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

Dollars And Cents

Everyone today knows “Charles Goodyear” as the inventor of vulcanised rubber. But what they don’t know is that he spent his whole life on struggle street, in and out of prison because of his money problems and six of his twelve children died because he couldn’t support them.

And when he perfected his vulcanised rubber, he couldn’t take out a patent because another scientist called Thomas Hancock took out a patent eight weeks earlier. You see, Hancock had gotten a hold of a sample of Goodyear’s final product and reverse engineered it. Goodyear tried the courts, however the judge couldn’t understand how Hancock could have reverse engineered the invention and awarded all rights and royalties to Hancock.

It wasn’t until his journals were read by others that the following was found: “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents.”

The Goodyear name would be recognised many years later. His achievements are world-changing but he never got paid for it while he was alive.

Hancock thought he won. He cheated a little bit and got his way. 

Culture is built by people losing in the short-term only to win in the long-term. That loss right now, builds a connection, solidifies a reputation and creates trust. And those three things are more valuable than the one victory early on.

Remember a time when writers created their works, while working other jobs. And a lot of those great writers still kept those other jobs.

F. Scott Fitzgerald gave the world “The Great Gatsby” while he also worked in advertising.

William Faulkner worked as a postal worker and during that time he wrote “The Sound And The Fury”, a book that was largely forgotten upon its release and only made famous when a book Faulkner wrote many years later for a decent pay check became popular, which in turn brought interest into his earlier works. After his postal gig he worked as a night manager in a power plant. Writing between the hours of midnight and 4am, he also produced “As I Lay Dying”. Both books are in the Top 100 Literacy Classics.

Ken Kesey wrote “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. The story about CIA sponsored mind control came about because Kesey worked as a cleaner in a mental hospital and for some extra cash he volunteered to be in a CIA sponsored mind control study which was promoted as something different to its participants. Those experiences formed the words of his novel.

JRR Tolkien worked as a Professor at Oxford while he wrote “Lord Of The Rings”. George Orwell worked for the BBC as a propagandist, which gave him the inspiration for his 1984 work.

After Dream Theater recorded their debut album, the label went bust. While they tried to get a new deal, they kept on writing songs and they had to get jobs to support themselves. During this period of work and jam, they wrote enough quality material to give the world “Images And Words”, their breakthrough album and the one that would give them a career.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album was funded by Jimmy Page and their manager Peter Grant. Once completed, it was shopped around to labels and rejected, until Atlantic US picked it up. On its release it wasn’t successful, but as we all know by now, time has a funny way of changing people’s views.

There is no easy way to cut through the noise and be heard. Paying your dues has been there from day one. Michelangelo was portrayed as being blessed to paint. The fact that he was paying his dues from the age of 7 by mixing paint, cleaning paint brushes and learning brush techniques working with a master should never be forgotten.

Convert six people instead of trying to convert 60 people. Start small and build. AC/DC were booked to open up a basement gig for Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler in the U.S. Kossoff unfortunately died on his way to the gig, but AC/DC still took the stage and put on their normal act to six people. After a few songs, the six people bolted to the nearest payphone to call their friends. Within an hour the club was at capacity and history was made.

Tell your story and be truthful. Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” are two of their most popular songs and it’s James opening up about a relationship breakdown and his upbringing with religious parents. There is a reason why “Kick Start My Heart” is iconic. It references Nikki’s almost fatal overdose. The story you want to tell can be political like “Peace Sells” and “And Justice For All” or inspirational like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or a call to arms like “SMF” and “We Will Rock You”.

Keep creating and recording. Al Kooper, produced the self-titled debut from Lynyrd Skynyrd. It just came out and it wasn’t really setting any sales charts on fire. “Free Bird” was still months away from becoming the boss of FM radio. Ronnie Van Zant called Kooper and told him the band had written a new song and they wanted to come in and record it ASAP. The song was “Sweet Home Alabama” and it sat in the vaults for a year before it was released on album number 2.

In the pre-internet era of scarcity, less music got made and even less got properly promoted. The history of music is littered with good bands or good musicians that didn’t quite make it or never even got a chance to make a record. And these days, every town has thousands of bands who are recording themselves and releasing their music themselves. And it’s all dollars and cents until you have that iconic hit that breaks on through.

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

Release Radar Recap

Gemini by The Night Flight Orchestra

What a classic rock song from my favourite supergroup of metal heads. It’s so catchy. If you haven’t seen the animated film clip, head over to YouTube and check it out. 

The album “Amber Galactic” is out so expect a review to come.

House On Fire by Rise Against

A good listen but not as good as the first single release “The Violence” and the politically charged lyrics, “The bombs are getting closer everyday, That can never happen here we used to say, have these wars come to our doorstep?”..

Blister by Hell Or Highwater

 Another solid track from Atreyu’s drummer Brandon Saller’s other project who takes vocal and guitar duties. Really impressed with this band. 

Chasing Dragons by Adrenaline Mob

Great band. Enough said.

American Dreams by Papa Roach

This is similar to what Papa Roach became famous for. Nu Metal with a dose of Pop.

