Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Vinnie Vincent

Here is the Vinnie Vincent Rewind/Fast Forward article from Guitar, November 1986. The words in italics are from the article, the words without italics are my comments.

During the 80’s, Vinnie Vincent’s fascination with dressing like your dream date seemed laughable, but his song writing and shredding prowess was no joke. He kept Kiss hip, co-writing some of the only post-makeup songs that fans even cared about; “I Love It Loud”, “Lick It Up” and “Unholy”.

His lightning fast solos even left some wondering whether the tapes had been sped up (they hadn’t). Unfortunately, his prowess didn’t blaze a trail of platinum after he parted with Kiss in late 84.

Vincent’s subsequent solo career sputtered in the late 80’s, while Invasion bandmates Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum picked up Vincent’s record option and sold millions of albums under the moniker of Slaughter.

Yep, Vincent’s label Chrysalis got sick and tired of Vincent’s lack of work ethic and constant demand to be given advancements, so they gave his record deal to Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum.

How quickly do the labels turn on their artists?

Because once Kiss booted Vincent, Chrysalis Records offered his new “Vinnie Vincent Invasion” band an 8 album, $4 million contract. But things didn’t go to plan. Drummer Bob Rock described his time in the band as the most difficult recording experience.

Also Vincent sent his lawyers after former bandmates over unpaid royalties, and he even had a web store up and running, in which he ripped off Kiss Army fans by offering items for sale that he never delivered. He even sold instruments to people with false stories, like “this is my favourite guitar that I wrote all these songs at home” for a lot more dollars than the guitar is really worth, because people believed that Vinnie Vincent actually used it to write most of his songs with.

Vincent is returning with a new EP called “Euphoria”, featuring Journey alumnus Robert Fleishman on vocals. “This is a real guitar record. Each song is about six minutes long and the leads are very, very lengthy,” says Vincent. “The EP is actually off the full-length album “Guitar-mageddon”, which should be out by the new year. After that I’m releasing a collection of ballads.”

The ”Euphoria” EP was recorded in the early 90’s, so by 1996 standards the music wasn’t really new. In addition, the label Enigma, paid for the full album recordings, however Vincent as usual was not happy with the recordings, and refused to release the full album, hence the the EP, with the live recorded drums (recorded over 2 years) removed because Vincent was not happy with the final takes and replaced by Vincent’s electronic programmed drums. And it’s a real guitar record because the songs are about six minutes long.

The key to Vincent’s tone?

“I screw with the gain stages because that’s where the tone comes from. The amount of distortion I get from my amps can make my guitar sound like a violin.”

Despite his former Kiss mates current tour, you won’t be seeing any makeup on the new edition of Vinnie Vincent.

For all of the issues and problems Vincent has had with bandmates and record labels and fans, he is still a curiosity.

And I feel that he liked being in Kiss, but he wanted the recognition for his contributions and the payments to go with it, which Stanley and Simmons wouldn’t give, even classing Vincent as a “work for hire” musician.

Stanley said in his book “Face The Music”, how Vincent looked goofy doing his guitar solo in the studio when he auditioned for Kiss and how he used every guitar opportunity in the live show to showcase himself. But this over the top attitude wasn’t really part of Vincent’s ego when he first met Adam Mitchell and Robert Fleischman in the late seventies/early 80’s to write songs with.

And even though Simmons and Stanley were cautious about using Vincent, Simmons went back to him a few times to write songs, and he even convinced Stanley to write with him, as quite a few Vincent co-writes end up on “Revenge” which is a stellar album. But he still wanted the stardom.

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

Revelation (Mother Earth)

So Ozzy gets fired from Sabbath because he’s apparently more wasted than the rest of the other guys in the band, and while he is wasted in L.A, all the people around him, manage to put a band together which involves Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake.

And this separation between Ozzy and Sabbath wasn’t just tied to this band.

All of the bands that had success in the 70’s went through this. Aerosmith was experiencing their own dramas amongst wasted members, along with Kiss, UFO, Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, The Eagles and Styx. Deep Purple was already done, while Rainbow already experienced a turnover of musicians.

