singer called Ronnie James Dio. This change, further evolved how a front man should sound.

In the space of 10 years and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a metal vocalist should sound like.

There was a Twitter post from Stevie Van Zandt that said the following;
“Let’s just say it was an awkward period for singers. For the first and last time in history, guitar players were king. Hard to believe, but both Rod Stewart and Robert Plant were thought of as sideman. Both started on salaries. Both considered disposable. Some resentment may remain.”

The guitar player ruled up until the start of the 80’s. After that, you had a bassist writing songs for Motley Crue, WASP and Iron Maiden, a singer/songwriter writing songs for Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi and Europe. In Dokken, you had the influential guitar player who couldn’t handle the name of the band however the drummer and bassist provided most of the vocal melodies. Even someone like Ted Nugent needed to be pushed by John Kalodner into a supergroup called Damn Yankees.

Yngwie Malmsteen formed Rainbow Part 2 and called it Rising Force with Jeff Scott Soto and then found commercial fame with Joe Lynn Turner (another Ritchie Blackmore find), only to let his ego get in the way of a good partnership. David Coverdale had a powerful guitarist in John Sykes with which he carried out an excellent musical conversation with, only to let him go before the release of Whitesnake’s biggest album. Because as Coverdale showed, the guitarist was no longer in power. The front man was. When Lynch went solo, he didn’t get the platinum awards he had with Dokken and Malmsteen’s only platinum award is with Joe Lynn Turner. Hell, Vince Neil was more well-known than Nikki Sixx.

From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. He enjoyed playing the Blues, but he took it a few steps further, by making it progressive. Most of his progressive interludes are founded in the Pentatonic scale. Again, he was not the first to do it, however he did it good enough to make it commercially successful. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal. Blackmore’s stage persona and guitar/amp set up became a standard amongst the young 70’s hard rockers who would become superstars in the 80’s. Malmsteen modelled himself after him even up to the same stage stand.

And from a band perspective, every single guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used. lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.

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