Halfway Right by Linkin Park

Next…

While You Wait by Dead Letter Circus

Nice acoustic guitars and a Tool/Perfect Circle style vocal delivery makes for a pretty good song.

Choose Your Fate by Warrant

Actually the song is the best one so far from the release but they need to call the project something else guys. It didn’t work for Sabbath without Ozzy, Lizzy with Phil and it will not work for Warrant with Jani.

Indestructible by Harem Scarem

Not as solid as the other tracks released on my radar so far from Harem Scarem but still a good listen.

Something Else by Seether

This band has some great tracks, some good tracks and some tracks that don’t resonate with me. This one falls into the good listening tracks.

Oh Lord by In This Moment

I guess I am a fan of the melodic version of the band and the albums, “The Dream” and “A Star Crossed Wasteland”.

Ever After by Andy James

He’s been around for a while but to me he is one of the new breed of guitar heroes doing the rounds. You can put words to his guitar melodies and have some super catchy syncopated metal songs happening.

God Of Temptation by The Unity

Don’t’ know much about the band, but it’s a pretty good listen.

Stargazer by Seven Kingdoms

Power Metal. Just not in the mood for it. Next

Love Is The Remedy by Jorn

It’s got a tasty riff. For those that don’t know, Jorn is the Norwegian singer that can sound like Dio, Dickinson, Tate or Coverdale on a whim. And all of those vocal influences make him unique. There are some good songs, but this one is a miss.

Still Standing Up by The Ferrymen

The fantasy cover of a masked man ferrying skeletons is hit and miss, but musically, this band is good. Again I know nothing of them, except I have heard three songs over the last three weeks on my Release Radar playlist and saved each song.

Ashes by dEMOTIONAL

Again I know nothing about this band, however each song I have heard on the Release Radar is a good listen, so I will be following up on them.

Days Of Self Destruction by CKY

They have a cool cover in red and shades of black making out dragons. The song is a miss.

Will You Want Me by 7 Days Away

The cover is black with some shades of grey making out the band logo and name. Does it remind you of some other “black” album covers?

I got into this band via illegal downloads. And when I came across them in Spotify, I clicked follow. I’m glad I did.

Skin – Kove Remix by Rag’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This song is “Skin” and the Kove remix is garbage. Hear the original. Accept no substitute.

New Slaves by Vitamin String Quartet

My kids love the Vitamin String Quartet, especially their take on rock and metal bands. The Iron Maiden tribute brings back memories. For this song, it’s a NO from me.

Clouded Minds by JD Miller

Next.

Endless Roads by Liv Sin

Sister Sin was good. Liv Sin is also good. The music is excellent and rooted in that Euro Melodic Metal sound. Also check out “Endless Roads” and “The Beast Inside”.

Runaway by Bai Bang

Next. Just a bit too clichéd and poppy for me.

I’m Alive by Art Nation

It’s a good listen with a big chorus.

Wolves Reign by Wolfpakk

Musically the song is good. It just needed that Bruce Dickinson style vocal delivery.

Meet My Maker by Life Of Agony

It’s groovy and a good listen.

Blood Sick by Wednesday 13

Skip.

Genesis by Aethere

Next.

Prologue (Deep Sleep) by Lonely Robot

 The end.

Standard
Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Cassette’s and MP3’s

When people think about albums, they usually think about a product like Vinyl or Compact Disc. These days, it’s more access and less product, so the album viewpoint for my children is totally different with my viewpoint.

And while the mp3 is blamed by the record labels from bringing down the recording business which the labels called the music business, there was another technology out that changed the way we access and share music.

Say hello to the mighty compact cassette.

It allowed me to make demo after demo, mix tape after mix tape and it allowed me to copy a lot of albums from people who either had the original album or had a copy of the album from someone else who either had the original or had a copy. You get my drift. It could be an endless copying cycle.

It was first introduced in 1963 by Phillips for dictation purposes and due to their convenience and portability, by the 1980’s pre-recorded cassettes were out-selling vinyl LP’s.

Phillips also decided to give away the rights for free, instead of making money from licensing. This meant there was no incentive for other companies to create a competing format. Instead they could focus on making it sound better. That’s why you had TDK, Phillips, BASF, Sony, Phillips and many more companies making cassette tapes.

This led to cars coming with cassette players, and homes getting equipped with cassette recorders which would morph to portable cassette players and finally, the Sony Walkman.

Of course, the record labels as usual screamed loud and hard to their politician friends to pass new laws and stop this new sharing culture.

Remember their headline, “Home taping is killing music.” See how they used the term “music” instead of “record labels”. A more accurate and truthful headline would be, “Home Taping is Spreading Music to the Masses” or “Home Taping Is Spreading Music And This Leads To Increased Sales Later On”.

The local sharing culture that the Cassette tape created continued with CD-R’s and then it spread into a worldwide culture with the mp3 and Napster. And the record label machine just changed the “Home Taping” with “Piracy” and still kept pumping millions of dollars to politicians to pass the laws the labels had written.

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

Prog Music And Disconnected From Fates Warning

In the Year 2000, the mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands and progressive music was really at opposite ends of the spectrum.