The record labels were always looking for their next cash cows and so many bands had artists in there, that could be successful on their own, so the sway of the dollar was causing a huge turnover of personnel. Ronnie James Dio is a perfect case, from Elf to Rainbow to Black Sabbath to Dio.

And from all of these movements of personnel, the Blizzard Of Ozz band came to be and man, they created some memorable masterpieces.

“Revelation (Mother Earth)” appeared on the “Blizzard of Ozz” album from 1980. But the definitive version is from the “Tribute” live album released in 1987 as the tempo is increased a little bit, plus you get the fake crowd noises added which weren’t really there and you get recut vocals from Ozzy.

Bob Daisley wrote the lyrics about how we are destroying our own planet. I guess not much has changed since 1979. Forty years later, the planet is definitely on a highway to hell and we keep finding ways to fuck it up. Some of the lyrics reference the book of Revelations in the bible and the word “Mother” in the title came from a John Lennon song called “Mother”.

The intro/verse riff from 0.00 to 1.24 is just pure Randy Rhoads. A classical piece, it can be a little song within a song. It’s timeless and it doesn’t sound dated at all.  

Mother please forgive them
For they know not what they do
Looking back in history’s books
It seems it’s nothing new
Oh let my mother live

How much more can Mother Earth forgive and forget?

In Australia we have just come out of fires and endless days of smoke haze and poor air quality only to enter into severe rain and flooding.

Heaven is for heroes
And hell is full of fools
Stupidity, no will to live
They’re breaking god’s own rules
Please let my mother live

Everything is a balance. Screw up the balance and things change.

Father, of all creation
I think we’re all going wrong
The course they’re taking
Seems to be breaking
And it won’t take too long

As a society, people are trying to move to more sustainable models, but nothing is easy when big business is involved. And people’s livelihoods are at stake here as well, who work in these industries. Then you have other countries who just don’t care, who will just burn their rubbish. If you travel, you would have seen it.

Children of the future
Watching empires fall
Madness the cup they drink from
Self-destruction the toll

Every great empire has fallen. Alexander’s Empire disintegrated, the Roman Empire fell, the British Empire is no more and currently, some of the large democratic countries are showing similarities to the Empires of the past, just before they crumbled.

I had a vision, I saw the world burn
And the seas had turned red (seas had turned red)
The sun had fallen, the final curtain
In the land of the dead

Those pictures from Australia got traction all around the world. There was no need for Photoshop to enhance the destruction as mother nature’s fury was enough.

Mother, please show the children
Before it’s too late (before it’s too late)
To fight each other, there’s no one winning
We must fight all the hate (must fight all the hate)

It’s too late. All the different races and colours still hate each other. All the ones who seek profit over nature, will lie and scheme to get their way.

Then 03.03 to 3.21 just before the acoustic interlude.

Then from the 5 minute mark to the end is just brilliant. It is a merge of heavy riffing and classical / baroque influenced lead break that twists and turns into each other.

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

Rewind : Fast Forward

In the Guitar November 1996 issue I mentioned in a previous post, there is another section called “Rewind/Fast Forward”, that catches up with “guitar veterans” who have new projects in the works, or the section can be used as a one stop shop to check out and see what these guitarists from the past are up to.

So the three “veterans” the magazine caught up with are; Brad Gillis, Jeff Watson and Adrian Vandenberg.

How the mid 90s became so unkind to these kind of players is beyond me?

So Brad Gillis toured with Ozzy during 1982 and was on Ozzy’s “Speak Of The Devil” live album of Sabbath cuts. Night Ranger broke big a year later and suddenly he’s on MTV and trading 64 bar licks with Jeff Watson. This only lasted a short time, as by 1988, Night Ranger was dead.

I purchased his solo album, heard it once and never heard it again, and then Gillis reformed Night Ranger with a new line up only to see it get booed off stage. At this point in time, he had reconnected with Jack Blades with the aim to reform the original Night Ranger.

The interviewer, Greg Pederson asked him the question; can a band who relied on guitar heroics flourish in the 90’s?

Gillis answered with, “guitar solos are history, so who knows how we’ll fit in. But were going to kick butt and try to get a record deal.”