On one side, you had the Dream Theater style of progressive music. This involved a lot of time changes, with the focus on high-octane technical musical workouts and each song exhibited a smorgasbord of riffs.

In this period, Dream Theater was also rebuilding their brand into something that matters. After breaking through with “Images and Words” in the early 90’s, they kept on moving into a more “record label” pressured sound, which alienated their fan base and even the band members themselves. Mike Portnoy expressed his disgust that John Petrucci was sent by the label to work with song doctor Desmond Child on the song “You Not Me”.

But the creative arts history is littered by artists tricked into taking the wrong path by label executives who chased dollars instead of career longevity. Bigger is merely bigger. “If it’s better”, is a debate for another day.

In the end, the best way to re-build their brand was to stand for something, instead of standing for everything. That meant that Dream Theater stood up for progressive music instead of standing up for progressive music that could have commercial appeal with the hope that it crosses over into the mainstream. And they reset their career with “Scenes From A Memory”.

On the other side of the progressive music spectrum, you had the Tool style of progressive music. This involved time changes, but the focus was on groove and atmospherics, with each song building on a unique riff or bass line or drum pattern. Tool always stood by their brand and never wavered from it.

In between you had Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics and on the extreme end you had Meshuggah with their focus on groovy, technical polyrhythms.

The missing link is Fates Warning.

Fates Warning released an album called “Disconnected” in 2000. With “Disconnected”, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender. It’s a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish.

With so much access these days, it’s only natural that albums are overlooked, especially albums that didn’t really set the commercial charts on fire. Hell, the press behind the album was even a whisper.

But the album sticks with me, in the same way that each lick and melody from “Images and Words” by Dream Theater sticks. In other words, both of those albums made progressive music sound simple on the ear. Other people might have the view that progressive music is about doing something different (like not following the verse – chorus structure) and pushing musical boundaries (like time signatures, exotic scales and different musical styles). I would add that making something technical sound simple to the ear should also be part of the definition.

Metallica did it with each album up to “…And Justice For All”. They got technical with each release, but it still sounded simple to the ear. Rush are the original kings of pushing the technicality with each release, until they reset their career with “Signals”. Dream Theater nailed it with “Images And Words”. Fates Warning nailed it with “Disconnected”. Tool nailed it with “Lateralus”.

Who is going to nail it next?

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

The History Of Music

What if you put out new music and no one cared?

Getting people to pay attention is your main priority. Who cares if they do not pay for music? They will eventually.

If you’re a middle of the road artist that was around in the pre-internet era, making money on streaming payments will not be as good as it was on sales pre-Napster. But, in saying that, you are competing with all the superstars in the history of music for people’s attention. There are no more gatekeepers deciding what music should be in print and what music should be out of print.

If you make money from recordings, is not really relevant, because most of the money is in touring, merchandise and sponsorships. And it always will be, because human experiences will always get people to pay. So you know that streaming fan who hears your music on YouTube. Well they could be the fan that shells $500 on a VIP ticket. And you could have thousands of those fans waiting for the human experience to roll into town.

But if you do want to make money from streaming music, then stay independent and don’t sign to a label. Especially, if you own your copyrights, Spotify pays pretty good, provided people are listening. And the more people who embrace streaming, the greater the pool of money to divide. Remember when AC/DC refused to have their music on iTunes and even streaming services? Now they’re on all of them. Holding out for big dollars from recorded sales is a detriment in the long run, especially when YouTube and pirate sites have their catalogue for free.

But false narratives thrive in the music business like Spotify doesn’t pay enough, that it should give more of its revenues to artists. But Spotify already pays 70% of its revenues to rights holders. The enemy is obscurity.

Malcolm Gladwell said in “Outliers,” timing is everything. All the hours of practice to be proficient at your art, will give you expertise, but it will not make you famous. Twisted Sister played the club circuit for 10 plus years and they put in their 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. It didn’t stop every label in the country from rejecting them. But no one could see the opportunities MTV would bring to rock and metal music. And Twisted Sister was there to make the most of the opportunity. Timing is important and so is change.

And change is everywhere. Bands used to have places to play live. By the time those bands got heard by a larger audience, they had already played thousands of gigs and were good. Then between 1983 to 1991, hard rock bands got signed by the hundreds. Musicians jumped from band to band to band to band in order to get the timing right and get signed. And artists who thought that hard rock and metal got too commercial branched out and played a more abrasive style. Thrash, Techno-Thrash and Death metal bands started springing up all over the place. This rise in the creative arts also led to many new record labels to capitalise on these new scenes. In the process the metal community fractured even further.

Remember when the first Metal Massacre album came out it in 1982, it had bands that played rock and metal on it. Ratt and Steeler held the flag for hard rock and Cirith Unglo and Metallica held up the flag for some of the different styles coming through. In between was the standard metal bands. It was a unity. But by the time, Metal Massacre 7 came out in 1986, hard rock ceased to be on it. It was more of the extreme styles of metal.

Everyone went into their own bubble, trying to promote their own scene and dishing the other scene. Some artists made money and some didn’t. Meanwhile the record labels rolled in it because the economy was good and people had money. But everything changes. And the kids of those 80’s music consumers see music as infinite, while we saw it as a rarity. While I used to decide which albums to buy for my $20, my kids can stream the history of music for less.

And that is your competition. The history of music versus your new release.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

So What If Steve Harris borrowed from Beckett

A friend of mine said it’s fake news, but, seriously, so what if Steve Harris was influenced by the band “Beckett”. So what if Steve Harris borrowed from the band “Beckett”. Trust me when I say this, there is no way that “Beckett” and their song writers created their songs in a vacuum, free from any texts and music that could have influenced them. So as much as Harris borrowed from “Beckett”, the band “Beckett” also owes its dues to the people they borrowed from.

But this isn’t an issue with the Beckett songwriters.

For whatever reasons, Steve Harris made a deal settlement with “Robert Barton” and “Brian Ingham” from the band “Beckett” over the song “Life’s Shadow” and how six lyrical lines were referenced in “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.

The current issue is with a retired rock band manager called Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over a song called “Lying In My Shadow” (which to me is “Life’s Shadow”), also from the same band “Beckett” and written by “Brian Ingham”.

The rock manager claims “Hallowed Be They Name” reproduces major parts of “Lying In My Shadow” in “Hallowed Be They Name”. “Lying In My Shadow” could be a demo that was never released and Barry McKay might have paid for the rights to it.

But seriously who cares.

Every song that is created has multiple influences or reference songs. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is no different.

There are comments that “Hallowed Be They Name” also has similar lyrics to another Beckett song called “Rainbow’s Gold”. And of course there is the fact that from 4.10 to the end of “Life’s Shadow” is the inspiration point for the whole middle section in “The Nomad” from “Brave New World”. Just to re-iterate, music creation is taking bits and pieces from songs that influence you, place them into the blender and the product that comes out is yours.

Yes, there are ties between the bands. Rod Smallwood managed both. There is a respect between both bands. Maiden has covered Beckett songs in the past and the guys in the band have played together in various little projects.

Fake news or not, this is the mess that “Copyright Hijacked By Corporations” has created. A rock manager, who did not even write the song, can bring up a suit against a band for being influenced by it. Ridiculous. This is all about cash. But it’s the public that determines success, not the label or the press. It’s the public that decided what is valuable to them.

From a listener’s point of view, all songs are different and unique in their own way. The fact that one song went on to define a band and become one of the best metal songs in history and make millions is the issue here. People feel wronged that someone else made money and they didn’t. One song doesn’t replace the other. They can all co-exist, even though the Maiden versions are vastly superior. And to me, it’s the main reason why this is in the courts.

Hell, Steven Jobs took bits and pieces from other companies to create the first Apple. Even his revolutionary iPod’s and iPhones copied designs and functionality from other designs. But he did it better than all the others. And so did Maiden, Zeppelin, Metallica, Jovi, The Eagles, Acca, Def Leppard, Motley, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Whitesnake and every other artist who made it big.

The Telegraph.co.uk article 

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

1983 – VII – Choirboy Lemmy Is Making Contact With Slayer and Queensryche

The Vinyl Story

By 1994, the compact disc industry (CD) had taken over. The most cherished vinyl collections of people became a distant memory. Add to that list cassettes. But something unexpected also happened in 1994. The third album from Pearl Jam called “Vitalogy” was released on vinyl for the first two weeks. And it sold and it showed the recording industry that there is life in vinyl. Fast forward to 2017 and vinyl releases are now becoming the norm.

But in 1983, vinyl and cassettes ruled. But the story of vinyl is more nuanced. In the same way 1998 was the peak of the CD, 1978, was the peak of Vinyl, according to the RIAA. Sales of vinyl decreased each year after 1978 until 1993.

By 1983, the mighty cassette overtook vinyl sales and it stayed this way until 1991..

And speaking of vinyl, check out the back cover of the first Metal Massacre album. Look at the Ratt, Steeler and Metallica line up. Hard rock bands, metal bands and more abrasive metal bands are all together. United.

The Punk and Speed Metal Crossover Story

It all started with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. As Punk music became a commercial force in the late Seventies, metal bands had to adjust their sounds and tempo’s in order to compete with it. So even though most metal bands hated punk bands, there is no denying an unconscious influence on the metal genre. As the article at Vice states;

“Consciously or not, a lot of the anger, aggression and speed of punk started seeping into the music, and Iron Maiden even showed their mascot, Eddie, with punked-out, spiked red hair on the cover of the band’s debut album. NWOBHM bands also adopted the DIY ethic of the punk scene, putting out their own albums and singles instead of waiting for the mainstream to catch up to their sound and give them a record deal.”

In the State’s the crossover of punk and metal happened around 1983.

As the Vice article states, each band had a member who liked punk and brought it in.

“In Slayer, it was the late Jeff Hanneman, and in Anthrax it was Scott Ian (and it also has to be said that even though Cliff Burton was a bell-bottomed hippie, he had more of a punk attitude than anything). As Hanneman recalled in a 2004 documentary, “I was really into punk when we were getting together… I forced it on the other guys…I loved the speed and energy, but I didn’t want to go with just playing chord patterns all the time, because that’s basically what punk is. I wanted to make it fast with good, heavy riffs.”