Isn’t it funny how a new breed of young guitarist in the 2000s brought guitar solos back to the masses while the 80’s dudes felt they needed to say something like “guitar solos are history”. Sounds like Gillis is choosing, commercial song writing over being true to himself and it doesn’t work, because Gillis is a guitar player that solos.

Jeff Watson showed the world how easy it was to execute eight finger tapping and it was a technique he learned by pure accident, because all Watson did was to try and figure out a way to play one of Alan Fitzgerald’s keyboard licks on the guitar. So Night Ranger break up in 1988 and Watson gets busy, laying down guitar on Chris Issak ‘s albums, a solo album and the Mothers Army project with Joe Lynn Turner singing.

His solo album showcased his impressive techniques but as he said to the interviewer, “my acoustic playing has gotten critical acclaim but it doesn’t pay the bills”, so back to Night Ranger he want as well, and when the interviewer asked him the same question about the “non-solo conscious society”, Watson answered with, “That’s what Night Ranger is about – guitars.”

Now that’s how you answer that question. And Jeff Watson went back to Night Ranger only to leave and go back and then leave for good. His replacement Joel Hoekstra would also leave to join Whitesnake, which leads me to Adrian Vandenberg.

Adrian Vandenberg back in 1985 was voted as a “Metal God In Waiting” in the same magazine. At that time, the magazine praised him for stretching the neoclassical style, which led to him disbanding Vandenberg, because every other artist started doing it. And in 1986, a certain David Coverdale asked Vandenberg to became his new guitarist, replacing John Sykes in Whitesnake. His moment of achieving Metal God status was at hand.

But it wasn’t to be, because Vandenberg’s guitar playing didn’t grace the “Slip Of The Tongue” album, due to a bizarre hand injury. But in 1996, Vandenberg was finally on a Whitesnake record.

The Whitesnake album, “So Many Tears” mirrored the Blues rock direction of previous Whitesnake albums, as well as his Manic Eden band, which released a superb self-titled album in 1994.

“The sound is rootsier. I even play acoustic slide on an open tuned song called “Woman Trouble Blues”. There are very few guitar overdubs on the new Whitesnake album and on a couple of times we didn’t even put a rhythm guitar underneath the solos.

And while Vandenberg was committed to Whitesnake, there was talk of a collaboration with John Waite in the future. But Vandenberg finished up with Whitesnake and went into hiatus, for almost 15 years until Vandenberg’s Moonkings brought him back into the public eye.

There was one more special interview with Vinnie Vincent and that one deserves a separate post.

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

Nothing Is Guaranteed and Nothing Is Certain

There is a post over at Seth Godin’s blog called “Borrowed Time”.

It goes like this;

All of us are on borrowed time. There are no refunds and there are no guarantees.

At some point, the only time you’ll have to worry about is the time you’ve wasted.

Life is short and a career in music is even shorter and a career at the top of the charts is even shorter than a career in music. There is no safety net and no guaranteed wage or income.

For every person who works what is known as a 9 to 5 job, they could have a job today and not tomorrow. For every person who is a casual, they could be called in to work today and not again for weeks. For every person who embarks on a trip some will return and others will not return. For every artist who writes a song, they could get paid for it or they could not.

Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is certain.

Jon Bon Jovi was happy living a life in the 90’s from the royalties and advance payments he received from his 80’s output, along with “Keep The Faith” and “These Days”. Then Napster came and blew up the monopoly the record labels had on the distribution. Suddenly the band Bon Jovi from 2000 and onwards became a different beast, releasing music almost yearly and touring constantly.

If you are a musician, you could slog it out for years and get no commercial reward. But you would get the joy of creating and playing. These days, you could spend years building an online presence and it does not equate to dollars in the bank account when your music comes out. No one knows why, things become successful and no one knows why, things don’t become successful.

Vito Bratta was asked to write hits for the follow up to “Pride” and he didn’t know what the record label rep meant. As far as Bratta was concerned, he wrote songs and if any of them became hits, great, if they didn’t, still great.

So don’t develop a mindset which tries to create something that you think people would like. Create something that is true to you. And if the first attempt fails, try again and again.