So what a fitting way to being Part 7 of my 1983 series with Slayer’s “Show No Mercy”. If you want to get re-acquainted with the other parts, here they are.

For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here. For Part 4, click here. For Part 5, click here. For Part 6, click here.

Slayer – Show No Mercy
Slayer’s debut hits the shelves in 1983, but I didn’t actually hear it until the late 90’s. This whole thrash movement has one unsung hero in Brian Slagel and his Metal Blade label. It all started from the “Metal Massacre” compilation and it kept on growing. A whole genre owes its success to Slagel.

It was Slagel who saw Slayer opening a show for Bitch (a band that was on the original “Metal Massacre” album. Impressed, Slagel asked the band to submit a song for “Metal Massacre III”. Soon after, Slayer had a recording contract and a few months later, “Show No Mercy” hits the streets.

“We did it every night from 11PM to seven in the morning. It was the only time this guy could get away with charging us next to nothing. We paid him for his time and for the tape. ‘Here’s a $400 check.’ We spent $1,500 for it in total. Kerry borrowed money from his dad to pay for half, and I paid half.”
Tom Araya – Loudwire

Evil Has No Boundaries
When certain scenes happen, the majority of the bands have the same influences or similar influences, so they start to do the same thing as other bands and there is a lot of copying going on. You can hear the NWOBHM (Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) in Slayer, with a special nod to Venom and Danish metallers Mercyful Fate.

Can someone tell me the difference between “Whiplash” from Metallica and “Evil Has No Boundaries”?

Who cares anyway, both songs are relentless and anarchic. The next re-iteration of the “heavy metal thunder” was faster heavy metal thunder.

Lyrics in the song are written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and Kerry King, while King is responsible for the music.

Midnight has come and the leathers strapped on
Evil is at our command
We clash with God’s angel and conquer new souls
Consuming all that we can

I’ve always classed the “WE” in the song as a movement/musical culture. In this case, it’s the aggressive speed metal movement taking on the status quo.

Die by the Sword
It’s written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) way before they were signed and it’s brilliant. The song has so many movements and so many different guitar styles/elements in it. It’s basically the style that Metallica would push even further between “Ride The Lightning” and “Justice For All”.

Mindless tyranny, forgotten victims

Governments create systems and Corporations create ways to make money from these systems. The Corporations then employ us to work. The banks then offer us ways to borrow from them and once we are in debt we are no better than slaves, the forgotten victims.

Metalstorm/Face the Slayer
The first 19 seconds is the embryo of the “Creeping Death” intro. James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett would have been influenced by it. Musically, it is a Kerry King composition and lyrically, it’s written by King and Hanneman

Your life is just another game

For the Corporations the game is to make money. How many lives they destroy in the process, is insignificant.

Queensrÿche

There is something unique about hearing the early recordings of bands. It could be the youthful enthusiasm or the fact that they wrote songs without thought of reward. When Queensryche started back in the early Eighties, they were called the Mob. Once they got management and a label interested, a simple search found another band with  that name.

“At the time, Chris DeGarmo, had the song “Queen of the Reich,” which was [inspired by] a nightmare that he’d had. We combined “queen” and “reich” and gave the result a new spelling. There weren’t many bands in the Q section of record stores back then, so that helped us stand out.”
Michael Wilton

Between 1981 and 1983, The Mob worked hard to save up enough cash to record a four-song EP. But they still couldn’t find a singer. They called up Tate who was still in the band Myth, and asked him to lay down the vocal tracks for the EP, and Tate agreed.

At the time of the recording, The Mob had three finished songs in “Queen of the Reich,” “Nightrider,” and “Blinded.” The music for another song was complete, but it had no lyrics. Tate liked the music and decided to write lyrics for it. The song would become “The Lady Wore Black.”

The completed EP generated a buzz in the Seattle scene, however major labels rejected it and Geoff Tate went back to Myth.

“We had four songs that we recorded at a local studio called Triad Studios. It was an eye-opener for us to be in such a big room and use analog tape and a big mixing board. We had a lot of fun, and it was a learning experience. Then we pressed about 20,000 EPs. Soon after, we got this amazing review in Kerrang! magazine, and that’s when everything took off. We all had day jobs—I was a resistor twister at this electronics place—and all of a sudden I hear “Queen of the Reich” on the local radio station. People thought it was some European band. They didn’t realize it was us!”
Michael Wilton 

It was the Kerrang review along with the sales of the EP that sealed Tate’s fate and he decided to leave Myth and join Queensryche full-time.

Queen of the Reich
While the demo was released in 1983, the songs are originally recorded in 1981. It’s a progressive metal composition that was way ahead of its time. The world also got to hear Geoff Tate, and they got to know one of the best songwriters in Chris DeGarmo via this song. I think it’s safe to say that Queensryche started off a New Wave Of American Metal Mastery.