If you look at music history, the 25 million selling “Black” album was created the same way that every other Metallica album was created up to that point, James and Lars would take all the demo ideas everyone had, go away to one of their houses and piece together the songs. The album then goes nuclear worldwide and the band is writing songs with all the members in the room and Kirk is doing rhythms on the album.

The “Load” and “Reload” albums have beautiful moments and a more swingy kind of groove based on Hetfields love of Corrosion of Conformity. Hetfield and the other guys in Metallica created albums true to themselves. And even though the band was accused of further selling out, they never catered to anyone except themselves, which is so evident on “St Anger” and then their new take on an old sound with “Death Magnetic” and “Hardwired To Self-Destruct”.

So don’t waste time thinking about what people would like and what people would expect, be productive and do what you want. Take the risks and see what happens. You might fail, you might succeed and you will learn. And remember nothing is guaranteed.

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

Sheet Music

Its February 1997, and the November 1996 issue of Guitar hits the newsstands in Australia. We were always 3 months behind.

On the cover is Rush  with the headline, “Returns To Rock With Their Heaviest and Best Album in 15 Years”. And that album is “Test For Echo”, a headline I totally agreed with.

And how things change from the previous decade. Back in 1986, guitar heroes like Malmsteen, Van Halen, Schenker took up the first few pages of ads. In 1996, it was the dudes from Bush advertising “Ernie Ball” strings and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden advertising Guild guitars.

Each issue of the magazine has a section at the beginning by the Editor In Chief. It’s written like how we would write a blog post today. On this occasion, the headline was “The Song Never Remains The Same”. The Editor In Chief HP Newquist wrote about “how songs get published in the magazine”, because the main reason why I and many others purchased the magazine was for the song transcriptions.

There are publishing companies that OWN the print rights to music. The publishing companies usually pay the artist a large upfront fee to license the songs for printing, which will cover a three to 5 year term (or longer in some cases) or they will pay a royalty (that lovely word) whenever the song is published.

To get a song transcribed for a magazine like Guitar, the magazine needs to first get the approval of the publisher.

Then the magazine will send the music to a transcriber.

When the song appears in the magazine, the magazine pays the publisher who in turn pays the artist and the transcriber is paid as well for their work. The magazine also pays to use the song in each of the countries the magazine is distributed, which means getting the rights from several international publishers for each song.

And all of this for a one time only use, hence the reason why the magazine at that point in time didn’t put any transcriptions up on their website, because that allowed unlimited use.

Sounds like a pretty simple business arrangement when everything is controlled by the labels and the publishers.

But there are also artists who are not interested in having their music appear in magazines and artists who want to give their final approval of the transcription as being true and correct. In this instance, the magazine sends off the transcribed work to the artist who goes over it to make sure the transcription represents what the artist played.

So the post goes on to say that when they feature an artist and don’t run a transcribed song, it is because the magazine doesn’t have permission to print a song from that artist or another magazine has first rights to songs from that artist or permission has been given to multiple magazines, who print the song all at the same time (which has happened as I was a Guitar World buyer and a Guitar buyer). In this magazine they had Rush on the cover and “Test For Echo” was also printed. So in typical fashion, Rush are the good guys once again.

Even after the magazine has secured the rights to print a transcribed song, it can be denied a reprint because a new songbook is coming out and the publishers don’t want to cannibalise the sales of that songbook.

And the web back in 1996, had a lot of text notepad transcriptions put up from users who either transcribed the song themselves or had access to a transcription and copied it to a text document and distributed. I found a lot of songs that way.

So of course the print publishers came out with lawyers and started to crack down on user posted online transcriptions, claiming that it infringers on their copyright and takes away from an artist’s royalties, which is the same spiel used for bootlegs. EMI had a very public battle with OLGA (On Line Guitar Archive) because it had user uploaded transcriptions which infringed on their rights and took money away from the artists. You know the usual PR spiel.

Suddenly the business relationship is a bit more complicated, because the publishers didn’t know how to operate in the world wide web.

These days, it is different and communities like Ultimate Guitar do have user uploaded transcriptions.