“A lot of people don’t know about that song. A lot of people don’t care about that song. It’s an early song that was written and it shows. It’s funny the reaction you get, because it’s a lot of blank stares. In fact, it’s the same stare you get when you play a new song that nobody’s heard before. People just aren’t that familiar with it. Given there are a few hard-core fans that might know that song, or like that song, and know what it is, but the majority of the people there don’t. So it’s not really a song that I enjoy singing, strictly because, lyrically, it’s pretty adolescent. It was the first song written thirty-some-odd years ago and obviously I cannot relate to it anymore. I think, for performance, it’s always best for the performer to really believe in the material they’re singing or playing. If you don’t believe in it, it’s really difficult to get behind a song, do it well and do it at a level that comes across with any kind of believability. For me, I honestly can’t relate to the whole dungeons-and-dragons lyrical content of that song; it’s really cartoonish and juvenile to me”.
Geoff Tate 

While musically, the song is brilliant, it’s easy to understand why artists as they get older seem to steer away from certain songs because of the lyrics.

The Lady Wore Black

We sat for some time together in silence
Never speaking in words
Of all her thoughts she spoke with her eyes
And I listened remembering all I heard

All songs rooted in mysticism have their roots in real life situations and I am sure “The Lady Wore Black” would be no different. Hell, the verse above could be about a relationship going sour.

UFO – Making Contact
UFO is one of those bands who worked and toured quite hard and got stiffed on the money by managers and record labels. Even to this day, the re-releases of their classic albums just means a bigger pay-day to the record label instead of the songwriters.

To understand “Making Contact” you would need to go back to 1980 and Neil Carter is looking for a new gig, while still in “Wild Horses”. Phil Collen introduces Carter to UFO, who had just gotten rid of Paul Raymond. An audition was set up and Carter joined in the middle of recording “The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent”. Carter’s input came via backing vocals and the sax solo.

Then came the expensive “Mechanix” album, written and recorded at Queens’ studio in Montreux, Switzerland. After another commercial disappointment, Pete Way just stopped turning up and Paul Chapman with Neil Carter took over the bass duties for “Making Contact”.

“If there had been an offer I would have gone long before UFO made a move, to be honest. I have to credit them for giving me my first rock break, but the band were very limited on song writing ability and were always regarded as a pale THIN LIZZY clone. They were rock ‘n’ roll with a capital “R” and that led to some crazy times, poor performances and excess as you can imagine. I cannot imagine these days how I got through some of the situations that I was faced with over that period, and in UFO!”
Neil Carter

The line-up was Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Chapman on guitars, Neil Carter on keyboards/bass and Andy Parker on drums while Gary Lyons was on board originally and then replaced by Mick Glossop as producer.

They had a bizarre way of working as a lot of the songs were basically written as backing tracks with little or no thought of the melodies or lyrics until Phil Mogg actually did the vocals. A lot of the tracks were written and formed in the studio which is rather an expensive way of doing things! Sad in a way, but we had to get on with it and musically it made no real difference, surprisingly. I read a few things that Pete said about the direction the music was heading and, under my influence, how there were more keyboards etcetera, but UFO had always tried different things in the studio, long before I joined. For “Making Contact” Paul [Chapman] and I had to take control and use the studio time effectively. We were a bit more organized on that one and spent several weeks writing at a hotel in Sussex before recording it at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. A lot of “Mechanix” was written in QUEEN’s studio in Montreaux… and that was expensive!
Neil Carter 

Blinded By A Lie
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg and it’s got a pretty wicked riff.

I got the information from a friend last night
And it looks so very different in black and white
I was “part of the second party”, that was me
Signed away my life, really couldn’t see

Is it about those dubious recording contracts artists signed in their quest for fame.

Call My Name
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

I met you watching the cars go by
You were there, every night, at the corner of elm and vine
And you had nothing to hide
For just a few bucks and you know it’s a free ride

One of the biggest problems for UFO was their lyrics. In 1983, we wanted the “rebellious, standing up to the authority” lyrics. Instead Mogg is singing about being in love with a lady of the street.

All Over You
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

Dumb lyrics ruin a good musical song.

By 1983, UFO was playing the MTV catch up game and their past 70’s success was not enough to keep them going, so it was no surprise that they disbanded. Billy Sheehan started off the “Making Contact” tour, but things didn’t go too well and after Phil Mogg performed wasted in Athens, Greece, UFO was no more.

Motorhead – Another Perfect Day
Another band that was playing the MTV catch up game was Motorhead. Although Lemmy was a legend of all legends, the Chuck Norris of the metal world, he wasn’t a superstar in a commercial sense and would never really become one. But the man had a way with words. Eventually, he would make more money writing lyrics for Ozzy than what he did with Motorhead.

Here is a quick snapshot of some golden words in each track from “Another Perfect Day”.

I really like this jacket but the sleeves are much too long
From “Back At The Funny Farm”
Lemmy’s take on a straight jacket.

Bet ya thought I wouldn’t have no style
From “Shine”
Don’t judge Lemmy based on his looks and appearance.

But you know you ran out of money
Wound up on your knees
From “Dancing On Your Grave”
A Lemmy tale for a cold winters night, about Lemmy’s favourite topic, a woman out of money and resorting to a career on her knees to make it through.

Rock’n’roll music gonna stop the world
From “Rock It”
The start instantly reminds me of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister. I would have used the words, rock and roll music gonna change the world.