And the reason why the Editor In Chief felt the need to explain all of this, is because by 1996, the magazine was getting a lot of angry feedback for re-publishing songs they had already published. A problem that the internet had created for them.

And the big problem the internet created for the magazine was the user uploaded transcriptions to songs. Why buy a magazine to learn how to play a song when a 15 year old kid has learnt it and shared it with the world.

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All My Love

Led Zeppelin became the biggest rock act in the world. If there was any doubt about their status after “IV”, then “Physical Graffiti” put all doubt to rest. In over a decade, Jimmy Page went from being an unknown guitarist in “The Yardbirds” to a rock god, a guitar hero, a songwriter and producer.

When something reaches critical mass, what is next?

The only highs left are the ones that narcotics provide and “In Through the Out Door” is the album in which Jimmy Page went missing from the song writing department, sort of like how James Hetfield wasn’t really into Metallica and “St Anger” was the result.  

Wikipedia tells me that the album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during the recording. Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son then died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Jimmy Page was strung out on heroin and John Bonham on booze.

But even if Jimmy Page was missing mentally on this album, Robert Plant had things to say and man, “All My Love” is just one of those songs that connected with me from the first time I heard it. It’s written by Plant and Jones.

And that vocal line from Plant is emotive as he references his loss in the same way Clapton did in “Tears In Heaven”?

Should I fall out of love, my fire in the light
To chase a feather in the wind

I didn’t really know what Plant was singing about when I first heard this song, I just knew that it was sad because of the minor key chord progression, which is interesting because the verses have this Am, G, Dm, Am, G, D major chord progression (with the major key giving the tone a hopeful vibe) and on the chorus it goes to a C, G/B, Am, F – G chord progression, so it has this major key hopeful vibe but with the minor chord in the centre, it remains sad.

And chasing that feather in the wind is like chasing that dream or the spirit of someone you think about a lot.

For many hours and days that pass ever soon
The tides have caused the flame to dim

Knowing that the song is about Karac Plant, these lines have a different meaning, but my initial views are about chasing a dream and because all our dreams are grand, you are questioning yourself and questioning if you have the same passion and desire to keep going on.

Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time
His is the force that lies within
Ours is the fire, all the warmth we can find
He is a feather in the wind, oh
Time heals the heartache but the memories never fade.

And it’s no surprise that Led Zeppelin would break apart a year later and for Jimmy Page, he didn’t set the mainstream on fire again until he hooked up with David Coverdale in the early 90s and then with Plant again afterwards.

Meanwhile Robert Plant was focused, driven and he just kept on writing and recording and releasing.

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Overkill

It’s 1975.

Punk music is taking over in England and rock music made famous by Sabbath, Purple and Steppenwolf was fading. And Motorhead was there to bridge the gap.

In 1979, “Overkill” and “Bomber” come out, charted well and suddenly the band was making some coin, which they put into the stage production. And bands like Motorhead started to appear all over England, as the disenfranchised youth from the projects and housing developments took up arms in denim and leather and started supporting this bludgeoning new sound.

Lemmy is the definition of a person loaded with GRIT. After so many false starts, Motorhead finally started rolling with “Overkill”.  Labelled as Heavy Metal, Lemmy rejected that label from the outset and said they are just a rock and roll band. Lars Ulrich even credits “Overkill” as his first introduction to double bass drumming and when Metallica ruled the business pre-Napster, people listened to Mr Ulrich.

Only way to feel the noise is when its good and loud

Fast Eddie Clark is no slouch on the guitar, bring his speed blues rock into the mix, which allows him to wail, while the Lemster and Philthy lay down the foundations. And its loud and its fast and there is no commercial expectation.

On your feet you feel the beat, it goes straight to your spine
Shake your head you must be dead if it don’t make you fly

Line credits to vodka, amphetamines, bikers and roadies and groupies. Shake you head and keep flying.

Know your body’s made to move, feel it in your guts
Rock ‘N’ Roll ain’t worth the name, If it don’t make you strut

All of the 70’s acts started off playing rock and roll/blues covers and somehow they ended up as metallers. But don’t tell Lemmy that. He will still kick your arse even from the afterlife.

And how good is that outro for the last 30 seconds.

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