Two faced women, two black eyes
From “One Track Mind”
The social lynch mobs would tear this line apart for promoting violence against women.

The truth is only black and white
No shade of grey
From “Another Perfect Day”
The legal profession deals with the grey.

Never rise again, we lost a million friends
From “Marching Off To War”
World War 1 and the end of worlds’ innocence.

Here’s the story, there’s only me
From “I Got Mine”
Damn right, it’s only Lemmy and no one else.

You’ll find that I’m real bad luck
From “Tales Of Glory”
It’s as heartfelt as Lemmy would get.

Deal with the misfits, wipe ’em out
From “Die You Bastard”
Lemmy’s take on governments trying to wipe out the punks.

Musically, this album is excellent. The problem was MTV and Motorhead didn’t fit the MTV bill of marketable bands that looked good on video. So Motorhead would be that cult band that is forever respected but not as commercially successful as they should be.

Heavy Pettin – Lettin Loose

“Glasgow in the 1970s was all about learning through meeting people, going to gigs (Nazareth included), running around wild, listening to KISS, getting drunk and learning to play guitar, and meeting lovely creatures that produce little people from their insides. Most of my learning about music came from three distinct places during the 70s: The Glasgow Apollo (an amazing place to experience live music at the time), Listen Records, and my mates Mick and Stu (incidentally, I played in a band with these guys – we almost started World War III in Scotland with our band the Criminal Minds). Had it not been for these three elements I’d have struggled with learning about music and the music business. Glasgow itself was made up of many crazy people who lived in dreary rundown council estates. I was born in the backroom of a tenement house on one of those estates in a place called Castlemilk. I remember Castlemilk as a place of violence and early deaths. I also remember it as a place of adventure.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Heavy Pettin are from Scotland and “Lettin Loose” is their debut album. Brian May was on board to produce and then disappoint three-quarters of the band with the final product. Roger Taylor was even asked to leave the room as his presence intimidated Punky Mendoza from recording a lead.

“When I joined Pettin the band was actually called Weeper. But it was only used as a transitional band name. I only played in one band before Pettin. It was basically a bedroom headache called Zero Trap. Incidentally, if you have heard of the band The Almighty, the original guitarist, Tantrum, was the bass player in Zero Trap.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Music is a lifers game. You can’t enter it when you want and expect something gold to happen. It’s a long process full of highs and lows.

“We actually did better in America than anywhere else. The name was accepted in America without any problems. The record company had better fries to cook than Pettin. That was why we never made it in the States.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza 

A lot of people asked why Heavy Pettin never made it. Was it the band name, was it the lack of a single or as a record label exec would say, was it the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice of their lead vocalist”.

In the 80’s, for a band to make it, they needed a large push from their record label. If that didn’t happen, their recorded product would not get out to listeners. I didn’t hear Heavy Pettin until the 90’s, when I picked up their first two albums in a second-hand record shop.

“There is no doubt at all that most of the band wanted to sound like a Mutt Lange production. In fact, partly due to the influence of Def Leppard, Pettin lost the chance to be managed by Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein – Leppard’s management team at that time.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Why have two of the same acts, especially when Def Leppard in 1983 are still very current and active.

In And Out of Love
The first 17 seconds sets up the song by using minor key (sad) with major key (happy). Overall, it’s a great song musically and the Chorus is pretty cool.

As a bonus, the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice” was not really relevant on album number 1, but it would be on Album number 2.

(In and out of love) she told me she loved me
(But love is not enough) oh, lead me away
(In and out of love) I’ve gone all to pieces
She can’t hear a word that I say

It’s a cool Chorus. Nothing original, but melodically its good.

Victims Of The Night
The 90 second intro is quality metal and for any people who said to me that Heavy Pettin is too light for them, I always tell them to check out this song. Because for 1983 standards, this song is as metal as it gets.

Can you hear the cries as they scream out in the night
The children live in fear, the victims of the night
(Raging like thunder) flashes line the sky
(They’re going under) too many young were born to die

The only time the title of the song is mentioned, and that’s in the first verse.

Take no prisoners
No-one stands in your way
Fight for your life here today

It seems like that every single day, especially right now. We are all so over committed with our banks/lenders, it’s a fight every day to keep a roof over our heads. Our leaders like to make war and in the process invite war back to the streets of suburbia. The war on drugs has been going on since the 70’s and almost 50 years later, more drugs are on the streets than ever before.

Rock Me

(They’re out there waiting) anticipating
(No turning back now) so get on with the show

The Rock N Roll show.

Once upon a time everyone could get a ticket at a reasonable price. Today, everyone can get a ticket at a premium price and depending on which credit card company you are with, you might have access to early pre- sales.

Roll The Dice

It’s basically a speed metal song.

You can’t get it all in your life
It’s the way you roll the dice

Damn right. Small actions each day lead to great changes in the future.

For an audience that was eating up the pseudo-Satanic barbed-wire pop metal of Crue’s Shout at the Devil, Pettin’s breezy melodic rock didn’t quite deliver the goods.
Classic Rock Magazine 

Choirboys

“We used to rehearse in a friend’s parents’ garage. Then we went into a shop that was in a deserted building that we rented from somebody for about a year. We did recordings in there and we did rehearsals there. That was at Rosebery in Sydney. It was a classic garage band. We literally rehearsed in a garage.”
Mark Gable

Choirboys is an Australian band, formed in 1976 on the Northern Beaches, about 90 minutes away from where I live on the Southern Beaches. By 1983, they had a record deal with Albert Productions, after a demo found its way to George Young.

“And then George rang me up and said ‘I like what you’re getting together Mark’ and away we went… And then there was no turning back. As George described it, ‘you’re on the treadmill’ and it’s a wonderful treadmill.”
Mark Gable

As soon as they got some momentum going, Mark Gable’s vocal cords ruptured and 1984/85 was spent in hiatus. Of course, once “Run to Paradise” came out in 1987, the Choirboys, would go on to fulfil the potential they showed 4 years earlier.

Never Gonna Die
“Never Gonna Die” is the lead single from their self-titled debut.

When the Fridays bring the weekends
The night will be our home again

It’s a pub rock song, about playing in a pub. You can’t get any more Aussie then that. Maybe our PM Turnbull can add Pub Rock to his list of Australian values.

The smell of beer and perfume

All of these places still smell on beer and perfume and whatever else ends up on the floor these days.

I don’t live for music, no
I say I live for rock ‘n’ roll
We won’t let them push us
We won’t let them touch us

It’s a melodic rock anthem.

Other tracks of note on the debut album is the AC/DC inspired “Talk Big” with some cool lyrics about people I am sure we have all come across in our lives.

And I’ve seen you kiss the feet
Of someone better than you

Yes, how many of those people have we met in life?

Well you Talk Big
But you ain’t got nothing to say
All that big talk
But your mouth gets in the way

In the end, all of that big talk lends to empty houses and loneliness.

Your With The Big Boys Now (Carrie)
The riffs in this song are brilliant and it’s got some tasty shred at the end.

You’re sleeping with a rock star
You’re with the big boys now

It’s all about trying to grow up to fast.

Fight by the Book

Another tasty guitar lead over an AC/DC inspired rhythm.

He gets his clothes
At the best store
He gets his hair cut for free
He never walks with the riff raff
He wouldn’t like to talk to me

We are the riff raff and we are the ones that drive society and culture. It would be great if we all realised it.

Bull Shit

I say the politics
Well they’re lunatics
They say it’s right
But we know it’s wrong
Spread the word

It’s all just
Bull shit to me

We used to call it once upon a time. These days, we still like to call it, however with social media and the need for everyone to be liked, we are hesitant.

On Twitter I see Zoltan Bathory get into a few exchanges with followers/trolls on his political and social views. Robb Flynn calls out Anselmo for racism and he gets his life threatened. Artists who supported Clinton, slam Trump and his followers and alienate a percentage of their fan base who voted for Trump.

Saxon – Power And The Glory

It’s their fifth studio album produced by Jeff Glixman and their last album on Carerre before their supposedly big money move to EMI Records in 1984.

Well, I always thought that was one of our best albums, because it was great to do it. We did it in Atlanta with Axis Studios with a guy called Jeff Glixman, and Jeff was great to work with, because he was sort of a pretty easy-going type, but he knew how to keep the band happy. So we’d go into the studio, and…he was a keyboard player and he’d have his Hammond organ, and he’d just say, “C’mon, let’s go jam some songs!” So we’d be there jamming some songs, and then he’d get off the keyboard, run into the control room, and say, “Right, we’re gonna do a take now!”
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

That’s a cool vibe to have recording an album, but not so cool when the band is forking out the cost of the recording. No wonder bands never recoup.

But Jeff got a good vibe out of us. But I could never understand why the critics didn’t like it, to be honest. It didn’t get really great reviews. But I like it. “Watching the Skies” is one of my favourites. And the actual title track, “Power and the Glory,” is brilliant to play live, absolutely. One of the best things ever.
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

The Power And The Glory
It kicks off the album with a riff that would have influenced Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

The General says we’ll will win the war,
Just sacrificed a thousand more

We just commemorated Anzac Day in Australia and if you read Anzac history, you will see how the British Generals sent the soldiers of their Commonwealth countries into battle first. While the young men got cut down by machine gun fire, the Generals watched from afar, safe from all the hell.

Nightmare
This song has got a cool groove.

That my nightmare begins where reality ends

“Take the blue pill or the red pill”, Morpheus said to Neo.

The Eagle Has Landed
It’s very Sabbathy in the Intro, just plodding along and building. And when the very “Stormbringer” influenced riff from Deep Purple comes in, it’s time to bang that head. Actually, when I heard “The Outlaw Torn” from Metallica, I immediately thought of “The Eagle Has Landed” from Saxon. The songs are very similar in structure.

The world’s in celebration
As we wait for your return
You took a giant leap for mankind
On another, on another world

The moon landing fascinated people. After another half a dozen more trips, the moon trips got canned. People got bored and didn’t really care anymore.

I had Helix, Great White, HSAS, Krokus, Arc Angel and I-Ten on this list as well, but the albums are not on Spotify Australia, so no commentary about them.

And if you want to listen to 1983-Part 7, click here.

Standard